Where Writing Matters

Imagery by Kim Indresano

When I read printed material and there’s a typo, I notice it. I not only notice but I sometimes think, wow, if only someone had taken the time. It’s distracting. And moreover, I find the book, article, pamphlet, or whatever I’m reading, loses just an ounce of credibility in my mind. Editing is critical.

As photographers we know that part of our expertise is to curate our photographic work for our clients. We also need to thoughtfully present our written words to back up the integrity of our images. So much of our job has nothing to do with holding a camera in our hands; it’s communicating via email, blogs, social media, handwritten letters, printed collateral, and the list goes on. And for those of us who’ve experienced little mistakes in things like printed postcards that are mailed out into the world, only to later discover a goof, it can be especially ouch-worthy.

There is a really simple solution to this: Proofread your writing, no matter where it’s going and who is going to see it. Make it a regular habit. While I don’t claim to have a perfect track record (believe me, I’ve re-read my writings later and cringed too), I still make it a practice to always read something over at least once before sending. If it’s something like a proposal, an important letter, or a blog post, I will often let several hours to a couple of days lapse before reading it again. Much more often than not I change something–a rephrasing to make a point clearer, a different word choice, or fix a grammatical typo that my spell check didn’t pick up. I also never hesitate to ask someone else to look over my work.

Hopefully I’m not sounding like your 11th grade English grammar teacher here but if writing doesn’t come to you easily, go pick up a handy book like “Woe Is I, The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English” by Patricia T. O’Conner. Or dash your word into an Internet search for a quick reminder on the difference between affect and effect, or a spelling that always eludes you. (For full disclosure, I just wrote “alludes” and caught it upon proofreading). Of course we are human and mistakes get made and fortunately these aren’t life-or-death ones, only ones that tweak our businesses in the direction of being better. Check your written work, you’ll be glad you took the time.

Your wording should be as good as your images. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you craft your emails, blog, proposals and handwritten notes:

  1. Take a step back, save, and give your work a second or third look before you send it. If you can, let a day or two pass and then come back to it. Nine times out of ten I change my wording a bit or notice something incorrect.
  2. Ask someone to proofread anything important. Another pair of eyes can often spot something you didn’t intend.
  3. Read your writing aloud and listen to how it flows and if the tone sounds good to you, for example, real and not stilted. I tend to write in a conversational tone, a bit like how I talk.

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