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Photographing Books and Pens

Updated on September 20, 2013
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Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

There are many subjects and themes that can be tuned into photographic projects and basically any item or thing can be used in order to compose a project around it.

With the advent of technology, especially the computer and how quickly one can write and send information, including most cell phones and their texting ability, the majority of people around the globe have forgotten the art of writing with a pen and on a paper.

"Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols (known as a writing system).[1] It is distinguished fromillustration, such as cave drawing and painting, and non-symbolic preservation of language via non-textual media, such as magnetic tape audio....Writing, more particularly, refers to two things: writing as a noun, the thing that is written; and writing as a verb, which designates the activity of writing. It refers to the inscription of characters on a medium, thereby forming words, and larger units of language, known as texts. It also refers to the creation of meaning and the information thereby generated. In that regard, linguistics (and related sciences) distinguishes between the written language and the spoken language. The significance of the medium by which meaning and information is conveyed is indicated by the distinction made in the arts and sciences" Wikipedia

It used to be that people took great pride in not only writing well but doing so on cherished books, notebooks, parchments and so on and with exquisite writing utensils. As it turns out many of those who regularly find themselves in need of a pen are going back to the old style magnificent fountain pens. There is something magical about using one of these masterfully created and simple writing devices which awakens a sense of pride in one's writing.

Capturing images of beautiful or antique writing notebooks or books and combining them alongside handsomely crafted writing pens is a photographic project which can provoke feelings of longing for times past.

Your main goal is to find some suitable subjects which seem to have been made with attention to detail and care in their marksmanship. Once you have a suitable collection, and keep in mind that you really do not need o go and buy them as you may be able to located them and just ask permission to record their images.

Many collectors of old books and pens will gladly give you access to their collections in return for copies of your photographs, a fair trade it seems.

Do close ups and use subdued lighting to enhance the subject themselves. Try to pose your subjects against dark backdrops so that any distracting elements can be eliminated.

For your samples use those that show the effects of time and have been worn out by use. Newer items do look great but do not do much for the theme. Keep in mind that you are trying to invoke feelings of when art was an art and people took pride in it.

Using new pens and fancy notebooks reminds us too much about the technological advances of recent years and that we may as well go back and keep using a computer with spell check and perfect fonts.

So much for the art of writing, now lets dwell into capturing images of books. Your subject should be those that are well worn and show the effects of time. There are many excellent samples which you can photograph and many can be seen at old bookstores and in many homes of dedicated collectors.

Do aim to seek permission to photograph them since buying them for your own can take a considerable amount of time and money first to locate them and them to obtain them.

Like with your photographs of writing utensils, do close ups to show details in workmanship and the beauty of their covers which are often gilded.

Again, pose your subjects against dark backdrops to avoid showing any distracting elements and use subdued lighting mainly aimed at the subject itself with the aid of a photographic snoot.

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0 | Source


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      susiebrown48: Thank you, well you can at least

    • susiebrown48 profile image


      6 years ago from Clearwater, FL

      Although no one in my home will let me touch paper (envision bottles of white out" I really appreciated the article, well done.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Thank you Lynn. Although I love the computer, i long for the days when people used to write with pen and paper and I still have some old fountain pens that I regularly use to write prose with.

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 

      6 years ago

      ooooo love this. I'd have been a scribe back in the day. Love to handwrite. And books. hmm....


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