Sometimes a picture needs a thousand words

By: Clive G

It would be my guess that the words “Mum and Dad, I want to be a painter/film-maker/photographer” would definitely not be music to the ears of most parents of teenaged children. Parental reactions would probably be more along the lines of “Over our dead bodies” than “Go for it!” I wonder, though, would parents be so reluctant to have their children opt for, say, photography, if it was coupled with a more marketable skill.

My own dear father was momentarily struck dumb when I informed him of my intention to study Fine Art at university, but he quickly saw a way forward. “We raised you to make your own decisions in life,” he said, “So if that’s what you want to do, you have my blessing. But remember, the man with a solid command of spoken and written English will always be able to get a job, no matter what degree he took.

Image 1For reasons that probably have more to do with my introverted personality and reclusive tendencies than eagerness to heed my father’s counsel, I have spent a huge amount of solitary time on writing practice over the years. And truth be told, I have earned far more money from writing than from photography. Once in a while I take a picture that might be worth a thousand words and a few hundred rials, but I know from experience that regular, well-written, thousand-word texts are a more reliable source of income.

In fact, writing has supported my photography for decades. Without the money I’ve earned from writing, I wouldn’t have a cupboard cram full of expensive cameras standing resplendently in my bedroom.

I firmly believe that an ability to write well can complement and strengthen our other creative practices, and for that matter any other area of worthwhile human endeavour we choose to turn our hands to. To paint and also be able to write on aesthetic issues helps you to think more critically about your creative practice. To be a skilful photographer who is also able to use photographs in conjunction with lucid text is not only more employable but probably also a more rounded individual.

To be a parent and at the same time to be able to reflect in writing on one’s own and other’s parenting experiences surely helps you become a more skilful and informed mum or dad.

Over the years, my photography and my writing have developed a symbiotic relationship, one skill feeding off and into the other, to the point where I cannot imagine doing one without the other. When I am not out taking photographs, which alas is most of the time these days, I often think and write about photography, or use my photographs in writing about other topics. And when I am out in the field taking photographs, I am constantly in search of topics and themes to write about.

My only problem, if problem it was, related to dissemination. For years I wrote and took photographs just for the shear pleasure I get from both processes. But I have come to realize, mainly through my experience writing this weekly column, that it is also a pleasure to have one’s work seen, read and appreciated by a wider audience.

Imagine my joy, then, when a couple of months ago, the Editor-in-Chief of this illustrious publication called me into his office and said, “Clive, I want to start a high-quality monthly magazine dealing with the Heritage, Culture, History, Fine Arts and Environments of the Sultanate of Oman. Do you know anyone who could manage such a project?”

Image 3“I do,” I said, hardly able to contain my excitement.

“That’s good. Who?”

“You’re looking at him,” I said. He raised his eyebrows and stared at me as if I’d just sprouted donkey ears.

“But you can only write about photography.”

“Far from it,” I said. “You have just listed my greatest intellectual passions.”

“That’s great, but the magazine will not be called Clive Monthly. It will be called Mazoon. You are welcome to contribute, but you must find other good writers and photographers provide material too. Can you do that?”

“I’ll do my best,” I said while thinking — Struth! Where the heck am I going to find people who can write well and take great photographs?

The funny thing was that serendipity stepped in and suddenly I began meeting such people all over the place. How foolish of me to think that only I have a tolerable ability in the written word and the photographic arts. My guess is that there are a lot of wordsmiths and image-makers out there who have just been waiting for the right publication to come along to showcase their work. Well, thanks to the Editor-in-Chief, our time has come.

So if you would like to be a part of Mazoon and share your insights into particular aspects of the Heritage, Culture, History, Fine Arts and Environments of the Sultanate of Oman with an educated and cultured audience, then we want to hear from you.


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