ruminations from the spaces between soil and soul

The bio I never planned to write…

a writer with a camera taking a self-portrait during a bike tour of Istanbul in the middle of winter.

Visions of Hagia Sophia: a writer with a camera taking a self-portrait during a wintery bike tour of Istanbul.

In 2009, after 13 years of wordsmithing and playing in a rock & roll band accompanied by a series of eclectic day jobs, I set out to be a freelance journalist with the broader vision of inspiring people to be more creative and caring stewards of this little round ball we all find ourselves on.

I started this blog so I could experiment with story ideas and hone my writing chops, and much to nobody’s surprise called it A World of Words.

Out in the world, I found that people’s stories and actions became more real and immediate — not only for them, but for me — when I was capturing them on camera.

My point-and-shoot Panasonic Lumix turned out to be not only the perfect companion for documenting things like people on bikes while riding my bike, but its Leica lens yielded pictures of unexpected depth and clarity.

Many of my blog posts began to naturally morph into photo essays, allowing the pictures and words to gently dance with each other toward the heart of the story.

Over time, and with much expertly guidance from my bestest photo buddy, my work became more refined and took on its own unique voice. Events I was covering, like Sunday Streets San Francisco, requested to use them for their promotions. Publications such as Grist, Architecture 2013, and Reader’s Digest wanted to commission my photos. A bunch of pictures from my Cinque Terre post made it into an exhibit on eco-tourism in a German architectural gallery.

So I thought it was time to officially “out” myself as a photographer and launch a photo site where I would curate a few galleries with what I believe to be my strongest and most meaningful work. When my bestest photo buddy saw what I was doing, she spontaneously shouted out: “A writer with a camera!” That really stuck.

Trying to explain why I was doing this while I have so many other things on my plate, the best I could come up with was a rock & roll metaphor: If my Flickr stream represents the live jams, A Writer with a Camera is my first studio release.

Here are the photos from the front page gallery, along with the essays they are part of. Enjoy the trip down memory lane…

Cinque Terre: an enchanted photo journey

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Just some quick food porn from Montreal

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“Real Mormons Love Everyone!” – SF Gay Pride 2013, Photo Feast

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When Little People Take Over Big Streets

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Freiburg, Germany: City of the Future. Part I: Keeping What Works

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On a warm San Franciscan night…

8 Responses to “The bio I never planned to write…”

  1. wanderingseniors

    I’ll have to follow your new site, too. I love photos from everywhere and of everything and you take some of the best. Your music being optional would be great.

    Reply
    • Sven

      haha, sweet, thanks for the feedback, ws. Okay folks, if there’s one more person asking for music, I’ll do it. Any takers?

      Reply
  2. artistatexit0

    Sven…you definitely are a polymath! Your photos and stories are a winning combination and as far as adding music…give it a try and see if it floats.

    Reply
    • Sven

      Thanks Al, I love the word “polymath” – I’ll have to integrate that into a piece some time. Okay, so people seem to be into the music, so I’ll try to figure out how to integrate an optional music player that’s not too clunky. I don’t want to do autoplay, that has its own problems.

      Reply
  3. Ruth Heil

    If you add music, you’ll be a writer and a musician with a camera.

    You inspired me to add photos to my blog years ago, and the results have been wonderful. Thank you for that.

    I have posted a few pieces with an optional link for readers to listen to music while reading. I know friends who liked it, but I have no idea how many missed the link or didn’t have the technology to play it. Regardless, the whole process added a ton of time to the post, especially since I recorded my own stuff. For those who heard it, I believe it was enjoyable, but it remains on the bottom of the priority list.

    Happy trails into this new venture. Your perspective is fantastic.

    Reply
  4. Sven

    So glad I was able to inspire you to use photos, Ruth. May I say, you’ve done a great job with it, giving your already stellar writing just another sparkle on the top.

    I think for written pieces the music may be a bit distracting, but for photo sites it can create a nice ambiance. I probably wouldn’t just use some generic new age tune (my trepidation is that I find most background music to be pretty cheesy) but since I have some of my own recordings it could make for a nice authentic complement to the visuals.

    I’ll spend a little time to see how I could work it out technically, will keep all you guys posted.

    Reply

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