Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Words and Images: A Partnership Between Writer and Photographer (Part One)

There are many ways a writer could collaborate with readers, other writers, illustrators, and more. Friends and fans can form a writer’s launch team for a new book. Other authors who write in the same genre can form promo teams to blog or release book sets. Those who write books for children are especially likely to team up with illustrators.

When the February theme for the Blood-Red Pencil turned out to be Partnerships, however, one collaborative effort popped into my brain from right here in Northern Colorado. Author, writing consultant, and publisher Kerrie Flanagan teamed up with artist and photographer Suzette McIntyre to create and publish three coffee table books.

The project seemed a huge undertaking to me, so I contacted Kerrie and Suzette to see if they would share a few of their experiences. I started with Kerrie, asking her how the idea for these projects originated.

“The idea for the books grew from a class Suzette and I did together on photography and poetry," Kerrie said. "It was a three-week class where she taught photography techniques and I taught poetry. We talked about how powerful these mediums are individually, but when you put them together it adds another dimension to the work. As a culminating project, each participant chose 3-5 photos and the accompanying poem to display in Suzette's gallery. We hosted a wine and cheese reception for the artists and general public. That was when we talked about making a coffee table book with photography and poetry.”

Suzette expanded on the class and workshops she and Kerrie presented, then added, “The first book was originally going to be just Kerrie and me, but I was getting ready to hold an art competition at the gallery, and after a bit of discussion we added a poetry category to the competition and decided to add the winners to the book. Doing this would create more awareness and interest."

Kerrie had “dabbled in poetry before” and taught the craft when she was an elementary school teacher. She prefers to write short “poems that have a specific pattern and framework like Haiku and Cinquain. This gives me parameters to work within and that works better for me than free verse.”

At that point, I was curious about what came first during the creative process, the words or the images. I asked Suzette that question plus one about their brainstorming process.

“I typically had the photograph first and the poetry/words emerged from the image," Suzette said. "In a few cases, I had a poem in my head and went out to capture an image to depict what I was saying.”

For Kerrie’s contributions, she sent her photographs to Suzette for book layout, then Suzette inserted Kerrie's text on the opposite blank page when she received Kerrie’s poems. Most of the work was done through email, but the two met a few times to talk about marketing.

There’s a business side to think about when collaborating with another person on a project, so I asked Kerrie what her best advice would be on the value or necessity of a written contract for these projects.

Kerrie responded, “Suzette and I have known each other for years, but I still wrote up a contract for these books. I have done this for all the books I have collaborated on with other writers. A contract spells everything out ahead of time so there is no guess work with the money, who owns the rights to the content, and all the other details. Writing and publishing a book is a business. When you collaborate on a project it becomes a two-person business. A contract ensures that both parties know the specifics of our business arrangement and lessens the chances of future disagreements. I value my relationship with Suzette, and I don't want anything to change that.”

When I think of the one collaborative writing project I worked on many years ago with my brother, I’m impressed that Kerrie and Suzette produced three of these amazing books. My brother and I vowed not to write together again after just one try.

Here is Part Two of this article, including bios for Kerrie Flanagan and Suzette McIntyre.


Pat (Patricia) Stoltey is the author of four novels published by Five Star/Cengage: two amateur sleuth, one thriller that was a finalist for a Colorado Book Award in 2015, and the historical mystery Wishing Caswell Dead (December 20, 2017).

Pat lives in Northern Colorado with her husband Bill, Scottish Terrier Sassy (aka Doggity), and brown tabby Katie (aka Kitty Cat).

You can learn more about Pat at her website/blog, on Facebook, and Twitter. She was recently interviewed for a Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers podcast that you can find at the RMFW website.

7 comments :

  1. I love the idea of marrying photography and poetry. While each can be powerful on its own, the synergy created by partnering them takes that power to new heights. Contracts should always be a integral part of partnership arrangements because, as you note, it keeps friends friendly. This is a great post, Pat. So glad you are with us again! We've missed you.

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    1. Thanks, Linda! It's fun to be back. Working with a team is more fun than blogging all alone at my place. :D

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  2. I feel like I would work together with someone as smoothly as you, Patricia. But those two ladies seem to have found a perfect project.

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  3. I think it takes a special type of personality, Susan, and as Linda confirmed in the above comment, a good contract.

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  4. I enjoyed putting together images for a handmade chapbook of my poems. The two mediums are powerful when used together.

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  5. A book of photos put together with quotes from historical figures would be interesting. And I also like drawings with essays or short stories. Maybe I'm a kid at heart because for me, pictures always make a story better.

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  6. I enjoy these kinds of books, so thanks for introducing me to these two. I think that "marrying" two forms of creativity can always be a good thing, especially when the two artists have as much respect for each other as Kerrie and Suzette seem to have.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.