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Writing Special: Defining an Audience for a Photography Book

Interested in writing about photography? The reason I do it well and write photography books is because I was an elementary school teacher for 14 years. The job taught me how to change my writing to different levels.

After analyzing the audience of my blog, Digital Traveler, which is the advanced amateur, I  automatically write for that level. If I want to extend my writing to beginners, I need to define more terms. For example,  my blog post about Ansel Adams pasted below was designed for a more advanced audience:

The master of landscape photography, Ansel Adams, was a realist who photographed with small apertures using a medium format camera so he could get sharpness throughout the frame. 

Adams knew that the results that came from his camera were going to be different from what he shot on film and what he got on paper, so he accounted for it while shooting with the zone system. 

He made his photographs appear HDR-like by using a zone system, whereby he’d assign image parts to different zones for printing (see above). He pre-visualized the landscape, relating it to the tones that would come up in prints. He’d get detail by using dodging and burning, much like we do when we use those Photoshop options today. Adams’s zone system has been likened to a 1940s chemical Photoshop.

If I were writing for a general audience, I’d have to define the terms assume they might not already know. For example, when you read the article (assuming you know little about photography), I’d define realist, apertures, medium format camera, zone system and HDR.

Now that I’ve identified these terms I’ll show you how I define it within the text of my paragraph. It’s in bold italics.

The master of landscape photography, Ansel Adams, was a realist, looking for reality in his photographs, who photographed with small apertures, or camera lens opening, using a medium format camera, a camera with big film frames. His goal was to get sharpness throughout the frame, the area in which the picture is contained.

Do you understand how I defined the words so a nonphotographer would have an easier time reading the piece? I also had to make two sentences for it because the definitions made the sentences too long.

This is one of the most important parts of my job. When my writing is too difficult, my editors let me know about it, usually by asking me to define ambiguous terms that beginners might not know. This way, I’m expanding my audience so that it includes beginners.
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