Image and utterance

Occasionally we ask an experienced poet to share some words of wisdom, advice or inspiration with you. We found poet Bob Ward keen to give us some insight into his use of photography and poetry combined.

Image and utterance – by Bob Ward

‘In both Western and Eastern cultures there is a long tradition of relating text and image on a page. With the advent of digital photography it opened up new ways of exploring the possibilities. For me it allowed for a fusion of two major interests: taking photographs and writing poetry.’

52 Locked door Bob Ward

© Bob Ward

‘A frequent remark is that a picture is worth a thousand words. But life isn’t always that simple. I enjoy the trade-off between the two media. While I was thrilled to confront a sea lion in Vancouver aquarium I was aware that it was in captivity and I needed to record that feeling too.’ (CLICK to see photo and poem )

28 Toothpaste web Bob Ward

© Bob Ward

‘I am often asked “What comes first, the photo or the poem?” In practice it can work either way, one leading to the other. However, just as a text may have gone through many stages of revision, finding the best photo to complement it can become a minor project in itself. For example, choosing the gravestones in ‘A Glance at the Back’ where the poem appears as a quasi-inscription. In that case the text is added as an overlay to the photo, but elsewhere it seemed better to situate it in a box.’

25 A Glance at the back-web Bob Ward

© Bob Ward

There is potential to endless variations but one’s aim should be to produce a coherent design that does not obtrude the meaning of the piece.

Bob Ward

Bob Ward is a poet and photographer, specialised in the two mediums and is currently a member of the Quaker Arts Network. In 2008 Bob was invited to mount an exhibition at the Wells-next-the-Sea Poetry Festival in Norfolk, after which he was awarded an Associate Membership by the Royal Photographic Society in 2009. Bob published ‘Trusting at Last – a Volume of Bob Ward’s poetry’ in 2011 and contributed to Poets’ Corner’s collection on ‘Displacement: Stories of Hope and Humanity’ in 2015. 

Find more of Bob’s work here: 

Are there any other poets who work with photography?