the literate lens

photography, writing and the spaces between


SarahHead“A picture speaks a thousand words” — so goes the cliché. But there are times when words have a specificity that would be impossible for an image to convey, and other times when images contain non-linguistic nuances. And there are still other times when words and images come together to form a complete entity, documentary or artistic.

We live in an interconnected world. The Literate Lens is a bi-weekly blog that investigates connections between photography, art and literature, aiming to bring more depth to the cultural conversation around all three.

I’m Sarah Coleman, a writer and editor based in New York City. I’ve always been interested in both literature and visual art, especially photography. For many years I wrote about books, art, film and photography for a number of publications including Salon, the San Francisco Chronicle, Art News, New York Newsday and Photo District News. I still contribute to some of those publications (my journalism web site is here) and I’m also now getting back to my Fiction MFA roots by writing a novel set during the early days of documentary photography.

Please comment, join the conversation!

Header image by Akbar Sim.

26 comments on “About

  1. Fraukje
    February 5, 2014

    NYC must be a very resourceful place for photography!

    • sarahjcoleman
      March 10, 2014

      Yes it is, Fraukje! There’s always so much to do and see.

  2. fancyfrivolous
    March 9, 2014

    beautiful blog

  3. Ajith
    April 20, 2014

    Photography, as you said is a visual art. The challenge and the fun a photographer has, is to make his / her interpretation in 2D space most of the time as small as the quarter page of a magazine. Is he gets a full page, it is time for him to buy champagne ☺

    As the readers of the magazine flips through the pages, if they stops at a picture, take a second look, a third look, a fourth look .. ah ha .. you have dine your job well as a photographer ..

    I have subscribed to you bog and shall look forward to its entries..

    Thank you for sharing your views with us

    • sarahjcoleman
      April 20, 2014

      Thank you, Adith! I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to comment.

    • Tieme
      November 15, 2014

      That’s a great comment Ajith and you’re right. I start following this blog too!

      Kind regards,

  4. longexposuremagazine
    October 21, 2014

    Hi Sarah,

    Long Exposure Magazine is a new publication informed by almost identical research interests to your own, which we are looking to explore both creatively and critically. I have been immensely impressed by your work and passion for these subjects, would you be interested in discussing a possible guest article for our magazine? Feel free to contact us anytime at:
    We look forward to hearing from you!

    Daniel Williams

    Long Exposure Magazine

  5. ryanmgruss
    January 29, 2015

    Gotta say, this blog is definitely worth the follow – great job, loving all the beautiful photography and stories! 🙂
    Apart from my blog, I’ve got a project called Showzee ( that might definitely interest you, take a look and if you fancy it, request an invite and I’ll fast track you!

  6. Marcel
    February 16, 2015

    Hey Sarah, I really appreciate your blog! I used the suburbia theme, too. But i didnt manage to split the first line oft posts into only two articles instead of four! Can you please tell me, how you did this? Thanks a lot and keep blogging!

    • sarahjcoleman
      February 16, 2015

      Sure, Marcel. It’s pretty easy. When you’re formatting a new post, there’s a box on the right hand side of the Edit page called Publish. The second item in the box says Visibility: Public, Sticky. If you click ‘Edit’ after that, it will bring up a drop-down menu that allows you to select ‘Public’ and ‘Stick this post to the front page.’ Posts that are stuck to the front page are featured as large posts. I think that should work for you!

  7. robertgolden
    May 29, 2015

    Please have a look at my blogs about photography and see if they are worth your attention.

  8. Quinn Farley
    July 17, 2015

    Just found your blog site. Love it! My passions fall along the same lines as yours: writing, photography, all visual art. Question from your “About” page -have you finished your novel?

    • sarahjcoleman
      July 19, 2015

      Thanks for commenting, Quinn, and I’m really glad you found the site. To answer your question, I’m currently working on what feels like the 72nd revision of my novel, and my agent is planning to submit it in the fall. Fingers and toes crossed!

  9. Sarah, Very interesting blog. I am a photographer who prefer to use the lens as an art instrument with enough plasticity to imagine the future. I understand you wrote “Sisterhood” in the recent PDN edition. As a woman art photographer, I must congratulate you for it. Haydee Yordan

    • sarahjcoleman
      September 16, 2015

      Thank you! It was a fun article to write, and very rewarding too, because all the women were excited about what they’re doing and grateful that it was being noticed.

  10. thepighasacurlytail
    September 16, 2015

    Enjoyed your Amy Winehouse story. Like Steve Martin once said, “Some people have a way with words while other people just don’t (pause) have way.”

    Also like your choice of header image, blog name and header statement. Such soft-spoken subtlety. Kudos!

    • sarahjcoleman
      September 16, 2015

      Thank you! I appreciate the Steve Martin reference. I’m glad you found the blog!

  11. Ngobesing Romanus
    October 10, 2015

    When words and pictures are well crated together they can convey a powerful message in a way that appeals. I like the way you put it. ‘…words and images come together to form a complete entity.” You have a really great blog.

  12. Robert Kalman
    October 13, 2015

    Hello, Sarah,

    I’m Robert Kalman, self-described as the oldest emerging photographer in North America.

    Your observation that “there are…times when words and images come together to form a complete entity” has a particular resonance for me, because it is the substance and the context of the portraits I have been making for the past several years. It is work that predates and moves beyond the “Humans of New York” genre. I believe it is more subtle and more layered. I invite you to sample my images and the accompanying words here: or on my website.

    Thanks for looking!

  13. Ronnie Farley
    October 22, 2015

    I’m just discovering you now..I have much to read here to catch up! Thank you for honoring your passion and sharing it with the world. How refreshing your writing, insights, and interviews are. Thank you!

  14. Michelle Adam
    February 4, 2016

    I love your site. It’s beautiful work. Thank you. I look forward to reading more and seeing more of your site. You may enjoy my Journey of Spirit and Healing blog, which tells he personal story behind my novel, Child of Duende. I used to work as a photojournalist and photographer before working as a journalist and writer so I appreciate your site. Thanks, Michelle

  15. Doug Earle
    July 21, 2017

    found your blog while reading 8 Girls Taking Pictures. Very helpful and insightful guide to the book. I probably would have given up on it were it not for the context you set. How’s your novel progressing? Can’t wait to read it.

    • sarahjcoleman
      July 21, 2017

      Thanks, Doug! I’m glad you found the blog. And thanks so much for asking after my novel. It’s been through many iterations and on a bumpy road to publication, but will finally be coming out later this year–rest assured that I will be letting all Literate Lens readers know all about it!

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