I met Gail Mooney earlier this year at Strictly Business, the American Society for Media Photographers' biannual conference, where I attended her outstanding workshop on using the DSLR to shoot films. I was immediately struck by her poise and intellect—ladyfriend knew her stuff—but it was only later, when I finally got the chance to view a chunk of the extraordinary documentary she shot with her daughter, Erin Kelly, that I started to grasp the depth and breadth of Gail's expertise (not to mention how thoroughly she walks her talk). Gail and several of her colleagues at ASMP are pioneering the shift of the modern photographer to the far more flexible, forward-thinking and, to me, vital job of "visual storyteller." You want to know what the face of change looks like? It looks like Gail Mooney.
When did you decide to become a writer?
To call myself a "writer" is a bit intimidating to me. I think of myself more as a photographer who writes or more recently, a filmmaker who writes. I am in awe of the talents of good "writers" or songwriters and not sure I can put myself in that league. However, I can say that I started writing about 7 years ago. I had spent a career collaborating with some of the great writers like Bill Bryson, Mordecai Richler and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, but the only writing I did was to provide information for the captions of my photographs. I have kept a journal sporadically at times in my life, but what really prompted me to write was the need to create order for my thoughts. I'd wake up in the wee hours of the morning and my mind would be spinning with ideas, so rather than toss and turn in bed, I started writing and putting those thoughts out there in my blogs, Journeys of a Hybrid and Opening Our Eyes.
Who was your favorite teacher?
If you mean writing teacher, I can't say that I had one. But I have one good friend who is a writer who encouraged me and gave me the confidence to write. I've had many valuable teachers in my life - some professional teachers and some people who have been mentors and have inspired me to pursue my passions.
What do you love to write about?
I write about whatever happens to be running through my mind. I love to write about inspirational themes—pursuing one's dreams—being on purpose. I write about what I happen to be working on at the time or what I am dealing with at that point in my life. I share my successes and failures that I've had with photographic and video projects. I share my expertise as a producer, a director and a photographer. I share my hopes and dreams but what I love I love the most is sharing my passion of being a storyteller.
What has writing taught you?
Writing has given me confidence. It has also given me pause—to collect my thoughts and try to articulate them in the best way I can.
How has writing made you stronger?
Writing has made me a better communicator and there is a lot of power in that. I can and have used the writing skills that I've learned and applied them in writing grant proposals and job bids.
If you could go back in time and tell 10-year-old you anything, what would it be?
Dream big and always believe in your dreams.
What are your five favorite books, blogs or things to read?
- Steven Pressfield's book, The War of Art
- Blake Snyder's book, Save the Cat
- Seth Godin's blog
- Chris Guillebeau's blog, The Art of Non-Conformity
Gail Mooney is a photographer and filmmaker based in the NY Metro area. Her passion is using her tools to create awareness. Her latest project, Opening Our Eyes, is a feature-length film that she recently completed. She circumvented the globe on a 99-day journey with her daughter Erin Kelly seeking change makers on six continents who are making a positive difference in the world. View the trailer.
Photo: Gail Mooney and Erin Kelly on the eve of their sneak preview of Opening Our Eyes at the State Theater in Traverse City, MI