Using photos to build on description

I recently changed my desktop photo to a small, wooden bridge draped with summer leaves. When I took the photo, I didn’t remember seeing all the things I see when I look at the photo now – the breathtaking way the light shines on the surrounding foliage, or the way the bark is so smooth on the railing in sections. What I do remember is that it was a little walking bridge leading to somewhere unknown. I remember the way the creek under it chattered across the rocks, and how inviting the bridge was – calling for me to cross it, to venture into the leaf-strewn thicket on the other side which lead to a picnic area near a ten-foot waterfall.

How about you? Have you ever looked at a photo and seen things you didn’t when you took the shot? Have you ever considered using that photo to build on your description and sensory writing?
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8 thoughts on “Using photos to build on description

  1. Photo’s are always a good thing to help inspire as well as set the scene for the writer. They’re a great way to remember things as well as keeping a vivid unchangable shot in the writers mind. Its a great way to establish things as well as allowing the writer to travel to places that they’ve only imagined.

    • I love photos. Since I’ve gone digital, it’s so easy to experiment and take different kinds of shots. I’ve taken a fair few of the moon, but alas, not all of them have come out the way I had hoped. Some are excellent. Maybe I’ll use them in some descriptive scene or the other one day.

  2. ohh… nice picture. I have a lot of “tunnel” pictures that kind of remind me of that one. Tunnels of trees into unknown places, new worlds, all that.

    I do sometimes use pictures to help me and do notice things I didn’t see before.

    Love that picture.

  3. I love that picture too…I could imagine myself walking there!

    I’ve taken pictures that have ended up having those weird ghost bally things floating around…very creepy…but otherwise pictures don’t do it for me- inspiration wise, that is.

    But I do find that pictures help with the accuracy of description. Like in one of my novels I have a weeping elm…and it’s a tree that I took a picture of on a trip a few years ago. Taking a look at that picture really helped me to remember all of the great things about that tree that made me want to make it a focal point in quite a few scenes in my book.

  4. My current desktop background is a photo of a beautiful 65 year old bonsai tree. It’s there to inspire me and might even appear in a story one of these days.

    Generally, I don’t make direct use of photographs. That’s mostly because I no longer have a working camera. I’d love to return to the city where my novel is set (well one of the settings ) and take some photos. Maybe next year. Or maybe I’ll find what I need on the internet. The cheaper way. 🙂

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