Friday, June 25, 2010

More Black and White and Color Images

        If you've used Write What You See: 99 Photos To Inspire Writing in your classroom, you know how powerful black and white images can be.  If, however, you haven't used WWYS,  you can find out more about this outstanding publication at and by scrolling to the end of this blog to read what the School Library Journal wrote about it. 
       One of the reasons black and white images are as powerful as they are is that they stimulate the subconscious more than color images do. Notice how the image shown above captures the eye and suggests many possibilities for writing. For an even more dramatic effect, click on the image to enlarge it.
                     But If You Prefer Color Photos, Try These
        In today's world of digital cameras many people seem to prefer color images over those that are  black and white. Here's an example of one such image you can use to inspire your students. To see more color images, visit and click on All ALBUMS. Feel free to download any of these images for use in your classroom.
      You won't find any written prompts at Photobucket, but you probably won't need them. In most cases you can simply show the images to your students, encourage them to discuss their responses, and then allow them to express themselves in writing.

Two Images By Cynthia Staples
          "A few years ago," writes Cynthia Staples, " I worked for an after school writing program. Kids, mostly middle-school aged, would engage in an activity and then have to write about their experiences.  Usually the activities were very physical like basketball or a scavenger hunt.  However, on a rainy day or in winter, the staff would sometimes have the children select an image from a folder.  The images varied greatly from a dog licking an ice cream cone to a little boy bowled over with laughter.  The children would have to write something about what they were seeing.  For some of the children it was hard, but for others, it was a wonderful liberating experience.  It was an activity that I carried with me for a long time after I left the program."
       These two images by Cynthia offer many opportunities for you to inspire your students. The image at the top is a negative image: the one below it is a positive image.
       Students will be able to respond to these photos at many levels. For example, the negative image might suggest danger, fear, or even a bad dream. What feelings or emotions does it engender? In what way(s) does the person shown in the photo seem to be threatening? What are the specific things in the photo that contribute to its effect?
      The positive image, however, is much more realistic. Who is the man? What does the hood he's wearing suggest? What does the expression on his face suggest? Does he have a family?
       For more images and ideas by Cynthia Staples please visit While you're there, be sure to study the many photos and suggestions you'll discover.
      Coming soon: Thunderheads over Haviland Lake by Molly Anderson-Childers; Two Babies by Cynthia Staples; Flowers and Poems by Sheila Finkelstein.

Here's What School Library Journal Wrote about 
Write What You See

Write What You See: 99 Photos to Inspire Writing 120p. w/CD. photos. reprods. Web sites. Cottonwood Press, 2009. pap. $24.95. ISBN 978-1-877673-83-2. LC 2008938630.This book is filled with black-and-white photos of all types–landscapes, portraits, action shots, stills, and more. The images are paired with a quote from scholars, writers, philosophers, celebrities, politicians, etc. For example, a shot of a gymnast supporting himself in mid-air is matched with Lance Armstrong’s comment, “Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever,” and an image of a little girl taking a picture appears with a quip from Dorothea Lange: “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” Each entry is also joined with one or more of the following writing prompts: questions to consider, possible opening lines, ideas for writing, or possible key words. The book, which is accompanied by a CD containing all of the photos and text, concludes with five pages of suggestions by teachers as to how one can use the volume to inspire writing. A terrific resource for ELA and creative-writing teachers.–Joanne K. Cecere, Monroe-Woodbury High School, Central Valley, NY


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