Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Passion for Photos and Writing

         Sheila Finkelstein's passion centers on using photographs to inspire her readers to search within themselves for new insights and understandings. Sometimes these realizations lead to prose. At other times they lead to poetry. Here's an example of one of Sheila's photo-drawings along with the poem it inspired. The photo and poem are one of a series of four you'll discover  at
          You can see many more of Sheila's imaginative images and at the same time read  her suggestions  for using them as inspiration  when you visit her at

               “The Iris”
Icarus like wings, they flutter,
Petals in the sun. 
Rivaling the gods, they mutter,
Dewey drips, they run.
Incense wafting in the breeze
Luring all around.
Snaring swarms of buzzing bees,
Pleased with what they’ve found.
             Copyright © 2002 by Cyrano

Black and White Images Are Powerful

        Although images reproduced in color can stimulate the mind and generate many ideas, black and white images are at least as powerful, if not more so. To experience this effect fully, click on the photo shown above. 
        This image appears on page 90 of Write What You See: 99 Photos To Inspire Writing. Different  prompts designed to trigger ideas accompany each of the images. In this case a quotation by Tennessee Williams introduces two specific ideas for writing: (1) What story might be behind this photo? (2) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go, and what would you do after you got there? Several key words follow the prompts. Other entries in the book present different combinations of photos and prompts.
       For more information and to purchase the book, please visit

Find Out More at The National Writing Project
          In an article titled "Teachers Use Photo Prompts To Spark Writing," Gavin Tachibana presents a wealth of information that's accompanied by several links to related sources that are interesting and very useful.  To read the article, please visit
And As If That Isn't Enough 
        Writer-photographer Cynthia Staples has worked with education nonprofit organizations exploring concepts of culture, community, and sustainability for more than ten years. Her photos are interesting and sure to inspire writers at many levels--both in and out of the classroom. To see more of her excellent work visit
        Here are two examples of Cynthia's work that are sure to trigger almost unlimited ideas for writing. For greater impact, please click on the photos to enlarge them.
        In each photo we see a person looking into the camera. One of the people is smiling: the other isn't. The man seems to be thoughtful, detached, somewhat distant. The woman, on the other hand, is smiling, open, and perhaps playful as she looks directly into the camera.

         Who are these people? In what ways are they alike? Different? If they met on a park bench, what would they be thinking? What would the say to each other? What influences would have shaped their lives? What are their professions? Why is the woman smiling? Why is the man pensive?
         These are just a few questions that you and your students can respond to as you use photographs to inspire writing. For even more imaginative approaches to writing by Cynthia Staples, visit And while you're there don't miss my own series of ten articles on using photography to inspire writing.


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