Written and Photographic Snapshots

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During my blogging absence over the past month I’ve taken an uncountable number of snapshots — hundreds of them — with my camera and iPhone.

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It makes me smile to remember a trip our family took in 1980 when, despite feeling significant guilt, I clicked through nineteen rolls of 35 mm film over the nine weeks’ journey. It was extravagant, but it was unlikely I would ever make that same trip again and I wanted to record every memory regardless of the cost.

Our first digital camera was a gift when my hubby retired in 2003. At first I was inhibited by the limitless opportunity of  amazing photographic freedom. It took a while to accept that I could depress my finger as often as I wanted and there would be no cost attached to any of my ‘mistakes’. One click recorded something; a different click deleted it; a third click printed it, but only if I desired an ‘hard copy’… and because I purchased photo paper in quantity, even that cost was negligible.

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I’ve been told the difference between an average photographer and a good one is in the number of discarded photos. Savvy photographers don’t display their mediocre shots. My laptop’s photo folder says it currently holds 6,874 pictures. On my desktop computer in the office there are 18,246 more, and that doesn’t account for the files saved on disks and memory cards. I don’t suppose a dozen of them are what I would call really good shots, but I keep all their files, just because I can. The only person besides me who likes to browse through them is my eight-year-old granddaughter and she doesn’t seem to care about quality. She likes revisiting the scenes, as do I.

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One advantage of keeping all of them is having a ready source of something to use in a blog post or add to the collages I like to create for inspiration while writing my novels.

Writers have various means of encouraging their creativity. Some have rituals they follow before settling into a writing session — maybe preparing a cup of tea, lighting a scented candle, turning on favourite music, or setting out a particular talisman.

One of my favourite go-to blogs is Writer Unboxed, and recently it ran a post about using a collage to create a snapshot of your novel. It turns out, I’m not the only one whose creativity gets a boost from visual stimulation. For each of my novels I’ve put together storyboards with photos, graphics and other items that reflect aspects of the plot. Some of the references might seem nebulous to someone unfamiliar with the developing story, but there is value to me in the artistic endeavour of assembling the collage. On the few occasions when I begin to bog down part way through the story, I stop writing and return to the collage, searching out new bits and building them into the existing collection until my enthusiasm for writing returns.

It’s almost as effective as taking a walk in the woods or beside the lake or seashore with my camera in hand. 🙂

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If you’re a storyteller, what techniques do you have for maintaining your writing momentum? 

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“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

[Ecclesiastes 3:11a]

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6 thoughts on “Written and Photographic Snapshots

  1. Darlene says:

    I too use my photographs for inspiration when writing. Like yo, I take many pictures, especially of holidays, as I want the memories. Up until recently I printed most of them and put them in albums . Kids love looking through photo albums! I worry about the permanence of photos on the computer.

    • Carol says:

      Yes, leaving digital photos on computers can be risky. I do have backups of my photo files and have printouts of several, although your comment reminds me I should print out more of my treasured ones, “just in case”! 🙂

  2. Mary Helen says:

    I am fascinated by your use of photos and story board and the industrious nature of your efforts! I enjoyed this blog greatly and I think your photos are beautiful. There is a whole drawer full of Murray’s photos of students at the cottage and we cannot decide what to do with them since they do not mean anything to the family. Better if he had just kept them on his computer!!

    • Carol says:

      I can relate to that drawerful! (Maybe Ibi would enjoy ‘inheriting’ those photos?)

      On the floor behind the armchair in my office there is a stack of boxes containing photos awaiting my attention! Many were my parents’ and I intended to have them into albums long before now, but many others are simply ones I should have discarded…but haven’t. :/

  3. I just know there’s a book in your future. Imagine your best photos in a beautiful book on my coffee table!!! And I could tell my guests that I know the photographer! Your photos give me much joy, Carol.

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