Using Original Photography For Inspiration
The Chinese proverb “One picture is worth ten thousand words” in reality wasn’t a Chinese proverb at all. The phrase has been modified and misrepresented over the past hundred years in marketing campaigns and advertisements. However, if you stare closely at a well-taken photograph your imagination can run amuck as you fabricate the narrative.
Earlier this year I was challenged by a friend of mine to write an original Haiku per day for 100 days. We were both successful and we are separately each working on a self-published Haiku book with 100 original Haiku along with 100 original photographs.
With absolutely no experience nor qualifications to actually write one poem with any level of quality, I had to cheat. As plagiarism is not my style I decide to write to a visual and that visual was one of the thousands of photographs taking up space in my iPhone. When I was writing I would look into my photos and find an inspiring image and begin to write.
The words would begin to flow easily as I was just telling a story while attempting to focus on the 5-7-5 syllable rules. My creativity increased as I began to see Haiku in everything and I experimented more not only with my words but also my photography.
While I worked on my poems I began to develop and understand the rhythm that makes our world function. Our breathing, heartbeat, and each step we take, a rhythmic sequence. I attempted to capture the inner nuances within the image as my imagination would run wild.
After completing 100 original Haiku, my creativity was in overload. A new challenge was required that could fuel my desire to write while expanding on my photography. Without any actual requirements on the article topics, duration and purpose I decided to write about my passions for sound, design, learning and self-improvement. Leaving the door open to essential ramble on about any topic of interest I needed to hone myself into a lane and kind of stay there.
The challenge was to now each write 100 articles in 100 days. Certainly, a lot more work than 17 syllables, as we needed to have a sense of structure and conclusion. 24 hours to conjure up an original concept, write, edit and publish as we decided our vulnerability would exhume honest and pure writing.
My decision again to write to images that I already had acquired was helpful in saving time and keeping on task. My decided style would be writing in prose based on actual life events while attempting to be clear, concise and direct. Some days I would be serious and businesslike in my writing as other times I would be a bit more abstract and whimsical.
As I’d scroll through my phone I’d search for the best images I had taken. Images that had a builtin narrative I could expeditiously extract and attempt to detail. Often I would spend my time on details I felt were an expansion on the sense of sight as I’d explain sounds, tastes or smells.
My writing based on my recollection of the experience and the emotion I felt while being captured at that moment. The photo is merely a frozen fragment of time, captured in a split second, a story that can change in the blink of an eye or the click of the shutter.
Ode to Film
I’m only halfway through my narrative writing project as my creative juices continue to flow and I embrace the challenge. With the finish line in sight, I’ve been contemplating my next advances in the realm of creativity and self-discovery. My mind is replaying the sheer brilliance of my favorite films.
With 24 frames of images per second and the average feature film having a 90-minute duration the potential for a filmmaker to tell his tales dwarfs those of the photographer. 12,960 individual visual opportunities to mold a story and develop characters I find my love is for films that leave the narrative up to the individual viewer’s imagination. Filmmakers such as Lynch, Kubrick, Fincher, and Aronofsky have all made contemporary films discussed and debated by film aficionados.
Storylines and characters that are mysterious and intriguing yet believable. My favorite films such as Shudder Island, The Shining, Mulholland Drive and Pi have me constantly questioning what I believed to be true and what is left up to the viewer’s interpretation.
The Book Is Always Better
So why is it the book is always better than the film? The imagination of the reader would be my best guess. We would assume the writer was clear and definitive as they wrote the details into their literary piece. The threads of the fabric woven together to hopefully leave just enough uncertainty that allows our creative minds to race.
Did the author have a visual? Why have so many great writers traveled and lived in unique and interesting places? For inspiration, experience and the visual, I’d venture to guess.
So if you’re looking to expand your creativity in your writing and storytelling try using a visual. A still image locked in your mind’s time machine. A fragment of sand in father times eye. Visualize, photograph and write.