Writing Inspired by a Digital Camera

How to Use a Digital Camera to Inspire Writing

I have often been stuck for a writing prompt. Some days, the words would not come.
I suppose it is the same with everyone, and like me, each of us tries to find inspiration in the things around us. This is where I find that my gallery of photographs taken by my Olympus digital camera handy.
Whenever I am traveling, or even going out of the house, my digital camera goes with me. And sometimes when something around the house or the view from my windows catches my eye, out comes the camera. The resulting pictures go into a CD.

They stay there, and on days when I do not know what to write about, I browse through my gallery and pick out the pictures that make me look twice. Take the picture below, for example:


It was taken on a trip to a museum in Malacca, Malaysia. The ornate beauty and the time taken to decorate a functional item like a ceiling fan was so emblematic of the unique atmosphere of Melacca, a quaint little historical town, quiet, laid back, almost sleep-inducing.

And from there on, I wrote a short story about a lonely old man in a small town whose life consists of chatting with his aged friends, good food, waiting for the yearly visits of his children and grandchildren, and a passion for collecting knives with ornate handles. He takes his time about everything he does, and the story is a contrast between the jet-setting life of his offspring, and his own attitude of taking each day as it comes, enjoying it, and giving it his best.

So to trigger off your writing inspirations from a digital camera, you need to:

  • Carry your digital camera with you wherever you are.
  • Snap things that catch your eye, and make a mental note of why you liked the thing before you enough to shoot it.
  • Save your snaps on a CD
  • When stuck for an idea, insert the CD, and browse through the pictures, trying to recapture the emotions you felt while taking the picture.
  • Let those emotions trigger images and associations and write those down.
  • Make a mind-map with them, if you like, because it is an ideal brainstorming device.
  • Flesh out the ideas that emerge into your writing, and voila, you have a story!

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12 comments

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  1. Damyanti

    Paul, thanks for stopping by and the comment. I have been away for a long while, and it is nice to see you were here when I was not:)

  2. Paul

    Stories born from photos. There’s so much material at hand. And that’s a fine snap of the ceiling fan. Good eye! Until I looked more closely, I mistook it for a very ornate door handle; so, not only is it a story idea, but it’s also a great idea for a condo upgrade 🙂 In this post I enjoy your encouraging message that we should seldom be without ideas.

  3. Myla

    I love my digital camera and I never leave home without it. It is amazing the cool shots you can get when you are on the fly. I am working on putting all of my photography on this photo blog my.LA

  4. Damyanti

    Thanks, Nalini, for dropping by, and for your insightful comment:).

    I am glad you agree, I for one love both photography and writing!

    Hope to see you here often.

  5. Nalini

    I couldn’t have agreed more. Life is really precious to let it pass by without its beautiful moments being captured. And what better way then on a camera.

    Creativity in any form-be it painting, sculpturing, photography or to that matter even writing are results of their inspiration. I can vouch for that, because I am constantly looking for various inspirations to create the mood for writing.

    Photographs in a way let you visualize and delve deeper into the world of imagination where in begins the journey of writing.