Can photography help with your writing?

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With the school holidays in full swing, all hope of getting any work done has been abandoned in exchange for family time. I am still managing to put pen to paper, but my time management is totally off the radar. I don’t mind. In fact, I cherish my family time. In a few short years, I will be calling my kids to see if they remember me, as they throw themselves into careers, partners and exploring this incredible world. I’ll take what I can get.

My kids are incredibly laid back. Where I try to organise exciting trips and book holidays to cities full of culture, they are happy to sit back, and sip a cool drink and watch the world go by. They learnt this from me because I used to be an incredibly laid back person too. People watching was my favourite past-time. But lately I find myself in a restless and jittery mood.

So I decided to adopt their attitude and try to leave my jumbled thoughts and worries behind, for the next few weeks at least. The new school year will be here before we know it, and with it will come exams, deadlines and the frightening expense of new uniforms that they outgrew over the summer.

As I embark on the fun and frivolity of summer, I will inevitably catalogue every moment on camera. Taking pictures is yet another one of my favourite past-times. I took a beginners photography course a few years ago, but the technical jargon confused the hell out of me, and I opted for selfies and a dodgy zoom on my camera phone instead. If you stand still long enough, I will take a photo of you!

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I never thought of this as a problem until my daughter tried to explain how addicted I was to picture taking. It took her several attempts to break this news to me, as she was laughing so hard at the time.

‘Oh look a discoloured rock.’ Her childlike glee was bubbling over as she mocked me. I don’t think I’m that bad, and that discoloured rock just happened to be embedded in a two-thousand-year-old wall! #justsaying

I decided to look at the photo albums stored on my laptop to see if there was any truth in her scandalous accusations. It appears she might have a point!

However, in my defence, I use many of the photographs I take as research for my writing (it’s a valid excuse and I’m standing by it!). A current project I am working on is set in the woods. As I love spending time in nature – and camping – I took the kids to Sherwood Forest for a long weekend. We had a great time and I came home with an abundance of photographs of trees, leaves and the beautiful hidden dells you find on a woodland walk.

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Abandoned buildings, ramshackle huts and crumbling churches are perfect for settings and atmosphere. Having a photograph of such a place helps me to recall the feel, the smell and the ideas that invaded my senses when I took that photograph.

So, is it just me or do other writers have an obsession with selfie sticks and panoramic sea views? Do you use photography to enhance your research? Please share you stories so my kids will stand still long enough for me to snap that misshaped cobblestone.

11 thoughts on “Can photography help with your writing?

  1. Well at least you’re still managing to put pen to paper Shelley. I’ve never had such a busy summer and I sometimes have to pause amid my frustration and be grateful for the time I’m having with my family. And relax….it will soon be September and my mornings will be my own again! As for photos! Pictures of leaves, rocks, spiderwebs and ‘other stuff’ are important and as I’m always telling my kids, ‘I may someday need this photo of a strange man pushing an old bicycle along a busy road’. Well I might!! Now my break is over so I have to turn off my internet and get back to work!

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  2. Absolutely not selfie sticks..not sure I’d even recognise one if it bit me in the bum. But I DO go up to London & take pics of the old buildings in the areas I’m writing about. which helps me to get into the period. There’s a lot of original stuff still there…you just have to look up…

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