How To Find Writing Inspiration Through Photos

Some days it’s hard to write.

You’re feeling uninspired and the well is momentarily dry.

Maybe it’s because you didn’t plan today’s post in advance and you’re scrambling for something to muse about. Maybe the current state of affairs in the world leaves you feeling drained and empty.

Whatever the reason, I can usually find ideas from several reliable sources that spark creativity. The two that come to mind today, World Photo Day, are pictures and the Hashtag Holiday calendar.


Photography

Photos often elicit emotional responses based on the subject matter. Animals engaged in silly behavior tickle our funny bones. Misty forests and empty beaches evoke calm. Devastation from acts of terrorism startle our very souls. 

Our own family albums are robust with memories of birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and graduations. These are the right-of-passage celebrations routinely captured for an honored spot in the pages of our personal history books.

But, what about those mundane occasions that I call “still-shot” moments? In a flash they transport us back, sometimes decades, to a time and place that make us feel like it was just last week. 

I have many of these pictures. One is of my brother and I flying a kite in the neighborhood field. It was the early 70s. There are a few patches of snow still clinging intermittently to the brown grass, signaling what was probably a March day. I remember those spring seasons as being more drawn out; alternating between light snowfalls, chilly rain showers and winds that signaled a change was eventually coming.

Recognizing our plaid coats and winter boots, I can almost feel the dampness from that cold, overcast day. The kite was a Jolly Roger pirate design and the sound of its thin plastic rattling against the gusty breezes echo in my mind. I can see my Dad’s face, a young father in his forties, wanting to capture a time that he knew would be gone too soon.

The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” despite being overused, is nonetheless true. Photos are powerful and impact both our senses and memories, sources ripe for creative endeavors like writing. 

If you’re stuck for inspiration check out some images. Websites like National Geographic, NASA, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art are just a few of the endless opportunities found on the Internet. Even a scroll through stock photo sites can jostle ideas about topics you hadn’t considered before.

And don’t forget the family photo albums. You may start out looking for something specific to write about and find a dozen other unrelated gems!

Hashtag Holidays

Long before the Internet, nonprofits and global entities created “awareness days” to educate the public on important local and global issues. 

Fast forward to 2020 and these awareness days have morphed into hashtag commemorations. These unofficial holidays work well with social media, which uses hashtags, or labels, to easily group information with specific themes or content. They are a great tool for brands to reach their target audiences, while the public can connect and share with businesses and each other. 

You can find a hashtag holiday for just about any category:

  • Animals
  • Art & Entertainment
  • Cause
  • Culture
  • Food & Beverage
  • Health
  • Relationships
  • Religion
  • Seasonal
  • Special Interest

The sub-categories are endless. Some examples:

  • National Walking Day – (Health)
  • National Bloody Mary Day – (Food & Beverage > Cocktails, Liquor)
  • National Hat Day – (Arts & Entertainment > Fashion)
  • National Cuddle Up Day – (Relationships > Love, Romance)
  • National Squirrel Appreciation Day – (Animals > Pet, Wildlife)
  • National Oreo Cookie Day – (Special Interest > Brand)

With so many subjects to choose from, it’s easy to pair an observance with a topic you’re considering. Or, it may just prompt an entirely new idea!

So, for #WorldPhotoDay I’m including a few of my own favorite captures, taken with an iPhone. As I go through the camera roll I’ll keep an eye out for any random ideas that come to mind. 

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then there’s a wealth of material in front of us at any given moment. Some days we just have to look a little harder.

  • Close up headlight of antique car
  • Red autumn leaves scattered around the base of a tree
  • Landscape of red barn set against green background and blue sky
  • Rainbow over the ocean
  • Exploration Tower in Port Canaveral, with beautiful sunset in background.

Who is Your Kindness Role Model?

Inspiring Life.pngDear Grandma,

As an exercise in recognizing people who inspire kindness, I decided to write a letter to a role model and immediately thought of you.

Your 4 ft. 8 in. frame belied the giant that you truly were. For the 36 years that we spent together, your spirit of generosity and sacrifice never ceased to amaze me. 

As far back as I can remember, you were the happiest when giving to others. Whether it was financial assistance or help of some other kind, you were the first to step up and offer. Your Christian faith and love for God motivated your charitable nature.

I also remember what a hard worker you were. With only a sixth-grade education you had to leave school and go to work as domestic help for more well-to-do households. The money you earned was turned over to your parents to help with expenses for a large, but impoverished German family.

Elderly HandsREV

You cleaned, scrubbed, and provided childcare for others and then came home and did some more. You ran errands that involved walking long distances in all kinds of weather. You had to grow up before your time and missed out on the joys of being a kid.

This kind of menial labor continued until you retired at 65. 

Your hands were the reflection of this lifetime of hard work. No smooth, soft skin or manicured nails. No jewelry. Just rough-hewn palms and translucent skin, mottled with age spots and a lacework of veins.  

I recall these hands clearly. Smallish, yet capable of so much. From kneading floured dough to fixing my broken toys to pointing out the Bible verses as I followed along.

You didn’t earn much money but managed to save most of it. You lived simply and wasted nothing, repurposing long before it became fashionable. Clothes and cars were second-hand, but your treatment of others was first-rate. You had very little in the way of material possessions, yet you wanted for nothing.

Despite the many hardships you never became bitter. It’s easy to show kindness and generosity when life has been good. But, it’s not as simple when life has been harsh. We tend to look at others and wonder why we don’t have the same opportunities. 

Gratitude

I never heard you complain about any aspect of your life. Your attitude of gratitude was nothing short of amazing, which is why I consider you a true role model.

I’ve learned to appreciate the basic necessities of life without always wanting something more. You taught me this. I feel sorry for those who define themselves by their material possessions. You explained that they’re trying to fill up the emptiness inside and even the best, most luxurious brands can’t do that.

You always took pride in your work and reminded me that no matter what the job is we should always do our best. 

Your advice was to try to help others whenever possible and always with a smile. I may not be able to give in large ways, but I try to give in a lot of small ways.

The lessons in kindness, generosity, and humility that you always taught by example shaped the very best parts of me and I’ll be forever grateful…thankful for your love and all that you gave with such a caring heart.

I miss you a lot and hope that you’re proud of my efforts as a daughter, mother, and friend. I try to give my best to all the people in my life, just as you did in yours.

With much love & gratitude…xoxoxo


Revised & reposted from 2017