A very interesting and also very useful post from George Wills. Here George explores the possibility of taking inspiration from photographs and writing what you imagine:

Photographs can transport your mind, stimulate it, free it. Here are a few images that spoke to me and set my mind exploring. Get old ones, hard-copy is best, something you can actually handle, turn in your hands, maybe read a name or a message from the back, something that those in the picture may well have handled themselves. Imagine yourself through the surface, into the image.

Put yourself into the picture.

FIRST – The photo was of a girl at a bench, one of many, gutting fish on a beach, Cornish I believe, facing camera. In her voice, not mine.

Put yourself into the picture – feel it.

I smell of fish.  I always smell of fish and of this oil. I will always smell of fish, like my mother did and her mother, and that is how my daughter will smell.
There was a woman here yesterday, was it, or maybe Monday.  She smelled of roses and the fur she wore, that had its own scent, its own texture. She will never smell of fish.  When she is dead and in her grave she will be remembered as smelling of roses.  My memory will smell of fish.  And the oil.  Even on Sunday, in my best, such as it is.
They know my trade.  They sit above us in chapel, in the gallery, smelling of roses and lilies and tobacco.  We below, beneath them, packed in these pews like boxed fish and smelling of it.  It is not enough.  When will my time come to smell of roses?  Never.  Pouring the oil, crushed from the offal. The fish won’t like the smell of roses or the touch of fur and a lover who does not smell of fish or the touch of a mans hands soft not scarred by net or line or hook and calloused by salt water and why do they wrinkle their noses as they pass me in the street?
They need me and mine, their money to buy the scent of roses and the touch of fur is earned by what I do and my man does and what my daughter will do and they still scorn me in the street and sit away from us in chapel.  By what right do they scorn us? We work and they gain.  They worship the same God and read of the same disciples as us.  Peter was a fisherman – he would not have smelled of roses or fur.  He would have smelled of fish.

SECOND –  The photograph is of a derelict house, roof part-gone, as is one wall. Windows are blind, ready to fall out.

Put yourself into the picture – feel it.

Ghosts walk.  Floors gone, bedrooms merge with living space, ghosts of wallpaper and of paint, ghosts of toys and of people.  Memories are ghosts, as insubstantial and as impossible to capture or to retrieve. Damp.  Sunlight intruding where it was never meant to reach, not from that angle.  Damp where ghosts remember dry, cold where ghosts remember warmth.
They still walk their own private ‘then’ while in our ‘now’ sun strikes through the roof and through the walls that kept them private, kept their secrets, the facades that helped maintain their pretences and their posturing in public while they could live a very different private secret life. Paper peels from the rain, hangs like party streamers but no party now.  Child’s wall-drawings revealed as floral print peels and droops towards welcoming open cellar.
A child crying, screaming, now, here, would be heard through the spaces where walls and windows muffled before.  But the need for help, support, and comfort is gone, is a ghost.  If the walls had been as unsubstantial, the windows just empty squares then, he might have been heard and helped and comforted.  But the façade, the walls and windows and curtains stood strong and silenced and betrayed him – then.  Only his ghost is here to be comforted now.

THIRD – A photograph taken from  above, vertically. A pair of hands,  flat on a desk. Dark wood, stained oak, not fashionable but serviceable. Nothing special. Hands not moving. A time for considering, deciding. Chunky, confident hands, not manicured  but not neglected.

Put yourself into the picture – feel it.

A decision is made, left hand takes action. The left hand drawer, the one where the knob is missing, making it necessary for him to put his index finger into its socket to pull it out. A brown A4 envelope, unaddressed, blank, already opened. Emptied onto the desk, organised by those square hands. Not much, two photographs, two pieces of paper. The hands organised them into two and two, photographs above, papers below. Consider, then pick up one of the papers, the one with a single line of typescript – ‘$35,000 to your a/c – 31/03/07 12:05pm.’. Nothing more. The hands folded it, origami’d it to a flying wing, launched expertly to flare out of existence among the logs in the fire. No trace, no evidence.
The two photographs he centred on the desk, slid together on the smooth oak, brought together, one by the left hand, one by the right, butted together. Then the hands moved away, flat on the desk to the left and the right of the pictures, tools put away till they were needed again.
Two very different pictures. Early thirties, maybe. One in a business environment, across a desk, taken secretly he guessed. She is addressing herself to the taker of the picture, her face angled slightly upwards as if to theirs. She is handing over a file. Dark-haired, confident, assured, a professional woman. His hunters mind sought more information from the scene. There was a pair of glasses on her desk. When the time came she might be wearing them, might look different.
The other picture, still recognisably her, taken as if from inside a car. Harassed, tired-looking, struggling with a hand-bag, a brief-case, high-end shopping. On the top step, outside a glossy black front door, a large polished brass ‘12’ just above her eye-level. The same number was on the other piece of paper – ’12, The Court’, and a postcode. With it, a car registration, and make and model. A business address, a company name. There was a date and a time, underlined, forty-eight hours away. And there was a name. Jemma Harrison.
He scanned both pictures again, for any more information. No third-finger ring, no statement as to bonding, as to whether or not there was a significant other. No Mrs or Miss or Ms to help him fill out the picture in his mind, the one he would take with him when the two real-time photographs joined the origami on the logs. No problem, no mind.
Well, Jemma Harrison, Mrs, Miss, or Ms, I wonder what you’ve done, or not done, or what it is that you know, that I am now obliged to kill you on Friday?
Then he went to feed his beloved cat that was crying gently outside his study door.

 It’s all out there, waiting for you. Let the pictures do the work, they can give you characters and situations for your stories so easily, and maybe set the theme of the story itself.. Why do things the hard way?

Put yourself into the picture – feel it.!

©George Wills 2016

Maybe if you are stuck for inspiration but in the mood to write you could find a picture, in an album, in a newspaper or magazine, hanging on a wall… Put yourself into the picture – feel it!


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