Picture This by SJ

Sue profile_pp This Post by S. J. Brown

Recently I was asked to give a talk about using photographs when writing. As a wildlife photographer photographs are an intimate part of my writing. I begin with the image, then write the words. With the aid of the internet you can literally have any type of image at your fingertips. Images can be part of anyone’s process. 

All Writers strive to create an image in the minds of the reader. By using photographs your description can help the reader visualize the subject, the setting, or set the mood.

1 Scenic

By noting the bareness of the trees and the ice on the water in this image you can add to your description and not use the word cold.

Having an image in front of you helps add subtle details to round out the surroundings in your story. A butterfly can convey a peaceful scene, or a warm day.  

2 Butterfly

Viewing photos can produce a chuckle, and calm you down so you can get in the mood to write.

3 Lemur

It doesn’t matter what genre you write images can play an important part in your process.

If you are writing a memoir Family photos are important.

4 Family

If you are working on a historical piece or western having an image can help tell the reader about the personality of a character. Weather the horse is well feed or groomed says a lot about it’s owner.

5 Horse

Suppose your story might benefit from the addition of a vulture, but you have never been close to one. A photograph could give you a close up view.

6 Vulture

The most important image to any author is their book cover. Don’t just gloss over this part of your book. It is important!

Cover 3-26-23

This cover grabs peoples attention, It says look at me. The fact that it my case it is a photograph and not an illustration says something too. This is the readers first impression of your work. It has to say take me home.

Back Cover 4-24-2013

S. J. Brown’s book Close Ups & Close encounters contains over 50 images along with the stories behind getting those images.  It is available at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=close+ups+%26+close+Encounters

Her children’s picture books are available through her website at http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com

All the Birds I See CoverCover

Connect with S. J. Brown on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367


19 thoughts on “Picture This by SJ

  1. Interesting piece. Sometimes before doing a scene inside a room, I will draw it out as an architectural schematic, even showing the furniture inside. It makes it easier to add in description as I do the dialogue.


  2. Great blog and the pictures tell a story without words definitely. Great pictures too. You are very talented. I like Mike’s idea of sketching the physical scene before describing it. Neva


  3. Fun post. And you’re quite right, pictures can help a lot with writing. Some authors will post pictures of the hero and heroine near their desks to remind themselves. Landscape pictures are a great idea.

    Love you pictures.


    1. I know I couldn’t write without photos. I didn’t realize fiction writers used them as well until after my book came out and another author commented that she pulled my book out when describing a critter.


  4. I love your post, S. J. I like it when I’m personally trying to ‘caption’ a photograph. I have to say, though, that I tend to do the writing and then go ferreting for the ‘best fit’ photo.


  5. Very special post S.J. Your photography is amazing and I really like the way you incorporated writing into your photos. It gives pause for thought, doesn’t it? Your idea of looking at pictures to help with your descriptions in your writing is important, and something a lot of us never do. By perusing your photos I can see how writing about the “feeling” rather than saying it was cold, makes us better writers. Thank you for this priceless post!


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