Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Photos Help Writers and Readers

A photo really is worth a thousand words to a writer. Odd, you say, that an adult fiction author would need photos to help him or her write? Need, no; enjoy, yes. Here are some examples:

(1) I wrote an as yet unpublished cozy mystery titled I FEEL THE EARTH MOVE. (Yes, I copied the title from a Carole King song.) Anyway, in this novel I had in my mind the house in which the heroine grew up and where her grandparents still lived. On a day trip to Jefferson, Texas my husband and I were driving along looking at the lovely homes when I asked him to stop. I had spotted the exact home of my imagination—right down to the paint colors. I took photos from several angles. I keep them with my writing photos to help jog my memory. This book is the first of a series—I hope—so I must be consistent in description of the home.

(2) Another example is sort of funny—now. My June release OUT OF THE BLUE is a time travel romance set at Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas. The heroine leaps from a cliff in 1845 Ireland and plops down beside the bass boat of a police detective. She lands near the base of a cliff formation called Hell’s Gate. My husband and I drove over to the lake, but we needed to get to the Boy Scout camp at Johnson Bend in order to set up the perfect shot. We wound around until we arrived at the camp and missed seeing the sign telling us to sign in. Yikes! We were almost arrested. After we explained, we were allowed to take the shots I needed for my research—with troop leaders watching us very closely.

(3) A photo doesn’t have to be one I took to inspire me. Author of the wonderful historical romance A SENSE OF HONOR, Ashley Kath-Bilsky, gave me an autographed photo of Gregory Peck in which he wears a cowboy hat. The photo had belonged to her late mother, but Ashley didn’t have a place for it in her home. Gregory Peck was so handsome in the photo from hia movie, "Duel In The Sun." Since western historical romances are among the subgenres I write, Ashley thought this photo would be inspiration for my cowboy heroes. What a nice friend, right?

(4) As a daily blogger, photos help illustrate my subjects and provide visual interest. I may not use photos in every blog, but I enjoy using them when possible. At times, I use free clipart. Illustrations of any kind break up the text and present a more readable blog. Because the heroines of OUT OF THE BLUE and THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE are from Ireland, I’ve used photos of trips to Ireland in several blog posts. To flavor many other posts, I’ve plugged in photos and the occasional cartoon character.

A photo from an Irish cliff such as the one from
which Deirdre Dougherty leaped in 1845.
(5) On this blog in the basic dashboard and sidebars, you'll see several photos taken by my eldest daughter, to whom I refer on the blog as Darling Daughter 1. Rather than use simply the template offered by Blogger, I believe her photos make this blog more appealing to prospective readers. Certainly her photos make the blog more enjoyable for me.

In addition to adding to the impact of a post, I believe readers enjoy photos. I certainly do. One of my favorie blogs--other than mine, of course--is that of Beth Trissel. She features wonderful photos taken by her husband and her brother.

What’s your opinion? Do you like photos in a blog?


Caroline Clemmons said...

Do you like clip art or just photos? Does it make any difference?

Ashley Kath-Bilsky said...

Aww...happy the photo of handsome Gregory Peck found such a good home. :)

I totally agree that photos can provide wonderful inspiration for a writer, and help to create the perfect visual for your reader. I've also made albums of various clip art from magazines or articles -- everything from flora and fauna indigenous to a region (used as a setting in a book), to antiques or artifacts from various historical periods.

You get a visual of the piece, when it was made, materials used, and even the name of the craftsman who made it.

Another great source is lithograph or book illustrations from books or magazines published during the time period. I especially love finding and collecting ones that show fashion.