Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What's a Picture Worth?

One of the interest tools I use to help get my creativity going is looking at pictures. I’m not talking about pulling out the family photo album and getting at laugh at that shot of Uncle Dan wearing the hula skirt…though, that actually could work. What I’m talking about are stock photo books.

In advertising, production, and the graphics industry there is a big need for photography. But shooting something new every time you need it is expensive. So what’s spring up is a whole industry of stock photos that you can purchase for a particular use. To aid their potential buyers, these stock companies create books of photos. They divide the pictures into sections – active people, panoramas, nature, highways, etc. You get the idea. Sometimes whole books are dedicated to one subject.

Over the years, I’ve collected several of these books. When I’m stuck or feeling uninspired, I’ll pick one up and start thumbing through the pages. If a picture catches my eye, I’ll mark it with a post-it. Occasionally, a photo will do more than just catch my eye. It’ll jump off the page at me. I’ll stop and stare at it for several minutes. Maybe it’s a picture of a person, and I can see their whole character right before me. Maybe it’s a place and as I watch as a scene from a story I have yet to write unfolds.

Often the pictures I’ve looked at don’t make it to the written page. But what they have done is get my juices flowing again. And in the back of my mind I know one day I’m going to find that picture that will translate not only to the page but will give me an entire story. It’ll be like my own mini-moment of nirvana.

What do you use to jump start your creativity?

16 comments:

Sandra Ruttan said...

Just last night, I put this photo I stole off a blog (Sphere) and added an earring and some pink and purple to the hair.

I started having a whole new idea for a flash fiction piece that involved a white suit from Saturday Night Fever (was it? I'm too young to remember) and pole dancing.

Working on it...

JT Ellison said...

If I need something fast -- music. You know that story i wrote last week -- Where'd you get that Red Dress? James McMurtry's song Red Dress was playting in the car when I went to Starbuck's. Lo and behold. We all need a little something sometimes to push us along. I'm jealous of thos photo books, they sound perfect for the job!

Sandra Ruttan said...

That's $1.25 JT.

J.B. Thompson said...

Pictures - what a great idea! Wish I'd come up with that one.

I'm into communing with nature when I get stuck for ideas - taking a walk around our neighborhood usually does the trick. I see something new on each trip (we live in a fairly rural area, so there are lots of animals, wildlife, flora, sounds, etc.). Like Brett's pictures, it may not give me a full-blown on the page story, but it gets me away from my desk long enough to freshen my perspective and enable me to get back to work.

And, like JT and Brett, I've always got some kind of music going in the background when I write - especially the upbeat stuff, really gets the juices flowing.

J.B. Thompson said...

Wait, Sandra's not old enough to remember Saturday Night Fever???

Gee, thanks, now I feel REALLY old.

=)

Brett Battles said...

Oh, Sandra...if that picture ever sees the light of day....

Funny thing, I seem to be a popular target for "photo" re-engineering. My "friends" at work created this tabloid size poster of me as the guy from Napolian Dynomite then stuck it to the wall in our office. Now that's a picture that's not inspired me to write anything!

JT, definitely music helps. By the way...ain't it time you attach your picture to your profile? After all, it is up on Murderati...not like you're hiding yourself. Besides, your a soon-to-be-published author now. People need to know who you are.

JB, how lucky you are to be so close to nature. About the closest thing to nature I have is the La Brea Tar Pits...well, there is the Pacific Ocean about 10 miles away...

Sandra Ruttan said...

I could just have long-term memory recall problems JB!

I write to music sometimes, just depends what I'm working on, but I'm very inspired by music.

JT Ellison said...

Okay, I'm trying it. I usually sign in with a different name, not my blogger id. We'll see if it works.
I'll get that check in the mail to you, Sandra. Damn, I was hoping you wouldn't notice.

JT Ellison said...

Man, that pic needs reengineering. I'm not as up on the whole graphics thing as you folks...

Brett Battles said...

The pic is fine. Good job.

JT Ellison said...

Can I confess that I don't remember the whole Saturday Night Fever stuff too? I'm still the baby of this group, right?

Brett Battles said...

You "youngsters" are killin' me. Hey, I'M NOT THAT OLD!

That said, yes, white suit for Saturday Night Fever. And for that matter, I remember watching Laugh In as a kid.

Sandra Ruttan said...

You're old enough to remember Laugh In?

You are old.

Brett Battles said...

Barely remember Laugh in. BARELY.

J.B. Thompson said...

I loved Laugh-In, too!

Okay, the order of things. We are, from eldest to youngest:
Brett
J.B.
J.T.
Sandra

Sorry, J.T., but you're not the baby of the group any more. You, Brett and I might be triplets, but it seems we've adopted Sandra as our (dare I say it?) bratty little sister!! Haha, woo-hoo! Welcome to the family, Sandra! =)

And speaking of apropos word verifications? Mine tonight is hlppdmt (help, dammit!). Hee!

Sandra Ruttan said...

I swear, I thought JT was younger!

But at least now this explains why you're all so much more sophisticated and intelligent than me.

As the baby, I was spoiled. It's not my fault.