Often writing prompts say, “Pick an old photo and write about it.” I always find such prompts too broad; if being inspired were as simple as looking at a photo (or out the window, for that matter), none of us would ever get blocked.
I prefer to present you a photo and offer some imaginary context. If you’re inspired by the photo without any coaxing from me, go for it! However, if you’d like a little something beyond a visual aid, then details below might help prime the pump.
This is a photo of a relative. I played around with the image to colorize it digitally for a project a few years ago. I’m not going to tell you who she is or give you any factual information about her. Instead, I’m calling her The Poetry Lady. In a poem or a prose piece, write about her as you address these questions:
1) Is she a poet? If so, what kind of poetry does she write? Is she published? Is she well-known? Is writing poetry a vocation or an avocation?
2) Does she belong to a literary club of some kind? Does she teach? Perhaps she reads poetry dramatically to groups. Perhaps she simply reads poetry to herself for her own enjoyment. What kind of poetry does she prefer? What is her favorite poem?
3) Why is she dressed up? What day of the week is it? Is she ready to go somewhere, has she arrived, or has she just come back?
4) Who is taking her picture?
That’s just a little something to get you going. As always, don’t feel obligated to stick to the questions as you write. She doesn’t even have to be The Poetry Lady if she brings another title to mind.
As an alternative, you could also pick an old photo of your own and address these same questions about the person in the photo. You can work in real details you know about the person, or make up a new identity for the subject.