Friday, December 13, 2019

Snapshots — A Tool for Writers by Deb Garland

Photograph of a plate of cookies.

As writers, we use a variety of methods to brainstorm ideas and keep track of research. We can find helpful visuals in books and online, but how about documenting personal explorations? Author Deb Garland shares how photography plays a role in creating her stories. ~ Dawn

Snapshots — A Tool for Writers

Christmas is a wonderful time for taking photos of family and friends. One of the best childhood gifts I received was my first camera, a Kodak Instamatic. My dad insisted I learn how to use it before our family’s summer trip to Alaska. He timed our five-week adventure in a rented camper in 1967 to coincide with the state’s centennial celebration of its purchase by the United States from Russia.

At ten-years-old, I fell in love with tales of wilderness adventures, frontier history, and photography. Now I write Christian historical fiction for readers who enjoy rugged romances steeped in faith and anchored in true stories of the Pacific Northwest, Canada, and Alaska. To help me accomplish this task, I employ a digital camera.

Sometimes a photo I’ve taken sparks a novel idea, but most often I have one in mind and use my camera to gather story information. In fact, I own two cameras (Nikon D7200 and Canon SX740HS) and an iPhone since they serve different purposes. The Nikon’s polarizing filter enhances scenery details and delivers a high-quality image, the Canon’s longer telephoto captures distant wildlife, and the iPhone works well for scanning printed material.

I juggle all three devices according to my focus. On occasion, my husband assists if time is short on a museum tour or if I need a panorama or nature closeup where his skills outshine mine. It’s beneficial to have two camera operators with different perspectives to capture a wider variety of photographs. This can be a lifesaver when I’ve missed a shot or experience camera failure.

Photograph of mountains and water.

Sailing in the San Juan Islands of Washington State for over thirty-five years has given me an opportunity to observe many aspects of island life and the setting for my current stories. More, I acquired a photo collection I can refer to when I write. Because as you know, the more time you spend in a place the more familiar you become with the people, the rhythm of the seasons, weather, flora and fauna—all details to include in your novels.

Of course, I may need more information than I’ve previously gathered. For me, this can involve snapping photos during reenactments of historical events, tours of frontier forts, goldrush towns, or visits to libraries and museums in Canada, England, and the United States. Unless posted, I’m free to take pictures. That said, there can be legal restrictions when photographing copyrighted material.

Photograph of a couple dressed in historical costumes.

How do I organize my photos for quick retrieval? Good question! Usually, I label each one with a date and short description before sorting them into folders by events, locations, and topics. When desirable, I divide the shots by chapters. Either way, I make backup copies of my photos before I remove them from the camera.

Regardless of genre, photography is one way to capture the real-life bits and pieces to make your writing spring alive for readers. Perhaps, you’ve started to think of ways to use your camera or photo albums to aid your literary endeavors? I’d enjoy hearing about your experiences and ideas!

Blessings to you and your family as we celebrate Jesus’ birthday at Christmas,

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, 
and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 
(Isaiah 9:6 NIV)

Regardless of genre, photography is one way to capture the real-life bits and pieces to make your writing spring alive for readers. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @debgarland1

Deb Garland
Deb Garland is an author and sailor who desires to reach others with God’s love. She writes Christian historical romance novels weaving adventurous characters and international plots in the Pacific Northwest. An ACFW Genesis semi-finalist, she resides on an island in Washington State with her husband of forty years.

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