She looks towards the camera, a high ruffled collar crowding her neck, a long dress dripping down her back and spilling onto the floor, high cheekbones displayed in a shadow of light, a wistful expression on her delicate face…she is an image from a bygone time staring out from her black and white world. Who is she? Where did she come from? What is her story? That’s up to you to decide.
Pictures are an excellent source of storytelling. Images can incite a story or ignite a current project. I wrote a short story based on a picture of a brick building in New York; an antiquated iron fire escape snaked its way down the side of the building, and suddenly, I had the makings of a tale of a clandestine affair. Looking at pictures can unleash endless possibilities. I like to take my camera when I go for a walk and snap photos of parks, streets, buildings, alleyways, people, whatever catches my attention, and then I go home and look at them, searching for a story, an emotion, a character. On my corkboard, I have a collage of magazine clippings and sometimes, in a dull moment, I just gaze at the cacophony of colorful images and it provides me with a setting, a moment, or an action.
A picture is not only worth a thousand words – it’s worth a whole literary world.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.