Written Photographs

“He was a brave little soul, and everyone who sped by him knew it. Wobbly legs tottered and clanked over the concrete as his eyes bored holes in his destination. Inch by inch he survived. Every passing glass-window-paned face admired and stared, but none cared.”


I’ve never been good at photography. A couple reasons:

  1. Currently I don’t have the money to put into a really nice camera, or the time to contribute to honing my skill.
  2. It’s simply not my forte. There are other skills I care about more.

Still, I often glimpse something and wish that I could capture its beauty through a camera lens.

*Note to all you Photographers out there*

You are amazing. I don’t know how you do it.  If you have the time, please run over here and help me with my blog photography. 🙂 Seriously, though… keep creating your beautiful art.




When I left for Orlando this summer, I expected to see some amazing things, and decided to capture them with my camera. But my beauty-capturing endeavors always fell short of what my eyes had glimpsed. Feeling like a failure, I resignedly decided that immortalizing my memories on a camera chip was impossible.

But a new idea was tiptoeing up behind me. It began when I :

  1. Read “The Book Thief”, by Markus Zusak
  2. Became starved of time to write
  3. Caught an interesting mental snapshot of a friend, and later described that snapshot in a short paragraph full of adjectives, colors, and metaphors

So, fast forward; whizzing down the back roads of Southern Florida, seeing a strange sight blur past the car, peering into the rearview mirror to verify what I had seen, and then scribbling this description onto a nearby scrap of paper.

“He was a brave little soul, and everyone who sped by him knew it. Wobbly legs tottered and clanked over the concrete, inch by inch, as his eyes bored holes in his destination. Inch by inch he survived. Every passing glass-window-paned face admired and stared, but none cared.”

Who was he? He was simply a turtle, meticulously and painfully pushing his slow little limbs through a concrete strip of danger.

Oddly enough, twenty minutes later, we whizzed by a grizzled, middle-aged man in a wheelchair. He peered across the road, and then began to wheel his way across it with surprisingly dexterity. Seeing him, I glanced down at my description of the turtle, surprised. Wobbly legs, admiring/staring but not caring, brave little soul. They were similar brave souls.

After this, I basically abandoned photographing the trip. Instead, interesting, beautiful, and important sights would be  scribbled into my red composition notebook in terms as interesting, poetic, personified, and metaphorical as possible. They were my “written photographs”, as I came to call them. And, oddly enough, they have become my primary form of writing these days.

I thought I would share just a few examples of the many written photographs that I took over the course of my adventures. There may be incomplete metaphors, odd comparisons, and less-than-perfect wording, but they are spontaneously written reflections of something I thought was worth remembering. I hope they provide you with a beautiful perspective


“Shots in the night, illuminating hazy jungles.” (The surreal feeling of a midnight jungle-like-farm lit by intermittent fireworks sailing into the sky)

“Singing quietly and hoarsely into the direct face of the wind, my song spat back and fragmented, heard only by my ears .” (A reflection on singing beside the open window of a road-trip van)

“…Crocheted with emerald tendrils…”

100_4558                                        (one of the few actually decent photos I took on the trip)

“A lone squaw— yet sandy-haired and white as white can be—venturing out alone in her brave old canoe, arms confident and strong, draped in a cloak of comforting black.” (Written while watching a friend venture out on the family canoe)

“Pre-packaged crap (Grab and Go, for your convenience!), desolate faces, wasted hearts, 16 shots of espresso, a desperately needed love letter, and a bicycling Grey-Hair clutching a violin.” (My experience at a California Safeway… will be explained in a coming post).


Keep an eye out for more written photographs! They’ll be weaseling their way in here more often, I hope.


4 thoughts on “Written Photographs

Add yours

  1. These are beautiful descriptions of real life. 🙂 I love how you’re taking pictures with your words. What a great way to capture life around you. And the pics you shared here are definitely eye catching. 🙂

  2. I appreciate your frustration with photography. Either we lack the appropriate vision to capture the view adequately or we lack the tools necessary. I like your method though, keep it up!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Jonathan. It’s good to know that there are other photography-frustrated people out there. I’ll do my best to keep the written photographs posted, as they come upon me. By any chance, are you either a writer or photographer? Or, for that matter, someone who creates art of any sort? (my definition of art being very broad).

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