Using Photos to Inspire Writing

Using Photos and Poems to Inspire Writing with Hank Kellner

Tap into the Popularity of Social Media and Image Sharing

Hank KellnerA veteran of the Korean War, Hank Kellner is a retired educator who has served as an English Department chairperson at the high school level and an adjunct Associate Professor of English at the community college level.

For several years he published Kellner's Moneygram, a newsletter for photographers. He also owned and operated Simmer Pot Press, a small press specializing in cookbooks, for several years.

Kellner is the creator of many photographs and articles that appeared in publications nationwide; the author of extensive reading comprehension materials for a publisher of educational materials, and a former contributing editor to Darkroom Photography magazine.

Born in New York City, Kellner now lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His blog is:

Write What You See: Using Photos to Inspire Writing

Our digital world allows endless opportunities for capturing and sharing pictures through texting and social media Web sites like Reddit, Twitter, Imgur, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest. This series, based on Write What You See demonstrates how teachers and writing facilitators can take advantage of students' increasing fascination with pictures and graphic images as they are integrally connected to social media and photo sharing sites. Learn how to motivate students to write with the use of photos, prompts, keywords, triggers, questions, opening lines, research suggestions, and ideas by other teachers who have successfully used photos, pictures, and poems in the classroom with writing assignments.

WomanUsing Photography to Inspire Writing

If "one picture is worth a thousand words," can one picture also inspire a thousand words? Of course it can. That's why educators are becoming increasingly aware of the power photographs have to unlock students' imaginations and help them express themselves through written language.

ManLess is More

Photographs are wonderful teaching aids. They can be used to elicit responses from the most reluctant students. When you use photos to encourage writing in the classroom, never again will students complain that they have nothing to write about.

Boy and FatherEvery Photograph Tells a Story

Most students have hundreds, if not thousands, of digital images that can trigger writing assignments. How some master teachers have used photographs to inspire writing.

WomanContrast in Writing, Contrasting Subjects

Most students probably don't realize that they exercise the mental process of contrast every day. When it comes to using contrast in their writing, students don't seem to make the connections as easily as they do at other times.

Man SittingCombining Photos with Poems

Reflections on Stephen Dunning's Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle and examples in combining photos with poems, using comics and cartoons, family photos and postcards, and going beyond mere appearances to inspire writing in students.

DogPhoto Essays Tell Stories

Most teachers would wonder how anyone could possibly use a fragmented photo to teach point of view in fiction and in writing. But simple poems, fragmented pictures, and photo essays can easily inspire students to write many different kinds of compositions.

Sitting on BenchHow to Connect Seeing with Writing

In less than a second you can convert a positive image to a negative one. Discover convergences between visual images and verbal texts, and using dreams and poetry to inspire writing.

ReadingPhotos Trigger Words

One way to use a photo to inspire writing is to present it to students with only a few accompanying "trigger" words designed to stimulate their imaginations. Then ask the students to write opening paragraphs based on the first thoughts that come to mind when they view the photo/words combination.

Avenger WomanUse Photos as Writing Prompts with Students

Most students don't realize how powerful their imaginations are. Highlights: The Amazing Adventures of Avenger Woman, Photo + Poem = Inspiration, Sharing Photos and Writing.

Looking in WindowShifting Perspectives

Stimulating student's minds with questions, group work, and images that create powerful responses in creative writing. Capitalize on this ability by showing your students three or more carefully selected photos and asking them to record, in one word, the first thought or emotion that comes to mind when they view each photo.