Over the years I have received many e-mails from visitors to my writing help websites asking me something like, “How can I improve my writing in English?” My standard answer has always been “… practice, practice, and more practice.” I still think that is the best advice, but the problem for many people is “… on what to practice?”
Well, I think I have a very practical answer now that applies to just about anyone, and involves something that figures into just about anyone’s life. Actually, it’s an activity that I just started doing this past year. I call it a “photo story”, and here’s what it’s all about.
I’m sure you must know what it’s like to receive dozens of photos as e-mail attachments, or a link to a photo viewing website, from a friend or relative after they have returned from a trip or a special event. It’s happened to me many times, and I’m sure I’m not alone on this one! In most cases, you click through and see a bunch of random photos with little or no explanation about what they are supposed to be depicting, or what was going on at the time. Absolutely no explanation or context provided! It’s a waste really.
So this year, since I travelled a little more than usual, I started doing something a little different. When I got back from a couple of my trips, I decided that, if I was going to send any photos at all to friends and family, I was going to make whatever I sent meaningful. That’s how I came up with my photo story idea. Here’s how you can do one yourself.
7 Steps To Write Your Own Photo Story
1. When you return from your trip sort through all of the photos you took and delete any that are poor quality or redundant.
2. Make sure you organize them in your viewing software into some sort of logical order; usually chronological.
3. Using your sorted photos as your guide, open up your word processing program and start writing the story of your trip. You DO NOT have to be an accomplished writer to do this; just tell the story in your own words, using a conversational style. Just imagine yourself sitting next to a friend or relative while talking them through your photos, one by one.
4. Using your word processing program, you can copy and paste your photos right into your story, or you can provide hyperlinks to them instead. I tend to paste a few photos directly into my photo story and then I provide clickable hyperlinks to the others. The main reason I do this is to keep my document shorter and to let the reader choose what in particular they would like to see.
5. To be able to provide clickable hyperlinks to your photos, you will need to upload them to a website or a photo sharing service.
6. In addition to your photos, copy and paste hyperlinks to any websites of interest that relate to the photos in your story and provide additional info and background.
7. Once your story is written, save it as a pdf document and send it to everyone you would like to share it with.
As I said, I think a photo story is a great way to practice your writing while at the same time creating something meaningful that you can share with others. It’s also a great record of your trip that you can always refer back to many years later.
These photo stories are not difficult to write because you are essentially telling a story in the first person as you describe your own trip to your friends and relatives through the photos you took.
To get you started, I’m going to give you a link here to a photo story that I recently wrote when I returned from my trip to New York City earlier this month. Okay, mine might be a little long-winded! I do tend to get carried away with something like this; but it’s a good example to explain the concept and get you started.
Bottom line: writing your own photo stories is a great way to practice your writing while doing something useful at the same time. Here’s my NYC Trip example:
Seriously, you can do this too! Really.
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