Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Finding Pictures for Writing Inspiration

Guest Post by Patty Hammond

Black Holes Have Simple Feeding Habits from NASA's Image gallery

Many authors depend on pictures to help inspire their writing. In this modern age of search engines, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo, authors can find pictures on a wide variety of topics using various keywords.  However, many of these same authors have a hard time finding pictures using these standard search engines because the keywords they are using in the search engines are not always associated correctly. Therefore, authors will need to find other ways to help find pictures to inspire their writing.  This blog article is going to explore a few of the resources that may help authors.


One of the best resources that authors can still use to find pictures for writing inspiration are within a library collection. Many local and national libraries have converted print photographs and drawings into massive digital collections that can be accessed via their websites.  These digital collections are organized, usually by topic, and can include pictures on a variety of subjects.  However, many of the pictures within these digital collections cannot be found using standard search engines.  Therefore, half the battle, is for authors to know where to find these digital collections.  Below are a few examples of libraries that offer digital picture collections on their websites:

Library of Congress

One the most extensive digital collection of pictures in the United States can be found on The Library of Congress website.  Below are two examples of the different types of digital collections that can be found on the Library of Congress website:

Master Drawings Collection

"The Master Drawings Collection (about 5,000 original drawings) offers works by artists of various nationalities. Although most of the images date from between 1830 and 1930, the oldest drawings were created before 1600 and the most recent in the 1950s. The collection represents diverse styles and media and includes finished artworks as well as sketches, preparatory drawings, and designs related to fine prints, paintings, and sculpture."

Lamb Studios Archive

"The online presentation of the Lamb Studios Archive offers images of nearly 2,500 design sketches for stained glass windows, murals, mosaics, furnishings, metalwork, and interior architecture. The drawings feature striking watercolors created from the 1860s to the 1990s, primarily for churches, synagogues, and other sacred spaces. The J. & R. Lamb Studios was founded in 1857 and is the oldest decorative arts firm in continuous operation in the United States. The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division acquired the drawings from Donald and Donna Samick, the current Lamb Studios president, in 2003. The firm’s historic business records and photographs were donated by Barea Lamb Seeley and Charles Anthony Lamb in 2004."

For authors who do not live in the United States there are several libraries that also have picture collections that can help inspire writing including:

Along with libraries, there are other sources of digital picture collections that authors can use to inspire their writing including: 

The National Geographic contains many articles and pictures The National Geographic Photography website, for instance, contains two sections that have interesting photographs that can be used to inspire science-fiction romance authors. The first is the StarStruck Blog, which invites readers to "...discover the cosmos and go behind the scenes of space exploration."  The other is the Space Suit X-Ray collection, which includes, just what you think, x-rays of all kinds of Space Suits! 

NASA and Other Government Resources

It is fairly obvious that the NASA website contains pictures, which authors, writing any type of science-fiction story, can use for inspiration. However, authors may not know about the other government resources available.  For example, many of the NASA images are housed on the Defense Video and Image Distribution System (DVIDS), which is "...a state-of-the-art, 24/7 operation that provides a timely, accurate and reliable connection between the media around the world and the military serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain." 

I appreciate being a guest of the SFRBrigade Blog and if you want to know more about me, then visit my blog at http://everydayfangirl.wordpress.com.

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