Generating story ideas from photos? (part 1)

August 27, 2019
Bob Eckhard

Following on from  last week’s post in which I enthused about using a camera for inspiration for when the muse departs, I’d like to explore today how the actual history behind a photo may provide as much of an engaging story as we might conjure up ourselves – consider the two photos below..

Those of you who read last week’s post may remember I left you with the task of developing a story idea from 4 photos that were taken recently in Ireland – click here to see larger images of the 4 photos.

1 Red Bridge (Cappoquin)







Not so easy to see from the first angle but (today) Red Bridge and its railway line suddenly come to an abrupt end as it reaches the road and its perimeter wall. (More about the bridge and its history here )

Life for the townspeople of Cappoquin changed completely in the mid-19th C when their town was selected to be the crossing point for a new railway line that would link them with other towns in Ireland, including the seaport of Rosslare. But the building of the two bridges and railway came at a price for the town’s people as it required the demolition of a street comprising a dozen houses (which displaced families), and a rerouting of a (tributary) river in order for it to join the main Blackwater River further downstream with all the disruption that caused.

Interestingly, the lack of height of the Red Bridge later affected the town’s ability to receive yachts that once travelled up the estuary, leading to a loss of business and trade. More importantly, the railwayline changed the town forever. Years later – with the country in economic decline  – the railway line provided the only means for young people to survive as they left Cappoquin (and other towns) in their droves, migrating to America and other far flung places – later on, some to war but for many, never to return to their town/country again.

Personally, I think this actual piece of history offers a great opportunities for generating story – for example, opportunities for drama between locals resisting developers? Or perhaps the plight of people who in the economic downturn after the potato famine are forced to make hard choices as they debate leaving the country and lifestyle to find work and a new life in America?

2. Hidden Boat on River Blackwater







For me, this photo screams  ‘journey!’ Perhaps something akin to ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ or ‘Stand by me’ – but a case could also be made for an adult voyage of discovery such as ‘Deliverance’. The imagery of the dark leafy tunnel into a river bathed in light suggests a movement from darkness (or innocence) into an illuminated world where the outcome is unknown but a greater truth awaits at the end of it. The danger being not just the physical prospect of drowning but those who will be encountered along the way who like The Sirens experienced by Odysseus will seek to seduce them away from the noble task that is before them – or maybe its one of survival as with ‘Ice Cold in Alex.’

Okay, we’ll consider the other two photos next week! See below if you want to muster your own ideas/thoughts about possible stories for each between now and then.





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