Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Old Photos As Story Triggers

A cousin sent me a greeting card-sized envelope filled with old black and white family photos she thought I might be interested in. There were about a dozen in all, and as I sat at the kitchen counter and looked at them, so many memories came flooding back. I felt like I was watching a slideshow from the 1940's. My favorite picture was one of me at about age 2 1/2 on roller skates, one older cousin on each side of me holding my hands. These two boys, who were 11 and 12 at the time ended up being more like big brothers to me than cousins.

In the picture, we were standing outside the big, brick apartment building where my family lived in a Chicago suburb. The entry door to our section of the building was behind us. But my mind's eye also saw the brick street in front of the building where cars bumped along on the bricks making sounds I loved . Those boys played a big part in my growing-up years.

Old photos are good story triggers. Spend some time looking at your albums and boxes of pictures, and I can almost guarantee that you'll come up with a story. One magazine that loves stories and photos from days gone by is called Good Old Days.  Check their writer guidelines to see what type of story they're looking for. The same publisher puts out another magazine called Looking Back. Guidelines for this one are very similar.

This is a paying market. I had a story called "Dancing With Dad" published in Good Old Days last February. I'd scanned and sent a couple pictures with my submission. The editor wanted to use the photos but preferred they be scanned professionally and in a higher resolution. She suggested using Kinko's Copy Center. I duly took my photos to our local Kinko's and ended up signing a paper that they would not be held liable as one was a professional photograph. I assured the clerk that the photographer was most likely dead, so they finally relented and copied the picture for me after I'd signed the agreement. It cost me $13 which meant I needed to deduct that amount from the payment for the story. Later, I discovered that I could have scanned the pictures on my scanner setting it for a higher resolution first. Live and learn! I relate this part of submitting to Good Old Days only so you'll be aware of the photo needs if you submit to them.

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