Tell a Story with your Photos


This week I had the pleasure of  working with a group of young writers (ages 9-13) to talk about how pictures can tell a story. We talked about famous painters, photographers, and sculptors that have left us with many stories through their art. We also talked about one of the oldest art forms: cave paintings! Did you know that the oldest cave painting dates back to over 40,000 years old and can be found in Spain?

Read more about this painting here:
Read more about this painting here:

It is amazing to think that these simple images have survived for so long and that we can look at them and see some sort of a story. What is the story here?

We also talked about how images can accompany a written story and how they can stand on their own {like the cave paintings} to tell the story. I showed them a series of photographs and asked them what story they saw in them. I wanted to share some of their responses with you. As you look, do you agree with what they saw? Do you see a different story here?

Young writers response: the boy loves to sail, he is not afraid of the water because he does not have a life jacket on, he must be a strong swimmer.


Young writers response: it is a wedding, the woman talking to the groom is older because her hand has wrinkles, she is married, maybe it is his mom, she is giving him advice.


Young writers response:  the woman is pregnant, she loves her children, they like to be outside because they are barefoot, there is no dad in the picture, maybe there is no dad in the family.


Young writers response: the girl is sick, she looks like she has a fever, there are two children, they are watching TV.

I was really impressed because most of their responses were pretty spot on and quite intuitive. 🙂 Particularly with the black-and-white image of the mom and child because there was no dad present.

After the class, I began to think more about how our personal family photos tell a story. When we take a photograph, what elements are there that will tell the story later on? Will someone be able to look at our pictures and know what was going on? Usually the details that we are worried about, such as wrinkles, hairstyles, weight, under eye circles, a messy house, messy kids etc. are the elements that tell part of the story. If your children’s toys are in the background, when someone looks at the photo they will be able to see what your kids were playing with at the time. If you have dark circles under your eyes and you are with several children, what story does that tell? I think it is one that many moms are quite familiar with. 🙂 How can you tell a story with your photos?

This next photograph is our home when it was first built back in the late 1800’s. The family in the portrait is the family that built the house. It is amazing to look at it because we can see what changes have been made to our home since then. We can also tell a lot about the family and their lifestyle. They are dressed pretty nicely and value their two horses. There are chickens in the background, but I do not think this family was a family of farmers. It is a big house, but they only have one child in the photo. If there are more, where are they? Do you see anything other parts of the story?


Now I want to hear your feedback. When you look at this next photo, what story do you see? Please leave your feedback in the comments section. I’m interested to hear your thoughts. 🙂 Be well & Smile often, Kathleen

What is the story in this photo?
What is the story in this photo?


  1. Isn’t it awesome! When we bought our home, the former owner had it hanging and I asked if we could make a copy. Such an amazing glimpse at the past! 🙂

    Good story too. 🙂 Warm water to melt the ice is a valid possibility!!!

  2. I think it’s so cool that you have a picture of your house from all the way back then. I love older houses, they have such character and stories to tell. Our house is only 14 years old and we’re the second owner, so we’re currently building our stories right now.

    That last picture looks so much like a barn that a friend owns. It’s right up against the road like the one in the photo and there’s a little door way leading into it like the one on the left of the photo.

    Even barns that look run down have animals in it so my guess is that the woman in the photo is bringing some warm water to put into the water troughs of chickens or pigs….probably to melt the water that has frozen over during the night. 🙂

  3. She is headed into the barn to do her chores, the barn looks too run down to have livestock so I have no idea what’s in that bucket’s cold and its snowing, I can just feel the chill of winter brrr….


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