Found Photographs

Writing
Find one of those second-hand stores or junk shops that sells abandoned snapshots. Buy five and take them home. Set them out somewhere in your living space where you can see them everyday for a week or so. Put them on your refrigerator with magnets. Tape them to your bathroom mirror. Live with them for awhile.

One a day, when you have at least 30 minutes to write, tell the story of these photographs as if they all came from the same person. Imagine them as historical documents from a fictitious life. For 30 minutes, become the voice of that imaginary person.

Exercise extension
Construct your writing in the form of a letter. You decide who you want to write to. It could be a letter to a fictitious spouse or lover, a letter to a child, an epistle to an old teacher or classmate. You could write an anonymous letter to the future.

Wait a day or two, then re-read the letter.

Spend another 10 minutes reflecting on and writing about this odd exercise. Did the experience change your relationship to this group of snapshots? Did this experience help deepen your sense of how photographs function as talismans and triggers? Did you learn anything about yourself? How photographs communicate in general, but more important, how they work on you in particular?

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