They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a photo can inspire thousands of words. As I mentioned earlier it was a photo that helped me start my book “Cabin on Applejack Creek.”
If you are writing non-fiction, a photo along with your technical or informational work will enhance what you’re trying to say. A friend writes about the history of local communities. Along with the narrative there are lots of photos to help the reader visualize what used to be and where.
There are publish on demand companies that will come to a community and find a writer to write books on local history. The company pays for the printing of the work, but the writing, photos and editing is up to the person taking on the project. The way the P.O.D. company makes their money is the same as any publish on demand company. They hope the writer will do a lot of the legwork. They sell the writer, library, community group or a historical society the books for a very reasonable price, their modest profit above the printing costs. Then the writer/society sell it for the retail price. The writer or society get’s the profit from sales. The responsibility for all the sales, publicity, and accounting is on the person/group who wrote the book.
I’ve seen several of those books and they are quite nicely done. You’d be proud to put your name on them, but again there is the time involved in doing the research, permissions to use photos, editing and then selling, publicity, etc., plus the cost of buying books you want to sell. If the books cost you $10-$15 each to sell for $20, you can see what it would cost and what you would gain if you can sell all you buy.
If you are doing a family history, nothing is better than photos that are identified to make your story more real and compelling. Printing a few copies of a well documented family history can be such a gift to the future.
When I’m writing a novel I like to have images in mind of my characters. When I was writing “Into the Dust” I went to an antique shop and bought several unidentified but interesting photos of people from the period I was writing about. Then when I was writing about one of characters I could look at a photo of a man from that period and say, “He ran his hand through his unruly full head of hair,” and have an image of what he’d look like doing that. It helped with clothing of the day, houses, horses, you name it. Photos can be very helpful in developing your story.
You can find photos in your own collection or if you have a friend or family member who is a photographer you could ask to see their work. There are also on-line services where you can buy a photo for a cover or other uses. Always get permission to use other people’s work, copyrights apply to photos as well as the written word. If you are writing historical material, many antique shops and second hand stores have old photos. Local museums and historical societies will often let you purchase copies for your personal use. For publishing in a book they may require formal permission as well as a fee.
It would benefit you to start a collection of photos that might be useful in your future writings. It’s fun to look at photos in the first place, thinking about stories to go with the snapshots is even more fun. Enjoy the process.