People Watching #3

Have you done any people watching lately? The first time we looked at Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Last time we examined a 1930s Charles Walton photograph. Today’s picture is a different flavor altogether.

Aside from knowing that a picture is worth 1000 words, a picture evokes 1000 stories.

If I showed a picture to a dozen students and told them to write a story based on it, I got a dozen unique and varied responses.

If I did this with 1000 students, guaranteed, they’d each have a different combination of character interactions, dialogs, motives, and plots.

As I’ve said before, I revel in this creative diversity. And we each inherently have this innovative ability because we’re made in God’s image. See “Chickens at the State Fair.”

Whether you’re a story writer or not, your own creativity can shine with a little people watching.

This time, we’ll take a look at a photograph taken by photographer and future blog guest, Elmer Sparks.

What story is being suggested?

Take a few minutes to just immerse yourself in this picture. Then think about these questions. There are no right or wrong answers! You’re calling the shots.

• What is going on here? What are they talking about?
• What is the setting (approximate time, date, and place)?
• What are the relationship dynamics among them? Are they friends? Relatives?
• What is the girl on the left thinking?
• What is the girl on the right thinking?
• What is the guy thinking?
• What is the tone/mood/atmosphere of this particular day?
• What brought these people to this point in their lives (one or all)?
• Who is the main character (protagonist)?
• What are their personalities? (one or all)
• What are their moods?
• What is a typical day like for them?
• How often do they sit here and have a meal together?
• What do they aspire to?
• Where do they wish they were instead?

So many story possibilities! All in one picture.

So . . . how would YOU answer some of the questions above about this picture? What story do you see unfolding . . . and whose story is it?

I welcome your comments below!

Ever musing,


P.S. Coming next: Meet Elmer Sparks, a man who excels at photography and bluegrass music!

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15 thoughts on “People Watching #3

  1. This was a good one Laura. But it needs some back-story first. Sorry, It is a bit long!
    So, this guy is the youngest of 5 children….. the only boy, and the baby of the family. His whole life was spent surrounded by girls always telling him what to do and how to do it. When they were all kids, the girls would dress him up, drag him all over the place, including him in all their girl stuff….. you know, sweetly tormenting him. They adored him, he always knew, but as time went on, sometimes they drove him crazy with their meddling, especially In his adult years. Would they ever just let him be!
    As he has dated, none of the girls he had brought around to the family have been “good enough” in the sisters eyes…. That is until now. They have all met the new woman that he has been dating, and they have seen in her shining eyes that she adores him, respects him, and loves him, just as much as they do. Aha! One finally worthy of their baby brother.
    The dinner table scene, shows him telling them that he is thinking about asking this girl to marry him. The reaction from all the sisters (although only 2 of the 4 are in the camera view) is pure excitement and encouragement, and the dining room is filled with a cacophony of laughter and zealous joy. And the baby brother? What does he think? Well, although he looks a bit embarrassed, and slightly sheepish, he understands how very blessed he is to be surrounded in his life by 4…. I mean, now 5… wonderful, loving women.

    1. Loving the detail here, Vicki! Your backstory definitely gives this scene meaning. The bossy, meddling, yet doting sisters now put their stamp of approval on this match. The way you describe it, I can even hear the laughter.

      1. Brad- Are you sure your name isn’t Andy? That is my baby brother’s name. I am the oldest… he is the youngest, with 3 more sisters in between! This was a pretty easy story for me to write!

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