Fashion Photography: Inspiration for Writing Fiction

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. ~Coco Chanel

What I love most about fashion is the rich history and storytelling through photography. One of my favorite forms of art, fashion photography, for me, is a theatrical dreamscape where imagination can play — the images like visual writing prompts hinting at a narrative that begs me to ask, “What’s the story here?”

Vogue Sep 2011

suitcase girl

Anthropologie catalog August 2011

yellow couture gown

In terms of inspiration for writing fiction, I’m drawn to the more fantastical photography. My fiction tends to be rooted in reality but I love to explore the boundaries between truth and invention; what’s real versus what’s maybe not so real. For this reason, I actively seek out Tim Walker‘s photos when searching for inspiration. I swoon.

Tim Walker fashion photography

Tim Walk fasion photography

Tim Walker fashion photography

RED Valentino Fall 2012 Tim Walker

Tim Walker dresses in trees

And then there are images where a character practically jumps off the page, commanding me to tell their story.

anthropologie wicked queen character

beautifully wicked

Tim Walker girl


Life Magazine 1952

I want to know her story (Life Magazine c.1952)

If you’re a writer of fiction: Other than traditional writing prompts, from where do you pull inspiration?

Life, Inspiration, and corraling the mercurial muses

I have been attempting to write this post for four days, but this thing called Life keeps getting in my way, which is funny because that’s sort of what this post is about.

kids in playroom

Last week was Spring Break and Zach worked all week so it was just my little army and me — braving it with a full suit of armor. Admittedly, I was not looking forward to Spring Break and my attitude only worsened as every day leading up to it Mia came home from school and reported which friends were going where and lamented that we weren’t going anywhere and begged us to please go to the beach. Which I would totally be down for if we lived on or near or within driving distance to a beach. Sigh.

At some point I decided that I would plan some “staycation” activities so she would realize that we don’t have to go anywhere to have fun, but planning the logistics of said activities around the schedules of two toddlers overwhelmed me, and it dawned on me that what I was actually doing was attempting to fill holes in our days so that Mia wouldn’t be bored. But as we all know, creativity stems from boredom, so I scrapped my “staycation” activities and did what I do best — play it as it comes and try to go along for the ride (which is really just an elaborate way of saying that I am not a planner). This brought it’s own measures of stress, naturally, because as much as I wanted Mia to find ways to be with herself the fact is that Mia has never been one to want to be with herself. She’s drawn to people, loves to be on the go and always wants to know what’s coming next, so I was a little worried.

sidewalk chalk

The week wasn’t without challenges but something surprisingly blissful happened: Life. Unintentionally, I let everything go and got caught up in the magic of Here and Now. We played and danced and built forts and had a book club and took midmorning siestas, and when spring finally showed up, we went to the park. As my head hit the pillow on those nights, my eyes closed with exhaustion of a different kind. I was content.

Reading picture books

siesta nap

the view from here


This is how Luke spent his first Spring day at the park, and that’s my mom (hi, mom!)

sunset hopscotch

I realize now, in retrospect, that last week when I was submerged in the Now, I was also hiding. From fear, from stress, from the unknown. It was easy to focus on kids and clean house, to keep my body busy so my mind wouldn’t interfere. Now that I’m feeling pulled to this space again, I find myself unable to focus, to push away the sticky fingers of solicitude, to corral the mercurial muses. As always, I’m finding solace in your stories, dear readers, through your words and images that never fail to move me, so I would like to ask: When inspiration fails you, how do you get yourself out of the funk? This isn’t a rhetorical question. I would really like to know.

hopscotch feet