How to Incorporate Photography into Your Poetry

Incorporating visual art into your poetry can expand your storytelling skills while enhancing your reader’s experience. If you wish to add an artistic element to your writing, but illustration isn’t your forte, consider trying to incorporate photography into your poetry. To help you seamlessly explore this accessible and fun medium, consider these tips.


Choose your gear


Before you begin incorporating photography into your poetry, choose the gear you’ll use to bring your vision to life. If you’re just starting out, don’t underestimate a phone camera’s ability to capture beautiful shots. On the other hand, if you already dabble in photography, use your DSLR or mirrorless camera. Choose lenses based on themes you explore in your poetry—portraits might require a 50mm lens, for example. 


Create a shot list 


Next, to stay organized, create a shot list in your Notes app. Choose a group of your poems, whether you’ve written a collection or just a few, that your photography will accompany. 


For each poem, note which themes and metaphors you explore. Then, decide what photos you would like to capture for each poem. For example, if you frequently write about mental health, self-portraits might best communicate your poem’s message. If your poem is exploring a particularly challenging subject, a simple background with darker tones is a good aesthetic choice. Or, maybe another poem celebrates a breakthrough in your mental health, which could be captured in a bright, sunny space. 


As you’re in the process of creating a shot list, also scout potential locations for your photos. If you explore nature in your work, search for local places with the landscapes or wildlife in your poems. Or, if you’ve written about a specific place based on a memory, for example, plan a trip there, then capture photos based on each aspect of your poem.  


Enlist help


Once you’ve finished your shot list, you might find that certain shots require help. Whether you’re utilizing artificial light in a makeshift studio space or you simply would like advice, don’t hesitate to enlist a friend—perhaps you know someone with photography experience who would be glad to help.


Let your creativity guide your process


As you begin capturing photos, let your creativity guide your process. Although you might have a shot list on hand, don’t be afraid to veer away from these ideas. You’ll likely be inspired to try different compositions or editing aesthetics than you originally planned to once you’re on location, which could end up being your preferred photos.


Repurpose for social media


Incorporating photography into your poetry also allows a great opportunity for content creation. If you already run your own Instagram where you regularly share your poems, consider posting your accompanying photos as well. Whether you use this content in a reel, multiple posts, or as stories, your community is sure to be inspired by your multimedia work. 


For more ways to creatively expand your poetry, check out our guide on incorporating illustrations into your poetry.