One of the things I gravitate to in flea markets, junk shops and country antique stores are tintypes and old 19th century photos and tintypes. These old vintage photographs are usually stacked together in boxes. I look through them and I am often temped to buy a few and give them a home. The photos are mostly stiff and unsmiling–the fashion of the day, but if you observe them closely, beams of character or individuality can been seen. I have often thought to randomly collect some vintage photos, and then use them as characters in a story. Something else has beaten me to this idea!
Growing up in Florida, author Ransom Riggs went with his grandmother to swap meets and secondhand shops. “It was pretty tortuous for an 11 or 12-year-old boy,” Riggs said recently, “but I would find these boxes of old snapshots.” His attraction to haunting photographs eventually became the spark for his first novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” (2011), a surprise best-seller inspired by dozens of vintage snapshots which add to its strange and unsettling atmosphere.
Have you ever thought of using random old photographs as inspiration for characters or situations in your writing?