When I first saw this man, all I could think was: FANTASTIC! He looks exactly how I would picture a man as he’s described. That grin lasted his entire 98 years. What a character and what a treasure he’s left us. Thank you for your service, Commander Morewood. Isn’t this man simply smashing? I adore him just from his picture.
Paris has been the focal of fashion for a very long time. It’s probably the first thing most think of when they hear the city’s name uttered. That and the Eiffel Tower. I think of poodles, cafes and art. But, isn’t fashion art? There are those who scoff at the runway displays, questioning where you would ever wear this or that costume which is presented under lights, to flashing cameras and the ubiquitous fashion icons. Media forgets the clear aspect of fashion show as living art display. Below, you have a still, black and white photograph and believing the image is art somehow is more believable than the pale waif trussed up in something Jim Henson would have drooled over.
Just as fashion is art, it is also history. The photographs in the link can be used by a writer seeking to capture a period in their work-creative or non. Photographs are primary resources for research, especially when taking place at a documented event. They’re the visual proof of the statement, this happened on such and such a date. What they contain can be a treasure trove of information. As you scroll through, imagine them in motion, in color and in sound…
How often history does get it wrong. I have to say in the past year, learning more about Native American culture has taught me that in most cases of a culture that is non-white, that history is seriously misconstrued, disregarded, or, worse, not written about at all. It has to do with the concept of privilege, which often turns eyes away from ‘minor’ contributions to human life to the ‘major’ contributions. Who defines what is minor and major is often the dominant group – whites of Europe. However, it is my hope, and with articles from Indian Country Today and other resources, I’m seeing a surge in Native/Indigenous research – both scientific and historical. They’re covering everything from the Land Bridge Lie to artifact identification and mounds like the one pictured here from Ohio. The realization that all groups are major contributors to the human story is one of the most important lessons we can learn. Everyone has contributed and all perspectives are important to gain the complete picture.
“What is certain is that ancient Ohioans were not only building extremely sophisticated geometric works that rivaled or surpassed those of contemporary classical Greece, but they were also repairing or renovating them over millennia.”
Read more about the Serpent Mound via History Got it Wrong: Scientists Now Say Serpent Mound as Old as Aristotle – ICTMN.com.
Part of doing good research is finding primary resources to back up your writing. In creative pieces, this can be a little more difficult than just footnote/endnote/annotation. You have to make someone feel as though they’re really in the time and place you’re writing about. However, telling all about the scenery isn’t the best way to do it. You need to speak through your character’s demeanor, their lingo, their mindset. You can describe the scene without hammering away at it with a few words. Allow the reader to create the picture. Don’t place things that are of no importance later, as it’s distraction.
In formal non-fiction, images can be treasure trove of information. They’re primary sources, and tell much more about a moment than a dry history book, if really inspected. While I was doing my undergrad degree, I found an image of New York City in the 1940s. I was able to track down and identify 90% of the points of interest in the photograph. If you read through the comments, you’ll see my annotations to the photograph. How is this useful. It corroborates the date, for one. Secondly, it tells you who, why and what. For example, the taxis shown in the photograph are a unique fixture of New York life in that year. So, say you have a character who takes a taxis–you can mention this very particular company of taxis. That makes your work more compelling, more authoritative and more worth the time it takes to read. You’re immersing the reader, teaching them without making it tedious and wowing them with how rich your work is.
This wasn’t my first time using photographs to learn about history. I had carried over the use of photographs to understand the life and times of soldiers during the United States Civil War (1861-1865) in order to properly pen Blue Honor. I used it to identify the lay of places used in OP-DEC: Operation Deceit, to see the bombing of Köln, Germany in the spring of 1942 (it was hit a few times). The breadth and depth of the work shows in praise by reviewers about my historical acumen. Thus, I continue to use photographs and other images as tools in my wordsmith-ing. I recommend that you use them too, whether you’re writing the next best seller, a poem or even a song.
Check out this great article on historical images taken during World War I: A Belfast soldier secretly photographed World War I (PHOTOS) by Kayla Hertz – IrishCentral.com.
Writing about the Irish? You might want to take a peak at this…
You can never have too much help digging up information about the topics on which you write. I enjoy finding these points and sharing them with readers because I not only find history fascinating, but I also work with history to create my novels. Authenticity requires understanding cultural nuances such as slang, and it’s hard, because slang is always changing. This also ignores how language adapts such words and erases their origin. That Irish words litter New York City slang isn’t surprising. The immigration of Irish during the famine was huge.