Sunday, July 22, 2012

New York Young- Photo Inspiration for Writers

It should be no secret (and it isn't now) that I discreetly photograph people I find interesting in order to inspire character. Look at her Converse boots!  Her hair!  I love her and I do not know her!  

I store these pictures in a folder labelled 'characters'.   Since I snap them quickly, half of them are blurred, most of them are faceless, and some of them are of a single boot (I have a thing for boots) or the perfect bracelet that I think a character might wear.

So, you can imagine, when I discovered this beautiful photo project from New York Photographer Amy Touchette which features outstanding portraits of New York City teenagers, I was like a kid in a candy store, devouring these professional portraits like I had just received a passport to character inspiration nation. 

I find these photographs incredibly inspiring and I wanted to share them here for anyone writing teen characters.

According to the Cara Buckley of the New York Times:

Ms. Touchette shot most of the photos in summer 2011, prowling the streets of Manhattan and Williamsburg looking for adolescents who were, in her words, "visually urban" -- colorful, slightly attitudinal, and the clear products of New York.

Since I don't have permission to share Touchette's New York Young project on the blog, please clickety click here if you're looking for a little character inspiration.

Where do you find character inspiration?


  1. I never thought of doing that. I don't like taking photos of strangers and prefers not to. I had an incident a few months ago when a lady yelled at me for taking her photos which I did not do but I guess that is one reason to secretly photograph people. I saw a girl with pink hair once and thought she was incredibly interesting but I did not take her photo.

    whenever I see an interesting character on the street, I would begin to wonder about their story and whether they know they hold our interest.

    hope you have a great day.

  2. Great photos. I never take photos of people I don't know, unless they wander into my shot of something else. People take pictures of my kids all the time though. I don't mind so much when they ask first, but sometimes it kinda creeps me out.

    Most of my characters come with personality intact so I rarely go looking for character inspiration.

  3. TIE DYED JORTS?!?!?!!? Best ever.

    I wanted to do a travel project of photographing strangers I met on my travels last year. I photographed a gay couple I met on my flight to Vegas and promptly forgot all about the project. I've seen some awesome ones on Flickr like 50 Faces in a Year or something like that. LOVE portrait projects, especially when no story is included with the face.

  4. I loved visiting the portfolio. Thanks for the link.

    I don't take pictures of people I don't know, but I'll remember someone's unique look and that may later on help me envision a character.

    Looking through photo albums, sometimes I'm more interested in the strangers in the background than the intended subjects.

  5. Yes, love snapping photos of strangers who strike a fancy! Keep photo-taking. We are embarking on the journey together, right? Haha!

  6. Will you drive down to Orlando? I'll take you to a Walmart and you will have enough characters for a dozen books :)

  7. Wow, she had great hair. What a great character photo, Melissa. I'm on my way to check out your links. I expect they will be fabulous. :)

  8. What a great idea, capturing people you find interesting! I love that idea. I sometimes snap discreet photos if I love someone's outfit, mostly because I want to shamelessly copy them. And see if I can find whatever they're wearing cheaply on eBay. :)

    Absolutely love those NYC teen portraits -- incredible. Each one seems to tell such a story, especially the redheaded young man with a black eye. I'm already writing a short story in my mind...