Found Photo Prompts to Inspire Your Fiction!

The amazing Pete Mauney shares his found photos!

Pete Mauney's website, Global Pillage, simply states "negatives and slides from my collection. photographers are mostly unknown." These found photographs can be mysterious, disturbing, funny and confusing. They are a question waiting to be answered: each photo - because it is taken out of context - needs a story to reconcile it.

Although matching words and pictures might seem redundant, or else dismissive of one artform or the other, I also believe that the combination can be a powerful one. Either way, whether you decide to use the photograph in your project or not, found photographs are a wonderful way to get inspired.

When I teach, I often use photos as prompts without any guidance. I put one of photographer Pete Mauney's amazing photos in front of my students and simply tell them to write.

Other times, I ask my students to take something specific out of each photo and see where it goes.

I am giving you both options: simply look at the pictures and ignore my words, or use my questions  and beginning sentences as a starting off point.

Here is another example of an author writing from pictures.

Have fun!



It was the bear's fault, she told him. He _________. More

Happy Hanukah!


Arnie was once again stuck in the den of the Rosens' house, babysitting little Sandra, an unfortunately dark 7 year old with one thick eyebrow that separated her small forehead from the rest of her face. A girl who liked to play, not sit and get lost in the TV the way the other kid's Arnie babysat did.

"Are you sure you are supposed to take those out of the cabinet?" Arnie asked as she handed him a menorah and a bottle of some kind of liquor. Arnie read the label and ________. More

College Daze


Jimmy told us not to worry, to just get in the car, go. No one said anything for a long time, until Jimmy finally turned around. I hadn't realized how drunk he was until he began to talk, whispering, as if the sound of the car and the road were mute and it was only the two of us somewhere, trying not to wake a sleeping baby.

I wasn't used to quiet drunks. The ones I knew ________. More

Family Outing


The stick was on the ground, outside the garage, hidden in the leaves. Marnie almost tripped on it, but Dad pointed like he had been searching for it, then picked it up gently, as if it were a treasure and not a fallen branch.

"Follow me," Dad said as he headed towards the woods. We __________. More

Almost Pretty


There was something about the way she talked, as if her lips got in the way of her words, but Billy found it hard to explain when he showed the picture of his new fiancee to his mother. "She ________," he said. More

Photo shoot


"Sit still," he said.

She hated college. Stuck in a dark room with another photo student. This time, it was the light, he said.

She did not answer him. Instead, she thought about __________. More

Factory Girl


It was noon and she was happy. It had been six weeks since she had started her job. Out on the balcony, she _______. More

Love in the afternoon


When I told my sister that he had a hammock, she rolled her eyes.

"No wonder," she said, but came over anyway.

We drank on the patio. When he came out, she said ___________. More

About Pete Mauney

Pete Mauney lives and works with his family in a small village in upstate New York, where he is a provider of photography and photography related services. He collects other people's pictures and walks around at night.