Guest Blogger: Hank Kellner

Photos and Keywords Can Stimulate Your Students’ Imaginations 

When you and your students create keywords related to photographs, the possibilities for writing interesting poetry and/or prose are greatly enhanced.

For example, if you show the photo of an arrow painted on a macadam surface to students at almost any level and ask them to cite words that come to mind, they are sure to respond eagerly. Here are just a few keywords related to the photo shown above: (a) forward, (b) direction, (c) traffic, (d) pointing, (e) street, (f) flat, (g) angular, (h), arrow, (i), sign, (j), smudged), and (k) road.

Using the keywords they've cited, most students should be able to develop interesting written works. But for those who need even more prompting, a possible opening line is sure to work, as in “When Cody saw the sign in his headlights, he knew . . .” or “Because Angelica wasn’t sure what direction to take . . .”

You are free to download this photo for use in your classroom to use as a poem or story starter. And if it succeeds in helping you or your students write a poem, I would love to hear from you. You can contact me at

For more photos and ideas for writing prompts you can use in your classroom, check out my book, Write What You See: 99 Photos to Inspire Writing from Prufrock Press


This blog entry was contributed by Hank Kellner, the author of Write What You See: 99 Photos to Inspire Writing. It originally appeared on his blog, English Education. Hank is a veteran of the Korean War and a retired educator who has served as an English Department supervisor and adjunct associate professor of English at the community college level.