Writing about the act of storytelling is one thing, but for this issue we wanted to feature some actual stories, too. Could they share a thematic thread, we wondered – one that might inspire a range of different responses? A picture could be a starting point; a single image as the seed of several unique stories.
Earlier this year, we wrote about the Dark Stock Photography Twitter feed: a brilliant collection of the strangest images mined from photolibrary collections. The beauty of that feed is in the way that each image prompts the viewer to imagine a story around it – what on Earth could have happened here? So for our cover this month, we decided to see what kind of stories we could inspire from a single image.
We wanted to approach our readers for suggestions but this presented some practical issues: how could we ensure that the images suggested would be of a high enough quality for a CR cover but also be usable – that they had the copyright clearance, model releases and everything else you need in order to use a picture on a magazine cover?
We have worked with the photography co-operative Stocksy before and knew they had the breadth and quality of images we were looking for. So we asked readers to recommend their picks for a cover from the Stocksy collection. We’d like to thank Stocksy for partnering with us on this (see the full range of their images here).
After calling for submissions via the CR site we had 160 suggestions of pictures. Here are a few of our favourites:
Thanks to everyone who took part. For us, the image suggested by Stuart McFerrers of a sign outside a vintage shop was full of questions and narrative potential. Alicia Bock’s picture made us wonder who was dead? And why was their stuff being sold? Were these clothes for dead people, even?
Now we had the image, we needed stories inspired by it. We asked our Twitter followers to help: over 70 of them submitted a story by replying to our initial tweet and the best are featured in the October/November issue.
Then one of the founders of an intriguing online publication called Visual Verse got in touch. Kristen Harrison explained that what we were trying to do with our next cover was exactly what she and her partner Preti Taneja asked of their pool of writers each month: write a short story or poem based on a single image, in one hour. Harrison suggested we collaborate and see what the Visual Verse community could come up with.
We’ve printed their writers’ responses in the issue along with our Twitter tales. We hope you enjoy the stories we’ve assembled – and when you’ve read them, be sure to visit visualverse.org.
CR’s October November Storytelling issue features, among others, Tom Gauld, Coralie Bickford-Smith, Brian Reed and the S-Town podcast, the production design of the Handmaid’s Tale, Oliver Jeffers, Resh Sidhu and VCCP’s Voices campaign for Nationwide