The photographer has arrived to photograph the characters for your story. They are setting up the lights and the backdrop as your characters get ready to have their photograph taken.

How to Use a Photo Shoot for Character Development

In my last post, I shared how you can interview your characters to find out how they think. Today, we’ll learn how visualizing a photo shoot will help you improve your character development.

Use a Photo Shoot for Character Development

When we imagine what a character looks like, we see only the basic, surface details, like height and hair color. But when we describe a character in a photograph, a person is more than their hair color, height, and gender. We can learn a lot about them from the way they pose for the photograph.

To find out who your character is through a photo shoot, you can ask some of these questions:

  1. Are they comfortable in front of the camera? Are they fidgety or camera shy? 
  2. What does your character look like? Long hair? Short hair? How tall are they? Male or female? What’s the color of their hair, of their skin?
  3. What is their posture? Do they stand up straight? Do they smile boldly at the camera, or do they try to hide their face?
  4. What are they wearing for their photograph? Did they have trouble making up their mind? Did they wear a suit or casual clothes? Make-up, or no make-up? Did they shave their face? Clean shaven, or a rugged growth of a few days? Are they wearing a hat? Do they have glasses on?
  5. What kind of photograph is it? A formal portrait in a studio with artificial lighting, studio lights in an office, a photograph outside with natural lighting, or a selfie?


Find Out Who They Are With a Photograph

Once the photo shoot has finished and you see the pictures that were taken, there is still more to learn. You can tell how a person thinks about themselves by looking at a photograph of them.

If you’re not sure how to discover all this useful character development information, ask some of these questions.

  1. Is the photograph a head-shot, or a full-length portrait?
  2. Is the photograph in black and white or in color? A polaroid? Vintage or printed at your local pharmacy last week?
  3. What year was the photograph taken? Was it taken in the early 1800s when the person had to sit still for long exposures?
  4. Is the person alive or dead in the photograph? Is it a murder scene photograph taken after the body is discovered?
  5. Is the photograph for a magazine article, or is the photograph a snapshot taken while they were waterskiing? Was the photograph taken by a private detective while your character was meeting a drug dealer?
  6. Was the photograph taken with a polaroid camera, a 4×5, a 35 ml camera, or a cell phone?
  7. Is the photograph in focus? Did the person know the photograph was taken? Was it taken with a long-distance lens by a detective? paparazzi? Or was it taken in a studio with a set-up appointment?
  8. Do they look right at the camera with confidence, or do they avert their gaze?
  9. Are they smiling, or scowling?
  10. What did they wear for the photograph? A suit or blue jeans and a t-shirt? What shoes are they wearing? Sneakers? Doc Martens? Hight heels? Or are they barefoot?

Character Development

Get to Know Your Character

Perhaps you will find many of these questions helpful for character development. Or maybe you will have to ask different questions to get to know your character through a photograph.

Either way, get creative as you investigate who your characters are. Don’t look only at surface-level details, but pay attention to their body language, their facial expressions, the ways they act, and the scenes around them to help you understand their personality and motivations.

How would you take your character’s photograph? Let me know in the comments section.


Write for fifteen minutes about what you would see in a photograph of one of your characters. A small snapshot of their life. Was the photograph taken in a studio? On location? Was it taken by a professional photographer or a friend, or did they take their own photograph? A selfie? 

What does your character look like?

It will be interesting to see how characters from different writers will get their photograph taken. 

Please share what you have written in the comments and read and comment on someone else’s story. We can share our writing and support each other.

Pamela Hodges
Pamela Hodges
Pamela writes stories about art and creativity to help you become the artist you were meant to be. She would love to meet you at