Journalling – Tell The Story That The Picture Did Not

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I never know what to write in my journaling” I hear this statement a lot yet I seem to always have the opposite problem of too much to say. This is a little blog post about how I go about my Project Life journalling and may explain why I always seem to have a lot of writing in my pages.

  • OK so, a picture does say a thousand words
  • AND sure, some of us are more ‘wordy’ than others
  • AND sometimes a single word with a photo is enough to convey the whole story but ,

how do you get a whole paragraph or even two out? Here it is put simply.

“Tell The Story The Picture Did Not”

First of all ask yourself some easy questions:

  1. WHY did you take that picture?
  2. WHERE did you take that picture?
  3. WHO were you with when you took that picture or WHO is in it?
  4. WHEN did you take that picture?

If your picture actually gives the answers to some of these simple questions no need to repeat it in words.


Take this picture for example.IMG_4991

Here we have 2 of my kids April & Calvin (WHO). Clearly they are at or near school you can tell by the uniform & other kids around them (WHERE), we even get the school name from the hats! Terrific. What we don’t know from this picture is “WHY”  this picture was taken or “WHEN”. So to me that gives the title.  “First day of school 2013”. That was easy right?

So what is the story that this picture doesn’t tell?

This often comes down to

  • the JOURNEY that got you to take this picture
  • & the human SENSES

If I stick with the same picture then the journaling may be about how my kids or I felt on this day. (EMOTION) Talk about whether they were they happy, sad, anxious or, write a note to the subject about how you felt about this day or event. You may want to focus on it from your subjects perspective or your own up to you but be honest, we are documenting not writing a best seller.

How did you get to this point of taking this picture? (this may be physically or metaphorically)…. This was my kids first day at a new school so I may talk about why we changed schools (JOURNEY).

What was going on around you that you can’t see in the picture? Here you rely on your SENSES. Sight, Sound, thouch, smell & taste. (not all apply every time of course) but,  I can tell you that despite this picture seeming quite serene it was VERY noisy and the area was filled with squealing and excited kids running around, chasing each other yelling each others name from across the yard. It had  also been raining and you could smell freshly cut wet grass. You can’t actually see that in the picture but it can easily help build your story.

And that’s about it really!  Next time you are stuck for what to write ask yourself these simple questions and before you know it you’ll have more to say than you have space to write!  (like me)

I am no writing expert by any means. This is how I go about it when I want to write a little more. I hope you found it helpful.


Thanks for Dropping In




  1. Thanks for sharing Petra!! I find that I am like you and have HEAPS of words to use so I don’t understand when people say they don’t know what to write!! Hehehe!!

    • Hi Melinda,
      That’s a great problem to have. Well done.
      Thanks For Dropping In

  2. Are you spying on me in my class? Ha ha… Just teaching how to journal with my class…. Though a very slow process but all the same and working through emotions for this term’s English unit. It’s all relevant to help to tell a story about a picture if it’s not obvious and also the picture in your mind. Beautifully written. I must do more of it myself. Thank you.

    • Hi Tina,
      I’m not spying on you but would love to be sitting in your class listening attentively.
      Your kids are lucky indeed.
      Thanks For Dropping In

  3. Thanks for the journaling ideas Petra, but that aside, I love that you changed the background photo to black and white – it puts more emphasis on your children – April looks pleased to be there, and Calvin looks intent on taking things in though a bit anxious (the nervous habit of pulling his ring off). A powerful picture when you study it.

    • Hi Leanne,
      Point and case that the very best camera for taking photos is the one that “you have on you right now”. This was an iPhone pic.
      This was a VERY quick & rough job of selective desatuartion. A technique I have used a few times in my albums when trying to de-empasise something in the background.
      Thanks For Dropping In

  4. Love the tips Petra and precious children!! Thx for sharing!! 🙂

    • Hi Susan,
      Thank you for your kind comment.
      Thanks For Dropping In


    • Hi Suzie,
      Yes most of the white overlays (words) on photos are done in Photoshop Elements.
      I use a combination of Digital brushes like Ali Edwards ones I buy or to type something unique my most used cursive (curly) fonts are Alis Hand, Beckys hand and Simply Glamorous. All three are free fonts.
      Hope this helps.
      Thanks For Dropping In

  6. Oh thanks so much for this Petra, this is going to be so helpful – I’m going to print it out so that I can refer back to it 🙂

    • Awwww you are so sweet Kylie.
      I do hope it helps.
      Thanks For Dropping In

    • Hi Anne-Marie,
      Thanks I hope it’s simple enough to make sense.
      Thanks For Dropping In

    • Hi Patti,
      The captions aren’t lame if they are your very own.
      Thanks For Dropping In

  7. I’m like you… I tend to have much to say and not enough room to say it! The way I consider it is that it’s better to say too much than to leave things unsaid and to wonder. Plus, I think that every little tidbit has the potential to surprise me in the future–the price of things, the positions, the ways I thought and saw life, the quirks and interests of that point and why we had them, what my children will learn about me that they didn’t realize/know…. There are so many angles!

    • Hi Stephanie,
      Yes there are many, many angles and I am sure I have just scratched the surface of those.
      Thanks For Dropping In

  8. I absolutely love your approach. I will definitely utilize your pointers going forward. Thanks so much!

    • Hi Stacy,
      Thanks for your lovely comment. I really do hope they help.
      Thanks For Dropping In

  9. Kylie Beller

    What a great post Petra. Wonderful tips, great advice and so well written 🙂

    • Hy Kylie,
      Why thank you. Not sure about how well written but written none the less 🙂
      Thanks so much for Dropping In

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