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Featured Online Generative Writing Workshop

Drawing with Light, Painting with Words

DRAWING WITH LIGHT, PAINTING WITH WORDS: Enhancing Writing with Photography with Ariela Zucker

START DATE: September 2, 2024

DURATION:  6 weeks

LOCATION:  Private Group

FEEDBACK:  Helpful Instructor Feedback and Encouraging Peer Workshop

COURSE DESCRIPTION:   Photography can give us writers different and exciting ways to experiment with point of view (POV), details, images, textures, imagination, and personal voice. All these are essential components of writing, and yet this is not a photography class. No prior skills in photography are needed, and only a phone camera.

The writing in this class can be varied. No specific genre is being emphasized. Students can write personal essays, poetry, and if the muse takes them there, fiction.

The class is asynchronous and will include a short lecture (or assigned reading) as well as weekly assignments. Each week the students will be assigned a prompt that will require them to choose a photograph (or two). This will be followed by:

  1. Reflection – posting up to 350 words describing the process of choosing specific photograph/s, and how they connect to the assigned prompt.
  2. Discussion and Feedback – group, and instructor feedback.
  3. Writing inspired by photographs (up to 700 words). This part is optional.

The teacher will offer topics for further discussion and personal feedback.

I enjoyed the class so much! It was one of the few I’ve taken on Zoom that didn’t make me want to leave after a half hour and/or 3 sessions. So much of it was the students, over which, of course, you had no control. But you did bring out the best in us. I’ve attended a lot of OLLI classes in person and have always felt that they didn’t help us get to know each other. I felt a wonderful intimacy in this class. You kept things moving without seeming to rush. — Dianne Sinclair

It was fun and interesting. I am not much of a story writer, but it was interesting to try a few new ideas. It reminded me to think about writing family stories. I thought the teacher explained well and offered good illustrations & examples of the lessons. The class also showed me what a range of writing possibilities there are, illustrated by all the class members. Thanks — Cathy Field

The homework assignments each week were fun, enlightening, and questions I often pondered all week. And I so welcomed the way it enlightened my week to walk with the quests. It was a joy. Ariela was clear and organized in her directions; heart centered in her responses and treated each student with kindness and respect. She also shared appropriately which paved the way for each of us to share fully—and be open to many different interpretations.If it were possible I would enjoy having the class for a longer number of weeks and at the same time the number of weeks worked well. I was just enjoying it so much I hated to see it end. — Patricia Ellen

This class inspired me to enhance and perfect my writing. Ariela helped me organize my writing so I could get across what was most important to say. I was able to articulate a story from a photograph which made it come alive. She had a way of critiquing my writing while at the same time validating my creativity. I would take another one of her classes in a heartbeat. — Ellen J Della Torre, Auburn, Maine

I sought out something to ease my worried mind. Looking at online classes, I discovered Ariela and her novel approach to recalling and recording stories. It was called Picture Writing and it was one of the best writing classes I have ever taken. Ariela’s approach to unleashing memories, writing poetry, and stories, by using photographs made her class one I looked forward to each week. Thank you, Ariela, for a wonderful class in a not so wonderful moment in time. — Susan Meynell


Week One: On Home and Personality
The home we live in, whether owned or rented, reflects sides of our personality that might be interesting to look at via the camera’s eye and the written words.

Assignment: Decision making – Walk around your house and photograph parts of it that you think reflect your taste in furnishing, colors, or anything else that can shine a light on your personality.

  1. Snap: at least 4 photographs.
  2. Pick: 2 that you think match the assignment.
  3. Post: 300-400 words reflecting on the process.
  4. Write (optional): 600-700 words in any genre that you choose related to the topic of personality and space.

Week Two: Objects Tell Stories
We all have our own collection of 'things.' Pictures, drawings, books, and assorted memorabilia that have been collected over the years. The list might be long or short, depending on how inclined we are to collect and keep stuff. Some of these 'objects' accompanied us for many years. Pick one or two of these 'objects,' snap a picture, then tell their story.

Assignment: Concrete details – Look around you, objects have stories to tell, there is a reason why you kept them. Often objects hold precious memories, and stories that beg to be told.

Repeat the process of week 1: First take as many photographs of objects you hold dear to you. Then choose 2 and share the process with the group. When you write (600-700 words) about a specific object keep in mind that it is the concrete details we are after in this assignment.

Week Three: Pieces of the Whole
At times, a missing piece is just a missing piece. Still, as unimportant as it might initially seem without it, the whole will never be completed. This week will be about experimenting with the idea, both visually and literally.

Assignment: Point of View – The simplest way is to think of words, and sentences. Words are at the same time a whole and a part. Are there similar examples that can be found around you?

Photograph – Share – Write.

Week Four: From the Outside Looking In
Looking from the outside can give us a unique perspective on ourselves and others. Photographing it can create a story from a new and surprising angle.

Assignment: Objectivity vs Subjectivity – Looking from the outside is what most documentaries are all about. For our assignment this week try to find a way to see others (or yourself) from the outside.

Take several photographs and choose the ones you think relay this notion in the best way. Share with the group and write about it.

Week Five: Nature Talks to Me in Colors
This week we will concentrate on aspects of nature that are all around us and often go unnoticed. These tiny flowers, a dead branch, the way the light shines through the leaves. All of these details add color and joy.

Assignment: Colors and textures – Everything around us have a color and a texture that are unique to them. This week we will concentrate on the richness that nature offers us whenever we stop and take the time to look closer.

Week Six: On Juxtaposition, Subtext, and Dialogue
The act or instance of placing two or more images side by side to compare or contrast or to create an exciting exchange is a way to highlight the subtext and create a dialogue. It can be done with photographs, and it can be done with words.

Assignment: On imagination and humor – It requires imagination and the ability to see beyond the obvious to highlight the subtext. Sometimes it can be done by creating a contrast, other times humor (like jokes) can be utilized.

For this assignment use your imagination to go beyond the obvious. You can combine more than one photograph, or even use photographs created by others.

As before share the process, tell us about your choices, and if you wish share your writing.

Materials needed:   All readings and multi-media resources will be provided by the instructor.

Ariela Zucker

ABOUT YOUR INSTRUCTOR:   Born in Jerusalem, Israel, Ariela and her husband moved to the U.S. on September 10, 2001, followed by three daughters. For sixteen years, they lived in Ellsworth, ME in the motel they owned and operated. Ariela writes mainly poetry and nonfiction, and self-published four books: two about the motel experience, about her family search and the newest one, about using photography to enrich writing. Over the years, she facilitated in-person writing groups, as well as offering online and Zoom writing classes.


COST:  $185, which includes weekly assignments and instructor feedback.

BUY NOW:  Drawing with Light, Painting with Words: Enhancing Writing with Photography, with Ariela Zucker (6 weeks, starting 9/2/2024) Limit: 10 students. Early registration is recommended.

This class is closed. Please check here for our current schedule.

For Class Session Starting 9/2/2024


Notes: Upon successful completion of payment, your name, email address, and contact info will be submitted to your instructor.

Questions? Email Marcia & Angela at:

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