Anonymous stories, written on found photographs


I'm absolutely fascinated by Ransom Riggs' ongoing series at mental_floss called Talking Pictures—themed collections of found photographs that happen to have writing on them. They're sort of the multimedia equivalent of those 25-word or 100-word ultra-short fiction stories. Usually, there's just enough written here to make each image more powerful, and leave you wanting to know more.

The current Talking Pictures theme: Hard Times. And nothing says "hard times" quite like a plague of locusts. Except, maybe, a couple of horses struck by lightning. Or a woman facing down the camera on the day she was laid off from work. Or a little girl with a split lip, trying to smile in front of a Christmas tree. All of which you can see in the Talking Pictures gallery.

This is why you should always caption your Flickr posts, people. Think of tomorrow's bloggers.


  1. Captivating – great selections. I’m always interested in this kind of thing – I’ve looked through old photos and found captions myself, though I don’t go out looking for them like this guy does. I also enjoy things like captions and descriptions from very old museum displays that are sometimes tucked into corners behind the newer displays.

    I do try to caption many of my photos on flickr. I didn’t for a long time, but one day I looked at one of the early photos I’d posted and was surprised by the caption I wrote – nothing unusual, but it reminded me of the kinds of things going through my head in those days. I made it a point after that to remember to add captions more often.

    These make me want to make prints of my digital photos more often (I do it only occasionally) and write on those instead, though. Maybe then in a few years when I have a family I’ll hide them in a shoebox in the attic or something for my kids to find after I die.

  2. Another period artefact is the red lower edge on the text. This is caused by a typewriter with a two colour ribbon where the ribbon lift is going too high.

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