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  • How Pictures Heal: Expressive Writing from Personal Photos // with Kelly DuMar

How Pictures Heal: Expressive Writing from Personal Photos // with Kelly DuMar

  • 19 April 2023
  • (EDT)
  • 24 May 2023
  • (EDT)
  • Online
  • 13


  • Regular Member Price - $275 (beginning April 5)
  • Regular Non-Member Price $295 (beginning April 5)


We all take, save, and inherit photographs of the people, places, and things that bring meaning into our lives. These treasured personal archives will be the source of inspiration for writing as a means of restoring meaning, purpose, hope, and resilience during and after loss. Expressive writing is an act of self-care and self-awareness through deep listening and creative attention. In this workshop, it is also an engagement with beauty; the impulse to be CREATIVE is to feel connected to our imagination, our spirit, our life force. We are saying YES. Even when the material is painful or complicated. We are engaged with meaning making and transformation of the emotions and spirit. You will discover how the process of expressive writing from personal photos nourishes writing in many genres, including prose, poetry nonfiction, and memoir. TLA practitioners and writers at all levels of experience will imaginatively encounter personal photos sparked by questions that generate remarkable and uplifting writing experiences.

Objectives & Goals

1.  Participants will use personal photos as prompts for creative writing -  poetry, memoir, or stories that capture the personalities, relationships, rites of passage, cultural identity, and family history evoked by personal photos.  

2.  Participants will recognize the healing aspects of storytelling from photos to build resilience and restore a sense of meaning, purpose, and value to life after loss.

3.  Participants will use photos to probe and preserve memories, find purpose and meaning amidst loss and change, and express truth and beauty from relationships after loss.

4.  Participants will explore the expressive benefits of writing from landscape and nature photos to connect with aspects of spirituality, safety, comfort, beauty, and transcendence.

5.  TLA practitioners we will explore specific applications in your work with individuals and groups, such as coping with memory loss, Alzheimer’s, and dementia, and the healing power of telling end-of-life or legacy stories.

Week by Week

Week One: Entering the Three-Dimensional World of Photographs - Stimulate Meaning, Surprise, Delight, and Possibility 

Week Two: Embracing The Imaginative Wonder - Exploring Role Reversal & Altered Point of View in Photos

Week Three: Writing Truth & Beauty – Telling Relationship Histories, Exploring Significant Rites of Passages, and Recognizing Gifts that Keep On Giving

Week Four: Exploring Nature, Landscape, & Favorite Places Photos - Stimulate Curiosity, Spirituality, Comfort, Relief, & Aesthetic Satisfaction & Transcendence

Week Five: Crafting & Revision: Developing Your Raw Material - Exploring forms, including Portraits, Essays, Poems, Monologues, [Unsent] Letters, Dialogues, and Creative List-Making

Week Six: Applications for TLA Artists, Writers, and Loved Ones – Ways to Share The Healing Power of Generating Legacy Stories from Photos

Who Should Take This Class

This course will serve writers and TLA practitioners at all levels of experience, as well as anyone interested in expressive writing for healing and transformation. Writers and artists with an interest in exploring the healing aspects of personal photos after loss may also be quite interested.


This is an online writing-generative class with weekly 90-minute Zoom videoconferences. Each week will consist of a “Lesson” sent via e-mail for you to download that includes content designed to spark personal reflection on healing aspects of personal photos a transformative writing to be shared in the Zoom workshop. Each week, participants will (1) upload at least one personal photo to share with others that they will use as the foundation of their weekly writing exploration; (2) respond supportively to each other’s writing (3) receive insightful verbal feedback on their writing from Kelly; (4) share (optional) revisions of creative writing with Kelly for feedback and development.

We will also meet ON ZOOM in the following combinations to give those who need day versus night options. ALL ZOOM SESSIONS WILL BE RECORDED.

TUES April 18, 12:30–2:00 PM ET

WED April 26, 7–8:30 PM ET

TUES May 3, 12:30–2:00 PM ET

TUES May 9, 12:30–2:00 PM ET

WED May 17, 7–8:30 PM ET

TUES May 23, 7–8:30 PM ET

Participants should expect to spend no more than 2-3 hours or so weekly. We’ll create a safe and supportive environment, offering respectful support that inspires the development of every writer’s voice.

About the Teacher

Kelly DuMar, M.Ed. is a poet, playwright, and engaging workshop leader who generates enlivening writing experiences for new and experienced writers. Her photo-inspired creative writing method elicits profound personal awakenings, deepens connection with others, and fosters beautifully crafted writing in poetry and prose. Author of three poetry collections, her fourth poetry collection, “jinx and heavenly calling,” is forthcoming from Lily Poetry Review Press. Kelly is also author of Before You Forget—The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children. Kelly’s award-winning plays have been produced around the US and Canada, and are published by dramatic publishers. Kelly is a certified psychodramatist, former psychotherapist, and Fellow in the American Society for Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama. She founded Let’s Talk TLA, a bi-monthly tele-conference and poetry open mic for members of the Transformative Language Arts Association and teaches online for TLAN and the International Women’s Writing Guild, where she leads the Annual Summer Play Lab and more. Kelly also hosts the monthly Journal of Expressive Writing Open Mic with feature. Kelly inspires readers of #NewThisDay - her daily photo-inspired blog - with her mindful reflections on a writing life. You can learn more about Kelly, at www.kellydumar.com.

The Transformative Language Arts Network is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization

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