How to Write a Snapshot Poem


When most people look through an old photo album, they remember the emotions associated with the pictures. A snapshot poem attempts to recreate the same emotional responses as the pictures. Using words and meter, the author first tries to paint a vivid and descriptive picture in the reader's mind, then finishes by capturing the emotions associated with that picture and expressing them in a way that makes the reader feel them as well.

Things You'll Need

  • Photo album
  • Pen/pencil
  • Paper
  • Think of a picture or memory that has some kind of emotion attached to it in your mind. This could be the joy of your first bike ride or the sadness of the last picture of a loved one who died. The picture should be very vivid in your mind. If you are having difficulty, look through an old photo album.

  • Choose two specific sensory feelings from this memory. For example, if the memory is of your first bike ride, you might choose the roughness of the hand grips and the pounding of your heart with the fear of falling.

  • Write a stanza for each sensation. Although four lines per stanza is not a requirement--snapshots poems have no formal structure--any less might not depict a clear enough picture. Use illustrative language and make the meter flow from one line to the next. When read aloud, the poem should sound smooth and not have any difficult rhythm breaks. For example, when writing about the pounding of your heart, your stanza might read:

    Pounding I can feel in my throat
    Racing heart and racing breath
    Matching rattle of chain and spoke
    Blood pumps loud through my ears.

  • Use a third stanza to convey the emotion of the experience to the reader. For example, in your poem about your first bike ride, your final stanza might read:

    Fear gives way to freedom
    The world is open wide
    My wheels have wings
    The tires sing my joy.

  • Photo Credit camera image by Yury Shirokov from
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