I've always kept folders on my computer for pictures I'd come across that reminded me of my characters or books, BUT I recently started to do something a little bit different-- Story Boards!!
There's something about having a field of pictures laid out in front you, immersing you in a visual experience that calls to your muse. It's even better when it's easy to attach pictures a variety of boards with just a few clicks. My critique partner and writing buddy, Jean Oram, recently turned me on to Pinterest, and I've gotta say-- it's been revolutionary for me.
With Pinterest, you download a small file that applies a "Pin it!" button to your browser bar, so whenever you find something to pin, you just click on the button, and you can add it to the board of your choice. How easy is that!! And I'll confess-- I use it for stuff other than storyboards. It really is just an easy way to visually bookmark things.
The other nice thing about Pinterest is you can follow a picture back to people's boards where you'll find more pictures similar to the original, and also a link back to the original source. This makes it a great way to find new sources for inspiration.
Within just a week or two, I've put together a story boards for the manuscripts I'm currently working on, in addition to boards I can use for inspiration when it comes to writing. I'm a very visual person, so surrounding myself with amazing photos always triggers all sorts of story ideas. The other great thing about a storyboard is it allows me to "see" all the little details in a scene, since I tend to be very sparse when it comes to including descriptions of any sort. By looking at a picture, I can see all the little details that bring a story to life, and I'd likely overlook.
The photos often come from "pins" others have added to their own Pinterest boards, but other great sources for pictures are Tumblr (a sort of visual blog venue), Deviantart, and Flickr. If I'm looking for models that might match up with my characters, I like browsing theFashionisto.com for male models and FashionGoneRogue.com for female models. For visually stunning photos, do a search (Flickr has a great collection) of HDR. This is a photographic technique that results in photos that will blow you away.
Now for the one drawback with Pinterest. I don't know why-- and I hope it's only a growing pains thing for them-- but their search engine, to put it mildly, sucks. I've tried searching for friends I know are on there, but come up empty handed. And searches for items turn up fewer results than I'd expect. Still, for putting together a story board, quick and easy, it's been amazing, and I've still found more photos than I know what to do with.
So, I wish you happy pinning!! And if you feel like following me or checking out my Pinterest boards, I can be found here!