So your character is looking at a photo, and you want to describe it. Or there is a photo in a script, and the camera pans to it, and only the audience sees the photo, and the characters don’t.
If you got any one of these two issues and you don’t know how to describe it, I’ve got you covered.
How do you write a photo in a screenplay? You write a photo in a script by writing “INSERT – PHOTO” Then, on the following line, describe what we see. Finally, start a new line and write “BACK TO SCENE” to signify we are no longer looking at the picture.
A photo falls out of the pile. John glances at it.
INSERT - PHOTO
The same three men in suits surrounding casey.
BACK TO SCENE
You can also write “INSERT-” and describe the photo in question on the same line. I use this version to save space on the page and longer descriptions.
In the following example, we go back in time to the moment in the photo, so using back to the scene would remove the suspense of disbelief too much while reading.
But you still want to let the reader know we are changing views from what your character sees to the image.
Haira stands by the lit fireplace. She fingers through a book filled with mathematical visuals and handwritten notes, and pocked with coffee stains. A picture slides out. She picks it up.
INSERT - An image of a NAKED WOMEN, dripping wet, mid step.
Her only clothing a World War 2 gas mask, covering and concealing her entire head. Behind her a trail of water puddles.
Shoppers bombard a single, plexiglass door exit.
Haira HEARS the women breathing. Each asthmatic breath becomes harder and harder to take.
INT. SHOPPING MALL - DAY
The naked woman struts, Each step is like skipping rock across a shallow pond.
I won’t give you the entire scene, but you get the point.
Can You put pictures in a Screenplay?
Yes, you can put a picture in a screenplay. There have been scripts with full-out images giving a break from words in the past.
This isn’t done often and shouldn’t be done by most. Everyone whos ever shown a picture in a screenplay has been a screenwriter already commissioned or an actor with funds from a production company. Unproduced screenwriters shouldn’t attempt this.
Even though in the future, we may see more and more of this screenwriting style and may become acceptable. Like I always say, the screenwriting format changes 2% every year.
Alright, it was a short one today.
Now its time to hear from you:
Does your script have a lot of images in it?
How did you think to show a picture in a screenplay before reading this?
Whatever your answer is let’s hear it in the comments below.