Have you seen the blog Dear Photograph? Contributors return to the scenes of old family photographs and take new pictures there. In some cases they jot down what's changed in their lives or what they've learned in the interim. I love the concept, but I'm not crazy about the execution; the way the photos are framed (original images held by hand in front of updated location), it's almost impossible to tell whether it's the same place.
The site got me thinking about my WIP. For some reason I decided to set the story in a neighboring California town I've never been to. This was not terribly smart of me, but hey, at least I'm not alone in this manuever.
Stephenie Meyer famously set her Twilight series in Forks, Washington, before having set foot there. Rumor has it she Googled "rainiest town" or something and got Forks. In fact, Forks was apparently the original title for Twilight. (I'm picturing a fork in an apple for that first cover. Anyone else?) Now the Chamber of Commerce there has built an entire tourist industry around the books.
After I get my act together, I plan to hop on the freeway, visit my WIP's location and take a bunch of photographs for later use, so I can get a feel for the place as I write. I may call the town something different, but I'd like it to be drawn from reality.
Have you ever used photographs to help you with descriptions, setting and mood?