The holiday season is nearly upon us! It’s a time of year I associate with food, family and friends, but it’s also storytelling season. One of the traditions in my family is looking at old picturesnot just those taken a century ago, but those considered “old” by the kids in the family. You know … their baby pictures! <smile>
Memory is a funny thing. You can show an older relative the same picture year after year and get no new information. Then all of sudden someone else in the room starts talking about an event related to the image, and remembrances start pouring out of that older relative. It’s all about finding the right memory trigger.
Help the process along by taking steps. This means collecting details on the images in your photo collection.
- Start by trying to place images in a time frame based on the clues discussed in this columnphotographers’ work dates, family history and fashion for instance.
- Next, organize your images into a timeline so they’re grouped by generation. I guarantee this will work. If you’re going to show Great Aunt Hazel an unidentified photo taken in the 1930s, it helps to have other images from the same time period. Each detail in the pictures will help her sort out the facts.
- If you’ve discovered any additional information about the picture, now’s the time to share it.
Once the storytelling starts, it won’t be limited to that one picture or even the group of images. You’ll begin hearing about your great aunt’s memories of that person, where they lived, how she knew them and what it was like to grow up during the Depression.
If you’ve remembered to bring along a tape recorder, you’ll be able to listen to it again. She might even share some long lost family secret!
As for those youngsters who can’t stop looking at their own childhood pictures, ask them to tell a story too. What were they doing or feeling on the day a particular picture was taken? What do they think about their clothing? Can they help you write a caption for the images in the family album? You bet!
Finding out the facts for each of your photos is fantastic, but it’s the family storytelling that will last for generations. Photo storytelling is about using your photographs as visual treats to gaze while replaying the story of each one.