‘A picture maybe worth a thousand words but if nobody know what those words are it’s not really worth much.’ I’ve said this to every student and client I ever had over the years and it’s still true today. Back in my earlier days I was talking about the shoe-boxes of photos under Grandma’s bed when we were trying to figure out who was in the picture and where it was taken. It still holds true for the external hard drives and memory cards not to mention discarded phones! There are so many stories being lost and neglected! Even in this digital age when photos have basic data embedded in them (such as the date and maybe place where it was taken) there is so much more room for information to go with those faces! It saddens me to think about the general lack of education about the options available to us.
So let’s look at some of those details. First there’s the obvious (or not so obvious) ‘front’ of the photo. Who’s in the picture. Where and maybe when will show up in the environment such as the weather and what trees are blooming or maybe which car is in the background. Besides the context clues you can the photo ‘over’ so to speak and look at the metadata. Here’s a really great article to explain EXIF and ITPC data fields. But more importantly (in my opinion) are the feelings associated with the photo.That’s why we take pictures, after all. Save the story. Share why you immortalized that moment. Fortunately there’s a simple and inexpensive way to embed that information into the image file itself. How cool is that? Of course those metadata fields have to be manually provided for those old film photos you’ve scanned but that’s another topic for another post but for the purpose of this article I will say it’s worth the extra work. In fact, it’s a good habit to build to tag your photos while they’re still in your phone!
About now you might be discouraged about your skill with writing the stories down. But there are more resources out there to discover. One of my favorites is the ‘The Writers Circle‘ facebook community. I also love using bullet lists and look forward to trying dictation software. What’s more important is that you save those stories, not how. Just be careful to check that the information added is actually being embedded. I spent an evening using the ‘information’ icon on my phone to add notes that only really exist on my phone!
In the end, family storytelling is about three things: the photos, the facts, and the feelings.