Why We Should All Learn the Art of Storytelling Through Family Photos
If you’ve ever watched the television series Who Do You Think You Are, you may be as intrigued as I am to see the drama unfold as celebrities discover their family stories. What fascinates me even more than the celebrities’ stories are my own and those of my clients. You don’t have to be famous to have a rich family history. We all have a story or two buried in those shoe boxes in the attics.
For example, I’m sure there’s a story behind this photo of my Gram and Pop and their family.
Who was taking the picture, and who owned the camera?
My grandparents were farmers and money was generally pretty tight, so I imagine a camera must have been a luxury at that time. I wish I had asked what the occasion was and why they were all together.
There was once a time that I didn’t think much about my family stories. It’s not that I didn’t care, but I just didn’t make time for it. I think what changed my course was having children. They start asking me questions like, “did you do that when you were a kid?” Or maybe it went more like, “back in the olden days did you…?”
Once I had children, I realized that it was important to share my stories of childhood and family with them. One of the best story prompts is a picture, and it only takes one to start the journey.
I’ve had more than one client tell me that no one in their family cares about their vintage family photos. While it makes me sad to hear, I know that will change. I often encourage my clients to keep moving forward, get their photos organized and scanned, and identify and document the people and stories they know. Someday when their children have children, it will all change. One day, it will become important to know your heritage and what – and who – has formed your core values.
This shadowbox contains a picture and some medals from my husband’s grandfather and my son’s namesake. He was a hurler in Galway. I didn’t even know what “hurling” was before I married my husband! (It’s said to be the world’s oldest team field game.) Even if you don’t have children, another family member may come knocking and asking for those stories. Go find and tell your stories.
To quote my friend Rachel LaCour Niesen, “There’s magic in historic images.” So very true.
Go find the magic.
About the author: Rachel Jenkins is the founder of ScrapMyPix, LLC, serving Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia and also many virtual clients. She provides photo organizing services specializing in preserving both pictures and their stories. She is a Certified Member of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers. To get started telling your family stories, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or give her a call at 443-226-9801.