Professional Filmmakers Explain How to Bring Your Family Photo Archive Back to Life.
Your memories may be in danger. Here’s why: memories are the strongest links to your ancestors, but they disappear if you don’t preserve them. And old family photos are like little time machines; they transport you to a place called memory. Recently, I experienced this time-travel firsthand when I went to visit my 101-year-old grandmother. I took time to ask her about her photo archive. What happened next amazed me. She proceeded to open countless drawers filled with loose photographs. It was the first time I had seen most of these memories. My grandmother’s pictures revealed priceless stories about her life – from the history she lived through (those outfits, those hairdos, those cars!) to the captivating chapters of our family history. As I looked at her collection of family photos, I started to feel sad. What would happen to these memories? How many of them will remain hidden in drawers until they’re forgotten forever?
As professional filmmakers, my partner and I vowed to explain how to bring your family photo archive back to life.
For my grandmother’s generation, the analog camera was the latest technology. But for today’s memory-makers, digital video and motion content are the favored methods of documenting daily life (Snapchat, Instagram Stories). Simply put, attention spans are shorter than they used to be. Rather than lament that fact, we can celebrate our newfound ability to tell stories dynamically. In fact, combining photos and video enables us to bring family history to life! Video can be a fun and creative medium through which anyone can create their own “film” to share their family stories.
Last year, my business partner and I founded docyourstory, a documentary film company that brings family stories to life through film and photos. Working with our clients, we have witnessed firsthand the importance of using photographs to help narrate and illustrate stories. Photographs provide context and enrich oral histories by enabling viewers to delve deeper into the story through visuals. A single photograph, representing a fleeting moment in time, offers insight into the psychological and social aspects of family stories. Looking into people’s faces, examining their gestures and experiencing their mannerisms is like a visual buffet. Our eyes drink the images; we are transported back in time, through the eyes of the storyteller.
Yet for many families, the idea of creating a short film or video sounds a bit daunting (to my grandmother it sounds downright scary!). But with iPhones, iMovie and other user-friendly apps, it’s actually becoming increasingly simple to create your own mini-movies or short films to tell your family stories. By combining traditional oral storytelling with digitized photo archives, you can create a multimedia experience that engages younger generations.
As professional filmmakers, we want to explain how to bring your family photo archive back to life!
- Keep it simple. A great “beginner’s” video can simply be a photo montage with a voiceover. This is a wonderful way to share a story from your perspective (i.e. a personal memory, or a story that has been passed down).
- All you need is digitized photos from your family archives, and a computer with iMovie installed.
- If you’re not accustomed to iMovie, here’s a quick tutorial that walks you through the process of creating a short video. (You’ll be an iMovie whiz in no time!)
One thing we know for sure is that everyone has a story to tell! There’s no greater gift you can give future generations than memories. Documenting your family history is a vital step in preserving your legacy. So what are you waiting for? Please docyourstory!
About the Authors: docyourstory is a boutique production company specializing in personalized documentary films that capture stories. Each film is uniquely creative, giving a full picture through one-on-one interviews, spending time with subjects in their daily lives, the use of photographs, home movies and archival footage. Each film is innovative, distinct and inspiring, telling stories by capturing the essence of a person. Having studied photography and video in NYC and abroad, docyourstory co-founder Keren has mastered the art of storytelling through capturing unique and spontaneous moments on film. Keren spent much of her career documenting the stories of all four of her grandparents through writing, film and photography. Fellow founder Daniela started her career in the non-profit sector providing pediatric patients with the opportunity to share their stories through the creative and performing arts. Her inspiration is her 101 year-old-grandmother, for whom she is grateful to have captured on film. Combining their strengths and very different skill sets, Keren and Daniela have embarked upon a joyous journey, documenting the life stories of people all over the world.