Learning the Story Behind a Favorite Photo

I hope your summer has been full of opportunities to make new memories.

I had a wonderful visit with my family in Canada and my quest for stories behind my family photos was successful!  Both my parents and my aunt (Mom’s sister) spent time with me to share stories from their youth with me.

Coming home with stories

It was amazing! I had never seen most of the photos of my Mom when she was young. It’s like finding a hidden chapter in a book, a chapter that reveals parts of the story that were missing and now the story as a whole makes more sense. The stories that go along with the photos are the extra treasures I would never have found out had I not embarked on this project.

My Mom was a little reluctant to begin with, I think being recorded was what made her uncomfortable. But since my aunt was there, they told stories together or elaborated about the situations in the photos and it became easier. (I know I personally don’t like to be recorded!) If you want to work on a similar project, I would suggest warming up your storytellers with photos you already know about. That way, by the time you are viewing photos that are new to you, your elders will be more comfortable with recording their stories.

It was also fun to go down memory lane with them. They could talk about what was going on at the time of the photos, where they lived, what school they were attending, and who their friends were, which made it an even richer experience for all of us.

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My Dad had great stories to tell too! He was raised on a farm in the 1930’s and when he was 5 or 6, he and his brother thought the mares giving birth must have had invisible zippers to allow the foals to be born.

He also shared another story about his oldest brother punching him in the head! Their father had told my dad to take the car and pick something up from a neighbor. I was surprised to learn that the quiet, gentle uncle I knew became upset about not being chosen as the driver so he decided to stop my dad. It didn’t work, Dad told me with a laugh, he just stepped on the gas and got out of there! 

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Stories like this are precious. I don’t think I would have ever heard about it unless we had taken the time to sit down together and share some of his life story.

Getting to know the Flip-Pal

The Flip-Pal was relatively easy to operate after I got the hang of it. I won’t promise it’s simple right out of the box, but with a little trial and error, a work flow was established.

I found it was easier to scan all the photos at once and then return to have the stories recorded with each picture. They were easy to name after they were recorded, too, so I can search and view/listen to them again whenever I want.

Learn more about the Flip-Pal here

I’d love to hear about the photos and stories that are special to you too! Share in the comments section.

Photos Are Treasures

Since becoming a Certified Photo Organizer, I’ve started a journey of my own to organize all my photos. There are SO MANY in my possession! But there are also photos and memories in my parents' home that hold the keys to my childhood that I want to preserve for myself as well as for my daughters.

This summer, I’m going home to Canada, armed with a small portable scanner, to capture those memories and the stories that go with them. I will be able to scan the photos in my parents' possession and then record the voice of my Mom or my Dad telling me the story behind the photo.

I've also gathered a few of my favorite photos that I already have in my possession and I'll be asking my other family members questions about them to see what their side of the story was when the photo was taken. For example, I think my brother Guy was helping me get ready for school, but I want to know more about what was going on!

My younger brother Guy helps me get ready for the first day of school.

My younger brother Guy helps me get ready for the first day of school.

Another precious photo is this one where my dad is holding me when I was a baby. I'd love to hear him describe his thoughts in that moment. He looks so proud!

One of the first pictures of Dad and I.

One of the first pictures of Dad and I.

If I’m lucky, maybe my sister will share photos from her collection and I’ll record her “version” of an adventure in a photo. That will be fun!

I don’t want to lose this opportunity. Not only do I want to go through my parents' photos with them, but I also want to understand what was happening when the photo was taken. The who-what-where is very important, but the why and/or how of photos is even richer. When these print photos are scanned, they will become part of my digital photo collection that I can treasure and pass on to my children.

Which family member would you most love getting together with to share stories behind photos?