The Story Makes the Memory

This is a picture of my mom and my aunt at Niagara Falls in the early 1960s.  That’s nice.

After digitizing our family slides, I was able to talk to my mom a bit about the photos we found.  She told me her dad (my grandfather) always had a vision for the picture he wanted to take and would make his wife and kids pose just so.  In this case, he wanted my mom pointing at the tram that crossed the water, so he made her hold her finger up in just the right spot and wait for the tram to hit it.

Suddenly, the first sentence seems inadequate.  You can know a fact about a photo, but what really makes it special is the story behind the fact.  Haven’t you ever looked at an old picture and wondered what was going on when it was taken?

As each generation passes away, we lose stories that shape our family history.  We inherit photos (and lots of other memorabilia) and don’t know the meaning behind what we hold in our hands.  The younger generations care even less about stuff than baby boomers or Gen X, so these items are in danger of getting tossed.

Take the time now to tell your story so that others will appreciate what the photo represents.


This is my nephew at a LEGOLAND that opened in Metro Detroit.  What do I want him and future generations to know about this picture?  Branden has loved LEGO since he was old enough to handle the large Duplo pieces.  He was surprised with a day off from school to play at LEGOLAND with his mom and aunt.  We spent lots of time in the section that contained all the Detroit landmarks, and he was constantly pointing out details he found – like he is in this picture.  He was so happy all the hours we were surrounded by LEGO and his mom and I were so happy to watch him play (and play ourselves!).

I took dozens of photos that day, but I only need to pull out one or two favorites to tell the story.  I can attach these comments to the digital versions of the photos or print the pictures and put them in an album or scrapbook and tell the story there.  The important thing is to get the story behind the photo recorded for posterity.

What stories do you need to tell to make your photos represent memories?


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