Journaling Picks Up Where the Photo Leaves Off

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and for good reason. Many times, snapping that perfect photo goes a long way toward sharing our favorite moments.

But when it comes to capturing and preserving our everyday, real life memories, sometimes a photo alone does not tell the full story. In fact, it is generally the storytelling that takes what would otherwise be little more than a photo album and turns it into a scrapbook. That’s why journaling is such an important part of our memory-keeping process. It is often the combination of photos and words that makes our memory-keeping more authentic and gives us the opportunity to truly tell the whole story.

Take this photo, for instance…

Photo of Skylar and snowman

We can guess at a good deal of information simply by looking at the photo. For instance, the time of year is winter, it’s a relatively sunny day and one could probably assume that this little girl, who happens to be my 4-year-old daughter Skylar, created this snowman.

But what this photo alone does not tell us is that this snowman was built by Skylar and her daddy on a very warm, sunny January afternoon following several days of frigid temperatures that prevented us from spending much time outside. It also doesn’t reveal that the rather unusual hairdo sported by the snowman is actually a second attempt because Skylar didn’t like the baseball hat her daddy put on it the first time. “It’s a girl!” said Skylar … and a girl snowman requires a much more feminine hairdo!

Through journaling, we can help flesh out the stories told by our photos and provide details that might otherwise be lost over time.

5 tips to help you better tell the stories behind your photos …

1. Avoid mentioning the obvious. If it is clear in the photo that little Susie is opening a gift, the family is eating dinner or Uncle Al was caught yet again dozing in the recliner, it really isn’t adding to your story to state this in your journaling. If you tend to feel like your journaling is boring or you notice that others don’t very often take the time to read what you have written, this could very well be the culprit. Let the photo tell that part of the story and save your writing for the less obvious, perhaps more entertaining details.

2. Imagine what you might tell a complete stranger about what’s happening in the photo. Think about the background information that might help you better tell what is really happening in the photo, such as how you met the person shown, why the location is significant or what makes the memory something you find interesting enough to document.

3. Share what happened before and/or after the photo was taken. Create a more complete story by mentioning the relevant events that led up to the moment captured or extend the memory by sharing what happened after the camera was put away.

4. Use your other senses. A photo alone makes use of just one of our five senses. Bring more life to your stories by adding in the details that sight alone cannot provide, such as the background noises, conversations, aromas, textures and temperatures, or flavors that add meaning to the memory.

5. Put some feeling into it. What were you or others present feeling during the moment shown in the photo? What thoughts went through your mind. Were you proud? Embarrassed? Hopeful? Discouraged? Excited? Bored? When you think about the moment, what feelings come back to you?

Memory Logbook 2011

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