“I don’t know where to start,” my Grandma said. She came into the dining room with a cigar box of photos that had lived quietly in her closet since her mother passed away almost 30 years ago. She had never opened it.
Over the next two hours, we went through the photos one at a time, the red light blinking on my digital recorder as Grandma talked about who was in each photo. It was fun to catch her reactions too. “Oh my gosh, look who this is!” she’s say.
We set aside a dozen photos that had prompted the best stories, then I took them home to scan them and transcribe the narratives. A couple of months later, we repeated the process with a photo album of my Grandma’s childhood.
This is a “Story Album.” Photos and narrative together, in a volume that is both memoir and photo album.
The Story Album is a project that I started doing as an introduction to memoir writing. In memoir writing, it’s hard to know where to start. It’s hard to figure out what the most important things are, to recall events with clarity, to pinpoint the major themes in a person’s life.
Photos have the advantage that they bring back clearer memories, they give you a place to start, and they naturally get people talking about the things they remember and the things that are most important to them. Also, a Story Album can be completed in a fraction of the time that it takes to write a memoir.
The final product is a professional photo album that features the scanned photos and typed stories side-by-side.
If you have questions about commissioning a Story Album, don’t be shy! Book an appointment or shoot me an email about the stories you want to save.