Written by: Devon Noel Lee
If after reading “I Don’t Have Great Stories” you still believe that you don’t have stories to share, then this post is for you. Even if you are convinced that you have stories worth recording, this post is also for you. I have 10 tips, 4 photography and 6 writing, that focus on your story from your treasures.
Take a look around your home. What is on the walls? What is on the shelves? What is tucked away in boxes for safe keeping? What is in your kitchen, bedroom, living room? What is in your one-room flat?
Do you answer these questions with.
“Not much. I’m keep things simple”
“Too much. I can’t even keep track of it all.”
“Just enough. I have functional pieces surrounded by the treasures of my life.”
Perhaps your response is not listed above. Whatever your circumstance, we keep things because they have purpose and possibly special meaning. Within the functionality and sentimentality of these items are your stories.
In my living room, I have a display case. On it, there are a number of items from around the world. Some of them my husband collected on business trips. Others are gifts from his brothers. Still others were collected while my husband and I traveled to Taiwan. Each of these item, and others in my home, have a story which should be recorded. In so doing, my story is preserved.
How should do you go about preserving the stories of the artifacts?
Simple – use a camera.
On my blog, I have a series of posts discussing a wide variety of artifacts that I have photographed. I have photographed World War II medals, a high school homecoming mum, baby outfits, ballet shoes, and a Masonic ring. I am not a professional photographer, but a learned a few simple things to help make my treasures look great.
Some of my favorite tips are:
1. Use a model
Whenever possible, put clothing on a model. The model brings the clothing to life. Have the model pose so the details of the item can be viewed clearly. Then, let the model have fun in the piece. Granted you want the model to be careful with delicate items, but sometimes when they are having fun in the clothes, great pictures result.
2. Have a simple background
A plain white can be your heirloom’s best friend when photographing the piece, but not all pieces look great on white (such as a white object). The key is to have an uncluttered background so the keepsake is the focus of the photograph. However, you can put a few items ‘in setting’ to great effect.
A baseball photographed in grass or at a baseball field tells a greater story than a baseball on a white background. Choose your background intentionally.
3. Take multiple photos from many angles
My greatest discovery is learning that I need to turn objects around to photograph all sides. For instance, I have a college ring that has rich details on all three ‘viewable’ sides. Photographing the ring straight on, does not capture all of this detail.
Additionally, I have photographed stuffed animals. In so doing, I have shot from a high position, a straight on position, and turned the stuffed toy in a variety of directions to capture the best shot. It pays off to photograph from a variety of different angles.
4. A story can be stronger with multiple items
The best example of this tip is photographing objects associated with high school graduation. A mortarboard, tassel, and cords can be photographed separately. When they are photographed together, a much stronger story is visually told. When you have a collection of items, be sure to photograph the items separately and in groups to capture the full story.
Once you have photographed your items, it is important to record the stories behind the mementos. There are a variety of ways to do that:
1. Print the photos and write the story on the back. Keep the photos in an archival safe photo box
2. Print the photo and paste it in a journal and write the story about the object around the photo.
3. Create a photobook about the treasures in your home that features the items and the stories.
4. Include photo of a treasure and the story on a scrapbook layout
5. Include photos of treasure, and the story, in a published family history project (using the caption field around the photo to tell the story)
6. Post the photo and story about the object on genealogy websites such as FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com or in your Footprint on America’s Footprints.
Take time to write your story using your treasures. You will be surprised how easy and fun it can be.
What tips would you add the the list I shared? Leave your suggestion in the comments below!
Family historian, author, and home schooling mother of five, Devon Noel Lee has 20 years of genealogy and memory keeping. Her purpose to is help others capture and preserve their family history before the stories are lost forever. You can learn more about Devon’s passion for family history on Amazon.com and on her blog at A Patient Genealogist.