How to Use Your Photos in Writing Your Family’s Story

Cindy's family with her parents and sisters
Cindy, middle, with her older sister Holly, left, now living in Florida; younger sister Sheri, now in Texas. Her parents Stan and Fran Slater

 

Cindy Marks has always enjoyed family stories ever since her childhood in Blue Ridge, Texas, home for her and her two sisters. Photo albums and stories were a natural fit for Cindy who has become the “family historian.”

As an adult, she enjoyed scrapbooking, turning photo albums into crafted works of art while she was working in Information Technology as a project manager. Her career got started with the U.S. General Accounting Office before going to work for Honda and then for the Getty Museum along the western edge of Los Angeles.

She also knows family photos and one’s own words help keep track of the changes that occur in each family’s life. Family history is important and she urges everyone to write their story as they store their photos.

 

Toddler girl in wide brim hat.
Cindy as a toddler in Texas; photo used with permission

Benefits of Writing Your Story

Change is inevitable as we transition careers, move from one home to another, and live through the natural aging process. Our collected photos show how our lives develop, but adding a story dimension makes the family history more complete.

Today, Cindy lives in Santa Clarita just north of Los Angeles while her sisters live in Florida and Texas. She works from home and says documenting a family history is important.

“Our stories are history, and someone is going to be curious about us. Think of the collections like your own personal museum. The Getty Museum is a good analogy. Art that’s preserved links us to the past. Our photo collections and our personal stories are treasures that others want to see and enjoy.”

A collection of photos and story notes has a positive impact on our lives as powerful morale boosters. Cindy’s 94-year-old mother who still lives in Texas was moved recently to an assisted living facility. She wanted to make sure she had the picture books that Cindy had put together for her for comfort and companionship.

Cindy having fun with her mother, Fran

How to Write Your Story

Writing your story doesn’t have to take much time. It can range from simple notes on pictures to a longer narrative. Maybe you have a picture of grandparents posing for the camera in front of their travel trailer. It may look like a passive stance, but think of what’s happening behind the picture.

Your text may be as simple as “Grandpa and Grandma saw us each summer for a few weeks during their annual camping trip. Gas cost $ 1.50 a gallon back then.”

Or you can create more of a narrative. “Every summer when Grandpa and Grandma visited, I always asked to spend the night in the campground. I loved when it rained at night and I sipped hot chocolate and cuddled under the blanket. It was an adventure and yet I felt safe.”

You could continue writing what that experience meant and why you remember it so well.

 

Write One Topic in Brief Periods of Time

Writing your story can be accomplished in a half-hour at a time. Cindy and her friends meet online and typically focus on one topic per week like their names.

“How’d you get your name? That could be interesting. My name doesn’t have any special significance, but my mother liked short names.”

Your bedroom growing up is another way to convey meaning. Did you share a room with a sibling and was it cramped or spacious?

“Tell us about your parents,” says Cindy. Her father was originally from Philadelphia. He joined the navy and then met Cindy’s mother when he was stationed in Texas.

Another topic is friends and what you did when you got together with them. You can note if you stay in touch with childhood friends or if you’ve developed a completely new set of friends.

 

Where to Keep Your Story

But where do you write your stories and keep your pictures?

Cindy uses a digital storage solution through FOREVER. It’s a space she owns and her online albums are guaranteed safe for a lifetime plus 100 years.

She’s also converted older media including photos and videos so she can store them digitally and likes FOREVER’s commitment to safe keeping.

“No other company guarantees that your photos, videos and other files will be available. They all say, “We have the right to delete your account at any point, especially if you stop paying. FOREVER looks at how they can keep data safe in different scenarios, like a minor nuclear incident.”

Family Photo in FOREVER
The FOREVER digital album makes storing photos convenient and safe

Companies have back-up servers kept in secure locations in the case of a major accident, but Cindy says FOREVER is looking into vaults where raw data can be safely stored in worst case situations.

“They’re serious about meeting their guarantee.”

She has peace-of-mind knowing that her photos are safely stored and easily accessible for her, her sisters, and anyone else she chooses to share with.

 

Start Writing Your Story

Cindy urges people to begin writing their stories. “Don’t put it off. Your story is interesting and no one else is going to do it, so get started, even if it’s only with simple notes.”

If you’re chronicling your family history, but get stuck, then professional researchers are available.

Using FOREVER’s technology, Cindy can easily turn her digital images into printed photo books as gifts and nicely crafted stories.

Join Cindy and others online to get inspired and stick to an easy writing schedule.

Check the Events page here on Safeguard Your Memories for dates and times so you can plan your schedule in advance.

 

Connect with Cindy

Cindy and Dirk
Cindy and her husband, Dirk.

 

 

Visit her online via her FOREVER page.

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