Create a memory for someone

13 02 2012

Street Parade - York St, Albany, Western Australia. Photo: E. Morrison.

Photo albums full of pictures, telling stories of adventure.
Men with long side-burns and ruffled shirts. Women in long gowns and gloves.
Moments in time captured in candid colour.
People, places and parties here and overseas.
Photos of children holding fish, running races and homemade costumes.
Weddings, babies, cakes and candles.
All moments in time, all telling a story, all important enough to keep.
You documented your family’s life in pictures unposed.  
So many albums of memories for all of us left here – but so few of the one behind the lens.

I know I’m preaching to the converted here – most of you reading this will be keeping a blog of some description. But how many people know our personal story? How many of us tell our story? What will be told when we’re no longer here? For a time, some of those around us will have fond memories to talk about but what about the future?

I’ve been looking at my family tree lately, trying to piece together scant information for a particular branch that moved to New Zealand. Some relatives are literally just a name on the Census or birth certificate. There is no story. With more work I can find a marriage certificate or death certificate, but in some cases, that’s it. A great uncle moved from England to New Zealand with his wife in 1921 and he died in 1974. A life was lived but there are so many gaps, so many blank sections that make me wonder.

I’ve also been cataloging photos for our family. There are so many albums full of polaroids and insta-matic photos, all taken by Beth. She spent so much time behind the camera, capturing candid moments to share later. It has taught me a lot about the photos I take. The ones we treasure are not posed or staged. They are not straight or well composed. They’re the quick shots that capture a person’s famous laugh, rather than the photo face we all seem to find. I must get out from behind my camera too and leave some trace of me behind.

We sit now without her and tell the stories behind the photos. There is a painful irony to the activity. Beth would have loved nothing better than sitting around the table with us, going through photos and remembering stories, telling and sharing them with love and laughter.

Are there captions to your photos? Do they tell a story? Would anyone know what captured your eye as you took that shot? Was it beauty, sadness, awe? Was it taken by chance or did you set out to find it? What does it say about you?  Where were you?

It makes me wonder – how many people really know your story, my story?  When you’re not here, even the mundane questions will be mulled over. Make a start, caption your photos and get out from behind the lens so we see you and not just the world through your eyes.

I wish we’d made time to find out more, to share time and tales together. If you want to start your story but aren’t sure how to get going, check out these Interview Questions from and see how you go.

If you want to take small steps, visit my friend Cee’s blog and take part in the “Share your World” posts she runs.

Write it, post it, blog it, draw it, but do something for those who will miss you when you’re not here.  You’re much more than a name on the Census.




5 responses

13 02 2012
Chris Alice Donner

I love that list of questions from Glad to see you’re going through the family tree. I don’t know about getting out in front of the camera lens, though. LOL

14 02 2012

Every life is an amazing story.

14 02 2012
Cee Neuner

Thanks for the pingback….and yes we are all more than a census number!

14 02 2012
Gilly Gee

We all have such complex life stories don’t we? I keep thinking of writing some of mine and i have begun to tell some to my kids.

14 02 2012

Start small Gilly and write some down. They will be treasured.

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