Stories are a major part of our daily lives. You see stories of heroes and heroines saving the day. You see stories being told in all the marketing around you. Think back too, on the last viral photo series or video that you have watched on social media… I bet it told a story too. Stories are in the very fabric of our being, and are the very reason why we are here today. So why shouldn’t you tell your story?
You see, stories are the perfect way to connect with the past, present, and future generations. These stories make us laugh, remember, cry, feel loved, and become connected with something bigger than ourselves. The best example of this, would be in family heirlooms. Remember when you were a child, and a grandparent would show you something special to them, and then tell you the story of how that item came to be in their possession? Families are built on these stories, because of that connecting factor.
You may be wondering, “Gee Jess, why are you writing about this, and what does it have to do with Family Photography?” Well, that’s simple! I want you to understand the importance of these stories, and how they impact you, and your children. I want you to think ahead to the future, when you are long gone, and how you will be remembered. Are you telling your children stories of your childhood? Stories of how your parents met, or even better, how your grandparents met? How far back can you go? How much of your history, or your family’s history, is lost now? How can you tell your story, if this history is missing?
You may also be thinking, “My kids don’t care about my childhood!” or, “I really don’t remember much.” The worst thought that may cross your mind, in my opinion, would be, “The time will come someday when I’ll tell my kids about our stories.” Well, let me tell you that “someday” may never come. It’s hard to think about a time in which you won’t be able to share these stories with those most precious to you, but it will, inevitably, happen.
So, here are five reasons why you should start seriously thinking about telling your story to your children and loved ones, as well as tips on how to achieve this through family portraiture.
Connections through Stories
Being able to walk a moment into someone else’s shoes, is a major way to see ourselves in others, feel the trials and achievements of others, and tap into our humanity. They impart lessons painlessly for others to learn from, and promote empathy and understanding. Simply put, stories unite us, uplift us, make us feel love, and allow us to remember exactly where we come from.
The easiest way to feel these connections, even without the verbal story attached, is through Portraiture. “A picture is worth 1000 words”, as the saying goes. Start building connections with those you love most, with pictures to share with them, even after the stories themselves, are long gone.
Stories Allow You to Remember Those Who Have Gone
When you attend a funeral, one of the prominent things that happens, is that everyone starts sharing stories of the one who had passed. No one is shy about it either. Everyone is together in a moment of grief, and yet, wanting to remember the person who is no longer of this world… So they share their stories with others, to ease some of that mutual grief, and to know that that person truly lived. When we hear these stories, we grasp onto them tightly, never wanting to forget even the tiniest of details about that person.
Talking about that person to a ready listener is very healing during those tough times. Shared memories are a gift, and when you are able to preserve them, you and future generations can revisit and cherish these memories, especially during the hard times.
Another thing that we see at funerals? Photographs. People will bring at least 1 picture to a funeral, to share with everyone, as if it is the very proof of their existence. People sometimes do slideshows of multiple pictures of that person. Some share family albums, and scrap books full of pictures of that person. Photographs truly are a window into the past, and a gateway to the future.
Photographs also allow you the perfect opportunity to tell your story. Whether it be of your friends, family, loved ones, lost ones, or even of funny or sad memories. They’re a strong and constant reminder of times that have passed, and create impactful and powerful emotions when viewed and told with their stories.
Children Greatly Benefit from Your Stories
Once you start telling your stories to your children, you start to become more than just “Mom and Dad”. You start to become a real person in your children’s minds. They start to get to know you, where you came from, how you got to be where you are in life. And they can even learn lessons that you had to learn the hard way, without all the trail and tribulation that you went through yourself.
Studies even show that children with a knowledge of their family history have fewer behavioral problems, higher self-esteem, and lower levels of anxiety. Parents who regularly talk about their own childhood to their children, have this amazing effect on the children themselves. Your kids will be more empathetic to others. (And, with today’s world, the more empathy we have going around, the better.) Another interesting fact, is that teenagers who have been exposed to stories from their families, are more confident, and have better life coping skills.
While our heirloom albums will preserve your stories for generations, it needs to be coupled with the telling, and retelling, of your story, to create that family lore. And, unlike with story books, your family’s story will always be on hand. You don’t need the lights on to be able to connect with your children about your story. You can simply connect with them by telling them all about your day, their day, your childhood, or even their grandmother’s childhood. All of these little interactions have a big impact.
Once your children are all grown, these precious moments of storytelling will become a cherished memory. Something they appreciate deeply, and can pass on to their own children. They can sit down with their children and say, “My mom used to pull this album out, and tell us all about this fun day we had together. You see, there I am as a small child…” Together, you will start to weave the very fabric of your family’s legacy.
Enriching Your Life Through Storytelling
No matter what stories you decide to share with your little ones, you can be certain that your life (and theirs) will be enriched by the experience. After all, this is regardless of whether the tale is one about struggle, triumph, love, loss, hardship, pain, good fun, or misadventures. Where ever your stories decide to go, they will be welcomed by those listening. There is a profound joy in the telling and sharing of one’s stories. Storytelling can be quite healing, even as it can be difficult or challenging. This is one of our favorite reasons to preserve and tell your story.
Your Memories Matter
Unfortunately, stories are becoming lost at a tragic rate. You see, more than 300 WW2 veterans pass away each day here in the US. For more than a century, immigrants have come to America in search of a better life… but have failed to tell their stories and experiences to the next generation. This is essentially closing the proverbial door on the past. It is quickly becoming the responsibility of our generation, and those after us, to maintain the memories, and to tell our stories.
After all is said, please know that your stories are important to someone… Probably a lot of someone’s. Start preserving your stories today. The easiest way to start, is to have your family photos taken, and made into an heirloom album. It truly is something you won’t ever regret doing. Quite frankly, it’s better to do it today, than “someday”.
I hope you enjoyed my blog post on this topic. Let me know about the heirlooms in your family, along with the stories that are attached to those heirlooms, in the comments below. Seriously! I would love for you to tell your story to me.