by Rita Norton

People love stories. Every successful speaker keeps you on the edge of your seat as they tell their story.  You are connected, engaged, you can relate to what they are saying.  While telling their story they are slipping in nuggets of information and you find yourself taking notes and excitement fills the room.  There is laughter, sometimes tears, but you are present the whole time.

Telling stories with your photos can evoke the same set of emotions and excitement. Take this photo for example.


What you see is a man with a green bathing suit jumping into a refreshing pool.  Here is what I see.  My father, a man who did not know how to relax and take time for himself. A man who worked 60 hours a week while I was growing up so our family would have everything we needed and more. In our backyard, however, he was free of the pressures of work.  He could take off the hat he wore all week and be himself. This is my dad, a fun loving spirit, giving and caring and taking time out of his day to enjoy life.

When I show this photo to my kids they do not know who it is.  When I tell them it is their grandpa they are surprised and laugh, they find it hard to imagine their 6′ 5″ grandpa jumping into a pool.  They ask how old he is (in the photo) and when I tell them they say – I can’t imagine you doing that, Mom, you are too old.  Not really the response I was expecting but as you can see one photo can create a variety of thoughts and stories.

It is this exercise that I challenge all of you to do.

  1. Locate a shoebox of photos (I know you have them) and pull out a half dozen or so photos.
  2. Look at the details: objects in the background, hairstyles, fashion, expressions
  3. Write down what you feel – just a couple sentences about the photo.  There is no right or wrong…it is your story about your photo.
  4. Share with family or friends – you will be pleasantly surprised at how many people will enjoy your unique perspective on your photos.

Need a little extra inspiration?  Visit Shoebox Stories where I share the stories of neglected photos living in shoeboxes:

Rita Norton is a photo curator and founder of Photovation.  She is also a certified member of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers. She has a passion for helping clients sort, secure and tell stories with their photos. Rita also consults, trains, and offers workshops for those who want to learn the skill set to keep their photos organized for future generations. Rita looks forward to helping you connect, share and re-share your family memories through the care and management of your photos.