The sharing of an old photograph, and a memory, isn’t a popularity contest, or a “what-ya think” moment. It’s not about the number of hearts or likes it collects. Leave that to social media and random current event images.
Sharing an old photograph, can and should be the starting point for a walk down memory lane. Or perhaps the discrete reveal of stories shared with one relative but not to another.
This simple little image from the early 1960’s shows a child, who happens to be me, standing in front of a Christmas tree. She’s wearing a bathing suit, bathing cap, and holding a beach towel. By the simple fact that there’s a Christmas tree present, and there’s frosting on the inside of the windows, we know it’s December. Considering I lived in Montreal Canada at the time, I am most definitely inappropriately dressed.
The story could start and end with the little girl in the swimsuit at Christmas time. It’s certainly funny, terribly cute and over the years has given me great storytelling opportunities. You see, I moved to Australia as an adult. The punchline for the story has always been, “I was born in the wrong hemisphere.”
When I privately shared this photo with my family using Ponga, details I’d missed opened a massive memory dialogue. Related events and family stories came tumbling out.
This isn’t the first time the swimsuit had been captured on camera. When I shared the “wrong hemisphere” image through Ponga with my sister, she immediately responded by making a comment and providing another picture. Which of course I responded to.
It was the suit that caught her attention. She had other photographs that also had stories in them, stories that were there in the memories of my family.
Sometimes what happens, and this most definitely has happened for me on more than one occasion, the sharing of a photograph opens up a dialogue between family members who may not have any reason to communicate with each other.
Decades may have passed since cousins or siblings were together, but a photo — any photo—can start the storytelling process. And what gets learned is priceless and worth saving. The pattern is always the same, share the image, collect the stories.
Once this starts, the walk, the game, the storytelling, you’ll get hooked. Comments like, “I remember that” or “I didn’t know that,” will come flooding in.
Things will go quiet sometimes, then out of the blue someone pops in with a comment, a story or perhaps even another photograph that will start the process again. It’s a bit like perpetual motion, or should I say perpetual storytelling.
It keeps coming.
[We've joined Elizabeth O’Neal’s Genealogy Blog Party for All Things November this year as this post from Victoria MacGregor has a link to the family holidays theme. We're thrilled to participate and look forward to celebrating more of this kind of content. — Ponga Editors]
The sharing of an old photograph, and a memory, isn’t a popularity contest, or a “what-ya think” moment. It’s not about the number of hearts or likes it collects. Leave that to social media and random current event images. Sharing an old photograph, can and should be the starting point for a walk down memory lane. Or perhaps the discrete reveal of stories shared with one relative but not to another.
As we share the details we find in pictures, clues lead from one story to the next. Connecting the dots with context and memories we soon reconnect as a family. Having reached out to my tier-one and tier-two relatives, siblings, cousins, nieces, and nephews, I experienced pure unadulterated joy. Their comments, remembrances, and reconnections have been beyond amazing. I invited my family to the storyboard albums I’d created, …Then… I remembered Myrna. The game was afoot!
Following these steps will help you get your photos in order. Once you have the physical artifacts organized, you can digitize your collection and will be ready to get your digital collection into Ponga where you automatically organize them by person and start sharing your photos and the stories that go with them.
How does identifying the individual(s) in one photograph benefit my research? It’s more than curiosity. I want to be able to tell those individuals’ stories! I want to know the family stories contained within those old family photographs.