In recent years, I have tried to have an annual photo project. In 2009, I successfully completed a 365 day project with a picture a year, a layout a week. I finished the layouts and published the book in early 2010. It was rewarding to complete and it is great to look at all the day-to-day moments. In the years since, I have done weekly collections in a digital format.
I’m planning to do a similar project this year but am still playing with themes or a unique hook. I want to incorporate my keep-the-stories efforts but still deciding how. I’ll keep you posted on that one.
Photos are a great way to capture everyday moments. The routines of your day can be interesting or entertaining in years ahead and I am always amazed at how often I look at photos and think, “Oh, I’d forgotten that I used to do that all the time.” If you have children, they will look back at the images and marvel at their daily activities. OK, it might take them awhile to appreciate it but eventually, they’re sure to get there. A year-long photo project can take as little or as much time as you want and can be focused or random. The details are up to you.
There are plenty of places to find inspiration for a photo project – 365 days – 52 weeks – 12 months – 4 seasons – or a particular person or object through the year. Many of related sites have challenges or opportunity for sharing. Of course, you can start any time of the year -it doesn’t have to begin on New Year’s Day, although that is a favorite launch date for many people – it might even be a resolution – but it is not the only option. You might prefer to start on a birthday or anniversary, a milestone change or any day when you are expired.
Don’t worry about having a fancy camera or lots of equipment. If you don’t have a DSLR, use a point and shoot or the camera on your phone. Just get out and take pictures.
If you need inspiration for your own photo project, you might like:
Do you plan a 2018 photo project? What will your project be? Do you expect to keep the fame form all year or will you change it, for example, making each month slightly different?
Capturing stories before they disappear
I have been working on designing a variety of memory quilts. One that I want to do is a tribute to my Mom and Dad. Whenever I work on that, I am grateful for the time that I spent with them talking about family pictures and stories but I always wish that I had recorded more of their stories more formally. And definitely with some vocal recordings.
Sit down with your Mom and Dad and have them tell you about the people, places and events in those old images.
Interview your aunt about her days on the beat and have her tell you about the people she met and the meaning of all that memorabilia.
Listen to your grandfather retell his stories and hear them with new attention – ask questions, make note and seek details.
8 Tips for conducting an oral interview
- Ask permission to take notes or record the discussion.
- Have a list of questions to start the conversation but don’t be too tied to a specific list or order. Be able to change course according to the whims of the speaker. Ask follow-up questions and be flexible.
- Start with brief, biographical questions for context and to help your subject relax.
- Use open ended questions that invite a detailed response rather than a yes / no answer.
- Give the person time to think and answer. Be prepared to wait and learn to be comfortable with silence.
- Be an active listener and check understanding of words, phrases and references.
- Rather than one long marathon session, plan on multiple smaller ones.
- Make notes shortly after the conversation while it is fresh in your mind.
Most people welcome the opportunity to share their stories. For you, it can be gift, a chance to spend some time connecting with family and friends. I remember a few sessions when I encouraged my parents to label pictures and they brought out one of the boxes then went back and forth with stories while I noted details on the backs of the photos they described. Those were fun evenings with lots of laughter. I feel lucky to have shared that time with them and only wish we had done it more often. Now they have gone and there is still so much I wished that I had asked.
I’ve broken my Keep The Stories project to a two part challenge. The first step is to capture the moments so you can tackle the second part and reduce the “stuff”. It’s a simple idea but not always as simple in practice.
Part 1: Capture the Moments
Find ways to capture the stories of your life – from the everyday routine to the once-in-a-lifetime moments. Express your stories in ways that work for you. Use the same approach or mix it up as the mood strikes you. Use one style or many, in sequence or in combination. Keep your creation private or share it with the world in print or online.
- Shoot a photograph
- Scrapbook (digital or traditional)
- Write a song, a poem, an essay – or a blog post
- Make an audio recording or a short movie
- Stitch a quilt
- Paint a picture
- Incorporate the object into a unique piece of art
How will you capture your moments?
Part 2: Reduce the Stuff
Once you have captured the story, it is time to let go of the stuff. Having a ritual might help. In my case, I’ve decided to tell the next chapter and include what happens next to finish the story. I’ve created a worksheet for telling the stories and have a section for the next step for each item. So far I’ve identified donate, reuse, recycle/freecycle (http://www.freecycle.org/ to find a location near you), trash (sometimes it is the best or only option but I use this as my last resort).
I am accepting that it isn’t necessary to keep the things we associate with memories and finally getting rid of the stuff, though there is a still a way to go.
Take the challenge to keep the stories and lose the stuff. Reduce the clutter, reorganize and change the way you think about the things. Recycle, repurpose or donate.
Do you have rituals that help you let things go? Share in the comments.
…first time caller.
I heard this on a radio call-in show when I was driving this afternoon. I don’t often listen to call-in shows but it seems whenever I catch one, at least one person makes this comment to begin their conversation. Today it occurred to me that is a bit of a rallying call for action – a decision to do something more involved.
Almost two years ago (is it really that long already??), I decided to cut way back on my time on line. I was spending much of my working day on the computer for my job at a not-for-profit, and more hours weekly for client work on a small home business. To find some balance, I wanted to spend more of my own time on other projects so I stepped away from some forums, shut down my blog (no loss as I hadn’t really built much of a following) and drastically reduced my other social media time. It was not a difficult transition but life changed, as it continues to do. My work responsibilities evolved and I had less computer time so I renewed some of my online contacts.
I started Keep the Stories to promote an idea that I had had in the back of my mind for some time. It related to my business and some personal challenges to organize and reduce. I started with enthusiasm, a growing list of ideas – and the best of intentions. I did the first few posts and was getting a rhythm, building to more frequent posts but then lost any momentum while I was waiting.
Waiting to resolve some technical issues… waiting for the ‘perfect’ idea …waiting for the right picture for the header… waiting for enough time to write extra posts to catch up on missed days …waiting for the brilliant idea to launch with a bang … waiting for things that were not going to happen.
It is time to stop waiting – time to stop just listening and make that first call. Time to start with one post and then the next one. To write when the mood strikes and not wait for some big inspiration. To tackle the technical issues – or not – as they come and do what can be done. AND to not worry about gaps in the posts but to plan to write with some regularity and consistency.
It’s a perfect day to start
Long time reader, first time poster? Well, not exactly first time but first this time. As the Chinese proverb says “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time, is today.”
Fall is here, leaves are changing. It is a perfect time of year for new beginnings.
Are you ready to make that first call? Perhaps it will be to literally make a call but maybe your call to action will be to write a letter, take a trip, clean a closet, end a bad relationship, look up an old friend…. How will you take action today?