Tag Archives: photos

Stories Used To Be An Event! Still are?

Native American Storyteller

Native American Storyteller

Some Native American cultures saved storytelling for the winter months when people had time to gather together, repeat myths, share histories and create a common cultural bond. It was an event; something to look forward to. In my town, the only thing that comes close is when children gather for Story Hour at the public library or when Irish storyteller, Liz Weir, makes her annual appearance in Boulder.

Aditi Worcester, a video biographer, makes a similar observation about photographs in her blog http://savetheirstory.blogspot.com.

“My favorite picture is of my mother in Kashmir. It’s black and white… though everything looks rather white because of the snow. She’s wearing an oversized, black trenchcoat sort of thing… and smiling, well, half-smiling into the camera. Or rather at my father, who was taking the picture. It had been so cold that day that the guide who was taking my parents on a tour of the city offered his jacket to my mother to keep her warm. This demonstrated two things to me.
A). Locals don’t feel cold. And
B). Chivalry wasn’t dead 25 years ago.

But it’s my favorite picture. Whether it’s because of the story behind it, or because it was taken in a place I haven’t been to, or because it was a snapshot of my parents, young and in love… I don’t know.

My parents tell me that when they were growing up, taking pictures was an event. One you made appointments for, dressed up, and posed for, with your eyes deliberately looking elsewhere… for the effect of seriousness perhaps? Or gravity?”

Do we take too many photos today?  I took seven hundred photos on a recent week vacation.  These days, that’s not hard to do. The problem is editing them into something meaningful. That’s also the problem with video. My phone will capture the action, but, with rare exceptions, that’s not enough. The action needs to be shaped into something worthwhile–the work Aditi Worcester has taken on with her video biography project.

Stories need a storyteller.

Glass PosterAnd when we meet a master, we pause, we listen, we make it an event. Try Scott Hicks understated documentary, Glass: A Portrait in Twelve Parts

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Filed under Event, Family Stories, History, Old Storytelling Traditions, stories, Uncategorized, Video Story

A Picture Is NOT Worth A Thousand Words

No matter how cute, photos in the family album need a story. 

 

No matter how cute, photos in the family album need a story.

 

Browsing through an antique store, I came across an old photo album filled with snapshots of a family who once lived near a beach. California? Florida? The pictures focused on two girls, maybe seven, who might have been sisters. Besides seeing the two of them over and over again, I saw a house with a palm tree, a Chevrolet station wagon, and a dog that looked at the girls, never at the camera. A seemingly happy family from the 1950s was my best guess, but how had their pictures had ended up in an antique shop with a price tag on them—cheap. We grow tired of chairs and china cabinets. We remodel our houses and find old couches no longer fit new lifestyles. However, we usually hang on to our pictures, no matter what. 

 Next, I wondered who would buy a book of old family pictures.

Someone who had assumed a new identity? Maybe, someone in the U.S. Marshal’s Witness Protection Program I told myself in overly dramatic undertones. In that case, adding an old album to the décor would be like saying, “See, I have old photos. I am a genuine person with a real past.” Of course, if anyone took that seriously and asked about the pictures, a story would have to be invented. 

That’s what I was doing, while I was standing there, making up a story because a family photo is worthless without a memory. And that, I suspected, was the real reason the album had been given away. No one remembered the stories. 

As I continued to thumb through the pages, it was hard not to notice the way each picture had been carefully mounted under clear plastic covers. Someone had valued the pictures, had wanted to keep them secure. They were secure in the album, but they’d slipped life.

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Filed under Family Photos, Family Stories, Uncategorized