Tara Bone, contributing writer
Weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, day-to-day moments, and milestones … we easily capture special moments, but what do we actually do with all those photos and videos? For many — including Cache Valley Family Magazine readers who say they want more information on this topic — the process of organizing, printing, and documenting photos and videos is overwhelming.
But no more! 2023 is the year to organize all those photos and videos stranded in phones, hard drives, boxes, CDs, and gulp … VHS tapes. Every 2023 Family Matters column will offer tips, resources, and advice from experts on how to preserve and share your one-of a-kind story.
Documenting life in whatever form, whether through photographs, videos, or words takes A LOT of time, energy, and money. If you’re starting 2023 with goals to improve your memory-keeping systems, or just want to start somewhere with the thousands of photos and videos on devices or tucked in boxes, it’s important to identify the why behind all the effort.
Clayton and Krista White are owners of Memory Lane Productions, a Cache Valley-based company that specializes in helping families capture and share life’s memories. Their why for documenting family memories, and even starting their business five years ago came in a jolting way. After losing her grandmother and father unexpectedly when he was just 54, Krista says she found herself in a completely different state of mind when it came to saving and capturing memories. It became a top priority.
“There comes a moment in life when you realize time isn’t in your control,” she said. “It’s important to capture moments — moments are fleeting. Remember, you’re saving [moments] for your children and posterity; it’s so important.”
She has a few pieces of memory-keeping advice. First, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to documenting. What’s your version of memory keeping? Do you prefer videos? Are you a writer and want lots of written documentation? Or do you let photos tell the story? Maybe you’re a combination of all approaches. Whatever you prefer, do what you enjoy. Remember, it’s all about sharing life lessons and creating family connections.
Before you feel overwhelmed with conquering it all now, stop. Take it slow, and Krista says, start where you’re at. Possibly choose one project to get you started and pumped for the 2023 documenting journey. Evaluate the coming year’s calendar. Are there milestone birthdays, anniversaries, or retirements upcoming? Are you concerned about capturing the story of an aging family member? Or how does a meaningful Christmas gift you can start now sound? If any of these appeal to you, start documenting without feeling overwhelmed and find inspiration to manage more memories.
Here are a few ideas:
TRIBUTE BOOK OR VIDEO
Celebrate a milestone event or show someone they’re loved with a tribute book or video. Memory Lane can help with a life sketch video, or a written book can be compiled. Last year I collected memories from co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family members for my father-in-law’s Christmas tribute book. I was nervous at first, but his response was priceless. My dad is retiring, so I’m currently gathering memories from co-workers and friends over his lifetime (shh, it’s a surprise!). This also can be done for a birthday or anniversary.
TRIBUTE BOOK TIPS
• Create a list of book potential contributors. Call or email these contacts to let them know what you’re doing; be mindful of how they prefer to communicate. Be flexible for those who wish to mail handwritten responses, set a deadline, follow up with contacts you know they’d love to hear from, and expect late responses.
• Ask for photos from contacts (you never know what gems they have) and go through personal photos. Warning: Don’t get discouraged — most people don’t have perfect photo organization systems. Take a deep breath, choose a few photos and know you’re not alone and it’s OK (reread this often if needed, seriously). I love the PhotoScan App. I can scan any photo right from my phone and it’s ready to place in the book.
• For a big tribute book, consider creating a separate/new email and check junk email. When gathering responses from email, copy and paste into a basic word processing program, or the Project Life App. For me, this app has been a go-to for tribute books. Using the app’s editorial page feature makes it easy to copy and paste text right from an email and place photos from your phone.
• Either print pages for a three-ring binder or create a book — Project Life has both features. A three-ring binder option is better for late responses and can be added on to in the future.
Capture a life story in bite-size pieces throughout the year using a subscription service like Storyworth. Visit welcome.storyworth.com for details. Responses to weekly prompts are compiled into a book at the end of the year. They are wonderful Christmas gifts! But caution: You can’t make someone answer the prompts. It won’t work if they aren’t in to writing about themselves or writing in general. This is where Memory Lane Productions comes to the rescue. They offer a Life Sketch video service that does all the work for you. They provide everything, even the questions.
Krista says if you have the gut feeling to record a family member’s life story, do it now! Don’t wait. Visit memorylanepro.com or check out Krista on Instagram @memorylanepro for tips and information about their services.
Cover/title page from a Project Life App tribute book.
Example of two complete Storyworth books.