Thursday, January 20, 2011

Future Friday – Photo Albums with a Twist

Thanks go out to Jenn at Your Growing Tree for the idea of Future Friday.  The idea is to get us thinking about helping future generations to know *us*. A few weeks ago I set a goal for 2011: to create biographies and record family stories of the more “recent” generations of our family. 
My first project will be to “enhance” our family’s photo albums.  As a finished product, I envision scanned photos of ample size for easy viewing of details.  Each photo will have all persons and places identified, as completely as possible, with any background stories or interesting tidbits included. 
I planned to attack this project by sitting down with my mother, a photo album, and a digital voice recorder.  Together, we will go through the albums and reminisce, capturing our conversation on the recorder.  Thanks to the recorder, we should be able to concentrate more on telling the stories and less on the business of preserving the stories.
To prepare, I dug out my RCA Digital Voice Recorder, which I had not used in 2 years, and re-familiarized myself with its operation.  I then gave it fresh batteries, and started testing various settings and recorder placement to ensure a good finished product, easy to hear and understand, since we have only one shot at this with any sort of spontaneity.
We got comfortable at the dining room table, with the recorder, a photo album, and a notebook and pen, just in case we needed to write something down, although the idea was to be less structured and more conversational.  It took very little time to forget that the recorder was on, although I did try to note every time we turned the page, and give a quick, descriptive comment on the first photo on the page, as a “landmark” I can use when matching the conversation to the correct photos. 
It took us about an hour and a half to go through the album, and we had a great time.  I learned more about our family’s activities and chronology than I could have hoped for.  These were all things that my mom had not thought to mention, and I never knew to ask.  And best of all, I wasn’t desperately trying to write all of this down, or remember it correctly; the recorder was taking care of that for me.
The next step will be scanning the album pages, in order, and in a large enough size to make the faces and details easily seen.  I am still considering how to organize these photos.  Currently, I have my old digitized photos organized into folders by year, and within the folders, by file name – not exactly ideal for my purposes now.  I had considered looking for photo album software, but would prefer something in a more universal format for sharing and backing up.  I am looking into the various online photo storage sites.
I will then transcribe our recorded conversation and comments verbatim.  I’m still working on exactly how I’m going to put the comments and stories together with the photos, but will likely extract facts from the transcription, and enhance the pages of photos with them.
I’ll keep you posted!

1 comment:

  1. This is a wonderful idea. I have a couple of short recording my Grand Aunt did back in the late 1950's. I wish more of my relatives recorded family stories. Regardless of how you decided to organize your information, you may wish to consider several back up systems to ensure all your hard work is not lost. You are fortunate to start now while you still have your relatives available. So much of my family history went to the grave.