Sharing Is Good
“Sharing is good.“ This childhood lesson is applicable in all areas of life, of course, but today I want to encourage sharing of your family photos.
It’s been written about ad nauseum in recent years: Our digital photo scrolls are out of control…we need to stop taking so many pictures and live in the moment…we never print our pictures anymore.
While I agree wholeheartedly with each of these lamentable statements, it’s the lack of printed photos that troubles me most—specifically, the sense of connection and excitement that gets lost when we neglect to print our photos, and share them in person.
In person, I say.
It’s temporarily gratifying to get lots of likes on an Instagram share, to see heart emojis galore on your Facebook post. But the joy that results from sharing a memory in person—well, that simply can’t compare.
Why You Should Share Your Photos
A family photo holds a story. It is a font of memories, frozen in one still frame.
Amazingly enough, the story shifts with each participant: Your mom, maybe, who took the photo, remembers things just a bit differently than you do; and your sister, a few years older, recalls things from an entirely different perspective. What about your baby brother, who only saw this photo—and heard its associated stories—years later?
Like all stories derived from memories, truth is subjective. And while a photo seems to capture a scene exactly as it happened, well, that’s subjective, too. Can you say “conversation starter”?!
So besides sparking conversation, why should you share your photos—and your photo memories—with loved ones? Here are three compelling reasons:
1 - You share, they share.
It’s contagious. You show someone an old photo from your childhood, and they reciprocate with a shot they had in a drawer somewhere. You pull out your dad’s old scrapbook filled with family photos from his youth to spark conversation with your parents, and they reveal they have two more stored in the basement.
Sharing what you have encourages family members to share some of their own family treasures, too—and what could be better than that?
2 - You might learn something.
From a name scribbled on the back of an old photographic print or a comment made in passing by a family member to whom you are showing your photos, you just may discover something new: details or backstory that enrich your own experience of the picture; or perhaps a surname or location that helps with a genealogical search.
Just because your family elders have not shared such info before doesn’t mean they don’t know it—too often I hear, “Well, no one ever asked me.” So show…and ask!
3 - You’ll feel darn good.
Sharing the joy and love associated with your favorite family photos makes that joy grow. You get that altruistic benefit that comes from sharing of yourself—witnessing another’s enjoyment, and feeling your own heart swell.
Discover family history, life story writing, and photo management guides in our Toolkit, where you can download free resources to help you preserve your legacy.
Culling your collection of family photos—whether a year's worth of images or just the shots from your latest vacation—helps retain their value—and stories.
Family photos can be useful tools to jog memories and call forth stories. We share how to determine which images will elicit the best family stories.
Print and share your family photos with loved ones. Besides generating conversation, you will spark joy, find genealogy clues, and discover even more treasures.
Want to record family stories? “There’s an app for that!” Undoubtedly, there is—but which one is right for you? My top picks for digital story sharing services
While I love browsing nostalgic #foundphotos on Instagram, my scrolling is always accompanied by a twinge of sadness. It’s the storytellers who renew my hope.
Family photos we deemed special enough to show off in frames around our house likely are not preserved at all. Inventory & digitize them before it’s too late.
Rediscovering an old family photo album in her closet prompts Modern Heirloom Books’ founder to reflect on the lasting appeal & transformative power of nostalgia.
Our photos tell the stories of our lives—and our lives, frankly, are not merely birthdays & weddings. Our lives are lived in the in-between. Capture the moments.
Prepare your family photos so they provide comfort—not a burden—to your children when you're gone. It’s one of the most meaningful legacies you can leave your kids.
#remember That’s it: Remember. One word. One hashtag. One very important prompt. Help us transform #ThrowbackThursday into a mindful act of remembering, and inspire everyone around you to share their stories, too.
The new Google PhotoScan app allows users to digitally capture their old family photos with ease—and without glare. While the app isn't ideal for scanning high-resolution images for use in print, it has enormous value in quickly and effectively scanning those precious boxes of old family photos you—and your extended family members—have lying around your homes. See why it's a recommended download.
Facebook and Instagram are wonderful platforms for sharing pictures of your family’s favorite moments (I do love such everyday history!) and capturing tidbits we might otherwise forget—but by no means should they be considered your primary photo storage. Your memories matter too much to lose them to the whims of technology. Some reasons why social media as archive is a bad idea—and a unique option for elevating your Instagram library to family heirloom.
Throwing away photos that hold no meaning (or are duplicates, or are just plain bad) is a requisite for organizing your visual memories. Think before you toss, though. Sometimes that blurry shot—or an old, ripped black-and-white, or the one where you are so small you're like an ant!—are worth keeping. Here's why.
This week's top 4 legacy links all focus in some way on the enduring power of photography—the power to connect us with the past, to inspire, and my favorite, to reveal stories and truths.
“His is the broad nose, the high cheekbones, the determined mouth, the face not like an oval or a heart, but like a square. He died long before I'd ever meet him, but I carried him in my blood.” In Beth Kephart's contribution to our “Pictures Into Words” series, you’ll find inspiration for writing about a photograph that holds more mystery than memory. Sometimes it's the wondering, the imagining, that brings life to an old photo—that carries your ancestors from the past into the present and finds the narrative thread in our connected lives.