“Our photos are our stories. They weave together the events of our lives and document and validate our existence, our heritage, our emotions, our relationships, and our legacy. The photos of our lives speak to us. They tell the truth about a time, a situation, or a liaison in a way you may not remember or even know existed. They highlight trends, authenticate feelings, and reveal facts forgotten.” ~ Randi Levin Coaching
Several life cycle events over the years have required me to pour through years of photos to create montages, photo albums, scrapbooks, sign in boards, and tribute posters. I always adored pausing in the history of the photos, reminiscing about the time, or place, or people photographed, or simply gauging human evolution. This past week, in an effort to celebrate and remember my mother-in-law, my husband and I spent the better part of an entire day and evening gathering and viewing more than 90 years of family photos! The experience went way beyond electronic photo frames and posters.
The experience of reviewing 90 years of photos actually changed my life!
I believe that this same process can change yours too!
When we think of all the photos on our phones or tucked away in albums, our minds settle on snippets and small vignettes of our lives: vacation albums, wedding photos, baby pictures, and life cycle events. Viewed on their own, they may seem lovely, but not overly significant. It is not until we lay them all out in front of us in an organized review that we realize the power these photos possess. They literally tell the story of our lives allowing for reflection, closure, intuition and gratitude. Put together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, your life in photos holds answers to questions you did not even know that you had.
Ready to change your life? Here is how:
Create the legacy you want by being a storyteller. In our instant world we all carry 1000’s of photos on our cell phones. I cannot stress enough how essential it is to edit that assortment and to print the pictures that have the most meaning to you. Organize them on-line and then send them out for hard copies. The overall effect of viewing your heritage through photographs is marred if located on 12 different phones, on your computer, and in 27 boxes. It is important to be able to touch and hold your memories and the timeline of your life. You may want to pull similar photos together that were taken years apart or that are identical from your childhood to your child’s. Having your photos available in hand allows you to be the storyteller.
For instance, I was recently with my kids and my nieces who are all in their teens and early 20’s and we spent hours passing old photos back and forth and reminiscing about how we looked, what we were doing, who looked like who. We captured in those moments the essence of ourselves because in those piles of pics we each saw something we had never seen before. A resemblance, a smile, pride, confidence, connection. Knowing your own story through the generations is a solid foundation for impacting your life for your own legacy awaits the choices you make today. Based on 50-100 years of pictures, where do you fit in? What have you already accomplished that you did not even realize? What do you most want the pictures you take tomorrow to reflect? Storytelling merges your past into your future by anchoring you in the present, which is a story you actually have control over creating.
Listen to your life. Now that you are mindfully in the story of YOU how does it speak to you? I know that I found great closure in seeing decades of photos of myself and my husband and our children. Any doubts that I may have had about who we are to each other, the power of family, and my role as a parent and spouse evaporated in a wave of successes. Each photo detailed a job well done, love, memories, growth, and a message too good to miss. Even in the worst of times, that string of photos stands proud…it is a testament to who I am and who we are to each other.
We forget who we are sometimes. Memories wander, we clip people out of photos where relationships sour, we think we were happy, yet a photo says otherwise. As you reminisce along Snap Shot Lane, pay close attention to the body language in your photos. Who is touching whom, where is there distance and where are two people as one? All of these elements, all of these photos, are part of the giant tapestry of who you are. The smiles, the sadness, the good times, and the bad, all have something to teach you and all contribute to your overall toolbox of life. Turn up the volume so that you can hear the truth, the real story that your memory may have clouded. Based on what you see and now hear, where can you apply a new focus to take action in your life today in order to capture the photos you most want tomorrow?
Smiling is not just for the camera. Smiling is for everyday. Smiling lifts your mood, shifts your energy, and redefines your interactions. Smiles should be less about the camera and more about the emotion of the moment. We all post on social media, documenting our existence, celebrating ourselves. This is simply a part of our new cultural norm. Don’t get lost in those “selfies” because to do so will erase reality. Photos that stand the test of time are not meant to be “insta” or “snapped” or “scrolled through.” When we are in a hurry to collect and post hundreds of photos we create the reel yet miss the actual moment. What I know is this. In order for our photos to have longevity, our smiles need to be genuine. That is something that radiates from the inside out. Getting real with your emotions, and with your connection to the world around you, will project photos that tell stories, capture history, and speak to existence. When you show up to do that …you show up for yourself. At the end of the day, that is the very best thing we can ask of ourselves.