Few of us pause to think of the critical role that photographs play in telling the story of our lives; to family and friends that we share with and to the strangers that will encounter you or your still likeness now and many more years in the future.
When it comes to documenting our lives, we are by far the luckiest generation. We live in the age of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter where we can capture and document every “Instagrammable”
moment in our lives. It may seem trivial but those little moments we share on Facebook and Instagram will be the stories of our lives. An archivist or a future great-grandson may be able to relive your cherished moments through your photographs with a simple upload.
Assuming they will be around forever, Instagram and Facebook might give you an opportunity to post a “note” or update on every image that you upload but you don’t have that luxury when it comes to print photos or old photos that your parents or grandparents have kept all these years. With these, the best way to preserve memory and context is by sticking notes at the back of the photo. This is useful for various reasons.
Life is Made of Memories
You might pride yourself on your memory now but, as you grow old, your memory may recede. Memories are like photographs themselves, slowly fading with time. As you age you may no longer be able to recall all the details of your life, like your graduation from college or your wedding day with accuracy. Sticking notes on your memorable photographs will help you recall the people and places in
the photographs. That long lost cousin, friend, colleague, acquaintance or old neighbor? A simple note might bring all the memories flooding back enabling you to relive the wonderful moments that you shared together.
Notes can also help you remember all the important life’s milestones that you have achieved over the years. They might seem momentous and unforgettable but if you live a long life, your important moments and events will be so numerous that you will barely recall them. Adding a few notes helps bring forth all the moments in vivid details.
Who are These People?
That is the question your kids, grandkids or great grandkids will be asking as they pour over your “anonymous” photographs. Adding notes to your photographs humanizes the people in the pictures and adds some context to the occasion. You will probably not meet or know your great grandkids but they will love to know you and relive your life and times through the photos and footnotes.
Preserve Your Family History
Adding notes on photographs is an important genealogical undertaking that helps to preserve the family history. By identifying individuals and events, you can help build a rich family archive that future generations can dig into to know more about the roots. We need to know where we come from and who our ancestors were in order to feel grounded in our lives.
The Relatives You Never Knew Existed
The family unit in most Western countries is often as big as the nuclear family. IT is possible to grow up without meeting cousins and other relatives. By adding notes to family photos, you can help remind some of those lost family bonds.
Preserving Communal History
Did you know that archivists and local historians often dig into family archives and photos to reconstruct the history of places and events? Your family might seem like a single independent unit with its own unique history, but that history is part of the local heritage. At the end of the day, we are all interdependent. Adding notes to memorable photos can document your family’s place in history, thus helping add to the rich heritage of your community and humanity as a whole.