While you put the finishing touches on your Thanksgiving Day menu, do not forget to tell your friends and relatives to bring some family photographs with their sweet potato casserole. Holidays are a wonderful time of coming together and remembering how we got to where we are today. No present is possible without a past, so spend time this holiday season celebrating your family photos and exploring the stories within them. For the past couple of months, new TV Show “Family Pictures USA” has been helping residents of Detroit and Philadelphia uncover hidden family narratives. Along the way, we have picked up some great tips and tricks to make photo sharing a beautiful and informative event. Read our best “how to’s” for family photo sharing this Thanksgiving below.
If you want to create a photo share with your relatives, make sure you give them enough notice, so they too can go through their albums and pick out their favorite photos. Also make sure to tell your guests if there is a specific topic you are interested in focusing on (early 50’s, an annual vacation tradition, deep family lineage). Letting your guests know prior to their arrival allows them time to get comfortable with the idea of sharing stories and being vulnerable. Not everyone is as apt about oversharing like our current social media crazed youth is.
Yes, we know this may sound crazy, but your family photographs are a personal archive to YOUR family’s history. The natural oils on our hands, over time, affect the quality of photographs. White gloves have become a staple for “Family Pictures USA” during our photo shares. With lots of hands passing around photos, we want to make sure the integrity of your photos stay intact.
Understand that some stories from our families past may be sensitive for people to talk about. Losing a loved one, experiencing a war or tragic event could cause your relatives to retract from storytelling. Do not probe too hard. If you see this as a possible roadblock, pull your loved one aside and bring them into a one on one environment where they can feel safe sharing their story.
This is the one time you get to revert back to your 13 year old self and pretend like you are solving a Nancy Drew mystery. Ask as many questions as possible. About the people, where the photos were taken? Who took the photos? Around what time period? How do they relate to the other photos? Most importantly, make sure you gather enough information to satisfy your more overarching questions: How do these photos represent our family? What do these photos mean to me? What do these photos mean to our community? AND do not forget to record your findings. Whether it’s old fashioned pen and paper or an audio recording device, make sure you log your information!
Do not let all this great detective work go to waste! Try and find a scanner or even one that is portable to have near you this Thanksgiving. On our website we have a whole section dedicated on how to properly scan a photo if you need some help getting started.
Archiving your photographs is extremely important. As we move deeper into the Digital Age, electronically archiving your photos is a great way to ensure your family’s archives and stories. House fires, natural disasters, pipe leaks; these are all possible elements that could wipe out your family’s photographic history.