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November 25 Activity: Using Photos in Your Memoir

November 25 Activity:  It is important to use photos in your memoir.

I have already written about how the memory is false, flattering, and faulty. I’ve also offered you one possibility for correcting this. That is the use of the memory list, the journal, and other artifacts.

Today, I would like to offer you another opportunity to assist those false, flattering, and faulty memories. That is the use of photos in your memoir.

This is not, of course, a new concept. Using photos in your memoir will be useful both to you and to the reader.
In my book The Photo Scribe, I laid out a comprehensive approach to record stories within a photo album. I explored many techniques to get to deeper meaning in your photos—even photos that were considered to be just a memory aid and nothing special. Even these photos can, and often do, contain precious information. But that is not what I want to do today—although I urge you to go to your photos to stock your memory list if you have not done so yet.

Action steps

1. Take photos that you have available of the time that figures in your memoir. Scrutinize them for background and foreground information. The following information will feed your memory list.

  • What are people wearing?
  • Who is there—and where is there?
  • How are they positioned (relating) to each other in the photo?

2. If your photos are not already in albums (where one presumes they are in chronological order), take time to organize them according to years. (If need be, let this be the start of organizing your photos so that you can access them!)

3. As you write chapters of your memoir, label envelopes (Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc.) into which you insert photos that might illustrate that chapter. These are also photos that can inform you and get you to a deeper level in your writing.

  • Have you explored the scene/the action/the characters of the photo in your chapter?

4. Choose a number of these photos for the chapter. (Which photos to use for the cover will perhaps become obvious.)

5. When it is time to design the book, the designer will have some of the work already done because you have a number of photos to choose from.


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