Do you ever notice how photographs often lead to the telling of a story? The action of showing someone a photograph almost always starts off a story not just about whatever is evident in the picture, but also what else had happened that day, who was there (and maybe out of frame), and even what the storyteller was feeling at that very moment.  

I watched a documentary last Christmas where Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles looked at their old family photos and 8mm movies together, to be filmed and broadcast. The parts that struck me most were when the Queen would notice something in the background and say something like “Oh, that is the picnic set that we only use when we go” to wherever. That is a family tradition. You don’t have to be the Queen to have little traditions like this. These little acts of living become the myths for the generations that will follow. 

 

Family photographs will be around long after the people in them, and their stories and feelings, have passed on. Photographs can function as tools to pry loose the family mythologies that may otherwise be at risk of being forgotten. And for future generations they will be the direct illustration of family myths and traditions that are passed down.