Give Your Photos, Stories

Stack of travel photos with title Give Photos Their Stories

Let’s be brutal. Photos without stories are worthless.

They are no better than the photos in picture frames you buy off the shelf with people you’ve never met and they probably didn’t know before the photoshoot.

Here are six tips to save the value of your photos by recording the story the photographer captured.


Think of your collection of unidentified persons in photos. What is the number one thing you would like?


What’s the second and third thing you wish the photographer had recorded?


With that in mind, what do you think you should do first when giving your photos back their stories? Record the obvious facts of names, dates, and places.

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  1. Explain the why: Why was this photo taken? What was happening? If the photo was taken in April 1942 in Grandma Helen’s backyard and has the 5 Smith brothers, what was going on?

  2. Was it really an Easter celebration, Spring equinox, or Passover?

  3. Was it a family reunion, birthday, or baby blessing?

  4. Was it a send-off because the youngest son was going to war, college, or moving cross country?

  5. Funny stories about taking the photo: If you remember the photo, was there something funny about the folks taking the photo?

  6. Would Uncle Earl not be serious?

  7. Was the toddler not happy unless they had a bag of food in the photo?

  8. Did a baby have a stinky diaper and everyone was gagging?

  9. Personality Traits: If you have a portrait of an individual, take time to record their personality traits.

  10. Did they always have candy in their pockets for children they met around town?

  11. Did they give the best hugs ever?

  12. Did they have the firmest handshakes?

  13. Did they have a twinkle in their eye that hid their mischievous side?

  14. Record their Voice: Okay, photos can’t really record the person’s use of vocal cords, but you can record the things the individuals were known for saying.

  15. Did they have sage wisdom like “Many Hands Make Light Work?”

  16. Did they express their love “I love you forever and ever, Amen”?

  17. Did they share scripture at the drop of the hat?

  18. Did they tell favorite stories or jokes?

  19. Did they rant about politics or complain about the weather?

  20. What were their quirks? All of our relatives have quirks. Record them! Even if the photo doesn’t show them.

  21. Explain why grandma never ate oatmeal.

  22. Explain why Uncle Earl never wore a suit coat.

  23. Explain why Aunt Devon was not trusted in the kitchen.

Give your photos back their stories by recording the obvious and then digging deeper. As you do, you’ll be preserving memories and giving value to the pictures you’ve saved for decades or longer.

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