Back to How-To Articles

A photo is worth a few words

Someone once said a picture is worth a thousand words. That may be true, but sometimes it needs a little help. A photo can tell you only so much by looking at it, such as “here is a happy girl standing by a car.” Unfortunately, it can’t pipe up and say, “This is Emma Smith on June 10, 2000, the day she got her license.”

That’s why every photo is worth a few words, starting with who, what, when and where. These are all the words you really need to capture the stories behind your photos. Even if all you do is jot this brief information with an archival pen on a photo storage envelope or the back of your photos with each roll of film, it’s a start. Not only will these words jog your own memory, they’ll make sure your photos are as important and meaningful to your children, grandchildren — and even great grandchildren — as they are to you. Writing down this critical information will also give you notes to work from if you start to assemble a scrapbook or album.

Putting photos into an album or scrapbook to enjoy is an even better way to capture the stories behind your photos. Not only are you capturing the memories of your life for you, you’re recording the details to share with friends, family and future generations.

Think about the pleasures of turning the pages of an old album and seeing not only photos but handwriting and bits of information from the captions as well. Paging through an album opens the floodgate of memories, unlocks clues about your family and loved ones, and binds generations together.

Who, what, when and where will provide the basic information about your photos. If you’d like to add even more personality and detail to your album, think about including a favorite quote or saying. Or, try adding details the photo doesn’t show such as, “Mom is wearing the pearls her great-aunt gave her.”

Writing about your photos is critical to preserving your memories. Of course, none of this is worth your time if you aren’t using archival quality pens, albums and storage products. Simply choosing to use archival products from the very beginning will make your effort worth while. Not only will your written details last for generations, but your photos will too.