Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Five Reasons to Include Photos in a Memoir or Personal History Book

Everyone has a story to tell! And if you have been thinking about writing or recording your life stories, here are some reasons why adding pictures is a must.

1. Let ‘em out!

You’ve diligently collected and digitized your boxes of photos, home movies, and other memorabilia. Good for you! Now what? Are they in a format that can be easily used and enjoyed, or will they remain buried on a hard drive somewhere, forgotten and alone?

Incorporating your best photos with your best life stories in a memoir book is a great way to make sure those pictures are viewed often and cherished, perhaps especially by those who are not technically inclined or don’t hang out on Facebook. Anyone can read a book, no special equipment required.

2. What is essential becomes more special.

Because our ancestors’ access to photography was often limited, we cherish the one or two photos of our great-great grandmother. Today we have the opposite problem—too many photos! When you sift through your digitized photos and select the best or most relevant ones to include in your personal history project, you are in effect creating “scarcity,” which makes each chosen photo more special.

3. Pictures add emotional impact.

The touching story of how your dog Butch once saved your life will become a three-hanky tale when your reader can actually behold Butch’s droopy eyes and see his missing leg.

4. Pictures make your book more inviting.

Which one of these books would you rather read?
5. Photos help your book compete for attention.

Reports of the death of books are greatly exaggerated, despite the explosion of social media, e-readers, and online content in our technology-driven society. “People don’t read any more,” is the daily lament. We disagree (especially after trying to get a parking space at Barnes & Noble last holiday season—they weren’t all there to buy Nooks.) While it’s true that the way people read has changed, books are alive and well.

One interesting result of the technical revolution: printed books are getting more beautiful. The printed book has been elevated to an art form. We think this is a most positive trend. But it has also raised the bar of expectations. In order to capture the attention of your readers, you will want to make sure that your book can “compete” in our visually driven society. It needn’t be fancy or expensive, but it should be attractive and engaging. Adding photos will bump up the “wow” factor in your stories.

Tom and Alison Taylor of Pictures and Stories, Inc. have helped hundreds of people record their life stories in books and video. Their step-by-step memoir kit “How to Save Your Life—One Chapter at a Time” is available from Larsen Digital.


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