Photographs are the keys to unlocking our memories

I asked my 9 year old daughter what her earliest memory was. She remembers playing with her cousins in England when her hair was short (that would be around 4 and a half years ago when she was 5 years old). She remembers because of the photos and videos she’s seen.


Photographs are our memory holders

The importance of photographs, for myself and my own memories, is something I already knew. Photographs are our memory holders. They bring loved ones who’ve passed away back to me. Especially prints; there is something very special about printed photographs and being able to hold them. I linger over them often. They connect me to my mum, all my grandparents, my parents-in-law, and many others that I’ve sadly said goodbye to over the years.

Hearing my daughter reaffirm the significance of photos in recalling her memories really struck me. What is your earliest memory? Do photos help you remember it?

We don’t remember what we think we will. Especially now in the fast-paced digital world that we live in.

Photos help ground you in the moment they are made. They illuminate the pathway back to your memories. Perhaps a memory of a special occasion, or the once-familiar routine of an ordinary day (these are my favourite memories because these familiar routines change over the seasons of our lives). Or maybe they help us recall a moment of joy or discovery.

Whatever we photographed, that significant moment now ceases to exist, except for in a photo.

Photographs have a superpower ability to connect us to the past, our history. Not only in recalling our own memories, also memories and accomplishments of previous generations and our ancestors. That’s very special.


Seeing in colour

We were fortunate to travel and spend last Christmas with my side of the family in the UK. It was a trip that had been postponed and postponed and postponed… school term dates combined with frequently changing covid-related testing and quarantine rules means going ‘home’ is a whole lot more complicated these days!

While we were staying with my dad, I asked him about a specific black-and-white photograph that I’d taken a photo of the last time we had visited (two years previously!). I’d been thinking about it often ever since. It’s a photo of my paternal grandparents on their wedding day. They divorced long before I was born, yet there was something about seeing this photo of a photo in my phone’s camera roll that made me long to see the original print again.

So out came a pile of black-and-white photographs for us to search through. We had been using an iPhone app to quickly scan and save them digitally. Curiosity led us to try out the app’s colorise function. Well, that started something!! We lost a lot of hours to colourising photos after that first one!

Watching my dad’s expression change as he saw his childhood memories come alive in colour was everything.

It is incredible how much life is added to a photo when you’ve only ever seen it in black-and-white and when the people in the photos are no longer alive. We stared at these new photos for so long, incredulously looking at the people we loved looking back at us in colour.

We went searching for more black-and-white photographs to scan and colourise. It was mesmerising.

Not only seeing in colour, talking about our memories was special too.


Our family photo archive

There are shelves filled with boxes of prints and family albums at my dad’s house. I love looking through them, as often as I can, every single one. In the pages of those albums are photographs of my mum. As well as all our family memories, she is there too. Existing in photos.

I took out an album – our last family holiday with her in 1996 when we went to Sorrento in Italy. As I opened it up and on seeing the first few photographs, a wave of memories came flooding back to me; forgotten memories now so easily recalled.

Photographs. They are the key. The key to unlocking my memories and keeping them alive.

Living far from home isn’t easy. I miss spending time with the people I love. There are days when I find it harder still because I don’t have access to our family photo archive. That’s where the key is found that keeps some of my most special memories alive.


Do you exist in photos with your family?

Is it time to photograph some new family memories? Yes. The answer is always yes!

Create lots of keys to your memories, for you and for your children. Especially for your children. Print your photos, look at them often. Tell your family stories when you’re together and keep your memories alive.

Make a promise to yourself.

Photographs of your family spending time together are precious. They become a slice of life that captures the essence of your family as you are right now, in a single frozen moment. 10, 20, 30 years from now, these photographs will be so important to you. Even one year from now, you will be so glad you have them.

Life moves swiftly on. Children grow up so fast. We lose people we love.

Send me a message and let’s chat about booking a family photoshoot together. I can help you preserve your memories and it would be my pleasure.

With much love,
Natalie xx


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