Have you ever gone into your phone to find a certain picture only to scroll through old family vacations and holidays and random moments of your kids being cute or silly or just plain them? We have so many stories hidden in our phones (if you’re old school, you’ve got them in your camera). It doesn’t take long to find and save those memories and stories.

In the last blog post, I wrote about how to turn family traditions into memories. Using pictures is one way to do that, but what if you take it a step further? I’ve got a fun writing prompt that you can do anywhere in a few minutes.

Capture Stories Hidden in Your Phone

Just scan through your pictures, and it will take you back to another time and space.

That was the summer we got the puppy.

This is the year Talia only wore orange.

Remember when we had that great beach cookout?

OMG! They’re sooo little!

Swiping from picture to picture can give you an interesting slideshow of your life, but stop for a few minutes on one picture, any picture. This process can take as little as 5 minutes or as long as you like.

Try this process:

1. Write the basic details that you know about the picture.
Write who is in it, when and where it was taken, the event if any.

2. Write what you remember about this picture.
Why is your son laughing? Where was that hike? What is everyone except your husband laughing at? Think about what lead up to the picture or what happened next.

3. Tap into greater detail.
Use sensory details to tap into deeper memory and evoke the moment for others. Think about the way the sand felt on your feet and the waves sounded so soothing that day at the beach. Remember how sweet that first berry was and then how sour the next one tasted that afternoon your kids learned that blackberries are delicious but scratchy to pick. Jot down those details.

If you get stuck, start with what you can see in the picture. Maybe the dark clouds behind everyone reminds you how the temperature plummeted until you all had goosebumps and the wind started to whip and lash the trees. Or perhaps the sight of your son’s expectant face in the glow of birthday candles makes you long for the taste of fresh strawberries, like the ones you put on his cake.

The sensory details make the story more real — and tapping into them often triggers other parts of a memory.

4. Connect with the now. How do you feel seeing this picture now? Are you proud seeing your daughter ride her bike for the first time or wistful for a summer when she was around more? Another way to think about this is to put this picture into context: What memories does that one picture trigger?

You can add thoughts right to the description or comment section in your picture files, start a photobook with text, or just collect your writing in a journal for now and decide how you want to share these memories with family and friends. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the words matter too. And for that matter, so does the process of tapping into the memory and putting the words together.

What secrets are hidden in your phone? What stories will you tell?

Capture your stories and leave them as a legacy for your friends, family, and the world. Here’s how you can get started.

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