Finding a Different Story to Tell

by | Storytelling Ideas | 3 comments

This is a guest post from team member Ronnie Crowley.

When I first started to scrapbook I was taught that I needed to always include who, what, where and when in my layouts. I would make sure I had this somewhere on the page and rarely would I include much more. There certainly weren’t any feelings.

10 years later many of my scrapbook heroes are actively encouraging us to go beyond this type of event scrapbooking and more towards telling the story. We’re pushed to include details beyond what is obvious from the picture and illustrate more what they remind us about.


For example, this photo is of my sister and I. I’m guessing it could be a first day of school picture. I don’t have a clue at all if that’s correct and there isn’t anyone left to ask who would know. I could scrap it with a generic layout about going back to school. I can guess the year cause of the school uniforms and the house we’re at. The problem is though that I don’t know much more.

The better story for this picture really has nothing to do with the girls on the door step and more to do with the cross on the wall. Looking at this picture from my past reminded me of something totally different than first-days-of-schools, it reminded me what it meant to our household to have that cross on the wall. This is the first house we lived in which wasn’t associated with a church.

When we lived in a Rectory or a Vicarage we would get regular visitors asking for a drink and something to eat. People knew that as the minister’s family we would always give them something. I’m sure that it was this cross, that my Dad put up on our new house, which meant we still got visitors asking for assistance. My Mum would never give money but there was always a hot cup of tea and a slice of bread and cheese. So when I scrapbook picture I will look beyond the two young girls ready for school and dig deeper to tell the story of a cross and what it meant in my life.

Discovering the Other Story

I urge you to dig deeper and a find a different story for your pictures. To find this alternate story I suggest you take the picture and start journaling on a piece of paper. Set a timer and try to write for 10 minutes about the picture. It doesn’t have to be perfect English and you can even use a tree diagram or a list to get thoughts organized.

Here’s another example of how I used this method of journaling to document the bloody consequence of playing on the compost heap.


If I had just used my old approach I would have just journaled about the house in this picture but digging deeper gave me a different story. In my view, going beyond the surface provides a much more interesting story to preserve and one that has a perfect home in my all about me album.

Editor’s Note: Share a comment with the last story you told that wasn’t a literal explanation of the pictured photo.

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  1. Kelly S

    The last layout I made has two pictures of underwater scenes that my husband and I took on our honeymoon many years ago. I could have just listed the time, place, etc. of these pics, but I decided instead to tell the story of how my husband lost his wedding ring in the ocean while we were in St. Thomas on our honeymoon. It’s a much more interesting story and one that I have had on my “to be scrapped” list for a long time.

  2. Carol Eason

    On a picture of a friend of mine from 35 years ago, I included a funny saying of hers — “May as well, can’t dance!’ — one of those quirky sayings that became an answer for many questions. It sure brought back all the warm memories of a glorious time in my life with a group of friends who met weekly for Bible study – and spent weekends skiing (both snow and water) throughout our high school years. It also prompted me to write to others to see what their favourite sayings and/or quotes are. What was unexpected in their replies was that they included who said the saying, e.g. “My Dad always said…..” My Uncle was known for….” prompting many other photo album journal spots !!!!!

  3. Carol Eason

    Seeing the cross posted outside your front door was indeed an eye catcher. What a wonderful witness. I have never seen anyone do that – even in the small friendly town I grew up in on the prairie, nor in the cities I’ve lived from Tulsa to Calgary to Victoria !

    How special that people could receive the wonderful giving of your family. Shine On !


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