Monkey and Me on the Train
Everyday Adventures, Soul Searching

When a Picture Isn’t Worth 1000 Words

Over the course of the Little Monkey’s first two years, I took hundreds, maybe thousands of pictures.  But I’ve now realized that while I captured many moments in time and what they looked like, I didn’t capture the context.  And, really, to fully capture life’s moments it’s not just the picture but the story behind it that’s just as important.

Someone recently asked me when Little Monkey first smiled.  I didn’t know the answer.  I could probably look through photographs and dates to see when smiles started appearing.  But that first one, I don’t know. When did he take his first steps?  I don’t know.  I regret that I don’t have these early memories written down because they’ll never happen again.

Now, I’ve begun this love affair with journaling and writing things down but he was two by the time I started this.  At least a year and a half of memories captured only with images.  And I don’t intend to get all OCD with it but they grow up so fast and memories fade quickly.  And, I feel like until he’s old enough to decide how he wants to document (or not) his own life, it’s my job to do it for him.

What’s This Story?

So in this photo, you can tell we’re happy, he’s happy.  But what else?  If I looked at this photo twenty years from now, would I remember what we were doing or where we were going?  Why he had that big old smile on his face?  I doubt it.

My little man loves trains, a massive understatement.  And we’ve ridden a number of what I would call “miniature trains” at the Cotswold Wildlife Park or Blenheim Palace.  Even vintage trains at the Didcot Railway Centre.  But he’d never been on a real honest to goodness fast modern-day train.  Well, he was when he was an infant on our journey into the US Embassy to get his passport but I don’t count that cause he wouldn’t remember.  But you know what, we live a hop skip and a jump from the train station.  So, inspired by one of my friends, a fellow mum with a boy also obsessed with trains, we rode the train.  We bought tickets and got on the real train, rode it a couple of stops, and then turned around and came back.  And it was magical.  All for the cost of a latte.

My advice to you compulsive photo takers out there (well anyone really)?  Write.  Things.  Down.

  • Carry a small notebook or journal around with you all the time.
  • Paste photos in your journal with little snippets of context.
  • Record the anecdotes that will tell your family’s stories for future generations.

They say a picture is worth 1000 words.  But is it?

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  • Reply Matma July 6, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Agreed. But words and pictures together – what a powerful combination
    … a snippet here and a comment there – much more effective record than a boring diatribe
    … but then – that’s what effective blogging is all about – right?

  • Reply The August Break July 31, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    […] Blogging, writing in particular, takes time, something I don’t have much of these days with school out for the summer and a number of other projects taking precedence.  So, I’m taking a break from feeling compelled to write something for the next few weeks.  But there will be new stuff on the blog throughout the month, just lots of pictures.  This month a picture will have to be worth 1000 words. […]

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