“The saddest thing about life is that you don’t remember half of it. You don’t even remember half of half of it,” writes Donald Miller in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Miller continues by sharing how his friend Bob “captures memories because if he forgets them, it’s as if they didn’t happen; it’s as though he hadn’t lived the parts he doesn’t remember.”
This made me think about what I do as a visual storyteller. I am allowed to document a small part of history, someone’s history every time I pick up a camera. I think that’s special. Visual mediums allow us to preserve the past, document the present, and inform the future in a very special way.
Personally, I experienced this power of photography when just recently, a family member brought 35mm slides from Cuba. In the pack of about 50 slides, there were images I had never seen of my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mom in Havana. Had it not been for a photographer who decided to pick up his camera 40 years ago and photograph my family, I wouldn’t be able to witness this part of my family’s history.
This is one of the greatest things we do as visual storytellers. Every time someone allows us into their lives and we start documenting this part of history, their story, we are helping preserve these memories.
Even if you’re not a visual storyteller, I would challenge you to start documenting your own journey and the lives of those you love. Take as many selfies as your iPhone allows you to and then some. Takes photos on every trip, at every family gathering, sporting event, concert, and wherever else life may take you. Capture every memory as you strive to at least remember half of half of your life.