Photos are the keepers of memories

5672759450_20edb549fa_b“A photograph can be an instant of life captured for eternity that will never cease looking back at you.” ― Brigitte Bardot

A work friend and I were discussing a mutual acquaintance last week who I haven’t seen probably since school days. I went through an old box of memorabilia and pulled out our Year 12 school magazine to take in to show her.1988. It’s so hard to believe it will be our 30 year reunion this year! I don’t feel that old!

Our final year magazine had a photo of each student with a favourite saying or quote, along with caricatures of all the teachers (some less than flattering!) I must admit to not even thinking of many of them over the past years, but as soon as I read the quote and looked at the photo, I could hear their voices. Other photos in the magazine brought back memories of school camps, assemblies, specific classes. Even that feeling of ennui sitting in class – knowing there had to be something more exciting waiting for us “out there”.

Its amazing how many memories a photo can bring to mind. Looking through old photos the other week of me as a kid with my cousins on various Xmas Days as we all posed for the obligatory family photo with our treasured Santa presents. I could hear the cicadas buzzing, smell the lake, hear my grandparent’s voices, taste the junket we were forced to eat (blurgh!).

Often times memories and incidents that make it into my writing are based on my own memories. My sister will read my story and we’ll reminisce about the things I’ve mentioned. Or sometimes I’ll find an old photo online and use that as the basis of a character’s memory. In fact, I’m at that stage in my current WIP where I’m still getting to know my characters, so that sounds like a useful exercise to go through old photos of my own or online and see what jumps out at me.

How do you come up with memories for your characters? How much of your own memories make it in to your writing? And when you’re reading, do character’s memories trigger your own?

Let me know! I’d love to hear from you.

Photo used unchanged from José Moutinho under Creative Commons Licence 2.0 – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamoutinho/

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