Memoir Writers: You, Your Photos, and Two Minutes (Plus Hours of Work)

by Matilda Butler on January 25, 2013

Writing Prompt LogoPost #172 – Women’s Memoirs, Writing Prompts and Life Prompts – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

Memoir Writers, Challenge Your Creativity

At Women’s Memoirs, 2013 is going to be our year to inspire you, to motivate you, to help you with your craft, and to get your creative juices flowing. Not every concept we present will be just right for you. But we hope you’ll consider each one because it just might spark a creative endeavor that you hadn’t envisioned.

Here’s the source of today’s idea. I received an email from a friend–an email that contained a YouTube video done by a high school student. It is called “Our Story in 2 Minutes.” Enjoy the video and then return in two minutes and read the discussion below.

The YouTube Video

Your history in 2 minutes:

Your Own History in Two Minutes

What did you notice in the video? There are many lessons here for storytelling. Probably each of us will draw different lessons. The one I’d like to mention is the story pacing. The video starts fairly fast and even seems to get faster. Then it stops and again builds up. Then another stop/transition. Just at the point when it all seems to be so fast that it is beyond comprehension, the photos stop, slow down, fade to black, or make other changes in pacing. The music helps, of course. But an analysis of the photos with the sound turned off reveals that the sight and sound work together to create the effect of an exciting story.

Memoir Prompt

It will be a lot of work, but here’s a challenge for you. Pull out your family photos. If you want to create a 2 minute video that is fast paced, then you will need about 250 photos.

1. Consider the different topics or phases of your life you want to cover. Then divide your photos into those phases. Be sure you have enough variety within each phase that a viewer can form an opinion of what that time in your life was like.
2. As you move from one phase to another, slow the timing down so that the viewer understands that this is a change, a turning point in your life. Choose one iconic photo to represent the new phase and let that one receive the longest viewing time.
3. As part of the challenge, think about how photos can tell others about your life in just two minutes. This is done without words, so the photos need to stand for the words, for the emotions.
4. If you don’t have the tools to create a video from your photos, ask a child or grandchild. I am guessing that they would not only be able to help, but would be happy to assist you in this creative endeavor.
5. Finally, music will help create the mood you want. There are several websites that have royalty-free music. You’ll need to find something that matches what you are trying to do.

Have fun with this. It isn’t as overwhelming as it might seem:

–Earlier this month we wrote two blogs — one on theme and one on message. When you start looking through your photographs, consider what is the theme and message you want the viewer to find in your work.
–Using your theme/message concepts, choose your 250 (plus or minus) photographs.
–Determine the turning points or changes — there might be between 5 and 9 in a two-minute video.
–Organize the photos into the 5 to 9 segments and then order them within each of the segments until you are pleased with the progression.
–Now is the first time that technology comes into this project. You’ll need software to quickly display the photos (you could use PowerPoint or Keynote or a true video creation software). And finally, you’ll need to sync music to carry the pacing you want to achieve.
–Share with your family. They will be amazed.

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