Many great stories are not chronological.
In literature, it’s called nonlinear narrative, and Homer’s “Iliad” uses this storytelling technique, as does Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights.” In movies, “Memento” springs to mind as nonlinear; its story is told backward. The TV series “Lost” relied heavily on nonlinear flashbacks to reveal its character’s motivations.
Remember then, when paralysis engulfs you as you’re facing a mountain of family photos, that perfect chronological order is not only not necessary but maybe not even preferable!
Chronological order is the most difficult way to organize a large collection of photographs because it requires a high level of proper dating and labeling throughout the process of photo accumulation to which most of us just don’t adhere. Some photos just don’t have dates or revealing details, and our memories fail us.
So let it go. Embrace a nonlinear storytelling style. Here are a few examples:
- Making an album for a graduating senior? Choose a few themes to match the child’s life experiences: “Baby photos,” “birthdays” in any order, “football,” “Halloween” and “all smiles.”
- Creating an anniversary album for a couple’s milestone? Fill it with pages that describe the “whys” of the couple’s marital longevity rather than a chronological retelling of children and houses and trips. Titles might be “family togetherness,” “sense of humor” and “welcomed additions” for baby photos and “new experiences.”
- Faced with a pile of school photo and sports packages of your child or children? Eliminate the duplicates and combine these photos in a pretty box, like a Memory Keeper from Paper Coterie. These durable linen boxes are attractive enough to leave out on a coffee table or bookshelf and invite loved ones to sift through the photos in any order.
- Choose a favorite story or poem and find photos to illustrate it. Click here for a couple of examples that use a Biblical Psalm and the Max Lucado story, “Just in Case You Ever Wonder.”
- A tribute to a retiree could include letters from loved ones and colleagues paired with photos of those letter writers.
- Create a photo montage linked by theme rather than chronology. Grandparents’ wedding photos or individual family members walking on the beach can be grouped in similar frames for an attractive display.
Luck good! Think like Yoda.