#031 – 4 Foundations to BETTER Document Your Life

I’ve gotta laugh at myself, I’ve stopped / started a dozen times, had to pause and make a list of topics, because I’m SO excited that I start one topic or story and move onto another before finishing the first – that’s just how excited I am to talk about this stuff with you!

In this ep, I cover:

  • Your Preservation Project (yep, you have one already!)
  • What a Preservation Project is
  • 5-part framework to make sure you pay attention to the WHOLE picture in documenting
  • Invitation to join The Preservation Project program

Documentary Family Photography

Transcription:

YOU have a Preservation Project – whether you’re paying attention to it, or not, you have one that’s building through the years.

How you use it and how strong you make it is simply a choice, but either way, you have one.

So, what is it?

A Preservation Project is simply the end-result of documenting the stories in your life.

To be clear – YOUR life, not your clients.

We have the choice, today, to choose what we want our Preservation Project to serve us.

Let me ask you this:

If you were to leave the earth today, would the people you love most know everything you want them to know about you?

Think about that question today. I mean, I think our people know we love them – that’s a given, but do they know WHY?

Sometimes I’m afraid that my parents don’t know how much I love them – I’ve left the nest, we don’t talk all that much, so do they feel disappointed? Do they feel un-needed? I want them to know about the childhood memories that mean so much to me and that I’m thankful for them.

I’m afraid of my kids growing up and not having a good relationship with me. It’s a legit fear – and every time I disagree with my daughter, I’m hoping I didn’t just go down a notch in her people she values list.

Obviously, all I can do is my best to love her, support her, and LISTEN to her (best parenting advice I’ve received). So what can I do if my fear comes true? My answer for that is to give her my heart.

My Preservation Project is the start of that. I believe if it’s curated intentionally, then, if my fear comes true, I hope that she’ll see this collection and

  1. know the truth, the truth of my heart &
  2. have compassion toward me, knowing that I did the best I could and that I’ve loved her with my whole heart.

(even if I was the mom who drove her crazy haha)

At the end of the day, when you’re annoyed or angry with someone, learning about WHO they are allows us to be compassionate and more forgiving, or at least, understanding.

People talk about documenting life and preserving the memories, because you never know when an experience – or the life of a loved one – will end.

Yep, that’s true, but to me, TPP is equal parts collection AND expression. It’s collecting the stuff that matters most – not just life at random – and using it to express our hearts for ourselves and to the people who matter to us.

Your Preservation Project – remember it’s being worked on whether you’re paying attention or not – can be done in two ways:

1. We can be done more at random, resulting in patchwork, at best, of your stories. You risk important stories slipping through the cracks and parts of your heart never expressed.

This reminds me of when I put my Grandpa’s picture boards together for his funeral. Everything was just faces + places. I had NO idea what the stories behind the photographs where, which was disappointing.

2. Or your PP can be highly intentional by paying attention, so that you’re acknowledging more of what matters in your day-to-day and later in life have a vibrant, collection of documentation pieces that’s, essentially, YOUR HEART.

It’s the most high-value parts of your life preserved on the outside of your mind + body and used as a vehicle for connection. It’s easy to dismiss this gift when we think of BEING the one to build it for someone else to find – much like it’s easy for us to dismiss our worth when we’re putting a price on our work.

Imagine someone you love more than anything:

What if they left this world and you stumbled upon pieces of their heart that gave you truth + comfort?

I don’t necessarily mean P.S. I Love You scavenger hunt type of style, but words of affirmation. Their thoughts in pictures, notes of their thoughts, letters, etc. In episode 019, Brittni told us about the letters she had from her son who passed away.

  • What if, through documenting, you got to tell your parents or your friends about the best memories they gave you or how much you mean to them?
  • What if, through documenting, your child goes through their Legacy Box, and learns, not just how much, but WHY you loved them and they learn that you believed you lived a full life. Can you imagine the peace that would bring?

I think a lot of people, you perhaps, think about “documenting” in terms of collecting pictures of your everyday life, real life, all the stories and experiences AS you live them, so that, you get to tell those stories around the dinner table years from now. The problem is, that’s only PART of what you can do.

Documentary Family Photography

4 Foundations to BETTER Document Your Life

There’s a 5-part framework that I follow to make sure I’m paying attention to the WHOLE picture. I’m going to get into 4 of those parts today to help you document your life better.

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT about documenting MORE of your life. It’s not about accumulation. It’s not a message to get behind the camera MORE. It’s actually more of a less is more thing – coming from someone who used to make more pictures than I could actually keep up with.

This is about using documenting as a tool to get laser focused on the things – and the people – that matter MOST to you and DECIDING what to do with that information.

OBSERVATIONtaking the time to look at ALL parts of your life.

We get tunnel vision for the season we’re in. Proof: “remember whens” Those wouldn’t be a thing if what you’re remembering didn’t feel like a blast from the past.

Question Prompt: What haven’t you paid attention to awhile where there could be a nugget worth documenting?

PRESERVATIONthe act of documenting or preserving something of HIGH VALUE.

Because we all have a unique way of seeing the world – or, in our case, influenced by the photography community – sometimes we let things slip through the cracks.

Question Prompt: What could you document, that you haven’t, that matters to you? Might be on your heart, might be what came up in your Observation practice.

EXPRESSIONmaking your documentation pieces serve you to their maximum potential, not just collecting dust on a closet shelf or hard drive.

It’s also considering the clarity + ease for your loved ones in experiencing the documentation piece (i.e. all the untold stories + questions from the pictures on the boards I made for my Grandpa’s funeral)

Question Prompt: Where is all that you’re documenting and how can you maximize its ability to serve you?

CONNECTIONusing your documentation pieces to strengthen your relationships.

They can be a vehicle to connection BEYOND simply tagging them on Facebook.

Question Prompt: How can you use what you’re documenting to connect with your loved ones?

Alright, so those 4 parts again are:

  1. Observation
  2. Preservation
  3. Expression
  4. Connection

I’d love for you to reach out – IG, email, review, and tell me which area you’re most curious about, rocking, neglecting, etc.

There’s a 5thpart that I save for The Preservation Project program, which, at the time of recording is about to open its doors for the last time in 2018.

I’d love to have you inside – ff.com/preserve

The preservation Project program is a 4 week experience to have some fun!

Quiet all the NOISE to grow, to shoot better, to do better in business, to document clients. Instead, focus on YOUR stories for a season.

The best part, if you’re in business, this is kind of like batching content for your business – amazing stuff can pop up in her that can contribute to your Memorable Story Collection library that we talked about in episode 027.

Until next time, stay Fearless.

More goodness:

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How to document your life story

Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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