Writing Your Life Story Part 8: Memoir and Photography (Option #1)

Seattle Latte

Coffee © 2009 Bo Mackison

Mention “writing your memoir” and most people think about recording memories, recalling events and names in the past, even researching distant history.

Yet, sometimes capturing the present is as important as recalling the past.

When you document the present, you can compare today’s stories with the past. This project combines photography and writing, and focuses on the present moment.


Any camera will work. A point and shoot camera or a cell phone camera is fine. You need only shoot a couple dozen shots so if you don’t own a camera, an inexpensive disposable camera from a dollar store works fine.

Keep in mind, for this project, much of the value is in printing some of your photographs. While the internet is a convenient place to store large numbers of photographs, it does not compare to getting prints of your photos to study and compare.

So grab a camera and give this project a try. You’ll enjoy both the process and the results.


Pick a day when you have several items on your to-do list, but you are not over-extended. You want to be busy enough to document the variety in your day, but not so busy that pausing for photographs zings your stress meter.

If you like to follow a schedule, set your phone or watch alarm for every hour or two, and take a photograph of whatever you are doing or where ever you are when the alarm sounds. If you’d rather shoot when you feel inspired, give that a try.

Here are a few examples: at nine o’clock in the morning, you are working on a sewing project. You have material and patterns and sketches spread over your workspace. Take a photo.

At eleven o’clock, you are running errands. The munchies strike and you stop at Pop’s Vegan Drive-Thru for a garden burger and an apple fizzy. Take a shot of the Drive-Thru sign or the menu. Take another photo of your lunch.

Yellow Water Lilies

Yellow Water Lilies © 2010 Bo Mackison

In the afternoon, you pick up the kids up from baseball practice. Take a photo of the jumble of kids sprawled on the ground after that last inning. Or take a photo of your kid kicking his shoe in the dirt or doing somersaults in the grassy field while the ball game is in progress.

In the evening, take a photograph while on an after-dinner walk around the neighborhood or on a stroll through your favorite park. Capture details that you might not otherwise remember. An empty playground. Water lilies on the pond. A colorful ad in a storefront.

Add a snapshot of the headlines from the front page of the local newspaper or magazine you are reading to help pinpoint not only the date, but what is happening in the world or your community.

The next post offers another photography project. I’ll also give suggestions on how to organize these collections of daily photographs.



About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Cathy Rogge says:

    I would like to be in the drawing for Quinn’s exciting new book. Love your photos! Cathy

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