Personal History

Telling A Story With Your Keepsake Photography

Our treasures are often not stand alone objects. They are often part of a collection. Part of an overall story. When photographing my personal and family history items, I pay attention to the story the objects are trying to share.

What stories do my rings they tell?

The obvious story is that I graduated from high school and I graduated from college. If you look further into the details, you will find the name of the schools and the years I graduated (or my class in Aggie terms).

Another story behind the rings is my father’s emphasis on education. My father always told me, “Get your Ph.D. before your Mrs.” He believed in the power of education, even though he flunked out of college. He made amends and graduated on his second attempt. Perhaps that is where he began to appreciate the education.

Alma Matter Rings on Black

This value could also be from his grandfather Victor Zumstein who was a professor at Ohio State University. The rings together seem to emphasize my family’s emphasis on education and the fact that I achieved it. I did not and do not intend on receiving anything beyond my B.A. and I’m happy that I am Mrs. Lee. I did receive the Mrs. title three months before earning my B.A. I hope my family isn’t too upset that “I got the order wrong.”

What does the arrangement of my rings suggest?

High School and College Class Rings

Perhaps I’m over thinking this, but photos are about impressions and the feelings they inspire in a viewer. When the rings face each other, it seems to be the ‘two sides of me’. The high school me and the college me pointing at each other. The high school ring is very personalized and symbolized my emphasis on individuality. The college ring looks much like every other Aggie ring, and thus symbolizes unity and being part of something bigger than myself. The arrangement feels competitive. Which is better, individuality or unity?

Alma Matter Rings
When the rings face in the same direction, they suggest a common purpose, a common goal. The goal of educating myself so I can become the person I am today. For me, I am drawn to this arrangement with the black and the white backgrounds.
Arranging separate items into a group, enhances the story better than each item can convey alone. How those items are arranged in a group can also project a mood or belief. Some may not see those subtle details but pay attention to them. What do you want your objects to say?

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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