3 Ideas for Capturing Those Graduation Memories

Record Your Graduation Memories

Transitions happen at all ages and stages of childhood and adulthood. When we think of “rites of passage” many think of getting the keys to the car or having your own apartment for the very first time. These things may happen at different times in our lives (or not at all). One thing that we all experience is a graduation! High school and college graduations have been occurring all across the country this month. Have you been sharing – or recording – graduation stories as others in your family and friends reach this time of celebration and transition? Grab the stories while they are fresh in your mind before your graduate heads into their next great adventure.

Scrapbooks are a wonderful way to record the event. Photographs are so easy to take and share with smartphones, but don’t forget that as technology changes, so will those phones! Always save your photos from your smartphones to your computer. Whether you choose to print your photos or create a memory book filled with digital images and stories, transforming the walk to adulthood will be a memory that you’ll want to keep.

Do you have several graduates in the family this year? Create a book that highlights all of their thoughts, hopes, dreams (and even fears) about heading into the next phase of their lives, be it college or the working world. Include information that will share their hearts today as new graduates. Much like a time capsule, this will allow you to look back on the day with a different perspective once your child hits another major milestone. Don’t forget to include your words of wisdom for them. These will become keepsakes that will not only mark the occasion but will hold dear memories safe over the decades.

Another way that we can remember the excitement of a graduation is to record the story. The Saving Memories Forever App is a fun and easy way to record all of your family’s graduation stories in one place. Whether you are experiencing your child or grandchild’s graduation – or even your own – now is a great time to record all of the details while they are fresh in your mind. Don’t forget that our premium members can include photos to really make the story come alive. Why stop with the recent graduate? Have fun including the graduation stories of all your generations.

However you choose to remember graduation day, the important principle is this: Don’t lose your stories. If we record them as they are fresh in our hearts the amount of details we will include will be richer. No matter the method, the story will be preserved.



Virtual Relatives: 6 steps to creating a family project

Our first blog in this series provided a general description of the Virtual Relative project available through Saving Memories Forever. Put briefly, Saving Memories Forever offers an easy approach that allows families to re-create the life of a deceased relative—through stories. When combined, these stories give a rich sense of the life of a family member. They do this through photos, selected word documents (such as recipes) and the power of voice.

While it seems detailed, It’s really simple once you get started. Here’s how you’ll remember your relative in six easy steps.

Take the lead on your family stories project!

Step One: Take the lead.
Offer to be the project leader on this one, especially if you have an iPhone or Android device. If you have one of these smartphones, the story recording process is easy. Saving the stories involves uploading the story recordings to our website, SavingMemoriesForever.com. And that’s just a matter of pressing a “button” on the app. On the other hand, if you don’t have a smartphone and you know of someone else in the family who does, discuss the project with them and take measure of their level of enthusiasm. If they’re excited about it, ask them to take the lead.

Whether it’s you or some other relative, your second step is to go to our website and try out our system. Sign up for the free subscription, and then play around with both the app and the website. You’ll want to know how to use both. Also, this is your opportunity to make sure that your smartphone is compatible with our system.  (See the FAQs on our website for more information about compatibility.)  If the “worst” happens and there’s no smartphone available, you can still use our website to save and share the stories. You will also have to use an MP3 recorder to record face-to-face interviews or Skype for long distance phone call storytelling. You can upload these recorded stories directly to the site from your PC.

Step Two: Set up the Virtual Relative account.
Setting up a Virtual Relative is easy.  Establish a Paid account for the Virtual Relative by using the Sign Up button in the upper right corner of the SavingMemoriesForever.com Home Page and enter an e-mail and a password that will be used just for this account. Check the Paid button and choose either the monthly or yearly Premium Subscription.  (The Paid account allows you to add pictures and text files to each story and share it with all of your relatives.) Use the name of the Virtual Relative@somesite.com as the e-mail address. For example if the Virtual relative’s name is Jane Smith, use an e-mail address like JaneSmith@gmail.com. The e-mail doesn’t have to be Jane’s actual email. In fact, it can be made up.

Step Three: Invite others to record and listen to stories about the deceased Virtual Relative. 
You start this by sharing your first story. Be sure you are in the Manager Mode and then press the Share button. An e-mail form will pop up. Provide the e-mail addresses for all the relatives involved in the project. Don’t forget to include your own e-mail address.  Write a brief note explaining what you are doing and maybe give them idea of what your first story describes. Ask for their help and give them the e-mail and password for the Virtual Relative’s account. Ask them to suggest other family members who might be interested in either listening to or recording stories about the Virtual Relative.

Step Four: Connect and share.
Your relatives will receive your notification in their e-mail. This notification alerts them that your story exists and that they have your permission to add and access the stories about this Virtual Relative. To respond to your notification email, the relatives should click on the link at the bottom of the your e-mail. Then they should register on the system. Each participant has to register.  Registration is free and will allow them to listen to the Virtual Relative’s stories.  To record stories about the Virtual Relative, relatives should use the Virtual Relative e-mail address and the password that you sent them in your notification email. To share their newly recorded stories, they should repeat the same process with other family members.

Famiily photos add enriching stories to your project.

Step Five: Add and enrich.
Once people get going and have uploaded some stories,  encourage contributors to upload any pictures they might have.  These could be pictures that fit the story they recorded or just pictures of the Virtual Relative. Either way, snapshots will undoubtedly enrich both the stories and the overall collection.

Step Six: Establish a timeframe for the stories to be submitted.
We suggest giving a month for people to submit their stories. After the stories are recorded to the account, change the password of the Virtual Relative account and the audio story and picture collection is done. (This is to avoid any accidental deletions. Accidents happen!) If there are more stories to be added at a later date, just re-share the new password through e-mail and repeat the process.

Think of relatives in your family who you remember. Then tap another relative’s shoulder and ask what they remember.  Chances are, they remember a lot. Consider your role. Be the bridge between family members who knew the deceased well and those who never even met them.

Take advantage of this opportunity.

Virtual Relatives: Keeping the stories alive

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

While you probably don’t know Mary Walker personally, she may be a lot like you.   She’s a wife, mother, and grandmother.  She’s also a sister and aunt. She lives in Florida, deals with some health issues, loves to travel, and makes sure she spends her money wisely.

She also likes to write and she wrote a review on our behalf.  The part of her review that struck me the most was how she remembers her sister and Dad.

“Yesterday was my sister’s birthday and the day after tomorrow is my Dad’s birthday,” she wrote. “They are not with us anymore and although I have memories of them, you can never have enough.”

She is not alone. We’ve received a lot of comments about the importance of remembering deceased relatives.

Saving Memories Forever offers an easy approach that allows families to re-create the life of a deceased relative—through stories. We refer to this person as a Virtual Relative. Virtual Relative projects involve two general steps: recording and then managing.  The recording part involves recording the stories of relatives and friends who remember the deceased. The managing part involves saving and then sharing those stories in one central spot. By using our app and website, the project is both easy and rewarding.

“The Virtual Relative project is just another example of how flexible the system is,” notes Harvey Baker, Saving Memories Forever Co-Founder. “ But it’s especially nice to know that this particular use makes it possible for families to create rich life stories of people even years after their loved one’s death.”

Nancy Sutker, who just attended her family reunion in Texas, agrees. “A lot of family members who were there at our reunion remember my brother, Ben,” she recalls. “ He died 15 years ago, but they still remember him and can recall different parts of his life. For example, I remember the long games of Monopoly that Ben and I played on rainy summer days when we were growing up. Our cousins remember Ben for his outlandish pranks as a young teenager.  His wife remembers his kindness towards strangers and his laughter as he played with their kids.”

“If you think about it,” she concludes, “a person’s life is a collection of stories. It’s pretty amazing that by combining our stories, we are creating such a 3-dimensional picture of Ben’s life. ”

Nancy Sutker has never met Mary Walker. It’s unlikely that they ever will meet.  Even so, there is much common ground.

It’s likely that you, too, have a relative whose life you remember. The same goes for others in your family.  Maybe the time has come to act and to put together this life picture for your loved ones.The stories that you remember, after all,  aren’t going to write themselves. It ‘s your job—and your honor—to communicate the life stories of someone who no longer can.

Tomorrow’s blog will feature step-by-step instructions on how to create a Virtual Relative.

Mom, Tell Us a Story About You

[Editor’s Note: Saving Memories Forever welcomes guest blogger Cathi Nelson, Founder and CEO of The Association of Personal Photo Organizers. Just like us, Cathi believes in the power – and importance – of family stories.]

Our family has no shortage of photos, albums and home movies documenting   the milestone moments of our lives.  My son’s first step, my daughter’s curls, the first day of school, presents on Christmas morning – everything is well documented but something is missing.  That something is ME.  I am the person behind the camera, cajoling my kids to smile, grouping subjects for the perfect group photo and painstakingly printing and scrap-booking our memories. Recently I realized I was not part of the story and thus a critical point of view was missing.

Favorite Things - Saving Memories Forever

Fortunately, today there are many options to change this. I created a small album with 24 photos and called it, “A Few of My Favorite Things” it includes a photo of my coffee cup, my row of cookbooks, our backyard and a short sentence of why this is one of my favorite things. I know someday my kids will enjoy looking at that album and I wish I had something similar from my mother or grandmother. It can be even as simple as asking your mother to tell you a story, about her!  Come up with a list of 10 questions and interview your mom.  Where did you grow up? Where did you go to high school? What is your favorite past time?  How are you different from your parents? Saving Memories Forever makes it easy for you to capture those memories too! The answer to these questions will become part of your family history and Mom will no longer be the mysterious figure behind the camera.


Cathi Nelson, Founder and CEO of Appo72 dpi brown jacket

In 2009, Cathi had her “light bulb” moment when she recognized that consumers were becoming increasingly overwhelmed with the exploding number of photos, media and memorabilia they were accumulating. She created Appo to support a new and emerging profession of photo managers by providing training, support and collaboration for people interested in adding photo management services to their existing business or as a new business. She is also a mom of two freshmen (college & high school) and a lifelong lover of stories and photos.