Family Matters – Our Story Our Legacy

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Working in the business of storytelling allows us to learn about a multitude of different businesses and lives. We believe that every one has a story. Yet in the process of helping people tell theirs, we could easily forget to tell our own. We could not continue to let time slip past us since capturing family legacies is a core value. Therefore, we decided to bring along a camera and microphone to our cross-country family gathering.

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Grandparents’ Interview

Gathering the Family

Our priority interview was for the grandparents. We set up our equipment on the garden patio and brought out tea and cookies for the small table. If it weren’t for the whir of the neighbor’s lawn mower, it would have been a quintessential teatime chat. Still, the interview moved along easily as they told about growing up with very different backgrounds and their romantic first meeting. The intimate setting allowed for stories to be brought up that I had never heard before during previous family gatherings. Even though I have spent a considerable amount of time with them, after the interview I felt as though I knew them even more.

One afternoon while everyone was around, we set up for group interviews. All the siblings gathered and I only needed to prompt them with a few questions. Someone would answer with a story that would spark several new memories. It was fascinating to see how some events only one sibling could recall, while others were held dear by everyone.

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Interview with Grandchildren

Grandchildren also shared their favorite memories from massive meals to adventures with Pop Pop, and Nana’s piano. The in-laws who had married into the family also got a chance to share their hearts. One of the benefits of group interviews is that those family members with less to say still were able to participate without having pressure to perform. While several people were nervous to be on camera, they never said they regretted taking the step to share. I’ll take that as a good sign!

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Interview with the Siblings

What I Found

Family interviews are not only a time to record go-to stories and histories, they are also a way to recognize the lessons you have learned. Gratefulness emerges as the good results of where we are today trace back to the roots of yesterday’s difficult decisions. We enjoy regaling with humorous anecdotes, but our “Story” is the over-all picture. If you had asked me our family story before the interviews I would have recited a general timeline of events. Now I would share a list of themes: the beauty of family, the bonds of love, and the power of grace.

I called this blog “Family Matters” because it illustrates so well the progression of recording our family legacy. It begins with telling stories of everyday adventures. The diverse ways they grew up, the complications of blending two families, and the crazy and memorable mishaps all give way to a single theme that echoes through each of our hearts. Family matters.

Legacy Letters — Deposit into the Future

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When I first came across the concept of “legacy letters” or “ethical wills,” I thought they were a novel idea. Then I realized the concept has been around for thousands of years. In fact, the desire to pass on abstract treasures seems to be as natural as passing on our physical valuables.

What is a Legacy Letter?

Four Generations Family Heritage Visual Legacy Productions / tellmystory.usA last will and testament passes on material inheritance to beneficiaries. In the event that they never get the chance, many people want to make sure they can leave behind wisdom for their loved ones. Legacy letters enable us to record our life lessons, share our values, and give our blessings. These ethical wills pass on the things that we want loved ones to know; not just to inform them about us, but also to benefit the recipient. Parents of young children may want to explain what they believe, their hopes for each child, and information they wouldn’t want them to grow up without. When writing to older family members, thanks, regrets, and forgiveness may want to be shared. A legacy letter is peace of mind that what needs to be said won’t go unsaid.

type, typewriter, text, write, introduce, introduction, name, beginning, story, video, tell your story, Visual Legacy ProductionsHow to Write your Own.

Because an ethical will is not a legal document, there is not a single way they must be written. Some are formally structured, others are stories. They can be for an audience of one or a message to a community. Here are several points that legacy letters usually include.


Introduction

silhouette, dusk, sunset, sunrise, arms, girl, woman, expression, express, nature, valley, outdoors, belief, faith, values, story, video, tell your story, Visual Legacy ProductionsWho are you and who are you writing to? What are your intentions and what is the context? (If you add things over time, you may want to include the triggers that got you writing.)

Reflection

What is your story? What are life lessons you’ve learned? Any special memories?

steeple, church, snow, nature, valley, winter, outdoors, community, belief, faith, values, story, video, tell your story, Visual Legacy ProductionsExpressions

Do you need to ask for forgiveness or do you have regrets? What are you grateful for? Is there something you are proud of?

Beliefs

What are your values? What are your spiritual beliefs? How did you get through the hard times?

 Blessings

This is an expression of your love. What are you dreams for the/their future? Any final things you want them to know?

 

Not everyone wants to write such a letter even if they know how. There are businesses that help people with the task or do the work for them. There are others who would rather speak out their values, show photos and videos with the stories, and capture authentic emotion. Video legacy letters can expand the impact of their message. Both mother and father can speak to their child. Through technology, a loved one’s voice can be played again and again. Through legacy letters, the values of our stories don’t end with us, but can be deposited into the future.

Do-It-Yourself Videos or Hire a Professional?

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You want to incorporate videos into your marketing strategy, but what kind? Do you really have to pay someone with fancy equipment when you already have a camera on your phone? How much can you do yourself? This blog will attempt to explain and encourage you with what kinds of videos business owners can shoot themselves and what they should hire a professional for.

Have a strategy

There are many different types of videos for a variety of purposes and platforms. Before you launch into any kind of video campaign, make sure you have your video strategy formed. Just posting videos won’t maximize the effect you can make. Once you have your video strategy, there are two key questions you should ask yourself.

  • What brand image are you going for? Professional? Casual? Planned or spontaneous? Once you know, stay consistent with the feel and quality. Your audience will be expecting it.
  • Where are your time and resources most valuable? If video is something you already love to do, putting together your own is much easier! But make sure all the different aspects, from filming to editing, are consistent in quality and reflect your brand image. Consider whether your time and investment into learning and producing those types of videos are best used there or in your actual job.

record, lighting, sound, microphone, reflector, background, filming, interview, director, professional, quality, behind the scenes, camera, home, movers, video, story, tell your story, Visual Legacy ProductionsTips for Filming your Own Videos

If you have quality content, you’ll want to help it succeed with quality presentation. No matter what you film with, make sure you frame yourself correctly and use a good background. Use a better mic than the built-in one on your phone. Sound volume and clarity will enable the viewer to hear everything you say without being distracted or having to strain. Good lighting will also make your video jump from a cheap webcam look to a more professional appearance. We want to see your face and not a dull impression or shadows cutting sharp angles. Even simple software will help you edit in text and fades to the image and add music to the background. With some pre-planning and an investment into a few good pieces of equipment you can make a significant improvement to home-made videos.

record, lighting, sound, edit, graphics, title, background, film, interview, professional, quality, behind the scenes, camera, realtor, market, video, story, tell your story, Visual Legacy ProductionsWho for What?

Some videos that are great to film and post yourself are live feeds to Facebook and other quick announcements on social media. If you have a nice set-up, you could film your own email greetings. There are dozens of ideas to use video to create relationship and give value to your audience. At the same time, there are key presentation pieces that you won’t want to skimp on and risk cheapening your image. After all, 62% of consumers are more likely to have a negative perception of brands that publish poor quality videos.1 Referring back to our two keys, consistent quality and brand image can be obtained, but it is up to business owners to decide if it is worth it to do the work themselves or hire a professional video producer. For example, your web video or major communications will take a lot more work and are usually wiser to hire out.

If you have video ideas and would like help determining your next steps, please feel free to contact us.

  1. http://go.brightcove.com/en-highcostoffree

Three Reasons to Record Your Family History

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Struggles and successes. Heartaches and adventures. Deep-roots and free-spirits. Our family stories are full of these. Many people say they would love to record theirs or a family member’s story for future generations. Unfortunately, many miss out on the opportunity. Here are three reasons to stop making excuses and share your legacy in a way that will last for generations.last, moment, sick, hospital, old, age, senior, dying, memory loss, loss, family, wife, husband, parents, bed, group, video, story, tell your story, Visual Legacy Productions

1. You may not have tomorrow.

Yes, we’re starting with the hard one no one likes to talk about. A big reason families don’t record their family history is because they are too busy to make the effort. True, it may not be possible right now to make plans and gather everything you want to include. However, don’t let procrastination stop you from accomplishing your goal. Make it a priority. Find an occasion. Tomorrow is not promised and things can happen affecting the storyteller’s ability to share.

2. It is more affordable than you think! 

As a video producer, I believe video is the best way to record a family history in story form. It lets the viewer see as well as hear. Video gives the fullest expression of the story and the teller-but it’s erroneously considered more expensive. Some families choose to write out stories and genealogies. Making your own family history album is inexpensive, but it’s a lot of work compared to hiring a professional to do it for you. It is a trade-off of what is valued most. The same goes for video.

record, memories, filming, family, interview, director, camera, child, paint, home, parents, laughing, goofy, playing, group, video, story, tell your story, Visual Legacy ProductionsThe price comes down to the quality of the finished product that you want. Most consumer cameras have the ability to record video at some level. If someone chooses to lay out their story and film themselves or a family member, that certainly is cheap! But you also accept the quality of a hobbyist. On the other side of the spectrum, there are professionals who interview, use high quality lights and sound, and edit the content into a story at all sorts of levels. Decide what your priorities are. Production quality? Full information? Shorter viewing length? Animated photographs to illustrate the audio? Background music? Pick the result you will be happy with and go from there.

3. You don’t have to be a movie star.behind the scenes, filming, family, interview, director, camera, boom pole, sound, boy, field, sports, parents, laughing, goofy, playing, group, video, story, tell your story, Visual Legacy Productions

Nor does anyone expect you to be! Many people fear being in front of a camera. They don’t want to be caught looking less than their best. Nervousness makes them silent or too talkative. If you are the one sitting in front of a camera, remember: a family legacy is for family. These are people who love you and probably have already seen you at your worst. It’s also for people who want to see and know you better. It is not likely to be airing on TV for national viewing. You are not telling your story to an inanimate camera, but to a person who wants to hear your story. Let your personality come out. We’re all friends and family here!

Worries and busy lives will always come at us. Future generations learn and grow from the stories of failures and accomplishments that each family history carries. Really, we don’t have many excuses–only reasons to pass on our legacies.

Your Hobby. Your Passion.

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Having a hobby includes a lot more than a money-drain for new gear or the struggle to finish another handmade project. There are some very positive physical and mental benefits for hobbyists. As January was National Hobby Month, here are four general reasons you should consider finding your off-hours passion and making it a “must” in your life.

soccer, kick, team, practice, sports, football, ball, run, shoot, story, hobby, video, tell your story, Visual Legacy ProductionsPhysical Benefits:

Sports are an obvious hobby with physical benefits. Hiking, biking, golfing, tennis…the list goes on and on. They aren’t the only direction to go for physical activity though. Pottery and woodworking utilize finer motor skills and are two example of hobbies that develop eye and hand coordination. Learning new skills improves your brain as well as your muscles. Hands learn to be dexterous, feet grow agile, and minds can actually improve their memories. When considering what past times you want to invest in, consider activities that challenge both your physical endurance as well as your mental capacity. Another physical benefit includes your social life! Hobbies are a great way to meet new people. Craft fairs, clubs, and teams are just a few opportunities to meet like-minded friends.

Color, coloring book, stress-relief, adult, detail, fine, art, craft, story, hobby, video, tell your story, Visual Legacy ProductionsDe-stress and Eustress: 

Activities like adult coloring books are a popular hobby for stress relief nowadays. You don’t have to be calm to de-stress however. Physical activity can be the perfect means to let out some built up energy and let the mind disengage from stressors. We want to clear our minds, but not shut them off. Hobbies allow us to experience eustress. This is the positive form where your mind is engaged and challenged. Eustress leads to a feeling of fulfillment. From practicing yoga and painting to building models or joining a chess team, challenges give us excitement and new heights to conquer.

sewing, quilting, pattern, stitching, machine, needle, blanket, material, sew, story, hobby, video, tell your story, Visual Legacy ProductionsPractical Passion:

Having passion for your hobby opens up not only your enjoyment, but some great outcomes. A creative spark keeps you engaged and making accomplishments you are proud of. Not only can these accomplishments improve your life, but they also can be shared. New or improved skills let us create something that others can enjoy. What can you build with robotics? Who is going to stay warm with your handmade quilt? Hobbies allow you to take a break with purpose. They allow you to be productive instead of falling into the trap of wasting time.

Vintage and collector cars, parade, independence day, 4th of July, car club, hot rod, mustang, hobby, passion, video, tell your story, Visual Legacy ProductionsRewarding Challenges:

As I already mentioned, hobbies are an avenue for challenges, but include the key of visible rewards. Even if it takes the vintage car collector takes 30 years to make his project street-worthy, the dream of the end result keeps him going. Reaching new levels of success instills self-esteem. Finishing a project results in a sense of gratification. Life can make people feel depressed and like they can never succeed. Choosing to invest into an activity that you can see improvement and success in, reestablishes a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Hobbies allow people to do and be what they love. They improve our physical and mental capabilities. They deliver challenges and rewards.  Maybe your passion doesn’t make you money; maybe it does. Notwithstanding, the values of hobbies are priceless in increasing one’s quality of life.

VLP 2016 Review

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Dear VLP friends and family,

As we jump into the new year, it is easy to get caught up in up-coming goals and resolutions. The future is unknown and full of opportunity. I am reminded that during this season last year we were getting ready to launch our new business endeavor. What dreams and ideas we had of 2016! How different, but exciting it was!

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Last January found us waiting for the final touches to our new website. We had put together packages for personal video services and created sample videos. Future dreams for the direction of Visual Legacy Productions were in the back of our minds of course, but our heart was focused on helping families tell and preserve their stories.

February we launched! Finally, we were able to share with the world our passion and get to work. That’s when we made a surprising Behind the scenes, interview, FAQ, inspector, sound, business, home, yard, house, film, video, job, story, history, tell your story, tell my story,discovery. One of our future ideas was to develop services for businesses to tell their story. We hadn’t planned on it becoming a reality quite so quickly! By May we announced our Business Services including brand identity videos and visual résumés.  A month later, we added more services like the Video Newsletter. By November we had to redesign our business webpage to allow for our expanded brand identity packages, Real Estate inspired productions, and additional video services like FAQs and Featured Stories.

Behind the scenes, drone, launch, land, business, home, Phantom, valley, meadow, film, video, nature, Colorado, story, social media, fly, how-to, tell your story, tell my storyOur Horizons Continue to Expand

In August we added to our equipment arsenal a new toy- a Phantom 4 drone! While flying is exciting, studying for the unmanned pilot license was less so. Nonetheless, we are proud to say that Bryan passed with flying colors and is approved by the FAA to fly and film commercially.

Behind the scenes, interview, documentary, legacy, tribute, business, downtown, office, studio, film, video, story, history, tell your story, tell my story,In 2016, we were privileged to meet and work with people from multiple states, walks of life, and video needs. From non-profits to business leaders and mountain ranches to downtown offices, we are proud to have had a part in the great impact Colorado companies are making. Bryan and Erika have enjoyed networking with different groups of business professionals around the South Metro area. We are grateful for the partnerships and friendships that have grown out of weekly meetings.

Behind the scenes, teaching, FAQ, class, slideshow, business, home, realtors, house, film, video, job, story, realty, social media, learn, how-to, tell your story, tell my story,Starting a new business is never easy, but we are encouraged by the support and favor we have received along the way. There is a growing awareness in businesses for the need of video to communicate. Acting on and benefiting from that knowledge is still difficult for many companies. As families also learn about Personal Documentaries and Legacy Interviews, we hope that many more take advantage of preserving their heritage on video. As we go into 2017, we know new creative ideas will be tried and new business connections formed. What will that look like? Only time will tell.

 

The Relationship of Video and Social Media

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What good are creative and informational videos if there are no people to see them? What will make viewers interested in following a business that has nothing of value to share? As a video company, we quickly realized the need for good use of social media. We can create videos that share a business team’s passion and communicate information creatively. However, it wouldn’t make sense for these videos to reside hidden away on their website. The team will need a strong social platform presence.

Most of us are online one way or another. There is a good chance you are reading this because of social media. However, there is a difference between the occasional and random posts we make for personal accounts and the way businesses should be present. Not only that, but learning how to tag, link, hashtag, and share in effective ways can eat up precious time when you could be doing your actual job. I think that is why so many businesses agree to the idea that videos and a presence on social platforms are good, but don’t see a lot of results themselves. Many businesses simply make a page on Facebook and call it good if they post occasionally.Brain, content, social media, video, Know your story, tell your story, video production, brand essence, company, personal, story

two sides, strong, analysis, improve, social media, video, Know your story, tell your story, video production, brand essence, company, business, personal, storySocial media and video are like two knives. They can make strong points by themselves and are used for a multitude of communication. Put them together and they empower and balance each other. They are a natural fit and enable the user to work longer and safer. Video is engaging content, but needs a platform in order to be shared. Social Media platforms need engaging content to fulfill their purpose. One can think of video as content- a brain. It might be smart, but the brain is stuck where it is unless it is attached to a body and shared. Social Media is a body- it can go places, but has no thought of it’s own. It needs a brain to give it content and lead somewhere.

Tips for Enhancing your Video’s ImpactKnow your story, tell your story, video production, brand essence, company, personal, story

If you plan to communicate using video, keep these tips in mind.

  • Know your story.

What is your goal? What are you passionate about? Have a plan to communicate your mission in a way that is relatable and interesting to your viewers.

  • Quality matters.filming, interview, camera, man, improve, social media, video, your story, tell your story, video production, brand essence, company, personal, story

With technology constantly getting better at cheaper prices, there isn’t much excuse for inaudible sound and grainy video. Be mindful of camera focus and movement as well as poor lighting if you film yourself.

  • Be Concise.

Don’t waste your viewers’ time. You have something that catches their interest? Great! Don’t sit so long that they get bored. In most cases, your video isn’t a dissertation. It’s the highlight reel!

Tips for Utilizing Social Media

You’re ready to share your content and grow followers…Now what?social media, video, your story, tell your story, video production, brand essence, company, business, personal, story

  • Pick your Platform.

Find out what platforms are best for you. Facebook and YouTube are popular for video content. There are others capable of video and links as well such as Instagram, Twitter, Vine, and Snapchat.

  • Market the Analysis.graph, bars, analysis, improve, social media, video, Know your story, tell your story, video production, brand essence, company, personal, story

Keep track of what posts perform well. Analytics can show you details about your viewers so that you can improve your posts to have better content for your target audience.

  • Know or Grow.

Taking the time to learn what works and how to promote yourself is great for some. Others may want to pay someone else who knows the science of social media to keep up their presence.

By learning more about both video and social media, you’ll be strengthening the power of your communication. If you are passionate about what you do, let it show! Try making a few adjustments to your approach. You may find the interaction with your clients more enjoyable and rewarding than you first thought!

The Value of Being a Listener

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airplane, window, city, arial, landing, takeoff, Phoenix, desert, story, memories, tell your story, past, history, video, productionOur lives intersect with other’s lives constantly. We often don’t take the time to connect and learn their story-to be a listener. But sometimes we do. When that happens, we grow in subtle ways.

Of all of my interactions with strangers, one of my favorites took place on a plane. After the initial greeting as the older gentleman and I settled into our seats, we made polite small talk. I am in my 20’s and he was closer to 80, but our difference of age gave way to a wide array of conversational topics rather than leave us with nothing in common.

A History of Stories

He was returning home from his mother-in-law’s funeral. She was an inspiring woman. Back in the day, she had been a single-mother of five daughters as well as a businesswoman. She and her daughters had hosted celebrities in El Paso and led the vacationers across the border to Mexico.

Alaska, water, tide, storm, cold, wind, rain, story, memories, tell your story, past, history, video, productionThe gentleman himself was also fascinating. He told me about his younger days when he would fish during Alaskan summers, and in the winters, journey across America to ski. From there, he told me about the villa he’d rented in a Mexican village. He described it as paradise. He loved nature and seclusion and commented that indigenous peoples believed we had forgotten how to be human anymore. His wanderlust had led him to purchase an isolated ranch in New Mexico. He would take occasional trips to the nearest city hours away. On one of those trips he met his future wife, and he made sure to always return for his supplies in El Paso so that he could see her.

In Common Interests

story, memories, colorado, mountains, tell your story, past, history, video, productionFinding out that I was from Colorado, the gentleman commented that he’d loved my state, but hadn’t been back in years. He’d stayed a spell in Crested Butte back when it was a tiny town of hippies who rallied to maintain the rustic charm. He’d even been a town marshal, and he and his horse had posed in many tourists’ photos. Back in his day they’d worked hard to conserve the town’s history when modern building and growth was threatening to take over.

He sighed and hoped aloud that the beauty of that mountain town had still been preserved. I told him I had recently been in conversation with friends and they had agreed Crested Butte was one of their favorite places. He smiled and seemed pleased.
windmills, kansas, energy, wind, green, roadside, driving, scenic, story, memories, tell your story, past, history, video, productionWe also talked about science and the environment. We discussed natural energy, depleted soil nutrients, better irrigation methods to conserve water, and he described the process of organic farming. He had turned to organic farming before it was popular. While the Farmers Bureau originally rejected him, they now included him as an honorary member to serve as an educator. He also showed me pictures of his cute little farm up north. I admired the different breeds of chickens and he explained his process of moving them throughout the year for a perfect system of fertilization and a symbiotic relationship with the environment.

Results from Listening

As our plane descended, we got ready to go our separate ways. I wanted to tell him that I create personal documentaries for my job and how I thought he airplane, window, rainbow, arial, landing, takeoff, story, memories, tell your story, past, history, video, productionhad an amazing story that needed to be preserved. But I didn’t. I had so enjoyed his sharing of his story, and I could see that he appreciated having someone show interest. Yet I was afraid that if I encouraged him to record the stories he’d told me our brief friendship would be tainted by a supposed attempt at flattery to buy our services. After we left the plane, I had an emotional high from the conversation and interpersonal connection. However, it wasn’t long before I wished that I hadn’t hesitated to encourage him to record his story. Once I arrived home, I tried to look him up online, but I did not know his last name and Facebook isn’t the tool of a super-sleuth.

That day I learned a valuable lesson; I should follow my heart and speak out my appreciation. But that wasn’t the most important part. Listening to the story of the man on the plane, I didn’t just learn about the adventures of his past. The greatest wisdom didn’t reside in our discussion of organics and agriculture. The most important part was that I listened. Really listened. Because of that, we both walked away enriched, encouraged, and valued.

Leaving a Visual Legacy

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Leaving Our Mark

There is something about being human that makes us want to make a mark on the world around us. We want to be known. Throughout the ages, mankind has tried to make such an impact as to leave something of themselves that would last longer than life. Some conquered nationsVisual Legacy Productions, tell your story, tell my story, modern technology, connection, cave painting, history, legacy, handprint, connecting, video production and strove for god-like power. Others tried to capture beauty and life into art forms or into words. Still others endeavored to leave following generations a better world via scientific advances or fighting for freedom. Whatever methods have been chosen, it seems the most meaningful legacies are impactful because we relate on a personal level.

Personal Connection

Personal connections are a buzz topic in today’s society, but the concept has been important since the beginning of history. A politician’s words mean little unless his promises connect with our desires. We respond to characters, whether historical or fictional, if we are able to empathize with them. A business that performs efficiently may have our respect, but the one that makes us feel valued has our loyalty. These are all examples of legacies that can be successful due to personal connections. This kind of relating is something that we strive to maintain in a world of online transactions and lessening human interaction. At the same time, technology has also given us the ability to connect and communicate in a way that was nonexistent just a few generations ago.

Visual Legacy Productions, tell your story, tell my story, modern technology, connection, using a phone, texting, calling, connecting, video productionCommunicating You

How does one communicate one’s essence? Artifacts leave us with glimpses of the person who created or owned them, but many gaps as to who they were or how they felt. Writing has been the most informative method of communication throughout most of history. From pictographs displaying life events to journals and autobiographies, man has used words to express himself. But written words have their limit. There are times when even adding emoticons to a text message are no substitute for calling on the phone. Even better than the phone is speaking to someone face to face. This is because many of the signals we use to communicate are non-verbal. While some people hide emotion more than others, it is easier to discern someone’s thoughts and intentions when communicating in person. This is not only polite but gives the impression of more connectedness. There are some levels of relationship that simply cannot be cultivated without engaging as physically as possible.

Leaving a Living Memory

So we want to leave a legacy and make an impact. We want to be known and understood. We want to share what we love with those we love. Yet most of us aren’t poets able to encapsulate something abstract into words. That is why having something like a visual legacy is so special. Through “show and tell,” we are able to communicate a deeper understanding of what we wish to share. There is nothing like bringing someone on a journey with you rather than writing a post card. With typical methods of writing genealogies or showing photos, the viewer only gets a Visual Legacy Productions, tell your story, tell my story, modern technology, connection, using the internet, internet, calling, web, skype, video chat, shopping, emails, laptop, digital, connecting, share, video productionglimpse. However, when you are able to tell your story on camera, it is the closest thing we have to being present in the moment. Video enables us to hear authenticity, see emotion, and to “sit” across from loved-ones. Video becomes what I like to call a “living memory.” The subjects are alive and present even while the action will have taken place in the past.

Legacy Videos

A visual legacy brings your story to life. More concrete then just words, more engaging than just sound, and more present than just photos, it plays out a true representation of one’s story as they would tell it. Video is an occasion when modern technology brings people together and becomes the enduring way of sharing a legacy.

Mr. Truman’s Piano

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Every event in history carries with it a library of stories. Some end up in history books, but most of the details that impacted the world are only ever known to a few. Like threads in a tapestry, each person influences those around them and makes up the whole design. Even tiny details carry great importance. The story of “Mr. Truman’s Piano” is one of those threads.

Truman's piano, statue, President Truman Library and Museum, story, www.tellyourstory.us, Visual Legacy ProductionsTroubled Times

I was recently able to visit the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, MO. While passing through the gallery dedicated to the recognition of the state of Israel, I was captivated by a display of a tiny piano figurine. Truman had guided the United States through World War II and had been dealing with a tumultuous post-war economy and political world. 1948 was election year, and Truman was way behind in all the predictions. Americans were divided on recognizing Israel, so this issue added to the list of topics threatening his re-election. In spite of opposition, Truman chose to support the formation of this homeland for the Jews who had been so effected by the Holocaust.

Years later, in 1961, the former president read a letter from Mrs. Brown, a Hungarian immigrant who survived the Holocaust. With the letter was a small silver piano. Brown recounted how she, her husband, and her son were arrested by the Nazis and “the only thing I was able to salvage was one small ornamental piano. I carried it with me constantly as a remembrance of a happier time.” While her husband and son were sent to a concentration camp, Brown ended up in hiding throughout Budapest along with other Jews, young and old. During that uncertain time, she explained, “We felt that the whole world had abandoned us to our terrible fate.”

A Source of Hope

Truman's piano, President Truman Library and Museum, story, www.tellyourstory.us, Visual Legacy ProductionsYet, the little piano became a source of hope. The Jews in hiding knew of Truman and America’s involvement in the war.

“I would tell them that you would not forsake us and, that somehow, someway, you would get aid to us. Then I would hold up the small piano and say, ‘See, here is Mr. Truman’s piano. Someday we are all going to America and he will play the piano for us!’”

The dream of a new life in America and the promise of freedom kept them going for many months. Thankfully, their hopes were not in vain. The war ended and Mrs. Brown’s husband and son were freed by Americans. The family immigrated to New York where they were able to begin again with their own beautiful farm.

The Truth is All I Want for History, Truman's piano, President Truman Library and Museum, story, www.tellyourstory.us, Visual Legacy Productions “Throughout the years I have held on to the little piano that had meant so much to me and the Jews in Budapest,” Brown wrote. Now she gave that precious possession, her only link to a previous life, to the man who had not only set them free, but given them a home. When Mrs. Brown saved her one possession, she could not have realized how important that little piano would become. Truman surely understood that his decisions affected many, but he had not known how closely his life was woven to Mrs. Brown and the other Jews of Budapest. The story of “Mr. Truman’s Piano” reminds me how the littlest details can make an impact greater than we can see.