Navarre’s 150th Celebrations

March 5, 2011

On the weekend of March 26 & 27, 2011, Navarre (Victoria, Australia) will celebrate it’s 150th Birthday with a range of festivities – and we want you there to help us celebrate!

The weekend will be a reunion of all people ever connected to the town of Navarre. Whether you lived there, played sport there, had or have relatives there or you just have other great memories of the town, please join us at the 150th reunion.

Among a range of festivities over the weekend, people can join in a “Basket Tea” & Band on Saturday night, enjoy a community breakfast on Sunday morning, attend a combined church service Sunday morning and see the cutting of the birthday cake on Sunday afternoon.


Saturday 26th March 2011

Registrations for the weekend begin at 2pm Saturday at the Navarre Community Hall. Registration will be followed by an informative presentation on historical and present day times at Navarre.

Later in the day a town ramble walk will be conducted, allowing those involved in the celebrations to tour local points of interest.

Day 1 will conclude with a “Basket Tea” at the Navarre Community Hall, with dancing music provided by the band “Soft”. (A basket tea is where you bring a picnic-type meal for yourselves and something to share)

Sunday 27 March – Day 2

A Community Breakfast kicks off the day at the Navarre Sporting Complex.

Following the breakfast, a combined church service will be held at the Navarre Sporting Complex.

The weekend of celebrations will conclude with the cutting of a 150th birthday cake, a cuppa and a catch up, before guests return home.

To help make the town’s birthday extra special the Navarre Progress Committee is eager to collect as much historical information as they can. They are seeking help to find stories and points of interest concerning the community’s history and would appreciate any information people can offer.

To RSVP or for more  information please contact Rupert Bibby on 53574228, Marnie Bibby on 0419 564187, Lisa Hannett on 53574221 or Louise Bibby Hocking on 0431379899.


Digital Photo Slideshow DVDs – Part 2

October 14, 2010

In Part 1 of this blog on Digital Photo Slideshow Montages I told you all the reasons these slideshows are so convenient, time-saving and economical. In Part 2 I have cut and pasted the packages and price information from my website so you get an idea of exactly how easy & economical these slideshows really are.

They truly do make a great gift for the people in your family who have everything. And with Christmas coming up what better time to do it?!

Or if you’re a person who just has no time to put photos in albums or make your own slideshows, then we can do it all for you so your photos are no longer languishing on your computer, camera or in boxes – and you can show them off to your family and friends (or sit and watch them anytime yourself)!

Here are some of the packages we offer, however, these are merely ideas to get you thinking. The possibilities are endless with digital photo slideshow DVDs.

We specialise in digital slide shows or montages, however, if you need photos scanned we can provide that service too at an additional price.

Optional CD’s are also available for easy printing of your favourite shots. See below for prices.

Life Story Slideshow Montage – “Your Life In Pictures” Package


Have you already scanned many of your family’s photos onto your computer? Are you now wondering what to do with them? Or do you have a lot of recent photos of your life sitting on your digital camera?

Our Digital Photo Slideshow Montages brings life to your digital images. We put your photos to music in a creative slide show and present them in an artistic, professionally-designed cover.

A sad fact is that such life story slide shows are often only put together for funerals, which means the ‘star’ of the show doesn’t get the joy of sharing their life in pictures with their family.

With our “Your Life In Pictures” slideshow montage, you get a chance to put a tribute together of your own or someone else’s life while they/you are still around to enjoy it!

Facebook Photo Slideshow (click here to go directly to our fb fanpage)

How many of us upload our holiday or birthday photos to facebook, but never do anything with those photos after that?

How would you like to have all those photos compiled album by album in a digital slideshow? Well, we can do that for you!

No hassle on your part. As long as you have the photos uploaded, we do the rest. We briefly become each others’ friend on facebook, download the photos for you, put them to music in an impressive slideshow and then send you the DVD in the mail. We also design a professional looking cover that will look as impressive as all your other store-bought DVDs on the shelf.

Could it be any easier?!










Wedding CDs – “Here Comes The Bride” Package

These days it’s common for wedding photographers to give you a CD of your wedding photos, rather than or in addition to prints. How many times have you actually sat down and viewed them all, other than when you were first picking out which ones you wanted printed?

Or have you never got around to looking at them, let alone sharing them with others?

Our professional slideshow montages, with added music, allow you to quickly and easily view your wedding photos on the TV or computer anytime, anywhere, with anyone.

It’s even better than a photo album in that you can sit down with a room full of people and look at the photos together.

And as time goes by, if you want a few moments of nostalgia or someone visits who wasn’t at the wedding, you can just slip the DVD into the machine and easily view your photos. The addition of music provides the bonus of creating a romantic mood. Plus, with the artistic cover design, you’ll never forget what’s on the disk.








Holiday photos – “On The Road Again” Package


Have you been on the trip of a lifetime, but a year later find that your holidays snaps are still on your camera?

Or maybe you just had a great family holiday a month ago, but I’m guessing your photos are also still on the camera. Or maybe you transferred them to your computer then had no time to do anything else?

Why not get them on DVD in a slideshow montage so you can watch them anytime & share them easily with family and friends?


















Babies & Children – “Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid” Package

When your baby is born, digital cameras allow for hundreds if not thousands of photos to be taken over the first days, months and years of your child’s life.

But how many of us actually get around to printing them or presenting them in a way that others can share? The early days are so busy … and things don’t seem to ever really slow down!

Photos may get printed to send to people for Christmas, but do you have an easy, accessible way of viewing your child’s life in pictures?

If not, we have the answer for you. Our photo slideshow montage DVDs allow you to choose the photos you want, put them in order, and we’ll do the rest.

With very little effort on your part you can have a beautiful DVD slide show of your child’s life, accentuated by the music you choose, and be able to be viewed by anyone, anywhere, anytime on TV or computer.

It’s like an audio-visual scrapbook! The perfect way to store your child’s life story in pictures – and the perfect gift for grandparents, aunts, uncles and so on. And guess who will love watching it the most – your child!!


Celebrations – “It’s My Party” Package

Birthdays and anniversaries are an opportunity to celebrate a person’s or a couple’s life. They’re the perfect time to get old photos out and put them together in celebration of a person’s life.

Many people scan photos of the guest/s of honour into a computer, then make them into a Powerpoint presentation. But the older a person gets, the less likely it is that they will know how to run a Powerpoint presentation or even have a computer.

A DVD player is another story. Most older people can put a DVD in and watch it on TV. That’s where our service comes in. Our photo slideshow montages can be viewed on a television or a computer anytime, anywhere. No special program required.

Recent celebrations are even easier to commemorate on a photo slideshow montage DVD, as most are taken on digital cameras.

Just email or send us your digital images, choose some of the person in question’s favourite music, and we’ll do the rest.

Soon you’ll have a gorgeous memento of your special occasion that is easily viewed, has ‘mood’ music and is presented professionally in an artistically-designed cover.

Modeling portfolio – “Hey, Hot Shot” Package

Have you had modeling shots taken and been handed a CD of your images that now sits on a shelf somewhere?

How would you like an artistic slideshow montage of your images, packaged in an artistic professionally-designed DVD case?

So much easier to present to prospective employers and so much more interesting than a bunch of images on a CD!

You choose the music and the photos depending on what type of mood you wish to create and/or portray. Then we do the rest.

We’ll create something spectacular that no prospective employer could ignore!

(Update: As of Nov 14th 2013 please contact me via email at, visit the 15 Minute Power Plays With Your Kids ebook Facebook or Twitter Page or visit the website If you happen to stumble across this post and it’s NOT because I’ve linked to it from my book, pop over and say hi anyway :-). Please  DO NOT go to my previous website at as it has been hacked)

Digital Photo Slideshow DVDs – Part 1

October 13, 2010
I haven’t written a blog for some time, and at the moment I’m working on some other things so I may not get to blog for a little while yet. So I thought I’d cut and paste some info off my website into a blog to let you know of a couple of products I offer other than my personal video biographies – in this case, Digital Photo Slideshow Montages. Sorry if it seems gratuitously salesy. In a way I guess it is. But it also lets you and your friends know about a simple, economical, time-saving way to put your photos together – especially as Christmas approaches and we’re looking for unique gifts to give our family and friends.
Here is Part 1, and I’ll follow it up with the packages I offer in Part 2.
Keep Smiling

How many of us in this digital photography age leave our photos
languishing on our camera, never printed, never viewed?

How many of us get given a disk of photos from our wedding, modelling shoot or just from a family member after a celebration and never look at the photos again – let alone share them with others?

Digital photography is a fantastic innovation that allows us many advantages over film. However the one comment I hear often about digital photos is that most people find they rarely get around to printing them or doing anything else with them. Many people plan to make up their own slideshows, yet never get enough time to sit down & create them.

Our Digital Photo Slideshow Montage packages give you the opportunity to have your photos transformed from images stuck on a camera, disk or computer into a professional slide show complete with music and artistic cover.

Why would I pay you to do a DVD slideshow montage when I can just do a Powerpoint slideshow myself?

The advantage DVD has over other media such as Powerpoint presentations on CD are that you can watch your photos on TV, allowing you to share them easily with family and friends. No more huddling around one photo album waiting for someone to turn the page! Or huddling around a computer screen – if you are lucky enough to have a computer nearby.

You can enjoy sitting & watching your ‘album’ together as a family on the TV – great for grandparents or other family members who have trouble seeing small printed photos or computer screens!

But I could still do them myself couldn’t I?

Yes, you probably could, but do you have time? Many people have great intentions of putting together slideshow montages for themselves or family and friends, but in our time-poor world, they often just never get around to it.

Additionally, many people do not have the right computer programs to do all they want to do, or maybe don’t have the skills to do so.

Using your photos we add transitions, special effects, opening and closing titles and music to create a professional photo slide show transferred onto DVD that will last for generations to come.

Digital slideshow montages are a great, unique gift for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles … the list goes on.

For the person who has everything this is one gift you can guarantee they won’t have – and it will be something they will treasure forever!

Here are some of the packages we offer, however, these are merely ideas to get you thinking. The possibilities are endless with digital slideshow montage DVDs.

We specialise in digital slide shows or montages, however, if you need photos scanned we can provide that service too at an additional price.

Optional CD’s are also available for easy printing of your favourite shots.


(Update: As of Nov 14th 2013 please contact me via email at, visit the 15 Minute Power Plays With Your Kids ebook Facebook or Twitter Page or visit the website If you happen to stumble across this post and it’s NOT because I’ve linked to it from my book, pop over and say hi anyway :-). Please  DO NOT go to my previous website at as it has been hacked)

A Living, Speaking History Book

May 3, 2010

Louise - Wedding - 12.6.08Last Friday I had the most wonderful experience of interviewing the oldest living member of my extended family.

A Living History Book!!

Ninety-four year old Keith is my grandfather’s cousin, however, as he left my home town years before I was born and only came back to visit occasionally, I didn’t really know him very well. I had been told what a wonderful memory he had and that he was a great story teller, so driving the 1 1/2 hours to interview him had been on my ‘to-do’ list for some time. Finally a couple of weeks ago, I bit the bullet and called him to make a date.

I arrived at Keith’s retirement home quite flustered after having got myself lost once I got to Bendigo (central Victoria, Australia). So a 90 minute drive had turned into a 2 hour drive. At that point, tired and flustered, knowing I had to get back by a certain time for other commitments, I said to myself – “I’m never doing this again!! This is ridiculous. I have so many other things I should be doing, and after today I’m going to be too tired to do anything”.

Then I took a deep breath, reconnected myself with the reason I was there – my deep commitment to capturing people’s stories and my own family history – and got out of the car to greet my patient interviewee who was standing nearby.

Of course I wanted to get straight into the interview as I knew we had limited time, but I took time to be shown around Keith’s unit, have a quick cuppa, and of course, set up my equipment. Luckily Keith was just as keen to get started, so off we went.

As always, after establishing the basic details of the person – full name, date of birth and where they were born – I started asking questions about Keith’s memories of his father, mother and grandparents. When Keith was born his family had lived in my home town, then had moved away, and had moved back when he was 5 years old. His account of their trip down from Minyip to Navarre via horse, buggy and foot-power was fascinating.

But eventually I got to asking him about his grandfather, who he knew very well – my great great grandfather. As Keith told me about the “jolly” fellow who was my great great grandfather, and then spoke of his great uncles, I was suddenly hit by an amazing feeling – it was like I had opened up a history book and was able to ask it questions.

You see, back in 1988, we had a Bibby reunion, where all the descendants of Thomas and Elizabeth Bibby (who had settled in Navarre from Lancashire) all gathered. They had had 11 children (I think), and so all of us had a different coloured name tag and a name up the top of the name tag of the child we were descended from. In my case it was William.

As I was 15 at the time, my friends and I laughed at being descended from “Willy” and “Peter” and “Arthur”. We had no idea who these people were. They were just names to us. I found it interesting to find that my cousins who I had grown up with in the same town were actually my 4th or 5th cousins. Many people barely know their first cousins and here I was growing up with my 4th and 5th cousins! An interesting quirk of my home town of Navarre is that we are pretty much all related, but some people who I share the same surname with are more distantly related to me than those with different surnames.

Anyway, I digress. The amazing thing about my interview with Keith on Friday was that he actually had known William (Bill – his grandfather), Peter, Arthur and Bert (my great grandfather who I knew quite well). A shiver went through me as I realised I could ask Keith about all of these people, and he would be able to tell me about who that person was, their personality, funny stories and so on.

Keith was like my time machine!! And a short time earlier I’d been questioning my sanity in using up a whole day to go and interview him! I silently rebuked myself, and was given a very strong reminder of why I do what I do. As well as being fascinating to me – especially Keith’s memories of his friendship with my much-loved and much-missed Pop – in a couple of hours, I captured some of the history of our family for every other member of my family. Keith’s immediate family now have a record of his life. My 4th and 5th cousins now have a verbal recollection given by someone who knew their great great grandfather. And Keith knows that those precious memories are now captured forever.

And guess what? Keith was no longer just a distant relative I hardly knew. He is now someone I know intimately and will not be someone I “wish” I had interviewed before they died. He is now a real, courageous, amazingly gracious man in my eyes, not just an elderly relative who used to visit every time shearing was on.

As I wound the interview up, Keith informed me I’d have to come back because he had at least another 2 hours of things he didn’t get to. And you know what, I’m going to get back there as soon as I can. He’s the last of his generation in our family. He’s willing to be interviewed, he’s interesting, his memory is great – he’s a living history book!!

So if there’s someone in your life who you’ve been meaning to get around to interviewing – or paying for someone else to interview them – it’s time. Get your diary/calendar out and pick a day. You will never have the time. You will always be busy. And you will always have better things you could be doing with your time. But pick a day,  make the time, and you will never regret it!!

Keep Smiling

Louise - Wedding - 12.6.08


Why everyone should record their story on video

April 6, 2010

There are many personal video biographers out there, whether they call themselves by this name or not. I believe it’s the most appropriate description of what I do, however, I only discovered this job description in the last 6 months.

Regardless, all people who value oral history and conduct it via the medium of video have various reasons why they see it as a superior way to capture oral history to other methods – ie. audio only.

These are the reasons I believe people should record their life story – and record it on video/DVD!

1.  Every person has a story!

Whatever you may think, every person’s story is valuable and worth recording – even yours!

2. Recording your story celebrates you life

By recording your story on video, it is a celebration of your life – your successes, your failures, your lessons, your story. With video you have a living colour, animated record of yourself telling your life story. It captures the ‘real’ you in even greater detail than mere audio or written personal histories.

With video, you get the whole box and dice – you, your family & future generations get to see your smile, your laugh, the way you wave your hands around when you talk, and all the little tiny visual things that make  you unique.

3. You’ll hear stories you may never hear otherwise

In my experience, many things come out in personal video biographies that may never be known otherwise. This is not to say that I probe for family secrets or get people to speak about things they don’t want to speak about. Rather, it is merely the fact that I ask questions that other people in the person’s family have never thought to ask – and so they have never heard the answer. It’s as simple as that.

I’ve given the example before, but when I interviewed my Grandad I asked him where he was born, and he told me the exact address and told me where it was – and that a church was now built on it. After he had passed away, I pointed this church out to my young daughter as the location of where my Grandad was born.

Fred & I - 1989

Grandad & I – 1989

My Mum, who was driving the car at the time, asked me in a surprised voice, how I knew that. And I said, “Grandad told me when I interviewed him”. Mum was extremely close to my Grandad, but she would never have known that information if I hadn’t interviewed him.

4. A death is the death of a thousand stories

When people die, many stories die with them. Whether it is a story that only they could tell because they were the only one at a certain place at a certain time, or whether it is just their personal version of something that many others witnessed, it is their story. Everyone has a unique perspective on everything. Capturing this is a way of capturing the personality, values, beliefs and essence of the person being interviewed. Video just enhances this.

5. Your story is your legacy

When it comes down to us, we are basically a collection of stories bound up to make a person. Things happen to us in life, but we are the ones who interpret them and make meaning out of them. We are the ones who tell “our” story of what happened. A person standing next to us may well tell a completely different story. But for us, our story is real. It may not be fact, but to us, it appears to be. Nobody else can ever truly tell your story.

6.  “If those walls could talk”.

How many times have you – particularly genealogists – gazed longingly at an ancestor’s photograph, wishing they could speak? Well, by interviewing your relatives on video it’s just like having a talking photograph – and if genealogy is your passion, you can ask specific questions about people you’re researching and so on.

7.  “If not you, then who?”

If you’re the one who has the video camera, the question is, “If not you, then who?”. If you’re the genealogist in the family, or even if you’re just interested in your Mum or Dad’s story, if you have the video camera you may be the only one who ever asks them to tell their story and record it.

It’s very easy to say that someone else in the family would do it better or has more time etc etc, but when it comes down to it, you are the one. Just get your loved one’s permission, set the camera up and start asking questions – you may be very surprised with what happens after that (and there’s always the option of deleting it if you really hate it – though for an historian that sends shivers through me :-))

Of course, if you don’t have a camera or the time, you could always employ someone like me to do it for you. Contact me & I’m sure I can put you onto someone great in your area.


Now I know I’ve crossed over here into the basic question of “why record your story”, whether on video, audio or written, but I think you get the idea of why I see recording your story on video as the most valuable, desirable method of capturing a person’s story.

Let me know what you think!

(Update: As of Nov 14th 2013 please contact me via email at, visit the 15 Minute Power Plays With Your Kids ebook Facebook or Twitter Page or visit the website If you happen to stumble across this post and it’s NOT because I’ve linked to it from my book, pop over and say hi anyway :-). Please  DO NOT go to my previous website at as it has been hacked)

Keep Smiling



My Vision For Making A Difference

March 16, 2010

It’s been a while since I blogged. Yes, I failed miserably at my aim of blogging daily in Feb. My health went downhill big-time at that period, but I’m back now. I’m aiming for a weekly blog to start with now. Any more will be a bonus.

I wanted to share with you my vision for my business, as I am currently restructuring my business plan to incorporate some of my new passions – blogging, social media and what I can offer in my areas of knowledge via the internet. I’m also incorporating the passions that led me into this business in the first place.

My Vision For It’s My Life DVDs

My vision for my business is to have every person throughout the world realises that they have lived an amazing, interesting life – to value their life story and what they have contributed to the world (and record it on video!!). I want to make this the norm, not a rarity.

As a way of celebrating and valuing their story, I offer people a chance to record their story on video – or learn how to conduct and  record such interviews with family/friends themselves. By using the internet & thinking out of the square, I want to give access to this opportunity of celebrating life to as many people as I can in Australia and throughout the world.

While aiming for a quality product, the focus will be more on capturing the person’s story rather than making each one a world-class documentary. This will be my point of difference. If the only way a person can have their life story recorded on video is via a recording on Skype, then that’s what we’ll do. Not a documentary, but a priceless heirloom for that person’s family & generations to come – not to mention a great validation of their life for themselves.

Quality documentary DVDs will be available and they will be what I would recommend people do first and foremost, but they will not be the only product. If people have the means to pay for a quality documentary-style DVD, in my opinion it would be devaluing their story not to do so. If documentaries can be done on Elvis, Madonna, Beyonce or any other famous person, why should your story be considered less important than that?

My major aim is to become a world-renowned authority, speaker, educator and conductor of/on personal video biography – a big aim, I know, but it’s time to think big! If not me, who else?

I plan to set up a blog attached to my website, which will be dedicated to the topic of personal video biography – why it is valuable to pay someone to do your own, how you can go about recording your family & friends’ stories on video, tips, hints, pitfalls, links to other great websites and so on. When I get this up and running, and have consistent blogs/comments/subscriptions, I then plan to do teleseminars as well, which will cover similar topics. Following on from that I will do online workshops as well. Who knows where it will go from there!

I realised that I started this business from a community project  – with Landmark Education – which focused on encouraging people to interview their family members on video. The context of this whole project was the possibility of love and family. When I realised how many people wanted to do these interviews, but who never got around to finding the time – or didn’t have the confidence – to do it, that was when my business idea came in. I WANT people to have these personal video biographies (didn’t know they were called that at the time!), so I decided to offer my services to those who wanted it.

To be completely frank, my business has not taken off quite how I’d like it to. People love the idea, but the money side of things gets in the road. They don’t seem to value a life story DVD in the same way as they value a family portrait (similar price with a professional photographer), a plasma tv (well over my mid-price) or many other material things. This has puzzled me – and frustrated me greatly. “Why”, I ask, “would people not see that the money they fritter away on often quite frivolous things could easily pay for their life story DVD or that of someone they love?” – as I hear them complain that they would do it for x if it didn’t cost so much!

And I’ve realised that it’s the value people place on their and other people’s stories that is the gap. They just don’t value their stories – until it’s too late. You wouldn’t believe how many times I hear, “Oh, I wish I knew about you before my Dad/Mum/Sister/fill-in-the-gaps passed away”. People don’t consider that tomorrow could be it for them too. There is no urgency – unless someone is ill. And in fact, until people truly see the value of their and their loved ones’ stories – the priceless nature of them – even if they did know me before their loved one died, the fact is they probably wouldn’t have paid out the money to have a video produced of their life anyway.

I’m not saying these people are wrong. They are just human. Procrastination is practically in our DNA. And most of us think we’re on this earth forever – or we kid ourselves we are because it’s too uncomfortable to think of the alternative.

So, in my own way, I want to become the champion for personal video biography; the champion for capturing people’s priceless stories. There are many others out there like me with the same passion, and I plan to join with them as much as I can to bring the message to as many people as possible via the new, amazing platforms of personal interaction on the internet.

I have ideas of how I’m going to go about all this, but really I don’t know exactly how I’ll do it. I’m just putting it out there right now, that this is my vision. This is how I want to make a difference in this world!

Stay tuned for ideas of how I’m going to do it. And I’d love your feedback as well.

(Update: As of Nov 14th 2013 please contact me via email at, visit the 15 Minute Power Plays With Your Kids ebook Facebook or Twitter Page or visit the website If you happen to stumble across this post and it’s NOT because I’ve linked to it from my book, pop over and say hi anyway :-). Please  DO NOT go to my previous website at as it has been hacked)

Keep Smiling


Dan Curtis’ Top 5 Personal History Blogs for 2009

February 7, 2010

Well, so much for writing every day. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has a way of catching you unawares sometimes, and this week has been one of them for me. More on that later in a special post re CFS.

In this brief post, I wanted to direct all you oral and personal historians, genealogists and personal video biographers etc to a very useful blog post by Dan Curtis late last year.

Dan is a professional personal historian, and from what I’ve seen so far, also a great blogger.

His blog is titled : The Top Five Personal History Blogs For 2009 which is basically self-descriptive really. The ones I know on the list are fantastic, and the others are on my to-do list!

If you want to learn more about capturing personal history and the work of personal historians, check out these blogs – as well as Dan’s, which he quite modestly left off the list –

Hey, eventually I might even make it on the list. A bit of work to do before that though : )

(Update: As of Nov 14th 2013 please contact me via email at, visit the 15 Minute Power Plays With Your Kids ebook Facebook or Twitter Page or visit the website If you happen to stumble across this post and it’s NOT because I’ve linked to it from my book, pop over and say hi anyway :-). Please  DO NOT go to my previous website at as it has been hacked)

Keep Smiling



4 Reasons Video Beats Audio For Oral History

February 2, 2010

When I tell people my business involves interviewing people on video and making it into a DVD life story, most people say “what a fantastic idea!”

They then often speak of someone they have always wanted to interview in their family, but have never got around to doing it – which is actually a major reason I started my business – for those people who want the finished product, but don’t find the time to do it themselves.

Despite this enthusiasm, however, many people have reservations about the use of video as opposed to audio recordings. They either cringe about the idea of themselves being on video, or they express a fear that their intended interviewee won’t want to talk on video. I’ve even found most oral history organisations I’ve looked up on the internet, when discussing oral history interviews, still refer to audio interviews (this may have changed recently).

It’s like there’s an inbuilt fear within most people of being recorded on video. Some have a fear of being recorded full stop, but I find there are many more who fear what they might look like on video, or “what if I say something stupid?” (even if not verbalised, it’s a thought that goes through their head).

Ever since getting my first video camera 10 years ago to go to the Sydney Olympics, I have used it to interview family members and other interesting people. Basically, for a start, I interviewed anyone who said yes. Often the family members I really wanted to interview were the most camera shy – though I have now succeeded in capturing most of those people on camera.

So why do I believe video/dvd recording of oral history is superior to audio recordings?

1. You get to see the person’s face, as well as hear their voice – and it’s not only their face, it’s their gestures, seeing them laugh, getting to see all the little visual quirks that make them them. Audio captures some of this, but video just makes it so much richer.

2. It’s easier & more likely to be accessed – Give a family a DVD of their grandmother’s life story and they can immediately stick it in the DVD player or computer and watch it. Give them a CD or mp3 and I bet you they don’t sit down immediately and listen to it. And if they do, I bet they don’t just sit there and close their eyes to concentrate on every word. As there is no visual, it’s much easier for people to think they can listen and do housework, read the paper and so on at the same time. In the process, they miss half the story. In my experience DVDs get watched till the end and are much more likely to be brought out for family and friends to have “a quick look”.

3. DVD/Video holds the viewers attention – This is a continuation of the above in many ways. Having both visual and audio stimulus, a DVD life story/personal video biography is much more likely to hold the viewers attention. There are many studies to show that certain people are more audio- orientated, others are more visual and some are more kinesthetic (hands on). DVDs provide for both the auditory and the visual-dominated people, thus making it more likely that the interview will grab and hold their attention.

4. It really feels like the person is in the room with you – When my Grandad died, many family members wanted copies of the interviews I’d done with him. Back then, with Video 8 and no hard drive, I had to play the interviews into the TV and record them in real time. When I was setting this up, there was a room full of mourning relatives, so I apologised to them if it was upsetting them to see Grandad on the screen. I asked would they like me to turn the screen off once I set it up, but most said to just leave it on and they’d see how they went with it. When I walked in 10 minutes later, I found the whole room virtually silent, glued to the TV. One of them said, with a sense of wonder and excitement in their voice “It’s like he’s actually here in the room with us”. And the rest agreed. That is something audio just can’t quite capture.

So, yes, video cameras are slightly more intrusive to the interviewee than a mini audio recorder. But over the years I’ve stuck to my guns and been able to persuade even the most reluctant family members – the ones I never thought would do it – to be interviewed on video. And now I have that captured forever for all the family & generations to come.

What I find is once it’s been agreed upon, the set up’s been done (as quickly and with as little fuss as possible!), as soon as we get into conversation, the person very quickly forgets about the camera. As I tell all my interviewees, it’s just like sitting down for a cuppa and having a chat – just with a video going in the background (and maybe a light or two ; )

One trick I used with my Dad was to just ask him to do 10 questions with me – for my daughter (his only grandchild at the time – a little emotional blackmail!). I truly was only going to do 10 questions, but after 45 minutes I had to change the tape. I apologised to Dad, saying it had gone a bit longer than planned. And you know what he said? “Oh, it’s ok. I probably wouldn’t be able to get to sleep now anyway”. In other words, he had found he was quite enjoying the experience!!

So in my opinion it’s worth recording oral history on video rather than just audio. It may take some extra convincing on your part, but the final product is superior. And with computers these days you can always extract the audio separately and put it on a separate CD if you want an audio version to listen to in the car. You can’t create visuals though if you haven’t recorded them in the first place!

Of course if the interviewee is absolutely adamant they will not be videoed, but are happy to be audio recorded, absolutely still do it. Oral life stories are still amazing and incredibly valuable. I’m just saying, if at all possible, opt for video first and purely oral recordings as a last resort.

I plan to write some tips and hints in my coming blogs, but if you have any questions, please let me know.

(Update: As of Nov 14th 2013 please contact me via email at, visit the 15 Minute Power Plays With Your Kids ebook Facebook or Twitter Page or visit the website If you happen to stumble across this post and it’s NOT because I’ve linked to it from my book, pop over and say hi anyway :-). Please  DO NOT go to my previous website at as it has been hacked)

Keep Smiling


Is Oral History Valuable For Genealogists?

February 1, 2010

“There are places I remember all my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better, Some have gone, and some remain. All these places have their moments, with lovers and friends I still can recall. Some are dead and some are living. In my life, I’ve loved them all.” – In My LifeThe Beatles (Lennon/McCartney)

My motto is “Everyone has a story”, and I am continually advocating that people tell their life story on camera or record their loved ones telling their story.

I am very clear about one thing, however. A story is just that, a story. It is not necessarily fact. Actually I would go so far as to say stories are never fact. Stories are one person’s interpretation of something that happened at a certain time. Get them to tell that story again and they will almost always tell it slightly differently.

Hence, oral history in the area of genealogy has its pitfalls, as most genealogists will attest to. If you’re looking for facts, oral history is just one part of the puzzle. Sometimes, however, on certain matters the only material you have on that matter is the recollection of one person. Other times, there are opportunities to cross-check dates, stories etc with other people or official records. But of course, even these can be innacurate.

What I’m basically exploring here is how valuable is oral history or personal video biography to genealogists? Well, I would still say that oral history is invaluable to genealogists. There are a number of reasons for this.

1. Dates and marriage/birth certificates are all very well, but they tell us nothing about the day of the event, birth or marriage or the people involved. People who were around at these times can give us the juicy stuff – a description of the wedding breakfast, the weather the day Johnny was born or the celebrations in their town on Armistice Day in 1918.  Dates & certificates are the bones; oral stories are the flesh that makes the body whole.

2. If you’re totally hooked up on ‘facts’, you can miss some amazing stories. Now some people may embellish the facts, but in amongst it you get a few ‘facts’, while also often getting a fascinating story.

3. ‘Facts’ are often just a story that appears real. One could propose that there is no such thing as facts. For instance, a person in Australia could be said to be born at 4am on December 28th, however, in Germany at that moment it was 6pm. So what time was the baby born? I could go on with more philosophical hoo-ha, but you get my meaning.

4. My favourite part about filming and recording people telling their stories is that in the telling of the story you really get a sense of who that person is. You get a sense of what’s important to them, their values, their loves, their

Fred & I – 1989

personality. What a wonderful way to capture who that person is/was! It might not all be roses, but it’s way more real than a headstone that just says – Fred Smith b.18.4.1927  d. 4.11.2001 Beloved husband of Betty (thankfully I did interview Freddo; he was my granddad, despite the apparent generic example ; )

5. Regardless of who it is you’re interviewing, taking time to hear their stories and taking a

genuine interest in them will almost always bring you an increased sense of closeness to that person – even if you already think you’re as close as you could possibly be with them. And guess what? I can almost guarantee you’ll hear something you’ve never heard. It doesn’t matter how well I know my interviewee, I always walk away with some new knowledge. Of course the key is to ask the right questions, but more on that in a later blog.

Look, I could go on and on about why oral history is an essential part of genealogy. It’s only my opinion. I’d love to hear yours.

Disclaimer: I’m not a genealogist. I’m interested in genealogy, but at this stage I’m more intested in capturing stories on film of the relatives who are living, breathing witnesses to our family history now.

(Update: As of Nov 14th 2013 please contact me via email at, visit the 15 Minute Power Plays With Your Kids ebook Facebook or Twitter Page or visit the website If you happen to stumble across this post and it’s NOT because I’ve linked to it from my book, pop over and say hi anyway :-). Please  DO NOT go to my previous website at as it has been hacked)

Keep smiling

Louise @itsmylifedvds

DVD slideshows of your facebook photos

January 29, 2010

I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone reading this that my overall aim of developing a blog, having a twitter account and facebook page are all part of a grander plan to have my business – It’s My Life DVDs- grow and blossom. And in the process, my plan is obviously to make money from it. Making a living from what I am most passionate about sounds pretty darn good to me!

Nana & I

Nana & I

Hence, I am currently learning all I can about social media marketing, blogging and the like. I plan to move this blog over to a more sophisticated one in the future so that I can really contribute to people who want to learn more about oral history and personal video biography. Ultimately my aim is for everyone on the planet to have their life recorded on DVD – or whatever medium is current at that point. I really do believe every person – young and old – has an amazing story to tell. And the difference that can by made by just getting interested enough to interview a loved one can be astonishing!

But I digress.

Since starting to develop my internet presence, I realised I also need to develop some products that I can offer to anyone, anywhere. My Life Story DVDs are the major focus of my business, but if I want to make a difference to the people I connect with on twitter, facebook and here, I have to develop other products – plus provide valuable content for people reading my blog (stay tuned!).

One product I realised I can offer to anyone, anywhere, are my digital photo slideshow montages. This is where people email or send me their digital photos and I put them to a musical slideshow, design an artistic, professional cover and send it back to them.

Over Christmas I stumbled across another avenue in this realm. My Nana asked me if I’d do a couple of slideshows of family photos for my cousins who live overseas and interstate. Realising I had few photos, I had the bright idea of downloading their facebook photo albums & putting them to music. The result was fantastic, with both my cousins loving their DVDs. I now realise I can provide this service to anyone on facebook. They can just friend me, I can download their photos and send me any others via email, and then unfriend me. And not long after that they’ll have all their photos on an easy-to-view slideshow DVD.

I’m continually thinking of new products I can offer, while still staying within my passion of capturing people’s life stories in one way or another – preferably in a visual medium.

So if you’re on facebook and would like your photos collated on a professional DVD, please look me up. It’s easiest to first contact me through my It’s My Life DVDs fanpage – and then we can organise to connect our personal profiles for the short time it will take. The price will depend on how many photos you have, whether you want captions and so on.

So thanks Nana!! I love you to bits anyway, but now I’ve got a whole new avenue to my business courtesy of you. Love you!! (of course, she doesn’t have a computer, but I’ll pass this on ; )

(Update: As of Nov 14th 2013 please contact me via email at, visit the 15 Minute Power Plays With Your Kids ebook Facebook or Twitter Page or visit the website If you happen to stumble across this post and it’s NOT because I’ve linked to it from my book, pop over and say hi anyway :-). Please  DO NOT go to my previous website at as it has been hacked)

Keep smiling


PS. If you have any ideas of what I could provide to you re oral history, please let me know.