How to document your life with photos – with special guest Trista Pappas

A special edition of #LegacyAfterDark with Trista Pappas of Trista Renee Photography.

Summary of what we chatted about…

We chatted about photography and documenting everyday moments. Specifically, remembering to make those things more permanent in our lives beyond sharing them on Facebook, posting them to Instagram and creating things, like legacies, that will endure for generations and not just a news cycle.

This is the full unedited transcript of the conversation

Gael:                   Trista and I have collaborated on a couple of things, and I'm really excited to have her on today talking to you about photography and documenting everyday moments. And remembering to make those things more permanent in our lives beyond just sharing them on Facebook, posting them to Instagram and creating things, like legacies, that will endure past when, you know, sometime when the electricity gets shuts off.

Trista:                 When the lights go out.

Gael:                   When the lights go out. So thank you so much for joining in. And I'm going to turn it over to Trista and give her an opportunity to introduce herself. So welcome.

Trista:                 Thank you for having me.

Gael:                   You're welcome.

Trista:                 This is exciting.

Gael:                   So, would you like to take a moment to tell people who you are, and that sort of thing?

Trista:                 Yes. So, my name is Trista Sholes Pappas. I am a photographer in Butler, Pennsylvania. So my husband and I live here with our daughter Lyric. He's a musician, I do photography, it's a lot of fun. I'm here because we want to discuss the importance of documenting your lives through photographs, and I guess should I say my website probably?

Gael:                   Yes.

Trista:                 You can catch me at

Gael:                   And her Instagram feed is really pretty.

Trista:                 Awe.

Gael:                   So … And her stories are fun, so if you're following her over there you should be watching her … Jumping into topics: why do you think it's important for families to take pictures of everyone in the family, not just the ones that are in front of the camera.

Trista:                 This is close to my heart, because obviously I am a parent, and sometimes being behind the camera I get lost out of the photos. Not that that's a problem for me, because I like to take the pictures but, also we want to make sure that we're in them. So our children can see use when we're older and we're … biking. How much fun we were!

Gael:                   When were cute, right?

Trista:                 Yes.

Gael:                   When we were cute!

Trista:                 When I looked like this!

                           No, but seriously, super important guys to make sure that you're taking turns behind the camera at family functions and every day life. So, if you're a mom, you're a dad, you an aunt, you're a care giver, make sure you're passing the camera, the phone camera around.

                           Christmas time, I'm rarely in any of the pictures –

Gael:                   Right.

Trista:                 Because we just don't take the time to do that, but luckily, obviously, there's … use it. Use it!

Gael:                   So if you don't have people in your family who are confident with whipping out their phone and taking a picture of you with your kids, or with your dog, or your spouse, or wherever it might be, use the selfie-cam. Your picture can do selfies and there's, I think, societally there's a huge stigma around taking selfies. And I've been practicing taking selfies because for the span of about five years there aren't a whole lot of pictures of me floating around anywhere.

Trista:                 And we want pictures of you.

Gael:                   And we want pictures of me, you know, because who wouldn't?

                           So, take the time to take pictures of yourself. And ask for help. There are people around you who want to see your face.

Trista:                 Yes. Yeah.

Gael:                   Now, and later.

Trista:                 Totally. Dads, this one is for you. Just, when, when she's not looking in those precious moments, just take your phone out for one second and snap that picture, you know. I do this to my husband all the time, he hates it.

                           Tom, I probably drive him insane, but you know what? I … some of my favorite photos are just taken on my phone when they're just cuddling on the couch, watching Netflix. That's stuff to cherish, and you just want to make sure you capture that.

                           Someday you're kids are gonna wanna see that. Their kids are gonna wanna see that. They're gonna wanna know if their Pap Pap was fun.

Gael:                   So I actually have picture of, there's a picture of my dad and my brother, and my, I think my brother's probably around two. And they're, or like younger, and they're together on the couch. And my dad's propped up in corner and my brother is laying upright on him. And it was just the cutest photo. And that was the picture that stuck out for me later.

                           So then, when my husband was asleep, I have so many pictures of Shane and my kids asleep together.

Trista:                 That's awesome.

Gael:                   Because of that one picture –

Trista:                 Yeah.

Gael:                   That my mom took the time take while they were sleeping. So thanks Mom.

Trista:                 Right. Totally.

Gael:                   It's created a picture taking tradition. So I make sure I have a picture of each kid with Shane asleep.

Trista:                 Yeah.

                           It's also important … okay, let's say you're … not everybody is a parent … Really listen, you need to make sure you're doing this with your friends, and the rest of your family members, too. Because someday you're gonna want a picture of them when they go, you just are.

                           So, I know it's like, I'm the person that is always taking pictures, and I'm sure my friends get really annoyed by it, but –

Gael:                   Probably.

Trista:                 I wanna see your face forever, you know.

Gael:                   Yes. Yes.

Trista:                 And print them.

Gael:                   So let's talk about in the digital age, because we're all digital now and everything gets you know taken on our phones and we never make it to Walmart, or Walgreens, or wherever. Why … how important do you think is it for people to get prints of their photos.

Trista:                 Really important. It's imperative that you guys are printing your pictures. I don't care if its Polaroids. There's lots of good Polaroid options out there, go get yourself one. Less than … Seriously, though, do it!

                           Another thing is, we have all these clouds. Everybody's uploading their 13000 photos. Their whole lives.

Gael:                   Right.

Trista:                 It's awesome, it's great storage space, use it. But, you need to be printing your favorite moments. Putting them in books, putting them in an album, putting them on your wall. This is stuff that you're, you're family wants to see, of you hopefully, you're, again, taking pictures with you in it. We want that. Down the road people are gonna need these things. Video too. Same thing as with video.

                           Put that … not only back it up on the cloud, but back it up on your computer, on an external hard drive, on USB, on a disc if you still use that. I mean, seriously, that way it doesn't get lost.

Gael:                   So off screen you gave a very specific example, or a specific … I use the word protocol, to have the backup. So you mentioned three, do you wanna explain that?

Trista:                 Triple backup. So, yeah, you have the Cloud. Most of us have iPhone, or maybe you use Google pictures. Put it on the Cloud, but then also download it to your laptop, download it to your PC. That's number two.

                           Number three, external hard drive. Get yourself an external hard drive, get yourself some USB flash drives. And then, of course, the ultimate is to print.

Gael:                   Right.

Trista:                 Get them printed. It doesn't have to cost you a ton of money. There are many options out there that are budget friendly, to get them on your walls, put them in a book. It's a great gift option, too.

Gael:                   Right.

Trista:                 We started taking images of Lyric every year. Or, our favorite moments of 2018, we did a book. And them to everyone as a Christmas present. And it was really great, it was fun. People got to go through stuff that they weren't there for, and we got to share it with each other, and it was really nice.

                           And that's something that you can hold onto for a very long time.

Gael:                   So, that's … so that leads really well into a story I want to share. It's of the fact that, if you've been, you've been following anything with Legacy you know that my dad passed away about 13 years ago. And one of the things that I'm really thankful for is that as a family we had a, and abundance of pictures. Partly because my mom was really good about taking pictures of us. And there's lots of pictures of my dad.

                           But, you know looking back, and looking through the photos, there are not a lot of pictures of my mom. Which is something that she's working on fixing, so she's totally upped her selfie game, and there's lots of pictures of her and her friends now.

                           But something that my uncle did, is that he made sure we were taking photos at every family … so Uncle Bob, thank you so much for taking the time to do that while I was growing up. And, you know, continuing to do that for our family.

Trista:                 Yeah Bob!

Gael:                   Yeah Bob!

                           It was, for me it was really nice when I was having to put together things for my dad's death, and his memorial service, and the fact that we had so many photos to choose from and to remember him with. And all of the things that we … I can show my kids now, that made a huge difference of having those pictures.

                           I mean, made the, made the grief process for me, not necessarily easier, but it made processing a little different than maybe if I hadn't had any photos of him. And it's made it so that I can create books for my children, which, I have a couple books just of pictures of my dad. And we went … when we went to Ireland with the children, I went with my mom, and my mother-in-law, and my three kids, and we went to Ireland together. And we went around and we saw all the families. And at each family home of my, the siblings of my dad we … I made sure to get group shots with everyone who was in the house, with the kids in the photos. So that there … those are the pictures that are in these books.

                           So that when Maura, and Aidan, and Meghan are looking at the pictures I can point out to my … point out my Uncle Michael and say that “that's my dad's brother.” And I can show the familial resemblance, and my cousins are in the pictures. And that was just a really neat way to have pictures of my dad in the book, and then also be able to include pictures of his family, with his grandchildren.

Trista:                 That's awesome.

Gael:                   Yeah.

Trista:                 You go.

Gael:                   How do you think people should be preparing for that eventuality of someone dying?

Trista:                 It's just like little things that you can do in your daily lives, and just frequently checking in with the pictures that you are taking, the videos that you are taking. I mean, even those Boomerangs –

Gael:                   Yeah, those Boomerangs were fun.

Trista:                 So fun, someday I would like to compile a little video of just the favorite boomerangs. But, if you have an iPhone an easy way to do this is with, in the photos app there are creations of memories. So it does this for you. [crosstalk 00:10:46]

Gael:                   This is just on iPhone.

Trista:                 Yeah.

                           This is not like an ad for iPhone. But just, in my experience this has been something I use, I don't … you know, I'm busy, we're all busy.

Gael:                   Right.

Trista:                 But I know that oh, there's something that I wanna make sure that I have a video of, or a slide show. So every major holiday I'll go through. Or even for my friends.

Gael:                   Right.

Trista:                 Like it's, when it's their birthday –

Gael:                   Yes.

Trista:                 I like to compile my favorite pictures of them and us together. And it's something that you should be saving. Not only to the Cloud, but again backing that up too. You can put it on a flash drive for them. So it's a lot of fun, and easy! You don't have to compile all these pictures yourself –

Gael:                   Right.

Trista:                 Your phone is doing that for you, so.

                           I don't know it a lot of people really use this. I do, I think you probably should.

                           Another thing again is just printing your images as much as possible. There's a lot of services out there that you can do like a monthly subscription now, which is super cool. Where they just take you Instagram photos and send you a book every month.

Gael:                   Right.

                           There's those, and I know Mixtiles is pretty cool. That's an easy way to get prints of photos to go on the wall that are ready. And I'll put in the … I've been curating and compiling a list of all these different things that can help you preserve these photos, and I'll be at some putting a link to that resource in the comments of this video.

                           Um, but, yeah.

                           So, is there anything else that you want to share that we talked about, before we go?

Trista:                 Yeah, I mean, just in general when, when you document your life for photography, and even video, it's really cool for people down the road because someday we're not gonna all be here. And you wanna have those memories. And the cool thing about a photograph is that you can almost hear the person talking or laughing, or crying even –

Gael:                   Yeah.

Trista:                 When you look at it. And that's why I love what I do because I feel like I'm … basically document you –

Gael:                   Right.

Trista:                 Right now, as you are. And that's super important … Just found so much joy in that. And, and, meeting new people, and getting to know their lives. And it's a way that we can share that with each other.

                           Obviously we do it every day now, social media, but I don't know if we sit back and think about it, really.

Gael:                   So, off screen you shared a story about someone in your dad's family being really good about taking photos.

Trista:                 Yeah, I'm not sure who it was, I'll have to ask you, Dad. But, there's a lot of little Polaroids and little printed pictures of him when he was a kid. I remember one specifically where his arm was broken, I think, and it was him and his friends. They must have got into trouble but you could just see the grin and you could almost hear maybe what he and his friend were talking about, and going through at that … which was really cool. But, of course that wasn't in the digital age so –

Gael:                   Right.

Trista:                 So everything was physical.

Gael:                   You were printing it.

Trista:                 Right.

Gael:                   Right. Printing, or drawing, or painting.

Trista:                 It is important though, I think there's no media so cool as being able to instantly share these moments with each other is such a interesting way to get to know people that you maybe wouldn't have before. But, I'm definitely a huge advocate for at least printing your favorite stuff as much as … and obviously getting the photographer.

Gael:                   Yes.

Trista:                 You have to be me.

Gael:                   No there's –

Trista:                 You million, wonderful, talented people like do that for yourself, for your family, at least once a year. You know, maybe it's the holidays that is the time when everybody can get together –

Gael:                   Right.

Trista:                 And you can get a nice photo for yourself and your family [inaudible 00:14:50] friends. Maybe it's summertime and you wanna go outside and have fun. But definitely, definitely, definitely find yourself someone that you relate to that will help you document your life.

Gael:                   So, thank you. Thank you very much for tuning in if you were live with us this whole time and hung out, we really appreciate it. If you have any questions for Trista put them in the comments and she'll circle back later and answer anything you guys come up with. If you happen to be watching the replay somewhere, or listening to the replay somewhere, thanks for listening to the replay and the same thing goes for you. If you have questions I'll make sure they get to Trista.

                           So, thank you so much for joining us on this episode of Legacy After Dark, Not After Dark. And I will see you on the next episode. And in the meantime, happy writing.


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