Interviewing a parent, grandparent or other family members is one of the best ways to gather your family memories. Voices and Images has a detailed list of topics and questions you can use to capture the family stories. We can help you with your interviewing techniques or we can do the interview for you. If you feel that this is an important way for you to capture your family stories, just remember that it’s never too early, but it’s always too late! Don’t wait. Plan and begin to capture your family history.
Sometimes the best way to gather the stories of your family is to interview them. Parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles and cousins can all be called on to help tell your family’s story. It’s usually best to talk to everyone separately, it’s easier to transcribe individuals than a group. As you think about interviewing your older relatives, remember: It’s never too early, but it’s always too late!
The following 7 things will help you to conduct interviews with your family:
- Location matters
Find somewhere quiet where you can speak without losing focus on the conversation. Your space should be private too. A comfortable place works best, and a living room can set the mood. However, make sure the room is free of distractions.
- Interviews are a two-way thing
The most important thing to remember is that you are not conducting an interview, but having a conversation. The person you are talking to is just as excited to tell you about their life as you are to hear about it. Get your family members excited about why you are talking to them. Thank them for their time.
- Know some of the details of who you are talking to
Good interviewers are active, not passive. Knowing a few facts on the background and accomplishments of your parents or grandparents enables you to get to the stories that have to tell you. More importantly it empowers you to ask questions that help your relative to elaborate on their life.
- Explain how the interview will run
It’s always a good idea to outline how the conversation will go. Let them know how long, and what topics will be covered. This will help your family member feel more comfortable. If the interview will take place on additional days, be sure to let them know the topic of the next interview.
- Interviews can be very tiring
Interviews dealing with a life history can often take several days and many hours. Be mindful of the person you are talking to and be aware of their endurance. I usually only interview for 1 – 2 hours in a sitting.
- It’s imperative that you ask the right questions
Always ask open ended questions. Replace yes/no questions with open-ended alternatives that allow your family member to answer thoroughly. Ask follow-ups that push past pre-prepared answers. The best rule of thumb to keep in mind while you are interviewing is “more of them and less of you” is always better.
- Take notes
Have a small notebook that you can write down possible follow up questions. Try not to interrupt the person you are interviewing, ask later after they finish their thought or story.
However, I believe it’s important to have a conversation! Make the person you are interviewing feel at ease, convince them you are truly interested in what they have to say!
If you would like our professional interviewers to capture your story or that of your parents or grandparents, we can do it for you!
$1,200 for 10 – 13 hours of interview (Individual)
$2,000 for 20 – 26 hours of interview (Couple, Mom and Dad, at same location)
Payment schedule (individual life story interview)
- Down Payment (due before project begins) $600/$1,000
- When Interview is complete $600/$1,000
Video is a great-added element to documenting you or your relative’s life. After I complete the audio interviews and gather up the photos and any old video or film, we can discuss interviewing your or them and other family members on video. The video will be professionally shot and edited. Photos and old film/video will be edited into the finished edited movie (usually 15-20 minutes long). We usually spend about 2–2.5 hours interviewing for a video. This includes you/them and siblings.
Another interesting thing we have done in the past is to go back to the old neighborhoods and get some footage with you/them walking down the streets and by the houses while you/they reminisce about the “Old Days.”
Cost of the video which includes all of the above items: $9,000
Payment schedule (life story/history):
- Down payment (due before project begins) $4,000
- When Interviews are complete $2,500
- Final editing complete and submitted for review $2,500