Lessons Gleaned from Old Photos

In the process of cleaning out my aunt’s house, I’ve discovered a treasure trove of old photos, some I’ve never seen before.

I’ve always loved vintage photographs. They send my mind spiraling to a different time and place. Both my parents enjoyed photography. In fact, my mother was the photographer for the local newspaper during World War II, a job she likely wouldn’t have had if not for men at war.

Perhaps because I grew up with parents who enjoyed photography, I also have a love for picture-taking. Sending cousins pictures they didn’t know existed gives me great joy. Hopefully, one day, vintage photos, and ones made in my lifetime, will have meaning for future generations.

Following are lessons gleaned from old photos:

History and Heritage

With increased interest in genealogy in recent years, people spend countless hours searching for information about their ancestors. Photos help fill in some of the gaps and provide visuals of what life was like for our forebearers.

Although we often don’t think about it, we are currently making history. Pictures of everyday life will one day provide a glimpse of our lives and times for those who come after us.

Candid shots of the home where my grandmother Neely (nee Lawton) grew up open a window to her life. Although I have studio photos of her as a young girl, the photos of her home paint a totally different picture. I can imagine her in that setting, along with her parents and siblings and spin stories of her days through these old photos.

I also cherish pictures of my parents as infants and children. Old photos open a new dimension of wisdom and understanding.


Do you like a good love story? I’m thankful I have photos of my parents during their courtship and beyond. And for those of us married a long time, it’s good to look at dating or engagement pictures and remember the love and excitement of early years.

Photos remind us not only of marital love, but also, the love of parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, and friends. As an only child, I am thankful for my cousins, many with whom I’ve shared a sibling-type relationship.

I learned by observing the love my parents shared with their siblings, a love that served as a model for me regarding the care and concern for family.


One favorite quality of photos, old and new, is when personality shines through. Even if it’s someone you never met, you can see the personality in their eyes, the angle of a head, or the animation, even in a still shot.

Each of us was created with a unique personality, special gifts and talents, and specific purposes designed by God. The ability to see that in old photos opens new perspectives and causes us to examine ourselves through a different lens.


Did your parents or grandparents struggle through the Great Depression? Did your ancestors fight for your freedom? Did your parents work hard to ensure your life was better than theirs? Sometimes we forget that where we are today is the result of the many sacrifices of those who came before us.


Old photos help us remember times of celebration and togetherness with family and friends. They call to mind what is truly important and help us put aside old wounds and disagreements.

Vintage photos remind us of past and present blessings, inspire us, and ignite forward motion. In remembering those who came before us, we see ourselves more clearly. We learn from the past—from faith, love, and sacrifice—and determine to leave a positive legacy for generations to come.

“Read up on what happened before you were born; dig into the past, understand your roots. Ask your parents what it was like before you were born;  ask the old-ones, they’ll tell you a thing or two” (Deuteronomy 32:7 MSG).


Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).

To receive Candy’s blog, Forward Motion, via email, go to https://candyarrington.com/blog/ and scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up.


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    1. Me too, Melissa. I like to have the actual print photos. It’s sort of like reading a print book rather than on a tablet.

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