Simple Pictures with Big Backstories of 2017 | Fearless and Framed

Simple Pictures with Big Backstories of 2017

How to Find Stories for Your Memoir and Photos

I’ve been using the phrase “simple pictures with big backstories” for a while now. Those 5 words were a 2017 divine download and could not sum up the MARIE in my work better.

This has meant less emphasis on well-rounded technical skill and has anchored me in the best way. I’ve let go of trying to make work – both the context and the approach – outside of my personal values.

Meaning, I don’t have to practice layering for the sake of layering. I don’t have to try and create a universally emotion-evoking image.

If I’ve encompassed an honest experience of (my own) personal value in a picture, I’ve succeeded.

This has been HUGE. Simple pictures with big backstories. This is me. Whole-heartedly me. For myself and for my occasional clients.

If you’re curious, let me show you what that means…

These photos are everything:

Before I show them, I’ve got something for you to follow along with: a To-Remember List.

I hope if any of my stories spark the stories in YOUR life, that you take a moment to WRITE THEM DOWN.

Give yourself a better chance at anticipating when they’ll happen again. Who knows? The *idea spark* to document them may come up when you’re not even looking for them BECAUSE you took a moment to slow down and pay attention with this pretty little PDF:

Ok, let’s do this…

The stories behind each of these photographs are near and dear to me.

Every time we pull out of the driveway, my FIL is waving. Every. Time. 

Reflection Question:

What’s predicable in your life?


ALL of our secret Michigan places come to mind in this one picture.

I doubt you can see them… but I can. It’s in my heart. It’s in this picture.


That day when it rained and they used my sweater for cover. My little ducklings.

I think of alllllll the walks we’ve strolled on our dirt roads, between 3 different directions, when their daddy was at work and it was me flying solo. In 2015, I’d pull them in the wagon on hour long walks and loved every minute. By the next year, Levi would purpose pick fights with his sister or escape the damn wagon.

This year, we walked together.

I had no idea, this would be our last season of these memories, since we said goodbye to this home.


The day we brought Grammie + Papa to the dairy farm that we stumbled upon by accident and became our go-to for THE best ice cream: Turtle Swirl.

The thing is, when I look at this picture, it’s only a little about that day and the dairy farm.

What I feel is the changing of the season: we were moving less than a month later.

This photo feels like the story of closing our time in Michigan.


The view every time we headed out of our hood. I can FEEL this space with this picture.

Even though this photo is warm & sunny, I see + feel the first time Dave and I left our new home, our first night there, and headed “into town” on a cold, February morning. I remember feeling like I made it. I’m his shotgun rider, as Tim McGraw would say, and remember feeling like I’m “like them.” “Them” being my grandparents or my parents… I always sat in the backseat looking forward at them.

Now, I’m in the front with the love of my life. 

You don’t see it, but I think of ALL OF THAT in this picture.


4th of July, our day-date spot. Our go-to just-the-two-of-us experience—riverfront, coloring, pizza, & cannolis—is yet to be determined in our new state.


This picture isn’t about the wicked cool composition (if I do say so myself).

This day was the day we had a hunch our move was really happening. THAT’S what this picture is.


“Boy! boy! Why he not talk to me?” — Levi, almost 3, 2017

Need I say more.

Could you see THAT in this picture if I didn’t tell you?


Our backyard bonfire nights. There’s been many of these.

I can hear the marshmallow requests from their sweet voices in this one.


She made a picture for our cat.


You see a man.

I see that beard + jawline that have turned me on since 2007. Legit the very reason we met.


That’s not a party store, that’s the-kids-are-in-bed(!!!) pizza-and-beer spot. Or the, “be good and I’ll take you to buy candy” bribery reward.


I see years of my dad’s loving + humorous spirit in a single picture.


Determined (+ scared sh*tless) to get the faces of some of my old time, no-longer-in-the-family spaces: grandma + papa’s house, 1951 -2015. The shudders are different. The flagpole is gone. The porch planters are missing. I see all of that here.


I’ll probably never see that trailer + 40 acres again, sold several years ago, but remember the day Grandpa + Papa were gifted that saw with love + pride.

I look at this and immediately think of Grandma making pancakes in the trailer’s kitchen and looking for turkey feathers outside as a young girl.


Feels like home. My dad’s zone.

Michigan. Detroit. Childhood. All. of. it.


Birthdays will never be the same after this year. I feel that change in this.


One new toy and five cousins + friends: probably the last time we’ll all be together in one room.


Goodbye, my son, until TBD.


You see childhood friends, I see breaking my girl’s heart from moving away from those friends she’s known since baby days.


A once familiar scene on the last morning I stood in my bedroom doorway ready to start the day.

This was an eery feeling that I’ll never shake when I look at this picture. Eery, but grateful. 


You see a beautiful home at dawn.

I see, “Goodbye, home, you’ve been wonderful,” as we literally drove away from “our home” for the last time.


That’s the pure Michigan sign in my side mirror and some kind of joke to see the no U-turn that trumps it.

No turning back now.


You see childhood, playtime, vacation perhaps….

I feel the waiting for Dave to arrive with the U-Hauls filled with all our things. I feel the pure light + freedom I’ve felt over the unknown of what’s to come next for our life with this.

She should have been in school, but instead, we were here in the first days of living in the south.


I accidentally found this spot as a joke—I turned left to take our sassy Kendall to Sassafras Mountain and found this beauty.

Joke was on me, incredible view. Love how “together” we are here – absolutely symbolic to our life today.


You see more childhood + playtime + real life at home… not me.

We’ve never experienced a December quite like this. 72 and sunny. Bathing suits obvs required.

And those, my friend, are my 2017 favorite simple pictures with big backstories.

Get more intentional on yours by unearthing your stories with The Playbook & Tiny Story Society:

How to Find Stories for Your Memoir and Photos

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Marie Masse - Documentary Family Photographer

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