Videotaping is a fast and fairly easy way to record memories. Almost everyone has a videocamera, and many cameras these days are capable of very good editing. Even for the technologically incompetent, though, videotaping can be done easily and well enough. Know how to work your camera and practice panning across a room very slowly, zooming in and out very slowly, so you won’t make your video viewers seasick. When you are ready to tape, have the battery charged and a spare handy – or plug the camera into a wall outlet. Have one or two blank cassettes ready to use. A tripod would be great to have to keep the camera steady. I sat in a kitchen chair with my knees jacked up and the camera propped on my knees – it worked, but is a little uncomfortable for long sessions.
Decide where you want to tape and who all you want in the room. It may be fine to have just your subject there, it may be better to have a relative or two sitting with them to help facilitate conversation. Maybe you want to sit with that person and ask questions while somebody else tapes.
I ran the videorecorder while interviewing my husband’s grandmother and mother together in a dining room. My mother-in-law was a huge help since Granny was not a big talker. She knew some of the stories to ask about and helped Granny feel more at ease. My mother-in-law sat at the table fixing up a tray of lasagna, with my daughter quietly popping in later to help sprinkle cheese. It was a warm and homey scene that ended up capturing not only some of Granny’s stories, but also her daughter’s. I was very pleased.