Tag Archives: storycatcher

The Ancestor Effect

download storycatcher for iphoneWhy Your Stories Matter

“So even if we don’t perceive to like our ancestors, thinking about them still leads to a mental state that boosts intellectual performance and decision-making.”

I just read this most fascinating article about the value of knowing our family’s narrative. Apparently, just thinking about our ancestors (ancient to the not so distant) helps us be better problem solvers and live better lives.

“Recently, a clinical study reported that thinking positively about our family roots boosts emotional confidence and even intelligence.”

Are you a good ancestor? Have you started to record and save your family stories?

“…keep your ancestors close at hand. Every day, think about the people who are responsible for putting you on the planet. Consider their hard work throughout the ages, their resilience in tough times, and their ingenuity.”

To check out the full article, visit “Amy Bruckner & The Dream Tribe.” I highly recommend taking a look. Then, be a good ancestor by recording and sharing a story from your own family’s history!

StoryCatcher for iPhone makes it easy to get started making short video stories your loved ones will cherish for all time. Plus, you’ll be helping them become smarter and more effective in the process! You can download the app on the Apple App Store.


April Bell - Personal Historian Blog post author: April Bell is a Professional Personal Historian and founder at Tree of Life Legacies. She has been operating her Personal History Film business in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the United States since 2008. April utilizes her innate skills as an active listener to connect with others and draw out their stories and authentic, heartfelt values to be preserved and shared for generations to come. Her clients include individuals, families and organizations who value the power of story. In an effort to provide the gift of video storytelling to the world at large via a simple, fun and easy to use tool, she and her business partner, iPhone app coder Urs Brauchli, released StoryCatcher for iPhone in the Fall of 2013.

Capture a Dad’s Stories on Video This Father’s Day

Take time to ask, before it’s too late…

“After lunch we returned to the house, where Jerry Graham indulged me by answering questions about his life, on video.

Little did either of us realize that he would be dead of a sudden heart attack within 36 hours, that this encounter would be my final chance to learn details of his life that only he could reveal.

So as we approach Father’s Day, I urge everyone to sit down with their dads to record and preserve these personal stories for future generations.

Before it’s too late.

We live in an era unlike any other in history, where most of us now have a video camera in our pocket — the smartphone. Let’s use the tool to tell and preserve our stories.”

~Jefferson Graham, Tech Columnist at USA TODAY

All too often, this is a story I hear from people when talking about my business, creating personal history films. What’s more, often I hear they were PLANNING to “do something” with their loved ones’ stories, but they just haven’t gotten around to it.

This is part of the reason we developed StoryCatcher, to assist people in capturing video stories with their friends and family, anytime, anywhere; before it’s too late.

The value of having captured video stories is impossible to explain. It is something that those who have lost the opportunity can talk about quite a bit. That sparkle in his eye, the sound of her laughter and her voice, those questions they always meant to ask…

Some might view it morbid or crass to connect recording our loved ones’ stories with mortality. Frankly, I’ve found it’s one of the few things that gets people’s attention. We live in a culture and society that tends to operate as if we’re immortal; until we’re not.

I feel the value of presencing our mortality is so that we do take the time to love and connect with the important people in our lives NOW and not wait for that mystical, magical more convenient future moment, when all our “to do’s” are done and we’re ready. LIVE now, LOVE now. Enjoy your Father’s Day and honor the men who are Dad’s in your life, biological or not, by capturing a story or two with them on video…using StoryCatcher for iPhone, of course!

SC iPhone
Click to download StoryCatcher FREE version

Click to read Jefferson Graham’s full USA TODAY article

2014-02-16-AprilTo learn more about me and the work I do with people capturing life stories, visit the About page.

Urs and I would love to stay connected with you. If you’d like periodic inspiration, plus tips and tricks, on capturing and sharing life stories, please join our community by entering your information in the upper left area of this page. We never share your information. Also, please follow us on Twitter!

It’s an honor to be connected to you, thank you for visiting and for your interest in creating more love and connection in the world through capturing and sharing the stories of the people in your life.

How Valuable are Your Loved Ones’ Stories?

Download_on_the_App_Store_Badge_US-UK_135x40Recent happiness research says that children who know their family narrative exhibit more resilience and a stronger sense of love and belonging. Children unaware of their predecessors tend to be more challenged in these areas. It has been proved that our children benefit from knowing not only our triumphs, but also our struggles and how we persevered. This knowledge has deepened my commitment to reaching more people and making the process of capturing, saving and sharing one’s personal stories fun, engaging and something that is enriching to all.

A life story saved in a way that it can be passed on to future generations is the best gift anyone can leave for their children, grandchildren, and generations to come. It’s the most personal gift, the gift with the most meaning, the gift that only the storyteller can give.

Stories can be saved in print, audio, or video, but what I love about working in video is witnessing the essence of a person, seeing that sparkle in the eye, hearing the inflection of his voice, watching that moment when she recalls a joyful or poignant memory and the tears begin to well. Seeing that, capturing it on film . . . it’s irreplaceable.

Once those precious life moments are saved for all time and the family receives it—really understands the importance of what we have achieved . . . that’s priceless.

My client Michael Rosa deeply understood the value of the work a personal historian does and wants everyone to know why saving his mom’s story was important to him.

What would this mean to your loved ones to have their lives, their stories, their beliefs and blessings honored in this way? Don’t wait another day. You know how valuable YOUR loved one’s story is . . . don’t you?

S t o r y C a t c h e r | for iPhone is a fantastic family history storytelling tool and a way to get started saving and sharing the stories of your life and love.

photo: Urban Wallace, my grandfather, in one of his signature poses.

An app is born…

Download_on_the_App_Store_Badge_US-UK_135x40How the StoryCatcher app came to exist in the world and on the Apple App Store. I hope you enjoy this short video I created for you using StoryCatcher for iPhone, the video storytelling app that prompts you with family history questions to ask. Don’t miss some of the customer reviews posted below! Please leave a comment. Urs and I (the co-developers of StoryCatcher for iPhone) would absolutely love to hear from you!

“A must have! The beauty of this little app is its simplicity. As one who didn’t grow up with technology, I wondered if I could achieve the things that were described in the video – but I did, and without any problems. Adding captions and photos is easy. I can see this being used frequently to record those snippets of information and stories that often occur on an impromptu basis when you are unlikely to run and grab a video camera. I’m hoping to make use of this as my son approaches his 21st birthday to get friends of his to record 60 second memories and their old photos – some have known him since primary school. Then I’ll patch it all together for a birthday presentation. So if a (ahem) middle aged citizen can mange this, then anyone can. I’m hoping that they’ll launch it on iPad soon. Top marks for making it user friendly.” ~the latest ★★★★★ review posted on the Apple App Store by Kn23writer, a happy user in Australia. Thank you, Kn23writer!

“April, Got home, downloaded your app, and tried it out. Wow! It’s just like the original iMovie: simple, clean, and does the basics well. Kudos and huzzahs! It’s gonna be fun. Good demo, too. Best, Peter & Mary ps: The high rez version is very nice—displayed quite sharp full screen on my 27″ iMac.” ~Peter & Mary Farquhar, Professional Personal Historians at Tombo Media ~in a note received after a group demonstration for the NorCal Association of Personal Historians

Note: Search under “iPhone Apps” in the Apple App Store when on an iPad or iPad mini and you can successfully download and use your copy of StoryCatcher on that device.

If you feel moved to, we would greatly appreciate your positive review about StoryCatcher for iPhone on the Apple App Store!

Ocean’s Gate|Feb 2014

Download_on_the_App_Store_Badge_US-UK_135x40Capturing great stories with Blue Water Foundation

The Photos: Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Crew: 

The Blue Water Foundation was founded as an all-volunteer, nonprofit corporation dedicated to bringing the joys of sailing to San Francisco Bay Area inner city and at risk youth. In 1992 a group of sailors wanted to introduce San Francisco Bay Area young people to the joys of sailing.  Using volunteers’ boats, these sailors began to take small groups of middle school students sailing on San Francisco Bay. The response from students was so enthusiastic that soon, our informal excursions became regularly scheduled trips.  Now, through our programs over 10,000 young people have discovered the art of sailing, experienced success through teamwork and have had fun while exploring a maritime alternative to drugs, alcohol, and gangs. The name of the program for this sail is OCEAN’S GATE PROGRAM, referring to both the Golden Gate which leads to the oceans of the world and the open gate to the freedom of the seas that one can earn. Our motto: Wherever you are, the wind blows free!

www.bluewaterfoundation.org to donate, volunteer and learn more

Photo and video credits: by April Bell

Love stories

Download_on_the_App_Store_Badge_US-UK_135x40Today is the perfect day to share a story about love with those special someones in your life.

My absolute favorite love stories are the “how we met” stories, as seen above. They can be touching, funny, and even humbling. Sometimes they can be quite different, even though the story is being told from two people who shared the same experience. What I love about interviewing people and capturing their stories is that so often their loved ones say things like, “I never knew that!” or “I hadn’t heard that part of the story before!” Go ahead, surprise and delight yourself and the ones you love by capturing and sharing their love story today. Sharing stories with the people we love forages deeper bonds of love and connection. StoryCatcher can help. Here are some Interview Tips on love.

  • Who is the love of your life?
  • When did you first fall in love?
  • Do you remember your fist kiss?
  • Who was your first serious relationship with?
  • Do you believe in love at first sight?
  • What lessons have you learned from your relationships?

~Happy Big Love Day from StoryCatcher to you!

Photo credit: Coolm36 (Creative Commons)

Blue Water Foundation

Using StoryCatcher for iPhone

Download_on_the_App_Store_Badge_US-UK_135x40

click on an image below to pop out the gallery and view all the photos

Ocean’s Gate Program – January 2014

The Blue Water Foundation was founded as an all-volunteer, nonprofit corporation dedicated to bringing the joys of sailing to San Francisco Bay Area inner city and at risk youth. In 1992 a group of sailors wanted to introduce San Francisco Bay Area young people to the joys of sailing.  Using volunteers’ boats, these sailors began to take small groups of middle school students sailing on San Francisco Bay. The response from students was so enthusiastic that soon, our informal excursions became regularly scheduled trips.  Now, through our programs over 10,000 young people have discovered the art of sailing, experienced success through teamwork and have had fun while exploring a maritime alternative to drugs, alcohol, and gangs. The name of the program for this sail is OCEAN’S GATE PROGRAM, referring to both the Golden Gate which leads to the oceans of the world and the open gate to the freedom of the seas that one can earn. Our motto: Wherever you are, the wind blows free!.

www.bluewaterfoundation.org to donate, volunteer and learn more