Tips for Recording a Story

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

Once you've chosen a story to tell, it's easy to record it with the StoryCombs app. Select the album where you'd like to save your story (or create a new one), and tap the yellow hexagon to add a narrated photo.

If you're recording a loved one, make sure you are signed into their StoryCombs account to record the story. This will ensure that their name is listed as the story narrator in the album. If they don't have an account, you can easily create one on their behalf. Make sure you log out of your own StoryCombs account, then tap SIGN UP to create an account for your loved one.

To help you create a great narrative, we’ve listed a few storytelling tips below. Whether you’re recording yourself or someone else, take your time on these steps and you’ll find the sessions that follow are much easier. Keep in mind that some of these tips are only relevant for video narration. If you're recording audio narration, you can ignore the visual tips.

Remember, there is no wrong way to tell a story. After all, it's yours, in your voice, so it's important to look and sound like yourself. The most valuable part of any recording will be your face, voice, and the mannerisms that make you you. Do your best to relax. Smile, laugh, and make facial expressions while you tell your stories.

The Day Before Recording Test

There will be some trial and error involved in this test, but once you’ve found the perfect location you can go back again and again without having to test each time!

Find a quiet place.

Choose a quiet room and shut down all programs and devices that make sounds. Take a test recording to sample the sound in the room and remove anything that creates background noise (fans, AC units, etc.). What seems a quiet environment may not be that quiet after you have recorded it. Be aware that rooms with high ceilings or wood floors may echo, so listen for that as well.

The right lighting.

Cameras use light to make an image, so make sure you have a bright light source like a large window or a lamp. If the light is behind the storyteller, it will cast a shadow. Instead, the storyteller should sit next to the window so their face is lighted. Test this by turning on your camera to see what you look like. You may have to move a few times or bring an extra lamp into the room to find the light that looks just right.

Choose a background.

When testing for noise and light, pay attention to what the walls look like behind where you’ll be sitting. If there is a lot of clutter in the background, it may be distracting for a viewer. You’ll want to create separation or find a cleaner spot. If possible, move several feet away from the nearest wall. This will help you stand out on the video, as the background will look blurry. If you don’t have space to spread out, be sure to find a plain wall to use as a background.

Test your audio.

Take a video or audio recording of yourself speaking. Listen to the recording to hear how you sound. You may have to speak louder or softer than usual to optimize how you sound on the recording. If you don’t love the sound of your own voice, don’t be surprised or discouraged. Trying to make your voice sound different will sound strange to those who know you best.

Tips for the Day of Recording

Dress for the camera.

Make sure you (or the loved one you're recording) are comfortable. The best on-camera clothing is a solid color, soft material that doesn’t make noise when you move. This is not the day to wear corduroy pants or a windbreaker. Also, don’t wear jewelry that moves and makes noise. Choose a primary color instead of patterns or prints. Jewel tones and pastels are better than white for the camera.

Turn off phone notifications.

Turn your phone or tablet to, 'Do Not Disturb' so that calls and notifications don’t interrupt the recording.

Frame your shot.

Place your phone or tablet on a surface that doesn’t vibrate, at eye level. Consider purchasing a tripod with a shutter remote. This will keep your phone perfectly still, and allow you to start and stop recording with the remote. There are many low cost options available on Amazon.

Frame the storyteller just right or left of center on the screen. Leave some space above your head so it isn’t cut off when you shift in your seat. In fact, practice shifting to different positions so you can see what it looks like.

Find a helper.

Many hands make light work when it comes to recording narration. If you are recording yourself, have a loved one that puts you at ease operate the camera so you’re able to concentrate on storytelling. We recommend giving them a copy of your outline so they can help give you cues if necessary. Or, you can ask them to interview you for the recording. You may even want them to join you on camera. Telling the story to a sibling, child or grandchild may be easier than talking to the camera. And, they may have questions or added details to make the narration that much better.

Addressing the camera.

If you're comfortable looking directly into the camera, then do so. Your audience will feel like you’re talking to them. However, most are not quite at home on-camera. In that case, it is perfectly OK to look just off-camera.

If you’ve found a helper, they can be the one you speak to while telling the story. Have them sit next to the camera or right next to you if that makes you more comfortable. You can have them stand directly behind the camera, but this tends to look odd for a viewer because your eyes will travel over the top of the camera.

Find what makes you comfortable.

With each recording, you will find what puts you or a loved one at ease, and that’s the most important thing you can do! Find the setting the allows you or a loved one to be yourself. Smile, laugh, and make facial expressions while you tell your stories. Remember, you’re talking to loved ones and descendants who may never hear your voice for themselves. Take advantage of this opportunity and make it count!

Up Next

  • Get Your Family Involved: Tips to include loved ones in your StoryCombs storytelling journey


The StoryCombs team created this blog to encourage, inform, and inspire your storytelling journey. Try the StoryCombs app to curate a lasting legacy through narrated photos. We believe your family’s narrative is precious and deserves a safe place to live and grow.

If you found this article helpful or have questions, please let us know by email ( or in the comment section. We can’t wait to hear from you!

For more storytelling tutorials and inspiration, visit our homepage and blog:


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