You've heard the old saw, "A picture is worth a thousand words." That can work both ways. It may take a thousand words to explain what's happening in a picture. A combination of pictures and story is ideal. Most people think of adding photographs to life stories, but there are several other kinds of pictures that add interest and value to the story. In The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing, I suggest including maps and floor plans with your stories.
For example, I'm working on a compilation of stories about the first six years of my life. For most of that time we lived in the same house. I will include this floor plan for that house, the best I can remember.
I drew this on the computer, but graph paper and a pencil would have been lots easier! It isn't exactly right, even yet, but you can see that it was quite a small and simple house. When I pair this with photos like the one below that shows the front of the house, the fireplace, or other spots in the house, the whole story takes on more depth.
I may also include map scans of the neighborhood and Albuquerque. I could include shots of flowers we had in the yard. I could include all sorts of things, both written and visual. Last September I did a post that included a crayon drawing of the back yard as I remembered it.
How do you make decisions about what to include? The same way you decide what written details to include. Decide what the purpose of your story is, and what focus you want it to have. If I want to focus on the logistics of learning to roller skate, I may want to find a picture of the sort of adjustable, clamp-on skates I had. If I'm more focused on the sensations of wild wobbling, the heaviness of the pillow my mother strapped around my boney tush to ease my tumbles, the cutting pain of the tight ankle strap, and my stubborn determination to stick it out in spite of the skinned knees, I will skip the picture.
I hope I've given you some new ideas for illustrating your stories, and a little guidance in deciding which are the most appropriate for your purposes.
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal