Dispatches from the Moth · Posted On: May 10, 2022

Storytelling School with The Moth: Monthly Storytelling Activity Lesson #49

by The Moth Staff

Lesson #49: Photographic Memories: “The Home Perm: Teenage Rebellion Never Looked so Good!” - Jason Schommer


This month’s blog was guest authored by Emily Couch. Emily is the Producer of Special Projects & Radio at The Moth, which means she works behind the scenes supporting the organization’s artistic staff – including the authors of How to Tell a Story, which is in bookstores now!

How often have you heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” and taken it to mean that something is better conveyed by an image than by a written or verbal explanation? And, sure -- maybe sometimes that’s true. But also a picture can be worth a thousand words in that one photograph can inspire a whole story.

I have learned a great deal about my friends and family through looking at their photo albums (both physical and digital) and listening to my loved ones talk about the pictures. I was able to go on my parents’ cross-country road trip with them – even though I wasn’t even conceived yet! I learned what my best friend from college was like in high school – and wondered if we would have been as close if we’d met 4 years earlier. I met my grandfather – who died before I was born – through the photos of him and accompanying tales from my mother. 

For my own stories, I love when people look at a picture and ask “Oh, what is this?” or “Where were you?” – for me, it’s a lot easier to respond to that than something broad like: “Tell me about your summer.” With the latter, I will probably say “It was good, I spent a lot of time in nature.” But with the former, you will hear ALL ABOUT how I was totally unprepared for that hike I went on in June and was completely dehydrated when that photo was taken and almost didn’t make it back down the mountain, but I learned a lot about how far I can push my own limits and so on and so forth!

If you’re having trouble coming up with a story, break out that photo album! It is filled with pictures that could be worth thousands of your words. 

Our storyteller this month is Jason Schommer – a fixture on the stage at Twin Cities StorySLAMs – first as a storyteller, and now as a regular host. In this story, Jason looks back on the series of events that lead to a new hairstyle, one immortalized forever in his school photo. 

This month’s Storytelling School story is:

“The Home Perm: Teenage Rebellion Never Looked So Good!” by Jason Schommer

  • Watch the video

After you’ve watched and read the story, you can do the following activities:


Look at Jason’s school photo:

  • Discuss any (or all!) of the following questions:
    • Was the photo what you imagined it to be? Why or why not? Were there descriptions that Jason used in the story that made your vision of the haircut more, or less accurate?
    • Imagine you saw the photo before listening to the story. 
    1.  How might your perception of the story have changed?
    2. What would you have thought the story behind the photo was if you never heard the story? 


Now it’s time to share your own photo-based stories. 

  • Sit down with friends and/or family. Ask everyone to bring 1 photo that is meaningful to them. 

  • Have everyone take turns telling the story behind their photo.

    • Here are some prompts to help you get started:

      • What is the picture of?

      • Why is this photo meaningful to you?

      • When/where was it taken?

      • What was happening in your life at that time?

      • Did you change in some way after the photo was taken?

Share this post with a friend!

And check back the second Tuesday of every month for another story.

Storyteller bio

Jason Schommer is a storyteller and stand-up comedian who has performed in numerous story slams and regularly hosts The Moth in the Twin Cities.  He has been featured on The Moth Radio Hour and Podcast multiple times. Jason adores his niece and nephews and spends way too much time watching raccoon videos on TikTok.

The Moth Education Program works with young people and educators to build community through storytelling workshops, performances and innovative resources. To learn more, visit themoth.org/education

The Moth Education Program is made possible by generous support from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the Kate Spade New York Foundation, Alice Gottesman, and The Paul & Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation.

Additional program support is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the New York State Council on the Arts, ConEdison, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.