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How it works / FAQ


We make the recording in the comfort of the interviewee's own home. The whole process is unhurried and usually takes a few hours. Our digital recorder is unobtrusive, so it's easy to have a conversation and forget it's there.

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"I was a bit nervous before the interview. I thought I'd get a grilling like on the Today programme, but Claire just encouraged me to relax and reminisce, so I found much to my surprise, I enjoyed myself!" 
Dawn Penso


Before the recording is arranged, Claire will help you to prepare, so that you can make the most of your portrait. This involves thinking about what you’d like to cover and writing down a few bullet points to jog your memory, and asking other members of your family what favourite anecdotes they'd like included.

Alternatively, you can just leave it to Claire to ask the right questions and not worry about it beforehand. Indeed, this spontaneous approach can be joyfully fresh and equally successful, as any awkward bits are removed afterwards, during the editorial process.

You may also like to think about any music you'd like to include in the recording, or whether you’d like to read a favourite poem, or us to find a special sound. This can add great colour and personality to the portrait.


Once the recording is complete, we cut and shape it all together to produce a sympathetic, insightful and enjoyable portait. Our editorial direction aims to be affirming and celebratory, while honoring difficulties and challenges the interviewee may have experienced.

We use professional editing software to ensure a structured and seamless result that is interesting and flows well.

  • When should I have a portrait made?
    Every age is a good age: our youngest client is three and a half, our oldest ninety five. While most of our clients are above retirement age, quite a few shorter Portraits in Sound are made for eighteenth or twenty-first birthdays. If you're older than that, it's best to do it while your memory is still sharp!
  • What about Businesses, Charities or other Communities?"
    We can record the testimonies or memories of your members, alumni, colleagues or clients for posterity, to use in archives or web sites. The interviews can also be transcribed and collated for inclusion in written research. A number of extended anecdotal memories of the Second World War have been given to the Imperial War Museum and the BBC Sound Archive, and we are contributing to the British Library's Sound Directory all the interviews that we have permission to share. We can collect recordings of individuals for any kind of organization or community. For an example, listen to the sound montage that we made for St Mungo's website, to help advertise their 'Outside In' programme for the homeless. Or listen to Terry Walsh, in the first interview that Dulwich College commissioned us to make for their archives - and in this case also as a retirement present.
  • It's a good idea, but why don't I do it myself?"
    People often feel awkward being recorded re-telling old stories about their life, by a family member or good friend who knows much of it already. They may find it easier to talk candidly to someone who is there independently. Also, an interview is something of a performance, and a professional interviewer will know how to bring it to life and ask the right questions, to create an interesting and enjoyable result. We have the skills and experience to do this, and to cut and shape it all together to produce a sympathetic and insightful portrait. Lastly, we have the editing and production tools to produce a seamless result on a professionally printed CD and memory stick.
  • What is the understanding regarding privacy?
    We respect your privacy. We will not make public any recording or text of interviews (or any extract) without full consent from the interviewee, their legal guardian or estate. 'Make public' includes any public broadcast, or publication on this website or elsewhere (unless it was explicitly recorded for such purpose). All the interviewees, whose recordings are on this website, have consented. We have also passed on some of our recordings to the Imperial War Museum and the BBC sound archives, similarly with consent. Please also see our copyright page.
  • Copyright
    Portraits in Sound retain the copyright on text, photographs and recorded interviews. We will only give permission to use recorded, written or visual material with the interviewee's written consent, (in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1988).
  • Terms & Conditions
    Details on this website are for information purposes only. For further information, please contact Claire Peyton Jones
  • Acknowledgements
    Website Design: Gene Closuit Photographs: Miranda Peyton Jones Graphic Design: Owen Peyton Jones and Gene Closuit
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