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Genealogy Specific Photo Needs, Wants, Tips and Tricks

Contents of this page:

Comparing faces

Create thumbnails for genealogy software like Family Tree Maker

Preserve Newsprint

Salvaging a plain paper photo

 Tips for taking photographs of photographs



Thumbnails for software. All you need is a head shot for your records for obvious reason, memorizing their faces, eliminating confusion. If you know how to do this great! if you don't or don't want to let us know. If you have a lot to do, you may want to give us a call. Just scan your group photos and we will do the tedious work of cropping individuals, so you don't have to.  All you do is rename the files.  




Comparing Faces 

Often I am asked to thumbnail individuals that are suspected of being the same person and it is helpful to compare features in this manner. Some people even have me create large 8x10 thumbnails image on transparency and stack them to compare specific features like moles and earlobes. 

There is a free program called Picasa by Google that has facial recognition. You can train the program to recognize known faces then introduce a face you suspect the program should identify it. It would be interesting if it pulled in a face that you were not aware could possibly be the same person. Download it for free here 


ring faces



Photographs of a Photograph


Tips For Taking Photos


These are samples (taken by amateur photographers) of photos taken with a digital camera, (not scanned photos).  You don't have to be a professional, as long as you do the following:

Don't Shake... you must stabilize the camera while shooting.  Professionals use tripods, you can find something to set the camera on. Hold your breathe when press the button. When you can't put the camera on a stable surface, use your body like a tripod by anchoring your elbows to your body.

Have good lighting so you don't have to use flash, avoiding the reflection of the flash or shoot at a very slight angle, until the reflection is on a non-crucial area of the photograph.  Take another shot from a different angle so that the glare is the oppose non-crucial area this time.  Then send us both images and we will recreate one image from one without the glare. Take many shots, some are bound to be good. When taking photos of people who are sitting or children, take the photos at eye level.  Be sure to check that everyone looks their best, (hair out of eyes, maybe glasses off to prevent glare from glasses or where to stand so that their in the shot) and be aware of unwanted items in the background.

Don't forget to include yourself, try using a tri-pod and timer.

Scrapbookers! don't forget to let kids take pictures at events too.  Shoot quiet moments when the kids are winding down.

Especially during the Holidays make your photos special by shooting by candle light.


Photographs copied onto plain paper.

This newspaper photo was completely recreated to get back the photograph appearance.


plain paper photo



Genealogy Tip

If you are having difficulty reading a document there are two things you can try:

 If you have the ability to scan an image, you have the advantage of zooming in and you can turn it into a positive to  make out the writing. 



Newspaper Print


This is a good way to preserve newspaper, you don't have to restore it, just copy it to photo paper. 












This is possible if you live in Southern California, we scan them while you wait. 

  You may have gone to visit a relative far away and they proudly showed you pictures of your ancestors and they won't let you have them! If they had a scanner there would not be a problem, but if they do not, what then?  We have heard of people going to the nearest Kinko's and copying them all. When they got home they called us. We were able to turn photos on paper (that will fade) into quality photos.  Check out your local Kinko's they may scan them for you and put them on CD which is the better of the two.  Some people took photos of the pictures on the wall. That can work too! Below are samples and tips.

Some Tips For The Genealogist


These are samples (taken by amateur photographers) of photos taken sitting on a dresser. You don't have to be a professional, as long as you do the following:


Find a way to stabilize the camera while shooting, put the camera down on something.  Professionals use tripods.

Have good lighting so you don't have to use flash, avoiding the reflection of the flash or shoot at a very slight angle, until you don't see the reflection. Notice even the reflection of the flash can be removed if this is all you have. If you can't avoid glare, just take to good shots with the glare on different locations on the photo and we can use both image to get one without the glare.

Take many pictures, at different angles, different lighting conditions, different camera settings, this way some are bound to be good.











The photo on the left below, was on Paper.  Depending on the kind of paper used, these types photos may have lines, dots and fibers throughout.  The same with Photos from Newspapers, books and magazines.  They all can be improved.






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