Category Archives: Photos

Get Help Now With These Photo Restoration Services.

I find restoring a damaged photograph to its original splendor satisfying work.  I’ve  been using ArcSoft PhotoStudio 5 which came bundled with my Canon Pixma color printer. There is a newer version PhotoStudio 6 for US$80. Click here for details. It’s not as professional or advanced as Adobe Photoshop but it’s easy to use and does the trick.

You can have someone else restore your photos if you’re not a “Do-It-Yourselfer”. I’ve assembled a partial list of companies that provide those services. I haven’t tried any of them so I can’t vouch for their quality. Prices vary depending on the amount of work required. If you use a restoration company and are pleased with their work, let me know in the comment box below.

For those of you who are serious about doing your own restoration, I’ve listed two online courses and a couple of books to get you started.

Photo Restoration Services

  • PicFix Provide price quotes within 24 hrs.

Photo Restoration Courses

  • Photo restoration basics: preserve your family photos. Free, online classes, from HP available 24/7. “Would you like to restore your old, faded photos, edit new photos or learn how to safely store and display your current ones? Learn why photos deteriorate, and how you can rescue them by scanning and making quick fixes using Microsoft® Windows Live Photo Gallery, Snapfish and touchscreen printers. You’ll also learn advanced retouching techniques in Adobe Photoshop Elements and get tips for printing, displaying and backing up your photos.”
  • “Helping you learn, master, and apply digital tools and techniques.”  Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals Author: Deke McClelland

Photo Restoration Books

  • Adobe Photoshop Restoration & Retouching (3rd Edition). “Whether you’re a professional photographer or the family shutterbug, you can’t afford to miss the third edition of the now classic Photoshop Restoration & Retouching. Katrin Eismann and co-author Wayne Palmer have reviewed, updated, and revised every single technique to address the most important features in Adobe Photoshop CS2.”

Photo by Mike Richardson

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How to Bring Your Digital Photos to Life.

photo story 3

I’m constantly on the outlook for innovative ways to record life stories. I recently came across Microsoft Photo Story 3 for Windows XP. It’s free but you must be running an “activated” version of either: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Media Center Edition, or Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. You can download Photo  Story 3 here.

I think this is a great program for honoring  special events  such as wedding anniversaries, graduation or retirement.  Here’s a brief summary of what it can do:

Create slideshows using your digital photos. With a single click, you can touch-up, crop, or rotate pictures. It’s that easy! Add stunning special effects, soundtracks, and your own voice narration to your photo stories. Then, personalize them with titles and captions. Small file sizes make it easy to send your photo stories in an e-mail. Watch them on your TV, a computer, or a Windows Mobile–based portable device. (source Microsoft)

For a Beginner’s Guide to Photo Story 3 click here.

If you’ve used Microsoft Photo Story 3 for capturing some aspect of a life story, I’d love to hear from you. Tell me how you used it and what you think of the the program.

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Celebrate A Special Anniversary with A Photo History.

photo montageIf you want  photo tips,  DIY photo projects or news on the latest camera gear,  go to Photojojo. It’s a great site. One of their ideas, a photo history, is a novel approach for personal historians to consider. For a special anniversary or birthday, a photo history of the year the event occurred would be a wonderful gift.

Start by going to Google Image Search or Flickr and search for images from the year in question. Also look for events that happened in that year. Find out what cars people were driving. Who were the movie stars? What were the newest kitchen appliances? These will give you leads in your search for other photos.

After you have a good selection of pictures, you can organize them in any number of ways such as a Photo Book, Photo Blog, or Photo Collage.

Here’s a small sample of Flickr photos from 1939, the year my parents were married:

Phoenix car dealer, 1939

Phoenix car dealer, 1939

Gone With The Wind, 1939 - Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh

Gone With The Wind, 1939 - Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh

1939 Kodak Brownie

1939 Kodak Brownie

Collage photo by Cactus

Gone With The Wind Flickr photo Michael Heilemann

Kodak Brownie photo by Zoë

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A Poignant Glimpse Into The Heartland of America.

then and now

Dawn - Then and Now (not from The Oxford Project)

Thanks to my colleague Larry Lehmer at Passing It On for alerting me to this wonderful story. In 1984 Peter Feldstein put up a handmade  sign saying he wanted to photograph everyone in the town of  Oxford, Iowa (pop. 673). He converted an abandoned storefront on Main Street into a makeshift studio.The project was a success. He capture 670 of the townsfolk. Twenty-one years later he returned to re-photograph the same people. Some had died and some had moved away but many were still living in Oxford. This time he brought a writer who told the participants they could talk about anything in their lives so long as they told “the truth”. The result is a poignant and spellbinding book, The Oxford Project, which the Philadelphia Inquirer described as: ... a still-life documentary, a narrative about change. This huge, handsome book, with its gatefold photographs, its maps and memories, offers a fascinating piece of contemporary history, a treasure of social and cultural commentary. You can read more about the Project by clicking here.

The Oxford Project made me think how we can be far more creative with the way in which we use family photos in our life story endeavors. Like The Oxford Project, you could try to find two photos of the same family member taken in the same location but separated by a significant span of time. You could then arrange these photos side by side to show the passage of years. Or you might create a photo block made up of all the photos of a family member arranged from the earliest baby pictures through to their adult years.

You could also show the changes in your community by finding an early archival photo of a particular location and then taking a picture of the same view today. Putting the photos side by side will provide a dramatic visual telling of the changes that have come about. You can find some wonderful examples here from the Then and Now group on Flickr.

Let me know what creative photo techniques  you’ve used in telling your family story. Leave a comment below and share your ideas with others.

Photo by Michael Summers

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Manage and Share Your Family Photos with Flickr.

flickrThanks to Denise Olson at Family Matters for pointing out the value of Flickr for family history projects. If you don’t already know, Flickr is a web based application which allows you to upload, edit, archive and share your photographs  with others.  The basic account is simple to set up and free. For a modest $25 a year, you can get a Flickr Pro account with unlimited space.  I discovered Flickr when I was writing my mother’s life story. It was  perfect for uploading her photographs and organizing them into groups. I could even edit and clean up some of the more damaged pictures. To me,  Flickr’s great value  is that it provides a secure place to keep your treasured photos. You no longer have to fear that should your hard drive crash, all your photos will be wiped out.

Of value too are Flickr groups:

Groups are a way for people to come together around a common interest, be it a love of small dogs, a passion for food, a recent wedding or an interest in exploring photographic techniques. And if you can’t find a group which interests you, it’s super-easy to start your own.

Groups can either be public, public (invite only) or completely private. Every group has a pool for sharing photos and videos and a discussion board for talking.

Flickr has 36 million users and an assortment of  groups of particular interest to personal historians.  Here’s a sample:

  • Old Photos has more than 4,600 members and over 47,000 photos in the collection.
  • 100 Years Old has more than 4,000 members and over 9,000 photos – each more than 100 years old.
  • Scrapbook has 1,754 members and close to 17,000 photos.

If you want to organize and manage your family, check out Flickr. You won’t be disappointed.

Photo by Mohammad Tajer

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What Do You Do With All Your Old Family Photos?

My great uncle George's daughters, Fan & Kit

My great uncle George's daughters, Fan & Kit

My mom is ninety. Her mind is clear but she has congestive heart failure and we both know that her time is limited. With her death goes the knowledgeable custodian of  several boxes of old sepia colored photographs of relatives long passed. With a sense of urgency we’ve embarked on a methodical recording and preserving of these photos. If you’re in a similar situation you might find what we’re doing of some value.

  • Step one: Mom takes a pencil (not a pen) and on the back of each photo she  lightly writes  index numbers  starting with 001, the first photo. In a notebook she  writes down the number. Beside it, as best she can recall, she indicates: (a) the names of the people in the photo and their family connection, (b) where the photo was taken, (c)  the occasion (i.e., birthday, wedding, picnic, travels etc.) and (d) the date. On the next photo she writes 002 and proceeds to write down the details as she did for the first photo. At this point we’re not  worrying about sorting the photos thematically – that can come later.
  • Step two: As Mom completes a set of photos I take them and scan them into my computer and carefully include the index number and description. We are now about half way through her collection. After I’ve scanned the photos I place them in an archival, acid free box. You can obtain these through such companies as Archival Methods, Carr McLean or The Container Store.
  • Step three: We haven’t got to this stage yet. But once I’ve made a digital copy of each photo there are a number of presentation options available – one that I’m considering is a Photo Book. I’ll most likely group the photos thematically and include the  description that my mom’s written for each photo. There are a number of web based publishers like  Blurb that specialize in Photo Books.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get those old family photos out of storage and  begin the work of archiving them. Let me know what you’re doing to preserve your family photos. Love to hear from you!

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What Will Happen to The Pictures You Take Today?


The following poem, whose author is unknown, speaks to the fate of all of us if we don’t take the time to tell the stories behind our photographs.

Strangers In A Box

Come, look with me inside this drawer,
In this box I’ve often seen,
At the pictures, black and white,
Faces proud, still, and serene.

I wish I knew the people,
These strangers in the box,
Their names and all their memories,
Are lost among my socks.

I wonder what their lives were like,
How did they spend their days?
What about their special times?
I’ll never know their ways.

If only someone had taken time,
To tell, who, what, where, and when,
These faces of my heritage,
Would come to life again.

Could this become the fate,
Of the pictures we take today?
The faces and the memories,
Someday to be passed away?

Take time to save your stories,
Seize the opportunity when it knocks,
Or someday you and yours,
Could be strangers in the box.

How To Use Photos Creatively In Your Storytelling

When I find an outstanding blog or article I like to share my discovery.

I was impressed by a guest post I found today and wanted to share it with you. It’s called Storytelling With Photos written by Kim O’Neill Screen. She has her own site called Good Stock which offers high quality printing and binding services.

Kim describes several creative ways that photos can be used to enhance your family story. Whether you’re new to doing a personal history or an old hand, I think you’ll find Kim’s article worth reading.

from Story Telling With Photos

from Storytelling With Photos