Read First: Tips for working with photos

Photo Instructions

So you’ve gathered photos to include in your history…  what now?

·         Categorize them by time period or by the module topics

·         Select the most meaningful photos for each category and group them in an envelope or box with the category label

·         If you do not know the names and dates for any of the selected photos, seek that information from other family members

·         Gather important family and historical documents

If you’re unsure which photos to include, refer to the suggestions with assignments in each module. While photos add immeasurably to your personal history, not all photos are worth a thousand words. A photo may have meaning to you because you remember it being taken and the circumstances. But if it’s poor quality or doesn’t tell a story, it may not have meaning for others.

On the other hand, if a photo is important to you, by all means write its story and include it! Then it will become important to your posterity, also. Look for compelling photos and tell the stories that go with them.

For each photo, label (write on the back AND save as part of file name electronically) with the following:

·         First and last names of those pictured

·         Date (as specific as possible)

·         Location (as specific as possible)


Scanning Instructions

As you work through the modules, assignments include scanning the photos you have gathered. Desktop scanners usually work quite well and are more than adequate if you follow these scanning instructions. Especially if you plan to print your history, these instructions are very important.

·         Scan photos at 300 dpi.

·         Set target of 8×10 if your scanning software allows.

·         Never enlarge your scanned photos within your page layout program. You can decrease size, but quality will be unacceptable if you enlarge.

·         IF you plan to print your manuscript in color or share it electronically, scan in color.

·         IF you plan to print your history in black and white, scan as grayscale.

·         Scan as jpg format.

Remember that other documents can also be very meaningful as part of your life story. Scan them using the same instructions for photos. Consider:

A.    Official records (birth, marriage, death certificates, diplomas, etc.)

B.    Newspaper articles

C.   Yearbooks

D.   Meaningful receipts

E.    Correspondence- special letters, telegrams


Wish I had a picture of that 1967 Mustang I used to have…

As you write your history, you may find yourself talking about a subject for which you WISH you had a picture- a particular car, or a wringer washing machine, or even a historic home. You might search online to see if there is a picture suitable for including in your history to illustrate your subject. The Internet is a great resource, with many free pictures available!

And you can still take pictures…

If you don’t have recent pictures of you and your family, now is the time to get out that camera! They don’t have to be professional to include in your history. Have your children and grandchildren or other family members send you recent photos, or- even better- get them together for a photo shoot with you. You can save these electronic photos and save the scanning step. Make sure you label as instructed above for inclusion in your tale.

Maybe you have an heirloom quilt, or a special award, or a vintage childhood toy that is precious…

While you can’t include objects in your life book, you certainly can include pictures of them. Take a few minutes to snap pictures of those meaningful “artifacts” to add a valuable visual when you tell your tale. Again, you can save these electronic photos and save the scanning step. Make sure you label as instructed above for inclusion in your tale.