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Family photographs
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reader50
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Dec 18, 2017, 01:27 AM
 
I got the bug to digitize all the old family photos. This is a good time of year for it, with relatives within reach.

Scanning is the first step, but you also need to ID the people within, determine the dates & locations, and possibly the occasions. If you wait until your parents are gone, this becomes a lot harder. At least do it while you still have aunts/uncles from your parents' generation.

General advice - tie your parents to chairs until they fully label the backs of all print photos. Threaten to write them out of your will if need be. Consider torture. If you don't fill in that info before their generation is gone, you may end up throwing out the old pics. They're pictures of strangers.

note: this discussion started in another thread. Consolidated and updated for the modern netizen.
( Last edited by reader50; Dec 21, 2017 at 01:13 PM. )
     
Thorzdad
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Dec 18, 2017, 08:18 AM
 
Oy...I hear you about the photos. We had no clue the size of my mother's cache of photos until she developed dementia and subsequently died. I have a large Rubbermaid tub full of photos, some going back almost 100 years, of people I have no clue about.

I have no idea what to do with them, but I can't bring myself to simply toss them out. They're history, of a sort. And, I don't care what anyone says, looking at a scan on a screen just doesn't come anywhere close to the impact holding the actual physical image in your hand does. That photo of people (unknown though they may be) is alive in a way a scan on a screen never will be. ymmv, obviously.
     
reader50  (op)
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Dec 18, 2017, 12:55 PM
 
Scan them all. I do 600dpi for photos, 300 for the backs (if anything is written or printed) and 300 for letters. On the pics, have a vacuum cleaner handy with a soft brush head. You need to vacuum the scan bed and face of the photo before every scan. At 600 dpi, dust will be visible unless you zap it every time, especially against dark points on the pics.

It's not hopeless. Check with aunts / uncles, and next check cousins. They're often visiting at this time of year. As photos are usually divided, someone may have another pic from a set, and thus recognize a face.

Build a family tree in parallel with the scans. Many photos are labeled in relative fashion "Me with Mom", where you have to convert to real names. I use MacFamilyTree ($60), currently on sale for half price in the app store ($30). There are free packages like Gramps, but I found the UI confusing when I tested it, and decided a paid version was worth it. It also integrates FamilySearch, an open genealogy DB where people collaborate (see below).

After scanning, you can try a sub to ancestry.com (or similar service - see wikipedia) where they use worldwide census records to offer family tree info for everyone. So you can fill in the tree. As people upload scans of the older members to genealogy sites, you can pull up pics for many of your ancestors. Actually pics that were divided by previous generations, often from the same sets you have pics from. Match a few annotated pics against yours, and a bunch of faces can now be ID'd.
( Last edited by reader50; Dec 21, 2017 at 12:43 PM. )
     
reader50  (op)
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Dec 19, 2017, 02:52 AM
 
Forgot to mention, scan the backs even if they only have printing codes on them. For example, Polaroids all have a production code on the back. The production code gives the manufacturing month & year for the film. (code key - usually you want the SX70 Land Film key at the end of the PDF) Film with identical codes are part of the same batch, probably purchased at the same time. As film should be used within a year, the pics will have been taken 1-11 months (usually 2-6) after manufacture. If you can guess the time of year from the subject matter, you can determine the date within a couple months.

Early Kodak color prints have the printing date on the back in red or (later) in black. Earlier black & white prints sometimes have the printing date on the front, in the border. As print sizes changed with time, pics with the same size were likely taken within a few years of each other.

I've used clues like the above to classify a bunch. Then if a relative IDs a face in one, I can match it in the related pics.
( Last edited by reader50; Dec 21, 2017 at 12:30 PM. )
     
andi*pandi
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Dec 19, 2017, 11:11 AM
 
Think we should put this convo in the lounge, some good advice!
     
Thorzdad
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Dec 19, 2017, 03:11 PM
 
I'm scanning as much as I can, when I can, but the idea of trashing the originals just isn't something I can contemplate. And, I don't entirely trust digital storage. Not long-term, anyway.
( Last edited by reader50; Dec 21, 2017 at 12:51 PM. )
     
reader50  (op)
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Dec 19, 2017, 03:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
Think we should put this convo in the lounge, some good advice!
Good idea. Especially at this time of year. I'll add some reference links.

Originally Posted by Thorzdad View Post
I'm scanning as much as I can, when I can, but the idea of trashing the originals just isn't something I can contemplate. And, I don't entirely trust digital storage. Not long-term, anyway.
I actually don't suggest tossing your originals after scanning, but I do plan to offload them on my siblings. Let them fight for who gets which. I'll practice good backups, which take up less space in the fire safe.

Once they're all scanned, a laptop and HDMI adapter lets you put them on the local TV. In a couple hours, you can run every uncertain photo past a relative, and take notes. I'm doing that, then integrating the metadata into Photos later.
( Last edited by reader50; Dec 21, 2017 at 01:27 PM. )
     
reader50  (op)
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Dec 21, 2017, 01:29 PM
 
Posts consolidated and moved to the Lounge. I added links and edited out all criminal references.
     
reader50  (op)
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Dec 21, 2017, 02:17 PM
 
Another tip for your old photos that no one recognizes. Try doing a reverse image search. Go to images.google.com and click on the camera icon in the search field. It lets you upload a scan, and see if it's posted anywhere else on the web. A distant relative may have posted it, along with annotations.

If the police or a newspaper ever posted that pic, there will definitely be annotations.
( Last edited by reader50; Dec 21, 2017 at 02:33 PM. )
     
subego
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Dec 21, 2017, 02:30 PM
 
Wanted to pass along these are made for getting dust off photographs, negatives, etc.




Search for “blower brush”.
     
Face Ache
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Dec 21, 2017, 07:02 PM
 
Distant relatives contacted me through my tree on ancestry.com and supplied lots of family photos as well as ID'ing unknown relatives in my pics.
     
   
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