Genealogy: Photographing photos

Photographing photosBarry J. Ewell

For over 40 years I have used the camera to capture the lives of my family and friends.  The camera has been a very important tool in my professional career in public relations and advertising.  I first started with a film camera and spent hundreds of wonderful/fun hours in a dark room developing and printing my on prints. Since the late 90’s I have used the digital camera extensively in to aid in my genealogical research in places such as local courthouses, libraries, genealogical societies, family cemeteries, and long-ago home sites and the homes of those who have a portion of the family record. The following is the process I use with my digital camera to photograph photos. Best shots are captured using a mobile studio set-up (better lighting with copy stand):

  1. Mount your camera on its stand, in a shooting position.
  2. Use a white sheet of paper/copy stand.
  3. If you are using a cookie sheet as your platform, place your photo in its position and anchor it with magnets.
  4. Select the camera’s macro mode if necessary.
  5. Zoom in so photo is properly framed.
  6. Check to make sure the focus is clear and sharp.
  7. Press the shutter. If you are using the camera’s self-timer, set the timer and press the shutter.
  8. View the picture on the LCD and zoom in; check for the proper focus, exposure (brightness and contrast).
    1. Make sure you don’t see any reflections, hot spots, etc.
  9. If the focus and/or exposure are incorrect, make the camera corrections, and re-shoot the document/photo.