Genealogy: Photographing scrapbooks and artwork

Genealogy: Photographing scrapbooks and artworkBy Barry 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.

I would like to share with you a few of the lessons I have learned when photographing scrapbooks/artwork.

  1. Photograph your children with their art.
    1. Take photos of your kids with their artwork. It will help you remember their age when they created it.
  2. Takeindividual photos of each piece:
    1. Photographs of your child’s creations will last longer than the originals.
    2. Take the pieces outside on an overcast day, or find an indoor location with even, non-glare lighting.
    3. Find a simple background.
    4. Use the close-up mode on your camera for smaller pieces.
    5. If you are indoors, experiment with your flash, since it may cause distracting reflections.
    6. Use your camera’s review mode to make sure you didn’t cut off any corners.
  3. Frame it:
    1. Framing your child’s art is the perfect way to show how much you appreciate it.
    2. Photography is the perfect way to accommodate big pieces, three-dimensional ones, or pieces made from inexpensive materials that will fade or dry out.
    3. Don’t forget a nice mat, and have the artist sign and date their work.
  4. Document the process:
    1. When kids are young, everyday events become just as important as birthdays and holidays, and just as worthy of photography.
    2. Remember to capture the artist at work. For those big projects, chart the project’s development with a photo diary – from brainstorming to research to rough sketches and completion.