Getting mired in technology when trying to share your genealogy discoveries?
See how this nonagenarian bypasses tech swamps.
My neighbor, Staci, reached out to me a few weeks ago because she wanted me to meet a former neighbor named Ted, who is a 91-year-old World War II veteran. “He’s been working on old photos and family history stuff and was asking for help, but he doesn’t do computers,” Staci advised me.
Enticed by the opportunity to meet a World War II vet, I gave Ted a call and we agreed to meet at the apartment he shares with his wife, Nancy, in the basement of his son’s home.
When I arrived, Ted met me in the driveway and guided me down the flagstone path through a lovely landscaped backyard.
“Watch your step,” he advised, “it’s a bit steep.” Ted adeptly handled the walk with his cane.
My first impression was how well organized Ted is with his photographs. He has already created a spiral bound book with an image on each page with a handwritten description underneath the photo. His method is to affix the photo to the page with clear photo corners, write the description (this is important), and then take the pages to a copy center to make color copies and then bind the copies together–that simple.
His first book contains seventy pages with content on each side of the page. He wants to expand the book to include forty-five more two-sided pages.
After looking through the wonderful photos and hearing about Ted’s early life in small-town South Carolina and his adult years in Atlanta (when there were still streetcars!), I discussed the challenge of making his new expanded photo book so he could share it easily with his family.
Fortunately, Ted had taken many of his photos to a store that scanned them and created Kodak picture CDs — about twenty CDs altogether.
Unfortunately, the JPG image files on the CDs are not in any particular order and have non-descriptive file names. And, remember, Ted does not do computers.
Does this sound a little familiar? A family elder with lots of old photos; who knows about the photos, but identifying and sharing the photos in a digital format is beyond their skill set.
So, the challenge is how to get Ted’s physically copied and pasted photo pages with the descriptions (remember descriptions are VERY important) into a digital format so it’s easier for Ted’s family and future generations, eventually, to manipulate, edit, and share their family history images.
The KEY issue here is to get the photographs digitized WITH DESCRIPTIONS. Ted’s descriptions are neatly handwritten. Once we get a digital image of the description to share, later on, Ted’s family can transcribe the descriptions to combine with the photographs in the photo’s file metadata, use on a digital scrapbook page, repurpose in a video, or whatever.
But, the main objective here is to serve Ted’s needs, let him describe the photographs in the easiest way possible for him and print multiple copies of his new expanded photo book to show his family. Of course, there are multiple ways to approach this challenge.
Ted could hire me to sort through the scanned JPG photos on a computer with him at my side to add metadata, organize and layout the photos into a digital scrapbook and THEN print it.
Did I mention Ted is on a budget?
My solution (for now):
- Research pricing and services at photo digitizing services and copy services for the digital scans. (Ted asked me to do this saying “I wouldn’t even know what to ask for!”)
- Advise Ted to keep writing up his descriptions to prepare his pages for scanning. (Note: Ted is comfortable doing this already, so I see it as the easiest way for him to do this task, rather than voice recording or typing.)
- Get Ted’s pages scanned and saved onto a flash drive. (I’ll go into the details of JPG vs. TIFF vs. PDF formats in another post).
- Help Ted (or recruit a tech-savvy family member) to get the digital file ready for printing.
- Find a good deal for printing the digital file with a cover and spiral binding the way Ted likes it.
- Help Ted (or show a family member how) to get his digital file out to the family. Ted knows how to share his printed book.
Initially, my gut reaction was “get the photographs digitized in a higher resolution!” I even considered rescanning all the photos (hundreds of them) previously scanned in JPEG on the CDs into the higher resolution TIFF format. I also began to think about various means (all involving computers) to combine the photographs and descriptions — all tasks that would take LOTS of time and/or money.
For future generations, combining Ted’s photographs with descriptions in a digital format is important. But getting the descriptions combined with the photos is what counts, whether in a print or digital format.
As the saying goes, “Done is better than perfect.”
In this case, I saw that Ted’s way, for the most part, is the best way, because he is getting his book DONE his way.
I am grateful to Ted for his World War II military service.
I also appreciate Ted for showing me how DOING and SHOWING family history is what MAKES family history.
Do you have an amazing ancestor photo you’d like to share? If you “do” smart phones, one way is to record the photo with the video camera on your smart phone while telling the story about the picture. Then be sure to send the video to family members or share on social media with your family.
I’d like to offer you some free tools to brainstorm and organize your ancestor story ideas. The Ancestor Story Video Tools help you discover photos, heirlooms, and items to illustrate a family history story and then get the story into a video. Click here to get your tools and more ideas for sharing family history.