The holiday season brings you opportunities to connect with relatives either in person or through cards and letters—and to show around those unknown family photographs and gather identification leads. Naturally, you’re also hoping to give and get some great gifts. Show this wish list of photo-related presents to gift-givers in your family, or indulge yourself. At the end I’ve made some suggestions for photo-freebies.
Digital Camera: Once you’ve tried digital imaging you won’t go back. Here’s what you’ll be able to do:
- instantly share pictures via email
- upload photos to the Web (I like Snapfish.com, but explore the options by typing photo sharing sites into a search engine such as Google.)
- print your own pictures at home
Visit camera stores in your area to look at the latest gadgets. Megapixels measure picture sharpness and clarity, but you won’t need a lot of megapixels to take a good picture. A 4-megapixel camera makes great enlargements even up to 8 by 10 inches.
Photo Printer: Forget getting prints made at a photo lab. You can produce preservation-quality pictures right at home if you use acid- and lignin-free papers, archival-quality inks and the right printer. Prices on these photo printers are now within the range of the average consumer. Major printer manufacturers including Epson, Hewlett-Packard, Lexmark and Canon offer preservation-quality inks and papers. Check the ink permanence ratings for your choices at Wilhelm Imaging Research.
If you need more convincing, look at the specifications for the Epson Photo Stylus RX-620. It’s a home photo lab in an all-in-one machine: PC-free scanning, as well as copying of slides, negatives and prints with color restoration, for an affordable price. Some Epson photo printers even print images on CDs and DVDs.
Sensational Subscriptions : Identifying family photographs incorporates all types of research, but most important is knowing who’s who on your family tree. All those names, dates and places add up to another solved photo mystery. Pick a magazine or database subscription based the resources you need to trace your family. Ancestry.com offers a wide range of databases, while other groups such as the New England Historic Genealogical Society focus on their collections and a more-specialized databases. And don’t forget magazines! If you regularly read Identifying Family Photographs, consider subscribing to Family Tree Magazine for more photo-ID advice in my Photo Detective column.
Stocking Stuffers: If you’re looking for small genealogical goodies, purchase a few inexpensive photo-preservation supplies. White cotton gloves for handling pictures and a graphite pencil for labeling the backs of older photos are a good start.
From Me to You
You’re probably as budget-conscious a shopper as I am. Here are some freebies I’d like to pass on to you:
Picasa: Download this free photo-organizing and sharing software from picasa.google.com. It looks for pictures on your hard drive and lets you give them keywords for easy searching. You’ll never again have to wonder where that picture of Aunt Mabel went.
Gmail: I receive a lot of mail from readers and sometimes I lose a few that get mysteriously misfiled, deleted or just plain lost in my in box, I’m considering switching to Gmail. It offers 2.5 GB of storage, search capabilities and—here’s the best part—”each message is grouped with all its replies and displayed as a conversation.” This has got to make my life easier.
Photo Crafts: Looking for an inexpensive way to make some family photo gift? Check out Photo-Opps. You’ll find instructions on how to make everything from picture soap to jigsaw puzzles.