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Archive for the ‘Guest Bloggers’ Category

Meet today’s Guest Blogger – Denise Levenick.  Better known as The Family Curator, I first met Denise at the St. George Family History Expo last March, and soon came to appreciate both her expertise and her practical approach to preserving family memories and memorabilia.  Add to that her generous, affable disposition and there you have it – the perfect Guest Blogger!  Denise has made it her mission “to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their family treasures.”  It is a privilege to welcome her to Above the Trees!

Was your mom like mine, insisting that you include all your siblings or classmates when you played a game or planned a party? Did you really want to cross the class bully’s name off the guest list, but Mom made you include everyone? Take heart! When it comes to creating a first-rate photo collection, “It’s Okay to Play Favorites.”

Professional photographers have to master the business end of taking pictures. This means that photos cannot languish away on memory chips. They have to be uploaded to a computer, sorted, minimally touched-up, and then presented to a client for selection and (hopefully) purchase. Customers also want to see only The Best, after all that’s why they hired a Pro.

When the family photographer begins to think like a Professional, it becomes easier to realize that Playing Favorites is not only Okay, it is necessary to building a quality photo collection. Of course, the family historian has other considerations as well. An out-of-focus or poorly framed shot of Aunt Mildred may be the only photograph of her at all. By all means, this one is a Keeper.
These same techniques are useful if you are working with a shoebox of family prints. Any photo collection will benefit from judicious sorting. As a bonus, your family will come to thank you that the slide show features minutes of fabulous photos instead of hours of marginal memories.

So, your images are in front of you – either in a software program like iPhoto, PS Elements, or Lightroom, or spread out on the dining room table. How do you select The Best?

First, pull together the “Photo Shoot” or set. This would be the Rehearsal Dinner, the Birthday Party, or your walking tour of Paris. From this set of photos you want to choose the best, which also means dumping the worst. Why waste time and effort with bad photos? Some photo programs tempt you to use Star Ratings, but why? As Photo Pro Scott Kelby notes, do you think you will ever want to look at one or two star photos? Those should be the ones that are out of focus or have heads cut off. Even three star photos? The Star selection system is slow; pros would never earn a living if they spent their time deciding if a photo was worth two stars or three stars. If you think you might want the picture some day, there is a way to keep it without inviting it to the party. Read on.

Lightroom2 Compare Window Select Left or Right as Keepers

How to Play Favorites with your Photos

1.  Assemble Photo Shoot pictures

2.  Ignore typical Star Ratings; instead quickly select the Best, reject the Worst. Use stars (or flags) to assign one star Keep and five stars Reject. That’s it; two choices. Keep or Reject. (Using stars or flags allows you to create a group which can be easily selected later.)

3.  Can’t decide which of six is the best? Place two similar photos side-by-side (Lightroom2 and PS Elements allow this comparison view.) Choose the best of the two, reject the other. Bring a new photo in to compete with the winner. Audition each photo against the winner. Try to move quickly; don’t let yourself get bogged down in selecting; go with your instinct.

4.  Make a New Collection Set and drag all the Keeps into this set. Label it Rehearsal Dinner. (You could call it Rehearsal Dinner Keeps, if you like).

5.  Now, you have to make one more decision. If you want to get rid of the bad photos, select the Reject group and Delete. If you just can’t throw them away, make a second New Collection Set and drag all the Rejects into this set. Label it clearly Rehearsal Dinner Rejects. There, you saved them, but no one has to look at them ever again if they don’t want to!

Playing Favorites will eliminate bullies from your photo collection and give you the best and the brightest to work with for your slide show, album, or web page. You may even gain a reputation as the Family Pro Photographer.
For more ideas on organizing, editing, and sharing your photographs, visit The Family Curator.

Further reading –

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Guest Blogger: Donna Cook (my very favorite 1st Cousin Once Remove)

I never liked history in high school. What I recall from history textbooks is a slew of names and dates I found impossible to remember. It was dry, boring, and bad for my test scores.

Then I grew up and encountered history in a completely new way. I encountered stories. You know, not just the long-winded chronologies in history books, but engaging, flesh-and-bone, pull-you-in stories. Suddenly the names from history became more than just names… they became people. Fascinating people. People I wondered about. What was it like to live back then? What was it like to go through what they went through?

I find myself asking the same questions about the people on my family tree.

For some of these people, I may never know more than the most basic information: where they were born, who they married. Still, when I see things like the death of several small children in a family, I wonder about them. I wonder what it was like for them. It makes them more real and they begin to feel like my family. If only they… or someone… had written their stories down.

For other people on my family tree, I have details that bring them to life. They’re small details, I don’t have any fabulous civil war diaries hanging out in my family tree like some people do. Even so, I love these small details: the great uncle who ran a grocery store (I even have a picture of him there), the widowed mother who brought her two young boys from Virginia to North Carolina so she could live with her sister, the great-great grandfather who was a preacher. It’s not much, but it’s enough to pull my heart in their direction. It’s enough to make me wonder.

Not surprisingly, the people I know the most about are either still living, or died not that long ago. My favorite story is one about my great-grandma, “Grandma G” (pictured here at age 19). When she was in her 90’s, I sat at her feet and she told me what it was like when she was a little girl like me. When she was young, her family moved from Cunningham, Kansas to Campo, Colorado… in a covered wagon. It was a long trip, and there wasn’t a lot to do. She explained there were no TV’s and no radios. I was genuinely astonished by this. “What did you play with?” I asked her.

“I had one doll to play with,” she said, “and I was grateful to have that.”

It was a teaching moment for me. To be grateful for one doll. It said a lot about the character of my grandma too, and I’ve never forgotten it. This is a story I’ve recorded for future generations to enjoy. It’s not fancy. It’s not much. But maybe one day my great-grandchildren will wonder what it was like for me to sit at the knees of my great-grandmother and hear a story like that.

It was wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.

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