Course: 2024-11 – Imaging – Its Past, Present, and Future (as we now see it)

Coordinator: Maureen Taylor and Rick Voight


Explore the evolution of genealogy through the lens of photography and document preservation in our comprehensive course. Enjoy the rich tapestry of family history as we uncover the hidden stories of our ancestors through cherished photos and archival materials. Combining knowledge and the advent of cutting-edge technology, we have unprecedented tools at our fingertips to enhance, share, and safeguard these priceless memories. AI advancements open exciting possibilities, including the potential creation of images, offering a new perspective on how we connect with our past, present, and future. Join us to master the art and science of genealogical imaging.

Other Instructors:

Lisa A. Alzo
Diane Boumenot
Randy Fredlund
Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Student Prerequisites: None


Family Photo Detective (2023), Preserving Your Family Photographs (2023)
Vivid-Pix Restore software

Day Session Title Description Instructor
Monday 1 From Caves to Cyber We delve into the fascinating journey of imaging, from the primal expressions of cave drawings to the cutting-edge realms of augmented reality. Our exploration begins in the dimly lit caves of our ancestors, where the first known images were created. We examine these primal expressions, pondering their purpose and the stories they aimed to convey. As we move forward in time, we traverse the rich tapestry of human history, observing how images evolved in tandem with civilization. The class will cover pivotal moments such as the invention of the camera obscura, leading to the birth of photography. We examine how the introduction of color and digital technology revolutionized our perception and creation of images. The journey will not stop there; we delve into the digital age, exploring how computers and the internet have transformed images from static pictures into dynamic, interactive experiences. Our final destination is the realm of augmented reality, where the physical and digital worlds blend, creating immersive experiences that were once the realm of science fiction. Throughout the class, we emphasize the central role images have played in storytelling and cultural and emotional exchange. We’ll use a mix of lectures, interactive discussions, and hands-on experiences to understand how each phase in the evolution of imaging technology has expanded our ability to communicate and share our stories with loved ones and the world. Join us for this fascinating journey. Voight
2 Deciphering History: A Guide to Photo Dating Techniques in Family Photography. Photo dating techniques are essential for understanding and interpreting family photographs.  These techniques revolve around examining various clues embedded within photographs, ranging from the format of the photo to the details of the subjects’ attire.  Who: The individuals in the photograph can be identified or inferred by examining their clothing, hairstyles, and accessories. These elements often align with specific time periods or cultural contexts, offering hints about the people’s identity and background. What: The photograph’s content, including the setting, objects, and activities, can provide context.  Where: The location where a photo was taken can sometimes be determined by analyzing the background scenery, architectural styles, or studio backdrops. When: Determining the time period of a photo involves analyzing the photographic format (such as daguerreotypes, tintypes, or paper prints), the style of the photograph, and the fashion trends depicted.
Why: Understanding why a photo was taken can offer deeper insight into family history and social customs.  By meticulously studying these aspects, one can uncover the rich stories and historical context behind family photographs, bringing ancestors and their experiences to life.
3 Group portrait ID – Unveiling the Past: Integrating Photo Dating and Family History in Identifying Unidentified Group Portraits Identifying an unidentified group portrait requires a meticulous approach. It involves examining various elements of the photograph to narrow down the time period and potentially the identities of the people captured. Understanding whether the group consists of family members or friends is key. This can be inferred from their physical proximity and interactions in the photo, as family portraits often display a certain intimacy or formal arrangement reflective of family hierarchies. Once a hypothesis about the group’s composition is formed, diving into extended family tree research becomes crucial. By charting known family members, their ages, and significant life events, one can cross-reference these details with the estimated date of the photograph. This method can help identify potential matches between the people in the photograph and known family members. Students are encouraged to work on one of their group portraits during this session and participate in a discussion. Taylor
4 Deciphering History: Tools and Techniques for Authenticating Photographic Identities When attempting to prove a person’s identity in a photograph, it’s essential to adopt a systematic and evidence-based approach. This process often begins with genealogical documentation, which includes examining historical records, birth certificates, family trees, and other relevant documents that provide context and connections to the individuals in the image.     Next, analyzing photo clues is crucial. This involves a close examination of the photograph itself for details like clothing styles, backgrounds, props, and even the type of photograph (such as a daguerreotype or a Polaroid), which can help date the image and provide context. Incorporating technology enhances this process significantly. Facial recognition software can compare the features in the photograph with known images of individuals, providing a probabilistic match. Image enhancement tools can clarify, sharpen, or restore old and damaged photos, revealing details that were previously obscured or unclear.
Ultimately, the goal is to piece together evidence from these various sources to form a cohesive and well-supported conclusion about the identity of the individuals in the photograph. This often requires a combination of historical knowledge, technical skill, and sometimes a bit of detective work.
Tuesday 5 “Reviving Memories: The Joy of Photo Reunions” Family, Class, and Military Reunions offer a unique blend of genealogy and nostalgia, serving as a cherished gathering for family historians, friends, and relatives alike. These events, often incorporated into reunions or special gatherings, are centered around the presentation of history through photographs. They offer a tangible connection to the past, bringing to life faces and stories. In the instance of family reunions, the process typically starts with a simple request within the family network for old photographs. This often results in a trove of images, each with its own backstory, eagerly shared for digital scanning. The true magic happens during scan events, interactive sessions held at reunions where family members come together to scan, restore, and record the stories behind each photograph. As pictures are digitized, relatives can share their memories and reminisce about the moments captured. This not only helps preserve the visual legacy of a family but also strengthens bonds as stories are passed down and new memories are made. Through these lively exchanges, the photographs gain new life, with their narratives enriched by the collective memory of the family. Photo Reunions thus become more than just a methodical archiving of the past; they transform into a celebration of heritage, an educational journey, and a heartfelt tribute to the ancestors who shaped the present. Alzo
6 Unearthing Family Ties: A Guide to Authenticating Photos in Genealogical Databases Mining online databases for genealogical research involves scouring through vast collections of digital records, including photographs, that may have been uploaded by distant relatives. The discovery of a photo from your own collection on a genealogy site can be an intriguing link to your past, possibly uploaded by a distant cousin you haven’t met. These sites are repositories of user-contributed content which can include scanned images of old photographs, documents, and family trees. When you come across a photo that appears to be from your collection on such a site, it’s important to apply your photo detection skills before confirming its relevance to your family history. This process entails analyzing the image for details such as clothing styles, backgrounds, and other contextual clues that might date the photo or link it to a specific location or family member. Verifying the photo’s connection to your lineage might also include comparing it with other images in your collection, assessing facial features, or looking at any annotations on the photo itself. The task requires a careful balance of excitement and skepticism. Each photo can be a potential piece of the puzzle in understanding your ancestry, but mistaken identities and erroneous connections are not uncommon. Due diligence is required to authenticate each finding, ensuring that the historical narrative you construct is accurate and verifiable. The process is akin to mining—sifting through layers of digital data to uncover the gems that genuinely connect to your family story. Taylor
7 From Plate to Pixel: The Transformative Journey of 20th Century Imaging The 20th century was a pivotal era for the field of imaging, marking the transition from painstaking single shots and glass plates to the simplicity and versatility of roll film. This innovation democratized photography, making it accessible to the masses and paving the way for continuous innovation. As the century progressed, we witnessed the birth and rapid evolution of digital imaging, a leap that redefined the boundaries of photography and videography. This transition empowered creators to capture, store, and manipulate images in ways previously unimaginable, leading to an explosion of creativity and the ubiquity of visual media in the modern world. The century concluded with digital technology beginning to overtake mainstream film and printing – setting the stage for the imaging marvels of the future. Taylor/Voight
8 8 steps to Preserving and organizing From daguerreotypes to digital imaging dilemmas, this in-depth seminar covers everything a family photographer needs to know about caring for photographs. Topics include printing and sharing digital images and how to label grandparents’ pictures safely. Taylor
Wednesday 9 Preserving Memories: Navigating 21st Century Photographic Challenges This session offers a comprehensive journey into the unique issues faced by 21st-century photography enthusiasts and archivists. As we delve into the era’s photographic landscape, we will explore three primary areas of concern: 1. Dealing with Rolled Photos – Here, students will learn the delicate art of unrolling photographs. This section will cover the science behind this common problem, methods to prevent damage to precious images and hands-on techniques. 2. Magnetic Photo Album Sheets – Once a popular storage method, magnetic photo albums have become a preservation nightmare. This segment will explain the chemical reactions that occur between these albums and photographs. We will also discuss preservation strategies, including how to safely remove photos from these albums – or not – and better alternatives for long-term storage. 3. Proliferation of Prints and Lack of Identification – The 20th and 21st century saw a boom in photography, leading to countless prints with little to no identification. We’ll tackle the challenges of organizing, identifying, and archiving these collections. Techniques for dating photographs, understanding photographic processes of the era, and best practices for cataloging will be key topics. Taylor/Voight
10 Digital Revolution: The Evolution and Preservation of Digital Media and Movies The session begins with the transition from film to digital cameras, which marked a significant turning point in how images were captured, sometimes processed, and utilized. The digital photography era not only introduced efficiency and innovation but also posed unique challenges in terms of preservation and compatibility. As the course unfolds, learners explore the early competition among organizations to define digital standards, the industry’s struggle for control, and the impact these battles had on the longevity and accessibility of digital content. The curriculum delves into the complex process of digitizing traditional media, including the scanning of still and motion images, and the hurdles encountered due to the multitude of digital formats that emerged. Students will examine case studies of successful and failed preservation efforts, learning about the importance of digital archiving, the risks of data obsolescence, and the techniques employed to attempt to ensure that our digital heritage remains accessible for future generations. Through lectures, hands-on workshops, and collaborative projects, participants gain a comprehensive understanding of the digital media landscape, its challenges, and the innovative solutions developed to address them. The course aims to equip students with both theoretical knowledge and practical skills in digital media preservation, ensuring they are prepared to contribute to the field of digital archiving and content management in an era where digital media seems ubiquitous. Voight
11 Preserving Moments: The Evolution and Impact of Digital Media in Storytelling” Delve into the transformative journey of digital media, tracing its roots from the advent of digital photography to its current pivotal role in capturing and sharing stories. Initially, the transition from film to digital sensors in cameras marked a significant milestone, allowing images and stories to be captured electronically – but that was just the beginning. This class explores the enchanting art of storytelling through images. Photography, often described as painting with light, freezes a moment in time, offering an authentic visual account of memories. In contrast to drawings and paintings, which are subjective interpretations, photographs can convey a story with astonishing fidelity. The course examines how narratives woven around photographs can range from simple recollections of events to profound retrospectives of life-changing milestones, such as a golden wedding anniversary. Embracing various perspectives, these stories evoke a spectrum of emotions, from tears of joy, to tears of sorrow, to those of nostalgia, underscoring the power of photography to preserve and celebrate our collective human experience for future generations. Voight
12 Revitalizing Memories: Image Enhancement with Rick Voight and Vivid-Pix Software A session designed to breathe new life into your cherished photographs. Throughout the class, participants will explore the transformative power of image improvement, learning how to combat the ravages of time on their precious snapshots. Whether it’s fading caused by exposure to light, heat, or humidity, or simply the toll taken by the environment, Rick will guide you through the process of photo restoration. With a blend of professional techniques and user-friendly software, this class offers a hands-on experience that empowers you to restore your photographs to their former glory. Rick will introduce you to the intuitive Vivid-Pix software, tools that simplify the restoration and story capture process, making it accessible to novices, technology challenged, and experienced users alike. Participants will engage in practical tasks, utilizing Restore software to adjust color, contrast, and clarity, thereby salvaging images that once seemed beyond repair and Memory Station software to easily capture stories. By the end of the session, you will not only have the knowledge to preserve your family history but also the skills to enhance the visual and audio narrative of your life’s moments. Voight
Thursday 13 Reviving Memories: Mastering Image Science and Restoration In this session, participants will be introduced to the art and science of photos, photo degradation and restoration, a skill that breathes new life into damaged photographs. Led by Randy Fredlund, co-founder of Vivid-Pix and holder of over 150 patents in image science, the course delves into the intricacies photos of using Photoshop, a powerful tool for image improvement. – What is a photo? from the image science point of view —Black and white —Color – many types of “color spaces” – What goes wrong – why and how they fade “normally” —Fade mechanisms (and what the perfect keeping condition should be.) ——Bad actors: Time, sunlight, dampness, plastics —Resolution —Contrast —Color – What can be fixed and how —Contrast expansion (black and white) —Color expansion —Color balance —Saturation —Resolution and sharpening Fredlund
14 Revitalize Your Memories: DIY Photo Enhancement Techniques Taylor
15 Crafting Memories: The Art of Creating Photo Books This workshop session will examine the DIY tools offered by various genealogical companies. Through a series of examples these tools will be compared. Over the course of our sessions, you’ll master the art of photo restoration, colorization, and precise dating, using the same tools integrated into popular genealogy websites and photo management software. Our curriculum is tailored to empower you with the skills not only to repair and enhance the visual appeal of your images but also to extract historical details that could be pivotal in genealogy research. You’ll learn to meticulously scan your photos, preserving their quality and preparing them for digital manipulation. With a blend of theoretical knowledge and practical exercises, we’ll guide you through the process of identifying time-worn clues within your pictures. In addition to restoration and dating techniques, we’ll dive into colorization methods, transforming your black-and-white memories into vibrant, color-rich images that stand the test of time. Whether you’re looking to organize your digital albums efficiently, uncover ancestral secrets, or give a fresh look to your old photographs, this class will provide the tools and tips to do it all. Boumenot
16 Navigating the Digital Album: The Ins and Outs of Sharing Family Photos Online Students will explore the fascinating world of photo book creation, a modern take on preserving memories that meld traditional photography with innovative digital printing technology. The course will introduce the fundamentals of photo book design, guiding students through selecting digital printing options to ensure high-quality results that meet their personal or professional standards. The curriculum begins with an overview of the evolution from classic photo albums to today’s sleek photo books. As the course progresses, attendees will learn to use state-of-the-art software to layout their stories, combining text and imagery in a cohesive and visually appealing manner. Special attention will be given to understanding the nuances of different digital presses, paper types, and binding methods, enabling participants to make informed choices that enhance the longevity and impact of their photo books. With a hands-on approach, the class will also delve into the artistic aspects of photo book creation, including composition, color theory, and typography. By the end of the course, students will have not only the technical skills but also the creative confidence to craft personalized photo books that transform their photographs into narrative heirlooms. Taylor/Voight
Friday 17 Legal – Public Domain versus Copyright The legal issues surrounding public domain versus copyright for family photos, as explained by legal genealogy expert Judy Russell, revolve around key distinctions. Copyright laws protect original works of authorship, including photographs, as soon as they are created and fixed in a tangible form. This means the photographer usually holds the initial copyright. However, over time, these works can enter the public domain, which occurs when copyrights expire or are not renewed. For family photos, this can become complex, as determining the copyright status depends on the date of creation, the life of the author, and specific legal provisions. In the U.S., works published before 1929 are generally in the public domain, but newer works have varying durations of copyright based on when they were created or published. This distinction is critical for genealogists and family historians who wish to use old family photos, as using copyrighted material without permission can lead to legal issues. Therefore, understanding the nuances of copyright and public domain is essential to legally use these photos – and the choices we must all make when using and sharing photos. Russell
18 Harnessing Metadata for Family Photographs in Genealogical Research Genealogy enthusiasts often invest significant time into collecting and analyzing family photographs. However, the effort can be undermined if the accompanying information is lost or disorganized. To mitigate this, metadata serves as a critical tool, enabling the embedding of rich details directly into the image files and/or within databases. Metadata can store names, dates, locations, and even intricate family relationships, thus transforming a mere picture into a self-contained vessel of family history. Storing this information requires a system that supports metadata fields, such as IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) standards, which are widely recognized and can be read by various software. By embedding metadata, you ensure that the context of the photographs travels with them, whether they are shared on family history websites, through social media, or stored in digital archives.
Further, to maintain the integrity of the information, it is advisable to use reliable genealogy software that can link photographs to family trees and export data in GEDCOM format, which is the standard for genealogical data exchange. Additionally, backing up your information on cloud services and external drives and sharing your findings with family members can act as a safeguard against data loss. Finally, it’s important to update and review metadata to ensure accuracy and completeness regularly. As new information comes to light, updating the metadata ensures that the family history is preserved for future generations. With careful metadata management, your family photographs can become a lasting and informative part of your genealogical legacy.