I’ve mentioned before the importance of your family photos and how you need to go through them and write on the names of those you know. But they are helpful in other ways and taking your own is great fun.
Let’s consider the photo’s you have. We all have boxes of them and usually have no idea who they are. I went through a box the other month and found this photo.
No one had any idea who it was. I scanned it and some others into my laptop. I then turned to the internet and found some free face recognition software. I downloaded it and let it wander through my photos. It started finding links between faces in the photos who it thought was the same person. It was not always successful as it though my great grandfather’s second wife was someone in one of my grandpa’s RAF squadron photos. It linked the lady’s face in the above photo to one of my great grandma’s sisters. That got me thinking, is the lady my great grandma Eva. We didn’t think we had any photos of her as she died in 1918 when my grandma was only 6, and to the best of our knowledge grandma didn’t have a picture of her mum. The mystery continued with the little girl. The software linked the face to my niece and me when I was little (everyone always said my grandma didn’t stay gone long as I looked so like her when I was little and grandma died 2 years before I was born). This made me come to the conclusion this was my grandma and her mum. I continued to search the photo box and found another of the above lady in front of the same window with my great grandfather. Bingo, I truly believe this is great grandma and my grandma.
Taking your own photos is also a great part of genealogy. I’m not just talking about the family photos we take now, but photographing the places they lived. A great way to connect to your past is to visit where your ancestors live and worked. When you visit where they lived you can form a connection with them. You see what they saw and even visit the places they went. It also makes your own memories to add to your family history. The lady I now believe is my great grandma was born in a pub in Wisbech. Several years ago I was passing through Wisbech and was able to take a photo of the pub. It’s not the greatest photo I’ve ever taken but it means so much to me as it’s a tangible link to her and her family. I’ve also been able to photograph the graves of family member, churches they used, house they lived in and places they worked. The other advantage is that it gets you out and about to see this great country.
When photographing gravestones there are things you need to consider. Not all monuments are in the best condition, so you need to be careful around them. You may also need to do some gardening. Sometimes the ground level has risen and so some of the grave may be obscured. You may need to brush it away so you can read it all. The most important thing I feel you need to do is take lots of photos. Take them from all angles and try using flash to help make the words standout. You can use the flash to add definition to the engraving. You should also take close ups in several sections so that you can read the writing better. This gives you the best of both worlds. You have a photo of the entire grave, but also the close up of the inscription.