Q. What is Photo Genealogy and how does it differ from photo dating?
A. Photo Genealogy is the synthesis of all the elements in a photo. This includes the date, the location, the personalities, their poses and their expressions and much more. The aim of Photo Genealogy is to place a certain person at a certain place at a certain time and to understand the stories within that visual image and how it relates to your family history.
Q. What is the benefit of working with you vs. interpreting my photos myself?
A. The old saying “two heads are better than one” applies. In fact, “four eyes are better than two” when it comes to looking at photos. I bring an objectivity to see the details in the photos that we often miss when we are too familiar with our own photos. I also have the benefit of seeing hundreds of similar photos vs. the few that you may have in your own collection, so I can see patterns. When I work on your photos, I become your partner in understanding your genealogical questions and helping you overcome brick walls in your research.
Q. What tools and resources do you bring to the analysis of my photos?
A. Photo genealogy is detective work and research. It’s also archeology on paper. To uncover the facts, I use my knowledge of ethnography, geography, fashion, world history, social history, art history, decorative arts history, photography history and languages as well as a family’s genealogy.
Q. Do you work with other professional researchers?
A. Yes, in conjunction with record searches and in helping their clients and themselves better understand their photographs. I use vital and other records of individuals in a photo.
Q. Do you work with people who aren’t professional researchers?
A. Yes, anyone who has unexplained photos and wants to know more about who their ancestors were and what their lives were like.
Q. Do you go to archives for records?
A. Only in cooperation with other professional researchers who do archival work. At this time, I’ll match photo findings with already discovered records and seek out those records that can be found online.
Q. Does what you do replace the need to search for documents in archives?
A. Absolutely not. In fact, learning from our photos can enhance the search for documents by focusing on a specific era or specific place. The records and the photos are integrated. Photos don’t eliminate records, they add a more personal component to family history—the flesh and blood stories and how our ancestors looked and what personal choices they made.
Q. How do you set your fees?
A. Every photo is different and presents different clues. Some need more research than others, so I price based on the type of questions you need answers to and how much research time is needed to arrive at the correct answer for your photo.
Q. What will I get from you after the research is completed?
A. After all the research is completed and I have answers for you, I’ll email you a customized 1-3 page report on my findings. But my commitment to your family’s genealogy doesn’t end there. If you later learn more information or find a new relative that may change the interpretation of the photo, I’ll revisit it for you.
Q. How do I get started working with you?
A. Email me your photo scanned at 300 dpi (dots per inch) in jpeg format. Along with the photo include a brief summary of what you already know about the photo, what you’d like to know and any other relevant information you may have about the photo or the people in the photo. If you have a family tree or a link to a family website, include that also. This is very important particularly for identification of individuals in the photo. Once I have all your information, I’ll send you an email confirming receipt of your information.
Q. Should I send you the original photographs?
A. No. Original photos are too valuable to risk shipping or mailing. Because I work with photo scans, I can work with anyone, anywhere in the world as long as you have access to a scanner, a computer and email.
Q. Are there any other benefits to working with you?
A. Yes. In addition to being your partner in genealogy, I give you the opportunity to participate in my free, exclusive MatchMaker™ program where your photo will be displayed along with some family information. If a potential family member recognizes your photo, I’ll help make the connection. While anyone can view the photos, only photos that I have analyzed can be displayed on MatchMaker.