Scaling Up those Heritage Photos

Secrets to increasing a photo’s size and still have it look good

Show me an old family photo and I’m usually scanning it and zooming in to take a look around at all the little details in the photo. In my Heritage September Monthly Class, I worked with several pretty tiny photos that I had scanned with my iPhone camera and was able to enlarge with success.


If you took my class, you might remember me talking about my great-grandfather, Reuben Clouse?  He was the young boy that is found living in the 1880 Federal Census without his family in DeKalb County, Indiana as a boarder at the young age of twelve. At this point, his family was all still living at their home in Ohio.  I lamented that I have been searching in hopes of locating a photo of him along with his family.

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Can Google Images help in my family research?

Stepping up my research

Anyone that has been around me long enough, knows that I kind of have a passion for searching. Not so much in searching for lost keys or socks, but more in the area of searching to put together a bigger picture when it comes to family history stories. I know… that was a lame beginning, but it is the honest truth.


Did someone say fun?

When I heard that Google, my first place to search, had added a feature that could search by images, I knew that my explorations had just gotten a little more fun. Say for instance, that you wanted to see if you could locate a photo of a Civil War unit online to try and get a date for the photo. Of course, you could simply type in the name of the unit and see the results, but somehow the magic really happens when you simply drag and drop your photo right into Google Images and let it do its thing. Really…

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FamilySearch Site to Jumpstart Your Own Family History

Bringing an online class together is a huge task, but when it involves not only my passion for family history exploration but also my love for digital scrapbooking and photo restoration, then, hey… I’m all in. The fear of taking on such a large undertaking felt small compared to the fact that I knew that I had all the tools to actually pull it together. This was one of those times when I feel like I have been practicing for forever to bring something just like this to life and I just can’t thank Tiffany Tillman enough for gently nudging me along to bring “Heritage with Michele” to the Champions area of Scrapaneers.


But enough about the class already… In the class, I purposely left out so many ways to creatively look into your family history because, really… I would have been talking for days in the class and not just for a few hours! But there is one website that that left out and I definitely want to tell you a little about it…


This site has a special place in my heart because it was at one of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Family History Centers here in Indiana, that is about 20 miles away from me, where I first sat down at a computer and pulled up information on my own family. I remember it vividly because it was all I could do to sit still and not squeal out loud with excitement. And yes, I was hooked right then.

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Tips for Scanning those Heritage Photos Straight

What’s a person to do? You have captured an entire album of your family’s heritage photos and then realize that they look like they aren’t straight? Will just rotating them help? Probably not. You are going to have to do a little perspective adjusting or “Skew” as it is called.


The best way to keep the tilting at bay is to try and get the heritage photo as square as you can in the camera when you take the photo. But that is sometimes easier said than done especially when you are attempting to capture multiple photos with each visit.


After my article last month, “One Photo Scanning Hack You Need to Know” I received a comment about crooked heritage photos. What is the best way to straighten them up? Here’s a few tips:

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One Heritage Photo Scanning Hack You Need to Know

Faster is not always better.  If you are using your phone to scan your family heritage photos, you will want to read this article.


You see, I’ve stumbled across something that I should have known but didn’t think about until I was trying to answer the increasing number of scanning questions sent my way. In fact I was very close in recommending one of these apps to a number of friends, but decided I had better do a bit of checking before I hit the Enter key. I was getting caught up in the tempting prospect of taking one photo of one photo album page and almost instantly receiving multiple single images —  all nicely cropped — all ready for me to simply save them and then upload them for use in my heritage project.

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Unlocking the Stories Behind Your Heritage Photos in Census Records

back of photo: Nathan, Paul, Grandpa George, and baby Max.


What to do when you have a family heirloom photo that has nothing else written on the back but the names of the people? First of all, it is a good thing to actually find names on the back of old family photos. It’s just that when I only have one photo like this, I really would love to know some sort of back story and in this case, all four generations are now silent. In order to give this special photo some of that interesting background, I have to do some hunting.


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Journal for Generations to Come

Whenever I look back at my scrapbooks, I am always drawn to the journaling. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the pictures a lot —  and the layouts bring everything together, but it is the journaling that fills in the blanks and brings it all to life.


It’s the same with journaling in a heritage scrapbook as well. I can be tempted to stick with names, dates, places and the facts that we can glean from the backs of the photos, but to really bring them to life, I feel the need to add some background information.

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Family Stories, Instagram and Chatbooks — Oh, my!

Knowing who our family WAS reveals part of who we ARE.

I love this quote and it speaks volumes to me as I continue to share my family history with my own children and relatives. When I started my journey to share my love for family history, the heritage photos and stories that go along with it all, I knew that my ultimate goal was to share it in a book form. I want to combine beautiful pages with stories, photos and documents that will entice my children and family to WANT to read them and learn more about their family history. This is where Chatbooks really excels with its’ size easy to ready and cute size.

Sharing my Family History on Instagram

Once I discovered Instagram, I “instantly” knew that this would become a platform that I could use to catch the attention of my kids – you know… one post, one story at a time with a beautiful photo. We can combine our love of scrapbooking to provide the beautiful photo and then include the story in the caption of our post. That is the essence of scrapbooking but on a smaller scale.

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