Thursday, September 4, 2014

Preserving Heritage Photographs & Going With A Pro

Post 4

Quick Review

In previous posts we talked about the basics of storing old photographs and documents, preparing your workspace, why create digital images of old printed photos, and a few of the tools you will need.


If all of this sounds daunting to you, and you have the cash, consider delivering your heritage photos to a professional photograph conservator. Keep in mind that converting photographs to digital format takes time, and can be expensive. Be wary of quick-turn-around places. Suppose you have a few concerns about handing over your photographs to someone else. How do you know they know what they are doing and have the right equipment? How can you be sure your images will be carefully taken care of, and no damage will be done by neglect or accident?

Resolving Trust Issues

I recommend a couple different ways to find a trust-worthy company. The one you choose should have…

·       Proper training
·       Good equipment
·       Lots of experience
·       What their specialty is
·       Positive recommendations from customers
·       Instructions for how to properly ship and handle your items
·       Explanations of how they ensure quality work

Go to the American Institute for Conservation and click on the Find a Conservator link. You can also find a list of private companies that do archival work at the Regional Alliance for Preservation. You could also do an internet search using terms like…

·       Conservation
·       Digitization
·       Preservation
·       Family papers
·       Family photos

You Said Jazz Concert? I Thought You Said Jazz Dance!

Also keep in mind that equally trained and experienced professionals may disagree in their methods and their results for what is best. Different professionals may have very different results in image appearance. Some may alter/restore images a great deal so the digital image has modern coloring and every mark and flaw removed. Others keep discolorations and photo wear and tear as part of the photograph’s story. They may feel that removing the look of age from a photo is not wanted.

Before you embark on this journey of finding the right professional conservator for your projects, know what you are wanting for each image. Communicate every detail of what you want and take nothing for granted. This phrase has been heard at our house a time or two; “I can’t read your mind, honey. Use your words and be clear.” Wink. You will want to know and agree beforehand what procedure will be used, what the cost is and what the timeline to completion is. Make sure you see treatment report documents after completion.

Test Pilot

Not quite sure you have found the right professional to help you? Try them out by sending one object to work on. If you like their process and their result, then you can feel comfortable sending more work their way.

All this while keeping in mind our goals:

·       Goal I: Create beautiful original or restored digital images.
·       Goal II: Preserve original images and keepsakes in the best way possible.

Now you know some guidelines for hiring a professional conservator. Let's say, however, you’ve decided you want to do this yourself. The next post is for you.

Next Post: The Do-It-Yourself-ers

Previous Posts in Series:
Going Digital (link coming soon)

Jennifer Apffel is a photographer with over a decade of experience in portrait, event, and product photography. She also does freelance graphic design and fine art. For more check out,, or look for her on

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lightroom & Book Making: Auto Layout

Series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

Post 37

Making Your Picks

We are in the Book making section of Lightroom. 

Last post we talked about Book Settings. Here we are covering the Auto Layout section. 

In Preset, check out your options:

Left Blank, Right One Photo, Caption
Left Blank, Right One Photo
One Photo Per Page

Under Preset you see two buttons, Auto Layout and Clear Layout.

Once you have selected your preset choice, you can click the Auto Layout button, and Lightroom automatically fills the pages with the images from your collection, in the order you have them in the filmstrip. If you have done all the set-up work and your images are all in the order you want, then this can be the quickest book design work you have ever done. (Make sure you prepare and include the front and back covers as images, in first and last place, respectively.) 

Start over any time by clicking Clear Layout.

If you prefer to customize your pages a little more than that, then we are going to go back to Presets and select Edit Auto Layout Preset…

And the magic we can do customizing with our Auto Layout options will be explored in the next post.

Next Post: Lightroom & Book Making: Customizing Auto Layout Presets

These posts are part of a series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

Jennifer Apffel is a photographer with over a decade of experience in portrait, event, and product photography. She also does freelance graphic design and fine art. For more check out, or look for her on

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Going Digital With Old Photographs

Post 3

I heard you want to become a photo preservation expert, or maybe just preservation savvy. Great! This and future posts will show you a few things you will want to know.

The basic goals of preserving older photographs are:

·      Goal I: Create beautiful original or restored digital images.

·      Goal II: Preserve original images and keepsakes in the best way possible.

Why Go Digital?

Digital images are easy to share, move and store in multiple places. Images that are shared are enjoyed! Digital images can be saved on different computers, hard drives, clouds, and servers.

CDs and DVDs

You didn’t mention storage on CDs or DVDs, you may be thinking. You are right. As I write this post, CDs and DVDs are going the way of 8-tracks, laser discs, videos and VCRs. Computers are being made without the large disc drives. Why? CDs and DVDs are more and more limited in the amount of space they hold. They also get damaged and broken easily. Even if you are storing them properly, the discs are deteriorating and will eventually be unusable. The official term is "disc rot". I am personally working right now to move all my images saved on disc to various hard drives and cloud management systems. I recommend you do the same.

Digital Copies in Many Places

Whether you want privacy or sharing and enjoying with as many people as possible, digital images stored in many different places are less likely to be lost. Paper and other materials will eventually deteriorate, so creating a digital image provides a way for potentially greater longevity. It is an important part of the preservation of the photograph and of history. Keep digital copies of the same image in different places. That way you always have a back-up somewhere.

How To Go Digital

There are many different ways to get your photographs into digital format. How you do it will get you different results. Some methods are better than others for specific situations. If you have lots of loose photographs you want to make digital, investing in a quality scanner is a really good idea. If you have an image that is behind glass and you don’t want to or are unable to remove the image from the glass, taking a picture with your digital camera may be the best way to get what you need. (Side note* Be careful with the flash. More information on how to take these kinds of pictures in future posts.) If you have an image that needs delicate handling, taking a photograph of it may also be the best method to preserving the original image.

Photocopies Are Like Fingernails On A Chalkboard

The quality of the scanner is important. That is partly why making photocopies is not recommended for pictures. Photocopy scanners are not set up for fine detail. If you choose to make photocopies, you lose detail and resolution (clarity of the image). Not to mention you end up with another deteriorating paper, the printed photocopy is usually on low-quality high-acid-content paper and the ink colors don’t match the original image. If you have a photocopier handy, I DO recommend photocopying the backs of old pictures that have been written on. 

If you do have a scanner, scan the backs of the photographs after scanning the front. The handwriting and the information written on the backs of these pictures are just as important a part of the image preservation process.

Feeling overwhelmed and thinking you may not want to do this yourself? See the next post on what to look for in a professional conservator.

Next Post: Preserving Heritage Photographs &  Going With A Pro

Previous Posts in Series:

Jennifer Apffel is a photographer with over a decade of experience in portrait, event, and product photography. She also does freelance graphic design and fine art. For more check out,, or look for her on

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Competitions and Art Shows

If you have been taking pictures for a while now you may be wondering how well you really are doing.  It's easy to see your progress in the beginning, but there will come a time when you need another set of eyes to help you see where and how you can make improvements to your work.  You may indeed need many sets of eyes to get to your best work.  This is where art shows and competitions can be helpful.  If you have never been involved with either the thought can be daunting.  I am no pro at either, but lucky for you I know people who are!  I will go over some of the whys and hows with you in this post.  The next two weeks will be interviews with two amazing photographers.  One is a competition entering boss and the other is the king of the art show.  (Since the latter is also my dad would that make me the princess of art shows by default?  I wish!)

While the art show is generally also a competition you may wonder why I am dividing the two into different categories.  I do so because they are very different means to a similar goal.  The art show is also a venue for selling your work and making yourself known to the community in a very personal way.  It usually involves displaying a large body of your work and interacting with the public as they browse the various booths and displays at the event.  It gives you an opportunity to meet people who are in the market for art and also those who are just learning what they like.  In this setting you'll need to be confident enough to sell yourself as an artist and in turn sell your work.  If the show is being judged it will be done based on your body of work, not just a certain photograph.  You may be competing with other photographers as well as painters, sculptors, jewelry designers, etc.  The shows I've been at with my dad have been an interesting mix of a little bit of everything.  It's a great chance to meet other artists and collaborate.

A photography competition is a more specific way to have your work judged and critiqued.  It will be judged by professional photographers as opposed to the general public.  Your constructive criticism will be more focused and most likely more useful to you as a tool for improving your work.  A themed competition will cause you to think about things in a more creative way as you will be photographing the same basic thing as everyone else and will want to stand out from the crowd.  An open competition will allow you to submit your very best from every area of your expertise.  They are both great opportunities for growth.  There are competitions going on all of the time.  PPA just finished their annual international competition and you can always find something going on locally or internationally by searching the major camera manufacturers websites, trade publications, and industry blogs.  It's scary to put yourself out there like that but you'll never improve as quickly and as well than you will with the help of the best in the business.  Competitions may be the only way you'll ever get them to look at your stuff.

So how in the world to you get started?  Good question.  I wish I had all the answers but I don't.  Next week I'll be interviewing Lee Brantley, AKA King of the Art Show, with everything you need to know to get out in your community and show off your amazing talent.  And hopefully make a few bucks in the process!

Competitions and Art Shows

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lightroom: Your Book Making Tools

Post 36
Series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

Pick a Book, Any Book
Welcome to the Book making section. This is your basic layout. If you are working in a collection of photographs, sometimes Lightroom automatically places images in a book for you. If you open the Book section and see your pictures already placed, don’t worry. Just hit the Clear Book button at the top.

This is your Book Settings section.

Create your book for Blurb, or make your own PDF or JPEG and do what you’d like with them.

Size choices include:

Chose from Cover options:

Select a Paper Type

Get a discount with Logo Page for allowing Blurb to print their logo on your book, or choose to go logo-free.

Know upfront what the cost of you book will be with Estimated Price. The cost will change according to the size of book, cover choice, number of pages and type of paper you pick. 

Choose the currency you need:

Want to learn more about how this works? Click on the Learn More button and a tab will open in your browser at the Blurb website.

That was pretty straight-forward. In the next posts we will find out about Auto Layouts and Pages.

Next Post: Lightroom & Book Making: Auto Layout and More

These posts are part of a series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

Jennifer Apffel is a photographer with over a decade of experience in portrait, event, and product photography. She also does freelance graphic design and fine art. For more check out, or look for her on

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Heritage Photographs: The Basics and Getting Ready

(POST 2)
The Why & The How

The basic goals of preserving older photographs are:

·       Goal I: Create beautiful original or restored digital images.

·       Goal II: Preserve original images and keepsakes in the best way possible.

I have a loved one with a room dedicated to family keepsakes, photo albums, papers and documents. I don’t mean a display room, I mean a large storage room. And that room is packed. We haven’t mentioned the garage yet. I might tease them about episodes of Hoarders, but the real source of help will be in step-by-step digitization, sharing, and the best archival storage possible. Right now these precious things aren’t benefiting anyone. Some photographs are in albums, some are in boxes. Some photographs are from grandparents and great-grandparents, Some were taken a couple years ago. Some papers are in boxes, others are stacked in the open. Keepsakes and mementos are in various states of found condition and storage. The storage time-clock is ticking, because these papers and materials are deteriorating.

Preventative Measures

Staying off deterioration of original photographs and keepsakes is critical for the best longevity. How you handle and store these things will determine just how long the keepsakes last.

Think Like a Museum Curator

If something is important, treat it accordingly. Exposure to temperature, moisture, light, critters, acids and bases make a big difference.

Hot, Cold, Wet, Dry

Do your best to store photographs and items in cool/room-temperature places with as little fluctuation in temperature and moisture as possible. Most things are best kept on the dryer side, but you will need to take your climate into consideration. If you live in more humid areas, storage spaces with cedar help with moisture and bug control. If you live in very dry climates, you will need to be careful to keep a good moisture balance that your item(s) need. Keep everything in place out of possible flood damage and away from heat sources in your home. Keep away from in front of air vents, too.

 Acids and Bases

All items have a PH balance that keeps colors and materials at their best. Remember that fingertips have natural oils and acids. While you may not notice now or a couple years from now any effect that your fingers make, after many years the damage is irreversible. That’s why you see museum curators use white cotton gloves. This is not for the sake of being fancy, believe me. You can order white cotton gloves online very easily. If you want to go to the store, CVS, WalMart, and Target are among many that carry them. I'd look in the dermatological section first. Now if you don’t want to get that serious and wear gloves, that’s understandable. There are still a few basics to preservation that anyone can do.

The Basics

When you handle your keepsakes, at least make sure you work on a clean dry surface free of any dirt or dust. On the other hand, do not use strong cleaners on your work surface because they leave an acid residue. Use mild soaps and detergents and thoroughly dry your work area. Remove all liquids and mishaps-waiting-to-happen and keep them far away, too. Store your photographs and keepsakes indoors, away from windows and off of floors where possible.

Start Small

One item at a time, one small box at a time. Start it. Finish it, and put it away. This doesn’t require an instant herculean effort; it is more like the Grand Canyon one drop of water at a time. Remember you are not alone, either! There are many others working on similar projects. If you have questions for particular items, ask a professional. Find online resources, professional photograph and other restoration companies & individuals, find resources at your library, or ask around your community.

Next Post: Going Digital With Old Photographs

Future posts will include how to convert old photographs into digital images, taking pictures of keepsakes, how to best store photographs and keepsakes, sharing your digital images, stories & heritage, and a few other things as they come up.

Previous Posts in Series:

Jennifer Apffel is a photographer with over a decade of experience in portrait, event, and product photography. She also does freelance graphic design and fine art. For more check out,, or look for her on