Organize Your Memorabilia for Fast Photography

Organize your memorabilia for the photo shoot

It’s the start of a new year, and that mountain of historical documents and photographs is staring you in the face. I believe this is the year you could tackle that mountain if you’re willing to be efficient.

I’ve written a book called Power Scrapbooking. It has wonderful chapters specifically designed to encourage people to quickly create scrapbooks by breaking the process down into activities of similar type. The book can be very useful for genealogist tackling their family memorabilia as well. Two of the activities mentioned in this book are organized and digitize photos and memorabilia.

Today I want to talk about organizing your mementos. As I have photographed my artifacts, I’ve discovered that photographing items of similar style speeds up the process. For instance, a first grouping would be over-sized items clothing, bedding, flags, and large trophies. Another large grouping would be jewelry and medals. Books, documents, and artwork could be in another large group.
But the idea is first to group them by the size of an object. Why? Because smaller objects would be best photographed using a small lightbox. Larger objects would require a model or mannequin. Other objects would require a seamless backdrop. And still others would require some other set up. So, think in terms of the size of your objects.
The next thing to do before photographing your heirlooms is to sort things by similar style. For instance, in the small grouping of jewelry, various small categories would be necessary. Such as the way you photograph bracelets would be very different from the way you would photograph rings. With necklaces and jewelry, you can lay these items flat or on a small jewelry display bust. When photographing rings, you’ll need to find a way to stand the ring up or suspend it within our lightbox. If you have a ring ‘stick’ that is used in jewelry stores specifically for rings, you might use that as well. Since these items need different setups within your light-box, you’ll want to group them accordingly.
Additionally photographing lapel pins is different than photographing medals. Most medals can lay flat in a lightbox. You can also place them on a bean bag covered by a white cloth. This will allow the ribbon of a medal to drape ‘off the back’ while still featuring the medallion. Lapel pins need to be stuck into something. And when they are removed from the cloth they were stuck into, they leave holes. You want to take that into account.

So, after you sort through your objects for photographing, you can plan out how and when you will photograph them. Since everyone’s memorabilia collection is different, I’ll leave the planning section to you. With the artifacts organized, you will be able to photograph your mementos in record time.

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

2 thoughts on “Organize Your Memorabilia for Fast Photography

  1. Wow! Thanks Denise. Glad to know you see the value in separating. It really did make the work go fast. And yes, I always have big projects. I think that's the nature of being me. My husband always asks me what the next project is.

  2. Hi Devon, It looks like you are working with some big projects. Your tips to separate by kind and size are great! It sure makes the scanning move along faster. Thanks. ~ Denise, The Family Curator

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