Photo Friday: Photographing Artifacts 1 (Overview)

After creating my lightbox, I thought I would instantly get better pictures of the historical artifacts that belonged to my ancestors. I want to hone these skills before I start interviewing people regarding our family history. Unfortunately, I still have a lot to learn about how to take quality pictures to be used in any genealogical publication. As I know many people want to preserve their treasures but may not have the skills necessary to do it, I figured I’d write a series of articles demonstrating what I’ve learned on the way to taking better photographs of the memorabilia belonging to my ancestors.

Initially, I started writing articles about specific items that I photographed for inclusion in this series. I thought by showing the changes I made to my camera and set-up with one object would enable myself and others to clearly see how one can improve the quality of their own photographs. As I was writing the articles, I realized that I should probably demonstrate the group of pictures I photographed in each shooting session and then talk about what I learned specifically about each object. Hopefully, this will make the remainder of this series of articles more clear.

Session One:

Time: 2 pm
Lightbox location: On a bed, in the darkest part of a sunlight room
Lighting: One work light, but not using the window light
Tripod: A gorillapod inside the lightbox
Here are the best photos from this session:
WWII Name Bracelet
WWII Medal
Cuff Links
Cuff Links


Session Two:


Time: 6 pm, same day
Lightbox location: On a bed
Lighting: A lamp and a work light, no other light
Tripod: A ‘regular’ tripod

** This was a short session as I needed to do more research

Session Three:

Time: 2 pm, the following day
Lightbox location: On a desk near the window
Lighting: Using the window light and a work lamp
Tripod: A ‘regular’ tripod
After doing some research and seeing improved results, I had better results. The photos still could be better, but they are definitely better than point-and-shoot cameras any day. I could easily see myself using any of the pictures in this collection as part of my heritage albums or other genealogy presentations.
Perhaps with a few tweaks in a photo editing program, I can make more improvements to some of these photos, but in the coming series, you’ll see what I’ve learned and what I plan to do to improve the quality of my photos.
My hope in sharing my path to the art of photographing family artifacts is that someone else who has been wanting to undertake such a project but hasn’t had the know-how will be inspired and better educated through my efforts.
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.

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