Photos and videos are an important part of family histories. More than just preserving names and dates like documents do, they offer more complete views of our ancestors’ lives and personalities. But making photos and videos a meaningful part of our family stories takes effort. If left in dusty boxes in the basement, photos are sure to be forgotten, thrown out, or destroyed. In order to really be part of our family’s stories, photos must be preserved, organized, and labeled.
If you have a few of those dusty boxes filled with photos, this process can feel like an overwhelming task. Fortunately, new technology is changing the game and providing quick, convenient, fun ways to store, label, and share photos. We’ve chosen a few of our favorite new apps to highlight here.
JoyFLIPS—(free app and web service)
JoyFLIPS works to connect family photos with deep, rich family stories. The free app (available in the FamilySearch App Gallery) comes with unlimited storage. JoyFLIPS allows users to scan hundreds of photos in minutes and makes preservation and sharing easy. The JoyFLIPS service goes another step too. Users can tag photos with their voices. Then its state-of-the-art artificial intelligence searches through genealogy sources, such as documents, newspapers, and other records, to find matching information and add further details to the story attached to the photo. This artificial intelligence also picks out names, dates, and places from the photo tags and searches on FamilySearch’s Family Tree to find other people who might be connected.
Another perk is that JoyFLIPS users can order printed photo books or access professional photo restoration through its site.
Forever—(web storage and free app; $299 for membership[monthly payments available], which includes 10GB permanent cloud storage. Additional storage is available for an extra cost. Other tools are also available at additional costs.)
Forever excels at storage. They create a permanent digital home for your photos and other digital media, and they guarantee it for your lifetime plus 100 years. At Forever, your photos are triple backed up and always moved to the most current technology.
Forever offers more than just storage space though. The site and app allow you to edit, tag, organize, and share your photos and create keepsakes and print photo books using Forever Artisan (available for $59.99). Forever Historian (also available for $59.99) provides advanced options for organizing photos, video clips, and more. Don’t know what to do with your old slides, cassette tapes, and home videos? Send those to the people at Forever, and they will convert them into digital formats and store those for you as well.
Emberall—(free app; $79 for a prepurchased gift card that allows full use of the Emberall video recording service as well as a DVD)
Emberall’s focus is on video recording personal and family histories. The process starts when you purchase a gift card that has a unique code enabling you to download the Emberall app (available in the FamilySearch App Gallery). The Emberall site provides a list of categorized, high-impact questions that you can use to interview family members, or you can create your own questions. Simply record the answers to the questions with your phone’s camera. Once you’re satisfied, the recording is uploaded to the cloud, where it’s stored in your private album library. Continue adding recordings, editing and sharing them as you go. After you’ve finished the entire album, which can often hold around two hours of content, you can order the DVD (the price is included in the original gift card purchase) and have it sent to your home.
What started as a popular Instagram account known as Save Family Photos, which was dedicated to using old family photos as conversation starters for telling family stories, has now launched as an app called weGather. WeGather was built not only to share photos, but to include space for metadata, where all the tags and text go. The founders of weGather hope to encourage families to connect around and share old photos with the basic philosophy that photos with no information connected to them have much less value and that photos often prick memories and get the storytelling juices flowing. The website states that the weGather process requires only three steps: (1) Grab a photo, (2) Add your memories, and (3) Ask your family what they remember.
Qroma—(free app; complete scanning system bundle sells for $59.99)
Qroma’s goal is to help you safely preserve and organize your photos and to make the process as easy as possible. To achieve this goal, Qroma relies on two simple tools: your phone and your voice. Their first secret to success is the QromaScan Lightbox, a device that controls the photo environment, ensuring high-quality scanning at breakneck speed. The next secret to success is QromaTag. With printed photos, the back of the photo provides a place to add dates, names, places, or anything else you want preserved with the photo. Metadata attached to photos offers the digital equivalent. But many people find it too difficult or tedious to follow through. QromaTag makes the process quicker by allowing you to simply talk, telling the device what you want on the label. Qroma then creates industry standard metadata tags that stay embedded in your image—just like the words on the back of a printed photo.
A bonus for family historians is that Qroma also allows you to upload your GEDCOM and tag people in your family tree using voice recognition.
So whether you’re already an expert at including photos in your family story or preserving photos is a new ballgame for you, give some of these new resources a try. There’s sure to be something that can make using photos to tell your family’s story just a little easier.