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    The Best of Your Family Photo Albums

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    Well chosen, well placed photographs help create energy and excitement in your book as well as providing visual cues to your reader as to order of events, organization and over-all flow. Your photos should guide or supplement your stories. But as you review the albums or boxes of family pictures the problem is often deciding which photos to choose.

    Begin by sorting your photographs to eliminate unsuitable art. Get rid of pictures of unknown people or content unrelated to your stories, repetitious photos or photos of unacceptable quality. In assessing quality a simple criteria to use is to rate photos:
    •    Unacceptable – of poor quality even with photo restoration
    •    Poor – may be improved to fair or good with restoration or retouching
    •    Fair – moderate retouching will improve it to good
    •    Good – acceptable as is; minor retouching will improve it
    •    Excellent – high quality; needs no work

    As a general rule, use only good or excellent photographs to illustrate your book. However, occasionally you may need to include a photo of lesser quality because it is too rare or important to eliminate. Retouch the picture as best you can. A hint to save money is to find a friend skilled in Adobe Photoshop to restore or retouch your photos. Better yet the editors at Stories To Tell can do it for you.

    When you have determined which photographs are high enough quality to use you must select the ones you will actually use in your book. Consider the following guidelines when deciding which photos to include. Choose photos that:
    •    evoke emotion or cause laughter. They are visually stimulating and usually the best choices for illustrations.
    •    are candid and show character. If you have several pictures of the same person at a particular time, select the one which best captures his or her personality.
    •    show the stages of someone’s life. Convey changes by selecting pictures taken of the same person or group taken years apart.
    •    are action shots. In general, they are more interesting than posed or “head” shots. They may reveal character and interests.
    •    are close-ups rather than long distance shots.
    •    mix individual with group shots.
    Some things to avoid in making your photo choices include selecting:
    •    photos that are too small or out of focus
    •    two shots which are similar. Consider eliminating one of them.
    •    too many vertical shots. As a rule horizontal shots are more effective as illustrations.

    When you have chosen which photographs you might want to use, it is time to consider what captions to use and how to place them in your book.

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