12 December 2012

Create Your Own Genealogy Blog Stock Images

Read just about any article on "how to blog", and one of the first suggestions is always related to having images in each article. It's good advice, and it's a proven method of generating - and keeping - readers. In our technology laden society, we are being inundated with more and more information, you need something flashy and attractive to keep those that are interested in your stories coming back.
If you Google "stock photos", you can literally find millions of results. Some of them are free, some are not. Some are very high quality, some are not.
There is an easier way, however, and if you have a decent digital camera or a smartphone, it becomes relatively simple. Here is the warning: once you start taking pictures on your own for your genealogy or family history related blog, you may not stop. You've been told.
Inspiration comes easily, just look at the myriad of other bloggers out there, focusing of course on similar topics to yours. If your blog discusses a memory of your grandmother, take a photo of your heirloom tea cup that was passed down to you. Is the objective of the post a book review or include mention of a article or magazine? Use the cover of the text, a notepad and pen to create an image of studying or reading. Have a new research idea, that you want to write about? Fantastic! Even a stack of unidentified books in front of a computer screen makes a compelling image.

I've been doing this, consistently, now for a couple of months, and truly love it. The ideas that come to mind are really endless, and your imagination is all you really need!

Here's a few of mine:

heirloom, artifact, toy, wooden toy, toy truck, map, King County, Washington, antique, stock photo, blogging, Ancestral Journeys
My husband's toy wooden truck, placed on top of a map
from the general area where we grew up.

train, toy train, map, King County, Washington, heirloom, genealogy, family history, Ancestral Journeys, stock photo, photography
My own childhood toy! Mounted on a track and using
the same map. I used the macro setting on all of these
images to get the blurred corners.

tea cup, saucer, heirloom, genealogy, family history, Brown, antique, collection, photography, blogging, family tree chart, digital preservation
My grandmother's tea cup and saucer, one of
a small collection. Placed on top of a family tree chart,
next to her name. 

Same tea cup and saucer, with a larger view of the chart.

To display continuing education...
classic texts with a genealogy conference
website in the background. Combining classic
"education" with new formats.

Use your community. Talk a walk around your neighborhood and look for interesting architectural details on local homes, flora and fauna that catches your eye, cloud formations above buildings that create an interesting scene. Use your creativity and have some fun with it! If your ancestors were farmers, get up close and personal with a grain of wheat or a leaf, if there are in a location with limited access to farms. Take pictures of gears, bike spokes, lunch boxes... anything that you can use to tell the story, behind the story.

Breckenridge, Colorado, Summit County, box car, history, rail, railroad, family history, transportation, scenic, museum, park, Colorado and Southern
The Rotary Snow Plow Park in Breckenridge, CO.
They have a fantastic engine, but the box car is
photographed very rarely.

Breckenridge, Colorado, history, railroad, trains, park, museum, Summit County, genealogy, family history
Rotary Snow Plow Park, Breckenridge, CO.
A unique perspective on rail history, perhaps. 

wood grain, color, contrast, Colorado, Ancestral Journeys, art, chalk, wood
My back deck, with the addition of my daughter's art work.
A good color / neutral tone combo.

Two suggestions, however. Find a way to have and label your images with copyright text, unless of course, you do not mind if anybody and everybody uses your ideas. Secondly, use your "macro" setting on your camera (it's up to you to research that, if you don't know what it is, there are far too many options to be discussed here), or Instagram on your smart phone to create unique, visually stimulating images.
A few moments of self-teaching on your equipment will go a long way, here. Take advantage of the tools you have at home to create unique, creative images for your blog. Your readers will appreciate it, and your stories will become more personal.


  1. Jen,

    This is an idea I have started doing as well. But, I really need to work on my photo skills. Thanks for reminding me to keep at it!

    1. It's certainly come up before, but I'm having so much fun with it, I couldn't resist a full blog post! One of the benefits, of course, of digital photography, is you can take as many "practice shots" as you need to, to get the right image, without wasting film. I remember that well from years past. Keep at it, Valerie!
      Thanks for reading, and commenting! ~ Jen

  2. Jen,
    Your images are so creative. Thanks for the ideas in this blog post. Although I use lots of my own photos they are very ordinary, you have given me some inspiration.


    1. Thank you, Jill! I appreciate the comments. I've always enjoyed amateur photography, and with my father's influence from his 30+ years as a professional in the field, I find it a great way to stretch my creative legs.
      Thanks for reading! ~ Jen

  3. Great photos and idea Jen! I especially love the photos of the tea cup on top of the genealogy chart and the books in front of the computer. Awesome!

    1. Thank you so much, Jana! The tea cup is my favorite from Grandma's collection; most of the others have pink tones, which is not my "cup of tea". He-he. It took several practice shots for me to get that just right, and to come up with the idea of putting the cup next to her name. The book image was done with a particular post in mind, but sometimes I just pick up a random heirloom and play around until I get a good image, then write the article. It's a fun way to work around writer's block.
      Thanks for reading! ~ Jen

  4. ou are a great photographer and it really looks like your having fun! I also love to take photos and have used some similar ideas. I also discovered a website called imagechef.com which has lots of fun templates and you can add photos and or texts. It's a really easy and creative way to make fun images. They place their logo on the image but I think it's worth it. I used an image I created on my post yesterday for example; Brick Wall Comes Down http://bit.ly/XcadoG and I used one of my family photos and a bit of text against a brick wall. They also have animated ones you can embed. I suggest using animation very sparingly.

    1. Thank you so much, Smadar. I appreciate your compliments on my very amateur photography, and your suggestions. I, too, would avoid over using animation, it can be quite distracting.
      Thanks for reading! ~ Jen

  5. Great suggestion, Jen! I've taken a few pictures with my blog in mind (mostly landscapes) and just recently started collecting them in a folder on iPhoto. Your images are wonderful and inspire me to be more creative with mine!

    1. Thanks, Shelley! I have quite a few landscape and nature images in my files, also, but have been enjoying the heirloom work so much, that I don't use those very often. Thanks for reading, and commenting! ~ Jen

    2. Thank you for some great ideas. Like Shelley, I have taken some pictures with my blog in mind,(including my grest grandmother's teaset) but you have given me more imaginative, creative approaches, especially when a posting may not have an immediately obvious image to hand. I must look at things with a fresh eye!

    3. I have to be careful when I do this, because my husband will walk in the door after work and I'll be buried in a huge pile of "props" and heirlooms. LOL. Just as in writing, photographic art is "felt", so just go with your imagination! Thanks for reading, and commenting, ScotSue! ~Jen

  6. Love it. I can see how it would be addictive... now how to do my mother in law's secretary that contains Hero memories...
    Great blog post

    1. Hummer. Good luck with that. I mean it. I've only started doing this with what I have in my house, I can only imagine what will happen when I start going into the home's of my family members. Thanks for reading, and commenting, it is appreciated. ~ Jen

  7. Thanks for sharing some good ideas and great photos.

  8. Excellent ideas, Jen! Very imaginative -- I had thought only of photographing my flowers and trees as "symbols." But this is much better. Must find the macro setting on my iPhone now. I'm going through boxes and have already found some ephemera I can photograph with it. Your blog has really started me thinking! Thanks!

  9. When I run out of ideas , I have lots of artists in my family so I incorporate their art !


  10. Magnificent idea! :) The tips are helpful too. Readers would truly want to make one of those after reading your article.


Please comment! I would love to hear your thoughts!