Importance of Photographs to Genealogy - Everyone's answers requested and appreciated

+7 votes
We have a question that we are hoping all can help with.

My daughter is a professional photographer and is going for her Bachelor's Degree in Business, to do not only her books for her studio but also her brother's when his restaurant opens. For her one class, they have to do a large paper on something important in their field. With her field being photography, she finds the ease of today's photos being in the palm of everybody almost, to be harmful to other parts of our society. ie: Family connections of taking time for portraits, the esteem benefits received from being presented on the wall in a frame, and we feel the importance of photos for present and future genealogists/family records.

Here is where our question falls to you. We say that at times photos can provide more in the way of information and proof than records. Most of the older ones have names, dates, ages and contain the whole family in as much as could be there. This makes these a very important aspect that is fading out. Do cell phones/selfies compare to the family portrait? Any other aspects, supporting either side that we are not considering?

We appreciate everyone who takes the time to read this and are so thankful for all answers we receive.

Lisa and Alicia
in The Tree House by Lisa Murphy G2G6 Pilot (112k points)

3 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
True, technology has enabled everyone to document everything, but so far I have not seen any actual data to support the concern that this has led to the fading out of family photos and framed keepsakes.  I agree, those items will remain important in genealogy.  One possible issue with the technology is that given the ease of photo-shopping, you could foresee circumstances where the authenticity of a photo may be called into question.  That could lead to genealogists having to question whether a particular photo really constitutes a valid source.  Hopefully that won't become a widespread problem.
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (406k points)
selected by Anonymous Barnett
+8 votes
I like family portraits whether professional or not and also dragging out the photo albums and looking through them with my family.  The old photos of relatives that I never met are also  treasured by me. Having some very old family portraits proved priceless when I started my family tree.  I happened to connect with someone who had the very same photo.  She was able to name everyone in the photo (mine was nameless).  We also exchanged photos so it is very valuable to have access to the past through photos.   I just don't think a cell phone photo can compete with a family portrait hanging on the wall.
by Demetrius Burnett G2G2 (2.7k points)
I always enjoy looking at photo, but must amid I love looking at the old black and white photo, I really enjoy to se there clothes or what ever there are on the photo.

Must also amid I take lots of photo, on my journeys
I agree with you Demetrius, it sometimes helps connect with other people who you didn't even know you are connected with.
+4 votes
In Genealogy we are writing the story of someone's life. It helps when we can highlight that story with some accurate photos and make that person seem more real. Where the photo comes from is not as important as the skill of the photographer. I take photos with both a digital camera as well as my cell phone or tablet but for the important ones I always share them with others both online and sometimes as a print, and yes it is possible to print a photo taken with a cell phone. To me a camera is just a tool and it matters very little if it a stand alone camera or on another electronic device, the skill of the photographer and sharing are what makes the photo important.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
edited by Dale Byers

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