Remember all the stories you remember older relatives telling over the years? You probably remember bits and pieces. Wouldn't it be wonderful to relive them whenever you wanted?
Then there are the photos of your loved ones – some sadly crumbling or stashed away in an attic. Let’s get those precious memories out so everyone can enjoy them.
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Film your loved ones telling their stories
Holidays without my parents are hard, but I get so much peace watching videos of them. I’m lucky that I have a lot of my mom, especially. If you haven’t, you should do this with your folks or anyone older in your family.
You can record interviews through audio, video or both. Although videos have more depth, audio is an excellent option for stories that feel very personal or are hard to tell.
Here are some tips to get you started:
◾ Choose a quiet area with natural light. Have something in the background, like a bookshelf, couch or lamp. You want a cozy environment, especially when you’re recording video.
◾ Sit to the side of the camera and have your relative look at you. Looking right into the camera is jarring for the person speaking and future viewers.
◾ Pick some general topics, like historical events they witnessed or how they picked their children’s names. Come prepared with open-ended questions, too, like, “Are there any stories you’d like to share that you’ve never actually talked about with me?”
◾ Don’t let the prompts and questions you prepared distract you from the conversation. Stay engaged in what your relative is saying. Follow-up questions often trigger the best stories.
If you have a newer smartphone, use its built-in voice recorder app and camera. For video, position your phone horizontally so you don't end up with black bars on either side of the video. Keep the phone between you and your loved one so the camera will pick up both voices.
A tripod makes things so much easier. This affordable Amazon Basics tripod is light enough to carry around but extends up to 50 inches. I like the flexible phone tripod from TalkWorks if you want a tabletop option.
You can back up your clips in an app, on your desktop, on a physical drive or in the cloud for easy sharing. Now you have a piece of history you can all appreciate in the future.
Record them in action
Instead of taking the same posed pictures of your family at holiday parties, go out of your way to capture more candid moments. I’d love more photos of my loved ones looking like themselves, not just smiling for the camera.
Capturing movement is challenging. All the dog owners and parents of small children know what I mean. Burst mode can help. This feature enables your camera to take pictures faster than humanly possible. You get multiple photos for each second and can select your favorites.
◾ On almost every smartphone supporting it, you can activate burst mode by holding down the shutter button. Go to your gallery and choose the photo set to see all your shots.
Note: All those pictures take up a lot of space, so just save the best shots from the set.
Digitize old pics moldering in frames and books
There are endless ways to do that, and many companies will do the hard work for you. You can do it for free with your phone in a pinch (say, before dinner at your aunt’s house).
Google’s PhotoScan is a free app for iOS and Android that scans your photos multiple times and then stitches all the images together to remove glare and improve the quality of the final image. The app works on matte and gloss prints and photos inside or outside albums.
Snap one image, then take four additional shots per the app’s instructions. PhotoScan uses an algorithm to detect and crop the photo, automatically detect the edge, correct the rotation, and correct the perspective to show a frontal view.
◾ Open the PhotoScan app and hold your phone above a photo.
◾ Tap the capture button to take pictures, which will save to your device.
◾ Move your phone around to get the circle over each of the four dots.
◾ After the photo is processed, tap the photo thumbnail.
◾ Select a photo to rotate, adjust the corners, or delete.
You can then use Google Photos to store and organize your scans. From there, you can edit your images and share them with others.
Keep your tech-know going
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Make holiday memories last a lifetime with these tech-y tips.