Calling All Heirloom Photos

Heirloom app comparison_canvaEverywhere I turn, it seems like someone is telling me about a new phone app that I “need” to have. While I have an iPhone, I am always pretty hesitant about filling it up with too many apps.  This one though, is one that I have been telling everyone about.  It is just too good to not have!

Drum roll, please! Ok, that is way overboard, but Heirloom is an app that has so many uses for me as a genealogist and digital scrapbooker, that I can’t help but try to pass it around.

Here’s the beauty of it: we all have cameras on our smartphones and tablets, right? Well, if I wanted to take a picture of a picture that was glued down in my childhood photo album, I would need to take the photo, edit it and then crop it. With Heirloom, I just have to take the picture. Yes, you heard me right. I just have to take the picture and it adds some contrast, boosts the colors and crops to the edges of the photo.

I recently took a picture with my iPhone, using Heirloom, of an old photo that I had been meaning to run through my scanner so that I could edit it and try to bring up some definition. I was planning on using Photoshop to edit it because it was in such bad shape.  This particular photo was taken back in 1967 and was terribly faded and yellowed. I have attached the collage of the two photos so that you could see the difference. The photo on the top is taken straight from my camera on my iPhone. The bottom of the collage is the photo taken with the same iPhone but using Heirloom.  You can’t really tell from the collage, but the straight camera shot did not crop the photo and you can see the fading.  The Heirloom photo is just heads above the quality of my original photo.

I do have access to Photoshop and Photoshop Elements and Lightroom — all the digital goodies that would turn this same faded photo into a pretty good photo, but let’s get real.  With this app, I have skipped three steps and I can now start using it immediately.

And it keeps getting better. (Get ready because my geeky side will be readily apparent real soon.) I don’t make it a habit to contact companies to make upgrade suggestions, but this app has touched my inner-photographer/family historian so I didn’t think twice about going ahead and hitting the SEND button in my email!

You see… as much as I love this app, there is one area that I felt would take it from a super heirloom photo uploading machine into a necessity for all family history folks — no matter what your focus. I felt that this app lacked the ability to add information that would follow the photo no matter where it landed — on a scrapbook page or in Ancestry.com or wherever. I suggested that they consider adding the ability to add metadata information to the photo.

Guess what?  Not only did I get a response by the next morning, but it was from the owner. He explained that my particular request was indeed a popular one and would be available in the next update of the app! What does this mean for you? Well, now you can take your newly-taken photo and add some details to it such as a date and names. You could also potentially add a story to go along with it.

If you have ever used a photo editing program before, you would have noticed that your photo had the information about the camera that took the photo, the date, and a lot of other information that may or may not have seemed useful.  Now you will be able to add the really important stuff to the background of the photo and it will follow the picture around.

How amazing is that?  Family historians have been known to do a happy dance when they find an elusive bit of information — this is pretty close to making me do that happy dance. Don’t worry though, I won’t be posting any videos of me doing that dance!