Photohistory Research FAQs

How do I make a research request?

Whether you need a comprehensive documentation and analysis of your collection of old family photos, or merely a date estimate for a photographic portrait of your ancestor, this is how it works.

Image © 2011 Brett Payne

Email me with a brief summary of your requirements including, if possible, a photograph of your photo collection or a scan of your ancestor's portrait. ase note that the more relevant information you can provide, the better equipped I will be to assist you. I will respond, also by email, with a research proposal and quotation.

Image © 2011 Brett Payne

Can you tell me who is in my old family photo

The chances of identifying individual subjects can be enhanced by using a variety of tools to help you find likely candidates in your family tree, and this often results in a positive or likely identification. These tools include:
- researching the provenance of a photograph or collection
- estimating a date when the photographic portrait was taken
- deciphering annotations on the backs of photos or on album pages
- using photographer details to narrow down a location

Visit my Photo-Sleuth blog to read some of my many success stories.

How much will it cost?

The charge for any particular job will depend on the nature of the request, and how long the job takes. I charge my time out at a standard hourly rate, other external expenses at cost, and mileage at the IRD-specified rate only if I need to travel to you. All of these will be specified in the quotation.

For some projects, such as researching a collection of old family photos, it may not be possible to provide a quote without further information. In such cases an initial evaluation visit may be advisable. For this I will charge for one hour of my time plus mileage or other transport costs.

When and how do I pay?

A retainer, the amount depending depending on the expected length of the project, will be required before I commence work. Payment may be made by direct bank transfer, cheque (New Zealand) or via PayPal.

Image © 2011 Brett Payne

Who will scan and document my photographs?

If your project includes photographing and scanning your collection, we arrange a mutually suitable time for me to visit. I will carry this out supplying my own camera, scanner and computer. Alternatively, if distance precludes a personal visit, you may wish to either have them professionally scanned or supply the scans yourself. I will provide the necessary specifications. I would prefer that you don't send me your collections of photographs.

Image © 2011 Brett Payne
It may be helpful for me to investigate and document the provenance and background to the collection, and possibly the identity of photo subjects, either by oral interviews or written communication. Discussions can be by phone, email or skype.

Can I and other family members have some input into the documentation process?

I will then carry out the mutually agreed research, including the cataloguing and documentation of images, as well as a detailed dating analysis. If a collaborative documentation effort is the best way to document the photographs, images can be uploaded to a secure web site, where you and your family members can share identifications and other information about the photographs.

Image © 2011 Brett Payne

Will I get a report, and what will it contain?

Finally, you will receive a full report on the research conducted (View a sample), which can include:
- a summary of the research request
- description(s) of the photograph(s) including, in the case of collections, a full list or catalogue of photographs
- an analysis of the photograph(s), including features such as the photo format, photographer, card mount design, portrait style, clothing and hair styles, apparent age, studio furnishings and accessories
- a date estimate for each photograph
- discussion of the provenance and history of the photograph or collection
- photographs and high resolution scanned images on archival quality DVD-ROMs, together with high quality print copies, as required
- a list of all sources and references used

I am happy to tailor the report to your specific requirements.

Can you supply duplicate copies of the report?

Yes, any number of printed copies of the report may be requested. Alternatively the report can be supplied as a PDF file for you to have printed at your local copy shop.

Can you advise me on how best to store my old photos?

Yes, if required, an evaluation of your current storage methods can be made, and I will include recommendations for the safe archival preservation and storage of your collection in the written report. I can also provide the latest in safe archival quality albums and storage boxes for your collection.

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