Tuesday, February 12, 2013

FamilySearch Photos

Click these images to enlarge
FamilySearch Photo Feature
Home Page

FamilySearch recently uploaded photos
Recent photos

Editing a tag
Editing a tag

This page shows people tagged in a photo and whether or not they are linked to Family Tree
People in photo linked/not linked to Family Tree

Once tagged to a person, the photo appears on the Family Tree person page
Photo appears on the Person Page

As I mentioned not long ago, FamilySearch is working on a photograph feature. This feature serves both to engage new genealogists and to provide seasoned genealogists with a way to upload scanned documents.

The photo feature makes it possible to upload your photos, identify people in the photos, and link the people to Family Tree.

I took a minute last Saturday to check it out.

I started by uploading a 5 MB photograph (that I had Ancestry.com scan for me at a conference in 2010). I received an error when I tried to upload a PNG file, even though the site said that PNG and JPEG are supported. I switched to JPEG and started the upload. I have a slow (DSL) connection at home, so it took some time.

Be careful what you name your photos as the filename is visible to all. I had the name of a living individual in mine. Oops.

I tagged four people in the photograph and then attempted to link them to the tree. The system automatically searched the tree for a person matching the name tag. The result listed six results, none of which were my ancestor. I clicked the search button, hoping to reveal a search form giving me more options, such as birth date. No luck; the same six people were shown. Then I noticed you can enter the person by FamilySearch person ID. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want a more robust search. If this is an attempt to make the user experience simpler, it’s back firing.

I brought up Family Tree to walk my pedigree to find the person ID. Unfortunately, Family Tree was on the fritz; a living person was missing from my tree leaving me unable to walk the tree. I flipped over to New FamilySearch (which I hope they don’t shut down too soon, given the buggy nature of Family Tree) and found the ID.

I copied and pasted it into the search box back in FamilySearch Photos and hit the search button. Nothing happened. Fortunately, I’m familiar enough with computers to think to search for spaces on the end of the ID. Since I copied and pasted it, it’s not uncommon for that to happen. Once I removed the trailing spaces, the search returned the proper ancestor. Someone with less experience would probably give up.

On my second person, the search also failed. This time F5 (refresh) brought the page back to life.

Once I associated the photo with a person, I could click to see all the photos containing that person, including a photo uploaded by someone else. The photograph also appeared on the Family Tree person page.

Much remains to be explored, but that gives you a flavor of the new FamilySearch Photo feature.


  1. I am confused over the option of using the Photo feature to upload scanned documents . . . these I would presume to be source documents that would then not be appearing where they ought to under the Source feature.

    I have no trouble using free cloud storage of DropBox or MS Skydrive to host my source documents and provide unique url addresses for each document to use with the Family Tree Source feature.

  2. There are a lot of threads about this on Get Satisfaction. https://getsatisfaction.com/familysearch/searches?query=documents+photos&x=4&y=9&style=topics I suggest reading those. Documents are a work in progress. They want to make them upload like photos, but also create a source in your source box when you upload one. Different staff said go ahead and upload, most of them said wait until the feature is ready. One said a week or so ago that it should be ready in a couple weeks. I hope this will be more clear by RootsTech.

  3. I consider myself a fairly tech-savvy genealogist, and was totally unsuccessful in my attempt to link photos to my tree. Very frustrating, so thanks for the reassurance that I was not alone.

  4. The photos feature is still in development and is not yet complete, and I'm glad you gave it a try. Many of these issues are being addressed right now. The search is a temporary one until the complete search experience is integrated with Family Tree.

    Please join the discussion on Get Satisfaction to find out the current status and add additional feedback. I hope once it is complete that FamilySearch Photos will be a great experience for everyone, and feedback like this is great at helping it improve.

  5. At this point the title of the photo cannot yet be edited, but to get around that, one can delete the photo, start over by uploading it and giving it the title you want. I think titles of tags can be edited, right? I like how everyone's photos of a certain ancestor will show on his/her person page. I like how one can upload a family picture, tag each person in the photo and attach each tag to the individuals in the family.

  6. I also like one will be able to choose the "default" photo that will appear next to the ancestors name.

  7. You indicated that you hope nFS will remain open for awhile. I traded emails with Ron Tanner (Product Manager of nFS and Family Tree) a few days ago. He stated that after the transition to Family Tree is completed, nFS will remain open for a period of time as a read-only website. This will allow patrons to better deal with improperly-combined records. Also, patrons will be able to see the birth, christening, death and burial data that isn't transferred to Family Tree.

    These issues are explained in better detail in my manual "How To Use Family Tree Wisely," which is available for free download at www.usingfamilysearch.com. My previous manual, "How To Use New FamilySearch Correctly," was downloaded by over 50,000 LDS genealogists. These manuals have been widely used for training in Family History Centers and wards throughout the Church.


    George W. Scott

  8. Two years ago the FamilySearch.org development team announced at Rootstech that they were going to change the way they developed the software for the web site. They decided that in order to better involve the community in the design of the products that they would take an approach that starts with a very minimal set of functionality and make it available as soon as possible to a select set of people. They would take the feedback and that would be the basis for their next design and build cycle which is usually about 2 weeks (changes will come often - sometimes 3 times a day). As pieces solidify more people would be able to access the functionality which tests the scale and performance. Some times as they get to a certain set of functionality that initially seemed to meet the needs of customers it is discovered that it doesn't scale or it doesn't meet the needs of a specific segment and they have to go back to the drawing board. Although it's a painful process for those that choose to experiment and give feedback it is having remarkable results. Currently there are several major efforts underway that are in various stages of design and build. One of the largest is the Family Tree, another is photos and stories. Others are underway that are still in design. Family Tree is particularly difficult because of the complexity of transitioning from an "opinion model" of the data in new.familysearch.org to a "conclusion model" in the family tree. Trying to keep the data straight in each part and keep both running and in sync has proven very challenging. That being said we are working hard to take the customer's feedback and make improvements. Thanks for hanging with us.

    Craig Miller
    VP Product Management

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  10. Can anyone recommend a PORTABLE SCANNER for pictures and documents please? I need one quite quick as the is a big gathering of family happening soon and they are bringing their pictures. I thought that I had seen one advertised on Ancestry Insider email, but my computer crashed and I lost the email. I would appreciate any help. Thanks


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