Tuesday, March 13, 2012

From One Shoebox to Another

A Review of the iPhone App Shoebox

Some background on the app:

In my last posting, I made reference to Shoebox and 1000 Memories.  One of my blogging friends,  Rosaria  from sixtyfivewhatnow asked me about the app I used to download the large family portrait I included in the blog post.

For those of you who may not know about Shoebox and 1000 Memories, I thought it would be fun to share what I have been doing with this app.   My daughter Keicha, who blogs at o-townramblings,  first told me about this app a few weeks ago.  This post will not give technical information about the app because I am not very good at giving technical information.  If you need technical information, go to 1000memories.com.  If that doesn't work for you,  just download the Shoebox app onto your iPhone, and I'm sure you will be walked through the process.  Thankfully, my daughter walked me through the process, and then, unfortunately,  I forgot it all.

The concept behind the idea of Shoebox and 1000 Memories is the brain child of Rudy Adler and Brett Huneycutt.  Their goal is to "turn the world's smartphones into tools to digitalize the estimated 1.8 trillion fading and yellowing snapshots that people have lying around in their attics, garages and picture albums..."  Isn't that an awesome idea?  I  didn't know anything about the creators of this app or the genius of their idea until after I had actually downloaded the app and started using it.  I then read about the app in yesterday's Denver Post.  (Click to read the article.)

I guess Mark Zuckerberg also thought this app was cool because now he and Facebook have joined forces with 1000 Memories in order to allow users to add the photos from their newly digitalized photos to their timelines on Facebook.  I haven't quite gotten that far yet.  None of my photos are on Facebook, but I hope to share them with family using that format soon.

Using the app:

I had the perfect opportunity to practice using this new app this past weekend when some of my cousins, an aunt, and I gathered at the home of an aunt who passed away a few years ago.  The home still contained many family mementos, and my cousin wanted us to come by and take what we might want so she could get the house ready to rent.

One of the treasures we found was this large framed portrait of my grandfather.  My aunt said she would like to take the portrait of her father home with her.  As we stood admiring the portrait some of us had never seen before, I suddenly remembered I had Shoebox on my phone.

A. French
Binghamton, NY
Since the portrait was framed and behind glass, with my aunt's permission, we took the portrait from the frame because I couldn't capture a good scan using my phone due to the glare from the glass.  The next problem to be solved involved trying to place the portrait on a table and get a good scan.  I saw an easel, so I put the portrait on the easel and then used the phone to scan the portrait.

We discovered my grandfather's handwriting on the back of the portrait.  He had recorded when and where the portrait was taken.  He also noted that it was taken in his uncle's studio by his uncle.  I was able to also scan this handwritten documentation using my smartphone with the Shoebox app.

As we went through dishes, glassware, and such, I discovered a shoebox full of old photos.  I took just a handful and scanned them.  Here is a sampling:

This photo was taken in my grandparent's backyard when my father came home from the service in January of 1946.  My father is holding me, and my brother is standing at his side.  I have a photo that is similar to this that includes my mother, but had never seen this particular photo.  I love this photo because it records the first time my father spent any time with me as an infant because he was drafted into the army on the day I was born.

This priceless treasure was taken the same day.  My father is shown in this photo with his two brothers who were also home on leave.  My Uncle Charles was a paratrooper, and my Uncle Bob was in the Marines.  As I understand it, Christmas was celebrated on the day the photos were taken because the family waited for the boys to come home before having Christmas.  My grandmother recorded the date on the back of the photo as January 20th, 1946.
My handsome father
his handsome brothers
This photo was bit of a challenge because it is in color.  I found that by placing the photo on a white paper, I could scan it more easily.  This photo was also taken in my grandparent's backyard, and it is of my brother.  I would guess he is about two years old.

This portrait of my mother sits in a frame in my office.  I did not remove the photo from the frame because I was experimenting.  As you can see, it is difficult to get the edges straight by holding the phone and scanning if one does not place the photo on a flat surface.  I can crop this using the app, but included it so you could see that some of the scanning takes some time and proper placement of the item being scanned.

I love this portrait of my beautiful mother.  She had this taken while my father was away in the army so he would have a picture of her to carry with him.  This same portrait was on a dresser in my parent's bedroom when I was child.  I remember studying it once when I must have been about five years old.  I was struck by my mother's great beauty.  I ran in the kitchen and looked at her and said, "Mama, did you know you were pretty?"
This photo of my sister and me was taken by a neighbor who was learning how to take portraits.  He posed us in front of his living room window after he positioned a hose on window.  He wanted to create a scene that appeared as if two children looking outdoors on a rainy day.  He entered a large portrait of this exact pose in a contest and won first prize.  For a number of years, this portrait of the two of us hung in the Fine Arts Center of Colorado Springs.

I was able to scan this from a 8 X 10 framed copy that I now have in my study by placing the photo on a flat surface and scanning it with my iPhone.
Sally and Carol
Finally, I am sharing the first scan I took using Shoebox.  This photo was one of the poses of my daughter Julie taken for her senior picture.  I love this photo of Julie because it captures her smile, her eyes, and her hair so well.

Not long after her death, I was reframing the photo and decided to trim the sides to fit it into the frame better.  I'd forgotten she had written on the back of it.  I was devastated to think I had destroyed part of the message she had written on the back.  With Shoebox, I was able to easily scan her handwritten message so it would be saved with her photo for others to see.  

She wrote:
This is one to show my hapiness & I would like for 
you to show it to me when I'm down to show me 
a smile lights the world.  Even though
you make me feel better just being around.

Yes, the photos are "often among the most prized, and least seen of people's possessions."  I love having a way to save and share these treasures in a format that also allow one to tell the story behind the pictures.  


  1. Hi Sally, Aren't the APPS just awesome??? Hubby has a iPad---and has downloaded many wonderful apps to use... We haven't switched to an iPhone yet... One of these days we will.

    Great picture of Julie--and I know how much you cherish that note...


  2. These photos are great treasures and I did not know about that app.
    Your daughter Julie wrote a beautiful note on the photo back, and she looks lovely.

  3. These photos are all such treasures, Sally. I do especially love Julie's photo and beautiful note. Thank you for the App recommendation!

  4. Interesting indeed. I'm involved in a similar but different process with an "old" Epsom machine. The goal is to convert several thousand old Ectachrome slides into digital. Then I'll be able to place them on discs or flash cards. I'm not much of a techie either but with the right tools it's amazing what can be accomplished...:) Good luck with yours.

  5. Like troutbirder, I am doing it the hard way. What a wonderful app to have available though.
    You really had attractive parents and I loved your 5 year old's observation.
    Thanks for the link. I will check it out.

  6. Ah, the answer to my wish! Thank you. Now,I need to purchase an Iphone for this app. to work.
    How clever!

  7. Hi Sally, this app sounds really great if you have an iPhone. I use my printer, which also scans and copies. If I ever get an iPhone, I'll definitely get this app! Thanks for the pictures. Now I know how Keicha got all those pictures she scanned!

  8. Fascinating. I am way behind on this area of tecnology, but this is the coolest thing I have seen. Your illustrations were effective egs of the app, but they also have the tears piling up, ready to spill over.

  9. Technology is grand if you know how to use it. I remember how over the moon my dad was when he got a Polaroid camera. I'm sure he never envisioned taking pictures with a phone.

  10. I love old photos! You have some wonderful ones in this post.

  11. Hi Sally. What a fantastic App! When I've typed this comment, I am going to download it immediately. What wonderful things you have done with those photos. Loved the one of your daughter Julie, and also the one of your grandfather. You are right, your mum was really beautiful. Thanks for sharing this with us. I shall look forward to having fun with it! Take care.

  12. What wonderful family photos! I love the one of you and your sister looking out at the "rain." That's adorable. I wider if the app works on an iPad? I'll have to check it out.

  13. What wonderful family photos! I love the one of you and your sister looking out at the "rain." That's adorable. I wider if the app works on an iPad? I'll have to check it out.

  14. The old photos are amazing. I love to look at old pics. I found an old box full of them in an older foreclosed home I purchased. Never found the owners, but I safegaurd them as though they were my own.

    Thanks for the tip on he app!

  15. Dear Sally,
    I am constantly amazed at what modern technology can do. I don't have an iPhone, but I do have a scanner, so that really helps out with the blog.

    Like you, I have photographs of my parents and grandparents that I treasure.


  16. This is an awesome ap! I love looking at old photos. My Mother-in-law Has tons and every now and then she lets me look through her old albums...she was quite the fashionista and I just love 40's and fifties fashion.
    I love that picture of your Daughter. and your brother was sooo cute!
    Blessings, Joanne

  17. Oh I almost forgot, you asked if I ever read Erma Bombeck...yes she was so funny and I loved her style. I also loved Nora Ephrom. A writing teacher once told me I wrote like her too.
    Thanks for the sweet comment.
    Blessings, Joanne

  18. The Sally and Carol picture absolutely thrills me! WOW!!

  19. Sally, I've never heard of this App, and I'm amazed at what you can do with it. I think my iPhone is probably too old to use it, but I so enjoyed seeing your scanned photos and learning the stories behind them. PS Someday we'll stroll the Botanic Garden together.

  20. I so enjoyed looking at all your old family pictures. What fun you must be having with this new app you have found and how neat that you can share them on here.
    I wish I understood all the new things out here but my ole brain just doesn't work to well in this area. haha
    Have a great week

  21. Incredible! What a wonderful app and what a wonderful picture of your dear daughter, The note on the back of the picture took my breath away.

    Thanks so much for coming by this morning!

  22. First of all, thanks for sharing all the information on this. I don't have time to work it now, but it sure is my cup of tea, and boy, do I have the photos to deal with. So thanks for that.

    More important, thanks for sharing your own photos and along with them, your beautiful memories. You are so right about these being prized possessions. They are indeed. I love the back of the Julie photo and the one of you and your sis. And your mother was gorgeous. Such memories, and such a wonderful way to hold them close.

  23. Not only do I use the iPhone but also the Rebel. If only I had more vision. I really would love to create more. I wonder though if the future generation will be curious to see stuff from the past.


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