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There is no doubt that there is plenty of information online about how to identify the names of the people in your old photos, talking to close family and other relatives is always the best place to start, but once you identify them how do you record those names? If the photo is physical photo there are many options available and discussed online, but what about the photos that you only have a scanned image of, or even today’s digital photos? Have you recorded the names of these people with these photos?

Here are two examples that I have in my collection, both of which were done by a distant cousin of mine and very generously passed on to me. Both methods are easy to achieve, and while Paint will be sufficient for Technique 1, Technique 2 will require a program that supports layers, Photoshop Elements for example. My very first step in either case is to duplicate the image and to always work on the copy.

Mab-13Technique 1

In Paint:
Open your photo
Move the cursor to the middle of one edge and expand the canvas area
Using the Text tool, create a text box and enter the names and other details.

In Photoshop Elements:
Open your image
In the Layers Panel, right click on your layer and select “Make Layer from Background”   On the tool bar at the top of the screen select
“Image > Resize > Canvas Size”
Adjust the height to give room for text
Using the Text tool, create a text box and enter the names and other details.
Save your adjusted image with a new name.

With this photo, including the given names of the two older people would be helpful for those who didn’t already know who they were.

Mabley children copyTechnique 2

In Photoshop Elements:
Open your image
In the Layers Panel, right click on your layer and select “Make Layer from Background”
Make sure that your foreground colour is set to Black and your background colour is set to white (Press D on a PC)
On the tool bar at the top of the screen select
Filter > Sketch > Photocopy
Adjust the Detail and Darkness sliders in the next window to suit your photo. For this image a Detail level of 3 with a Darkness level of 9 looks good.
Click OK.
(Other filter options work as well, some better than others depending on the content of the photo.)
With the Text Tool, type the name of each person on the relevant outline, one at a time.
(A good strong contrasting colour, such as red, works well.)
Each person’s name will be on a new layer and it will be named with whatever your text is, so don’t worry if you don’t get the position just right. (If some of your name didn’t get quite in the right spot, use the Move tool (V) to adjust them, just select each layer name from your layer panel and then drag them with the mouse or nudge them with your arrow keys.)

You now have your named photo, however, if you can’t read the names quite clearly, then this next step will help
Create a new layer above your adjusted photo, but below all of your text names. (Shift+Control+N creates a new layer)
Make sure your foreground colour is white (press D to reset your colours, then X to swap them over)
Select your Brush tool (B) and on the new layer brush some white underneath each of the names that are difficult to read.

Mabley children -lineFinal step is of course to save your finished photo with a new name.

With this photo, combining the two techniques would allow for a lot of information to be provided, any known surnames as well as the location and date could be included in text below the image using Technique 1.
Hopefully, one of these techniques helps you to record the names and details known about the photos you have in a way suitable for digital photos.

Photoshop Elements 10 used.

In the photo example used in Technique 1, Mr & Mrs WJ Mabley are my great grandparents, while in the photo example for Technique 2, Olive is my grandmother. If anyone named in either of these photos is a relation of yours, I would be happy to hear from you.

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