A Portable Lightbox In My Genealogy Tools


One of my biggest challenges as a family historian is making sure that all my family photos and heirlooms are preserved. For many things scanning works well but it does take a long time. Then what do you do if your items are too large to scan or an object like baby booties or jewelry?

I recently received a product that has solved this problem for me. It's called the SHOTBOX. The SHOTBOX is a portable photography lightbox. It's light weight - about 5 pounds and easily folds down for storage. Inside are 2 high powered LED lights that can be adjusted with 2 switches on the front of the SHOTBOX. There is a round dial that turns the light on and off and dims it as well. Then there is a toggle switch that changes the direction of the light from centered to left or right. You can read more about the SHOTBOX in my review posted on my other blog Homestead Acres.

I have some family heirlooms that mean a lot to me, such as my Great Grandfather Harry Laws' pocket watch. This will someday be passed down to my son but I would still like to keep a record of it. I've had a hard time getting a nice photo of it but with the SHOTBOX it was so easy! I simply laid the watch on top of the white backdrop panel in the bottom of the SHOTBOX then set my smartphone on top of the unit and pressed a button. Done! The photo came out really well.

I've been taking photos of some Christmas decorations that are special to our family. Since our home is surrounded by bush much of our light is blocked. It makes it so hard to take nice photos indoors. With the SHOTBOX my photos are coming out really well.

The oversized 12 inch scrapbook pages are nearly impossible to scan, especially if they have 3 dimensional decorations added to the page. The SHOTBOX allows me to simply place the page inside and then I use my smartphone or camera to take a photo from above it. The top of the SHOTBOX has openings in it so you can decide on the best placement for taking your photo.

This is also a great way to take a photo of the older photo albums were the photos have been glued to the page. If you can't safely remove the photos from the album this is a way to quickly take a photo of the whole page. After that, you can crop the photos apart in your software of choice.

You can use the same process to take photos of books and diaries without causing damage to the spine. It is so much faster to take photos of each page or page spread then have place the book in the scanner, wait for the scanner to scan the page, then open it turn the page and do it all over again. With the SHOTBOX all you need to is lay the book open inside it, turn on the lights and set your camera on top so that it's sitting directly above the book. Take your photo, turn the page and take another photo. It goes by so much faster.

Since the SHOTBOX collapses for easy storage and is so light weight it's easy to take it with you when you travel. They even make a nice padded travel bag to hold the SHOTBOX and it's accessories. If you're going to visit family this would be great to bring along. Many people have photos and heirlooms they might be hesitant to loan out and I totally understand that. But if they are willing you can quickly take photos of these in their home while you enjoy a cup of tea and chat about family stories.

The SHOTBOX was designed with preserving family history in mind, but it is also great for taking photos of your craft projects, recipes and grabbing photos of your children's art work.

If you have a closet full of family memorabilia, scrapbooks and oversized photo albums the Shotbox would make preserving this a much quicker process.