The Photo Lover’s Guide to RootsTech, the Biggest and Best Family History Conference in the World

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The Photo Lover's Guide to RootsTech, the Biggest and Best Family History Conference in the World

If you’re anything like me, you love photography, storytelling and family history. We are archivists, collectors, organizers, photographers, librarians, historians and genealogists. Above all, we are memory-keepers. We believe photos tell stories. And we believe those stories are worth saving and sharing. That’s why we love gatherings that bring us all together in one place. RootsTech, the annual family history conference hosted by FamilySearch, is the kind of gathering that feels like a family reunion. It’s a perfect place for family historians and storytellers of all ages to share ideas, learn from experts and discover the latest innovations in technology. For first (or even second) time attendees, the experience can feel delightfully daunting! Keynotes, classes and labs…oh my! Where do you even begin prioritizing your must-dos and must-sees? Leave it to me! Since this will be my third year (wow, where did the time go?) as an Ambassador at RootsTech, I’ve compiled my must-see list based on years of experience. Here is the photo lover’s guide to RootsTech, the biggest and best family history conference in the world.

Classes for family historians who love digitizing, organizing and archiving their family photo collections:

  1. Preserve Your Memories – Digitizing Family Photos
    Taught by Jens Nielsen, founder of Pictureline, this session is geared toward both beginner and intermediate levels. You’ll walk away from this class with more know-how to tackle your preservation projects, specifically by learning the basics of scanning, restoration and storage. Bring your tech questions, too! Jens and the team at Pictureline are experts in the area of scanning and restoration! When? Wednesday, February 8th at 3pm MT. Room 151. Session #RT0609
  2. Metadata: Writing on the Back of a Digital Photo
    Taught by Alison Taylor, founder of Pictures and Stories, this session is geared toward beginners. You’ll learn all about the power of metadata, which is simply editable info that remains with your digital images, no matter where they go! Alison will show you in a fun fashion how to add captions to your photos so that you can preserve your family history for future generations. When? Wednesday, February 8th at 3pm MT. Room 155. Session #RT9227
  3. Simple Photo Editing with your Phone
    We all use our phones to capture memories, whether we are documenting everyday life or using mobile apps to preserve analog photos. And with the right apps, you can make your photos sing! This class is for folks just getting started using software like Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Photoshop Express and Snapseed. You’ll learn tips for using these tools. Plus, you’ll walk away with the ability to digitize and improve the quality of your photos.When? Thursday, February 9th at 11am MT. Ballroom E. Session #RT142
  4. Google Photos: one photo app to rule them all
    Have you ever wished there was ONE app out there that could manage ALL of your photos? There is one: Google Photos. This class will walk you through getting started with Google Photos, including showing you how its advanced facial-recognition technology can help you in your family history projects.When? Thursday, February 9th at 1:30pm MT. Room 151. Session #RT1628
  5. Eliminate Eye-Rolling with these 7 Awesome Apps!
    Taught by Lisa Cooke, founder of Genealogy Gems, this session shows you SEVEN mobile apps that can help you tell your family history in a compelling way. You’ll get helpful and hands-on instruction for using these 7 Android and iOS apps to make your photos and videos more fun for the whole family.When? Thursday, February 9th at 1:30pm MT. Ballroom C. Session #RT0858
  6. Picture Perfect: Images in Your Family History
    Family history comes to life when you utilize the power of imagery. During this class, you will hear tips for organizing and scanning your analog family photos. You will also learn where to find and borrow additional images that can enrich your family history projects.When? Friday, February 10th at 11am MT. Room: 251D. Session #RT0860
  7. Instagram: 5 Reasons Genealogists Should Use ItApps and social media have forever changed the way family historians tell stories. During this session, Maureen Taylor, The Photo Detective, will explain five key reasons that family historians should embrace Instagram.When? Friday, February 10th at 1:30pm MT. Room: 255D. Session #RT0881
  8. Photos and Stories and Documents, Oh My!
    If you’ve been curious to try out Memories by FamilySearch, this is a session you should definitely attend! During the class, you’ll learn how to use FamilySearch’s Memories features to tag photos and enrich your family history projects. This is a fun way to bring your family legacy to life!When? Friday, February 10th at 1:30pm MT. Room: Ballroom A. Session number: RT4123
  9. Saving Your Family Photos in the Digital Age
    Do you have a huge digitization project? If you’ve been staring at boxes of family photos for months, this is the class that will finally kickstart your preservation project! The instructor will review best practices for digitizing priceless family photos and documents, as well as how to effectively save digital files.When? Friday, February 10th at 3pm MT. Room: 255E. Session number: RT2471
  10. Scanning, Restoring and Archiving Photos for Generations to Come
    During this session, Epson America’s director of Business Imaging, will walk you through the latest and greatest scanning technologies. From preservation to restoration, you will gain valuable tips and techniques that you can apply to your family history projects. As a bonus, you will also find out how to share the memories you’re digitizing with friends and family via social media and cloud software.When? Friday, February 10th at 3pm MT. Room: Ballroom G Session number: RT9361

With ten top-notch classes to choose from, you’re sure to walk away with new techniques and tricks that you can apply to your family history projects. And if those ten classes aren’t enough to get your creativity piqued, here are some bonus tips for navigating the Expo Hall! Check out these booths, where you’ll get a chance to interact with fellow family historians and photo lovers. Plus, you can even get some of your analog family photos scanned…for FREE!

  • FREE DIY Digitization at the E-Z Photo Scan Booth! This will be their third year of offering free scanning for RootsTech attendees! By participating in this fun, community project, you will help the smart folks at E-Z Photo Scan hit the milestone of digitizing more than a quarter-million images. You can bring prints, 35mm slides and documents to their booth and scan for free. Where? E-Z Photo Scan Booth #1111.
  • Meet “The Photo Detective” and get your family photo mysteries solved once and for all! Maureen Taylor, one of our friends and frequent guest bloggers, will be on-site at the RootsTech Expo Hall to talk to you about your family photos and help you with questions about dates, places and people. Where? Booth #1144.
  • Meet US, the team behind Save Family Photos! We’ll be on-site too, debuting our new app called “weGather.” Curious to hear what we’ve been working on for the past year? Want to try out weGather for yourself? Come see us in the Innovation Alley area of the Expo Hall. We would love to meet you and hear your feedback on weGather. After all, your ideas fuel our commitment to helping families preserve their stories, one photo at a time.

rachellacourBy Rachel LaCour Niesen, Steward of Stories & Founder of SaveFamilyPhotos.
Rachel is a Yankee by birth but a Southern storyteller at heart. When a much-loved uncle gifted her with her first SLR camera, Rachel found her calling in photography. In pursuit of her passion, she headed to the University of Missouri, where she studied Photojournalism and Art History. Since then her work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle. Along with her business partners, she founded LaCour, a wedding photography studio based in Atlanta. As LaCour grew, the team co-founded ShootQ, a cloud-based business management application for photographers. In 2010, ShootQ was acquired by Pictage. When she’s not curating old family photos, she enjoys adventures with her husband and partner in entrepreneurship, Andrew Niesen.


Mara says:

February 8, 2017 at 5:57 am

Argh this is on my wish list! One day…ONE DAY! Don’t suppose we can buy recordings of any of these post conference???


Rachel LaCour Niesen says:

February 20, 2017 at 2:25 pm

Hi Mara! You would LOVE RootsTech! They do offer live streaming of the conference, which is a great service every year for those who can’t come to Salt Lake City in person. 🙂


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