As always, I am interested in new products and services that will help family historians to document their finds for future descendants and associated family members. Recently I became aware of a product called ShotBox. I had personally used a light box to photograph some custom jewelry that my daughter had created. Frankly, my crude setup resulted in an imperfect outcome and experience. To summarize, I am a lousy photographer. Whenever I get a new cellphone, I am not wowed by the new capabilities of the camera and I take no time trying to learn the features.
That leads us to Shot Box. I am impressed with the thinking that went in to this product. For a lot of the mementoes, heirlooms, journals, letters and other materials that we wish to capture, it is simply so easy to use and it takes little photography skills—right up my alley!
I interviewed the founder, Aaron Johnson and co founder Steven Frame. The following is the interview. They were also kind enough to offer a $20 discount to this newsletter readers. See that offer at the end of this article.
Why was Shotbox created? What is the background for the company?
Essentially, I couldn’t find an easy way to make a book out of my mom’s journal. The pics I took with just his phone were unacceptable. I found that by using a lightbox and a smart-phone I was able accommodate those things like journals, letters, memorabilia, medals, that were too hard to put through a scanner. Uploading the pics from my phone into a Google or Dropbox folder and then organizing digital images from there was the easiest way to begin telling a story. I wanted people with little pertinent skills to have an easy time digitizing lot of items, records, photos and cut the time they were spending with scanners in half. I built the first one out of wood.
How long has Shotbox been in existence?
We are a 7-year participant in RootsTech and have been producing Shotbox since 2013. We now have thousands of users who use Shotbox for everything under the sun from digitizing images of jewelry, to food they create, to digital scrapbooking, to genealogy and family history, to jobs for their teens selling on eBay or Etsy. If you have journals or books, Shotbox can handle them, if you have oversized documents that won’t fit through a scanner, we can accommodate those as well. Coloring your images using your phone camera is pretty standard now if you want different color hues for your images.
How is it different than just using your phone or other solutions?
Simply it goes from flat to 15″ X15″ cube in 30 seconds. The hard plastic is very durable, the kickstands that hold it up are indestructible and the lighting is terrific. It varies from $100-$200 depending on what accessories you get, and with a shutter button that is Bluetooth you can never touch your phone and snap pictures in rapid succession. With 4 color backdrops and 12 different photo-quality background images like brick walls and wood floors you can vary your images and have hundreds of combinations.
Why would it be an important tool for Genealogy or Family History?
The Shotbox combined with today’s smartphones and the digital camera technology built into the iPhone, Android/Samsung or Google phone, the images typically come out great. We work with people who regularly stack 50-100 documents and/or photos and with a Bluetooth shutter button snap digital photos in rapid succession. You just choose your spot and without moving the camera from either directly above or hanging in front of the image you want to digitally capture, snap the photo. If you want a closer image, put a flat object beneath the documents and raising it to the camera gives you total control over how close you can be.
With the ability to auto crop images now standard in many photo storage software solutions, you can then crop the images as fast as you take them. Using our depressor tools, you can turn pages and hold them flat to capture journals or letters without having to iron letters or cut off the binding of the journal. If you want to shoot images of Grandpa’s war medals or the shoes of newborn babies, Shotbox can help you create a story to tell.
Are there warranties?
The one-year warranty covers 100% of everything that comes in the Shotbox Preservation Bundle.
What are the Top 10 Reasons a purchaser would benefit from a Shotbox?
- $169 comes with awesome accessories, not just a box. A shoulder bag makes it really easy to carry
- You don’t have to learn to be a great photographer to get a great image. Put it in the box and click. It doesn’t require being smart and thinking, only clicking.
- Reduces the hours spent to shoot journal pages, letters, and keepsakes in a lit environment to minutes. It is a huge time saver
- Any digital images you take from now on could also end up as a cover for a book…makes you look good
- The Bluetooth button allows you to never touch your phone and click away – its super easy. Makes doing the tedious work of image capture fun.
- The LED lighting makes it much easier to read dark and old images & writing. Again…it makes you look like a PRO!
- Box setup and takedown is 30 seconds, and it stores nicely in a shoulder bag to carry around with you
- Hard plastic makes it virtually indestructible, and it will last 50 years
- You can loan it to someone who is newer to it than you and even they can use it and not break it
- It’s so easy to use you will get excited to capture images of everything – even food, puppies, stitching & crocheting, you name it!
As a holiday promotion, Shotbox has reduced the price for a standard bundle to $189, and for The Ancestor Hunt followers, if you enter “TAH20” in the promotions box at checkout, you can receive an additional $20 off.
You can find out all about Shotbox at https://shotbox.me/