Family Reunion

Rymer Family Reunion graphic
The Rymer Family Reunion 2011 by Alicia Bramlett. Found on Flickr.

Don’t you just love it?

I was wandering around Flickr looking for some old photos I could use in our society publications when this popped up in my browser. It’s awesome! You will need to follow the link to Flickr to see all the little “presents” under this tree. I’m sure each one has a story behind it and I’m guessing each graphic has generated requests from the youngsters in the family for the rest of the story. What a great way to inspire future genealogists!

Family Portrait

Family-Portrait-1996
Family Portrait – actually an out-take where the photographer said something funny, then took the photo. It’s my favorite.

Several years ago – while preparing for one of our larger Christmas family gatherings – my cousin in California asked if I would set up an appointment with a photographer to have a family portrait taken. I liked the idea of a family photo, but doubted that many others in this clan would be thrilled with the idea. Several days later I was downtown running some errands and as I walked past one of those “Olde Time” photo shops the light bulb came on! You know those places – where you dress up in costume and have a photo taken which is printed to look like it was taken ages ago. You can be a gunslinger, a riverboat gambler, a Southern belle or a flapper. Everybody loves these family portraits.

Since we live in a tourist area, we had several studios to choose from and one was large enough to handle our crowd. We were able to use our numbers to get a nice discount on our photos and because we were willing to schedule our appointment as their last shoot before shutting down on Christmas Eve, we didn’t interfere with their walk-in business. Of the 20 people here for Christmas, only 2 didn’t come for the photo. A couple more had to be dragged in, but they turned out to be the ones who enjoyed the experience most.

The process of choosing costumes and comparing each other’s choices created a much more relaxed atmosphere than we would have had for a “formal” portrait. The results were delightful and those photos are treasures! A few years later – at the next big Christmas gathering – the family photo was most requested event option. Who’d a thunk?

Circle B Ranch cover

The Circle B Ranch

The Circle B Ranch is a Ken Burns-style photo documentary and was created using Keynote on a Mac. Basically, it is a photo slideshow with narration and some background music that was exported as a movie. Windows users can put PowerPoint to work with very similar results.

The toughest part of this project was selecting the photos and writing the script.

Storytelling With Keynote

Storytelling With Keynote cover

The cover page you see here was created in Keynote. The photo is framed with a graphical frame included in Jumsoft’s Toolbox for Keynote. The pattern used in the background also came from the Toolbox. The font is Sheila by Laura Worthington. This is just a tiny sample of the things you can do with Keynote. It is a delightful platform to build photo albums, scrapbooks and collage-style family histories.


I am inspired by a British magazine called Daphne’s Diary that I recently found at Barnes & Noble. It is produced to look very much like a personal diary with the graphical equivalents of pressed flowers and stashed memorabilia included on the pages. Each page in the magazine is a unique design combining text, photos and captions with graphic elements. Some of the pages were as busy as the cover you see here, but many were much simpler – stylishly simple.

Most of the frames and clipart were custom designs – something I have neither the time or inclination to create myself. This is were the Toolbox gets involved. I have had the apps on my Mac and iPad for some time. The Toolbox is actually a catalog of templates, layouts, graphic styles, elements and clipart. Some are free but most will have to be purchased (as an in-app purchase). You can purchase individual elements, a category (such as templates) or the entire catalog. The entire catalog is $70 and the templates category is $30. I purchased the Graphic Styles category ($20) which includes frames, alphabets, backgrounds and patterns along with the Elements category ($20) for it’s labels, ribbons, badges and doodles. When you purchase the entire catalog, all new items added in the future will be included at no extra charge. I haven’t seen any items showing prices in the two categories I’ve purchased so it looks like that is true when you just purchase a category too.

One of the many advantages to using these elements in Keynote storytelling projects is that they are specifically designed to work with Keynote. If you have ever tried to wrestle a photo into a custom frame graphic from a scrapbook kit, you will love the frames in the Toolbox. They are already set up as image placeholders so all you need to do is click on the camera icon just like you do with standard Keynote frames. Keynote’s masking and adjustment tools are all available too.

using patterns example

The patterns are just as interesting. The subtle lined background you see in my graphic was created by first selecting a color for the slide’s background (a lighter version of the aqua used in the frame) then copy/pasting the pattern “square” to a blank slide and resizing it to cover the whole slide. It is set to “tile” which copies the pattern graphic to fill the entire space. Once that’s done, I adjusted the Scale slider to adjust the size of the spacing between the lines in the background. Since the original pattern has a white background, I reduced the opacity of the pattern until I had the perfect amount of the background aqua color showing through.

You may have noticed that I’ve changed the font for the title. The license for the Sheila font limits use to only one computer. Since it isn’t installed on my iPad, I either can’t edit or display it on my iPad or I purchase a second copy of the font. Alternate Plan B was to download the freely-accessible Ruthie font from Google Fonts.

Keynote for iOS does not have the full range of features found on the Mac version and Keynote in the cloud has even less. That doesn’t mean they can’t be used to build family history projects. You’ll just have fewer design options available to you. Windows users will find that PowerPoint has its share of creative features too. Many of the Keynote functions discussed here can be replicated in PowerPoint. The commands are different but the functions are very similar.