We love and appreciate all the hard work and time you put in to gathering headstone images. Your work is helping family history enthusiasts everywhere. Because we want to make sure all of the images on BillionGraves are useable, we have always had a system of checking images before they are accessible for transcribing on our site. This ensures that no goofballs are uploading non-cemetery-related photos, accidental photos of the grass are weeded out, and duplicates are caught and removed. We want to make sure the transcription process is as clean as possible and that our database is reliable.

Here are some tips to help you take clean, usable images that can be transcribed completely:

Bad Photo: Sometimes the angle at which you take the photo makes it hard to read the bottom part of the stone.

How to avoid this problem: Bending down helps you to take the photo as straight on as you can. This way all parts of the photo can be transcribed accurately.


Bad Photo: Missing important information.

How to avoid this problem: If you don’t capture the whole headstone in one image, transcribers won’t have the information they need. Make sure nothing is covering important information (like fingers!). Sometimes, you may be tempted to take a few close-up shots of a larger stone. It’s fine to back up and capture the whole headstone in one shot; remember, you can zoom in and rotate images in the transcription phase. Also, during transcription, you can add another individual to the record (e.g. a husband and wife on the same headstone). If you really feel that you can’t capture the whole headstone in one shot without making it unreadable, be sure to link the images of the headstone together (as described in our user guide). This way, during transcription, all of the images of that stone will be accessible from the same screen. NOTE: Linking images is also used when there are multiple sides to a headstone.


Bad Photo: Shadows or debris blocking the words on the headstone.









How to avoid this problem: Although you can read the words through the shadows in person, in photos, shadows may have the same effect as black paint on the image, making it impossible to transcribe. If you can, take photos at a time of day that is neither too bright nor too shady. Bend down or find an angle where the shadows aren’t covering the words on the headstone.

For debris, we encourage you to clear off the headstones that are covered by leaves, dirt, etc. This is also a nice service for the cemetery, and then transcription of your images will be possible.