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Exclusive articles, interviews, and insights covering downsizing & decluttering, genealogy, photos and other media, aging well, travel, and more. We’re here to help you capture the big little moments and stories to bring meaning and even order to all of life’s collections for generations.
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Evenings with Artifcts Kicks Off October 18

It's that time again! Evenings with Artifcts is back with an all-new five-part series this fall. What topics are on the docket this time around? Telling your story, a culinary lens to women's history, photography tips, and panels to answer all your questions on organization and more will be streaming into your home!

Be sure to RSVP for the events each week for our new series. You're welcome to share with friends, family, and others you meet. The more the merrier!

If you missed any of our past Evenings with Artifcts, catch up now!



Bob Jordan joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 1: Bob Jordan (@NUZMAN9)

Former television news anchor; professional videographer at Video Family Biographies



Related content: 

- Watch the replay on YouTube ->

- Interested in storytelling tips for your Artifcts? Check out this ARTIcles story.

Gena Philibert-Ortega joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 2: Gena Philibert-Ortega (@GENAORTEGA)

Author, researcher, and instructor whose focus is family, food, and social history + material culture



Related content: 

- Eager for more? Check out Gena's book: From the Family Kitchen: Discover Your Food Heritage and Preserve Favorite Recipes

- Artifct all things culinary with help from our culinary checklist and "How to Artifct Recipes

- Watch the replay on YouTube ->

Linda Pordon joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 3: Linda Pordon (@LINDAP)

Interiors and brand photographer



Related content: 

- ARTIcles by Artifcts: Three Tips for Elevating Yout At-Home Photography

- Artifcts Inspirational Checklists: Photographs

- Watch the replay on YouTube ->

Organizing for the Holidays on Evenings with Artifcts

Week 4: Professional Panelists Talk Organizing & the Holidays

Interior design, organizing, and paper declutter



Related content: 

- ARTIcles by Artifcts: Decluttering Targets in Your Home

- Artifcts Inspirational Checklists: Decluttering

- When the avalanche of catalogs hits, save the back cover, then unsubscribe here.

- Watch the replay on YouTube ->

Surviving Downsizing on Evenings with Artifcts

Week 5: Survival Tips from a Serial Downsizer (@MATT)

Father, world traveler, and serial downsizer



Related content: 

- ARTIcles by Artifcts, including: The True Story of One Man's Triumph Over 'Stuff'

- Artifcts Inspirational Checklists: Decluttering

- Watch the replay on YouTube ->

If you'd like to suggest a topic or speaker for future events, share with us at


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Three Tips for Elevating Your At-Home Artifcts Photography

This week, as Save the Photos Month continues, we asked interiors and brand photographer Linda Pordon to share three tips to help elevate your at-home Artifcts photography.

Linda is a recognized interiors and brand photographer based out of the New York/New Jersey area. Her work has been published in outlets including Better Homes and Gardens, Domino, Elle Decor, and the NY Times. Additionally, Linda is the owner and founder of Proppe Shoppe, a collection of curated vintage and one-of-a-kind decorative objects and furnishings for the home. (Maybe you'll nod with understanding when you see some of these one-of-a-kind finds didn't even make it to the store front but are instead futured in Linda's public Artifcts collection!)

Through her photography, Linda aims to convey the feel and depth of the pieces and spaces she photographs but, more importantly, she aims to create emotional connections to these subjects through her lens.

Hear from Linda directly for a few easy tips you can try at home to elevate the photography of your cherished objects without any fancy equipment (or frustration!). 


Let's start off by going against what you may think ... the "best light" does not necessarily mean find the brightest light possible (or upping your exposure on your phone editing mode) to make it all "light and bright."  I have photographed and sold $800 sculptures that look like they were taken inside a dark closet. But oh they were sexy. The shadows made you feel something when you looked at it. Sometimes, less is more. So a few tips for lighting:

It may seem counterintuitive but TURN YOUR LIGHTS OFF. Use natural and only natural light if you can.

      • Bring objects outside. The perfect weather to photograph items is an overcast, cloudy day.  It gives even but bright-enough light.  If it’s sunny out, find a spot in the shade to place your object.  When outdoors, you want to make sure your light is even and not too bright.  Watch out for dark shadows that will overpower your images and distract.
      • When photographing inside, just open your shades and set up near a window ... just not directly in the sun.  If your brightest room is too bright, use a bedsheet to hang or tape over the window to diffuse the light a bit. Get creative!
      • If you can't move your object, make sure you try to minimize the artificial lighting that is needed or opt to bring lights closer vs have the orange glare and reflection of overhead lights.

Play with (gasp) shadows.  

I said it. Use objects near or in front of your light to create shadows. A window pane. Hold a stem of flowers in front of the light. A raffia hat. You get the point. This is so easy to do and creates such high drama and can be done with things you have around the house. Your images will be looking "editorial" in no time.

White wood interior home staircase down to open foyer with pale oak flooring

I was photographing my Artifcts on a very rainy and dark day, so I used the space in our home that has the most windows and late afternoon light - our foyer.
© 2023 Linda Pordon. All Rights Reserved.



If you're photographing several objects or an ongoing collection, try to make sure your color story and mood are consistent.

Do you want all bright pops of color behind your objects? Simple white? Dark and moody? The world is your oyster. My absolute favorite backgrounds are Replica Surfaces Boards (not sponsored but they should be!) which are lightweight and completely wipeable. The marble truly looks like marble and I have photographed it in every lighting possible. I wouldn't lie to you.  

If you don't want to invest in purchasing backgrounds, you can grab cheap poster board and keep it white or paint it any color or texture you feel like. Or hang a sheet against a wall and drape it down onto the floor. You would be shocked at how many brands are keeping their backgrounds pretty organic and homemade these days, but the images still look stunning and professional. 

Bright open foyer with small table and ti-fold white paper board

Here I just added a table for height (even any stool with a fabric over it would do) and then a rather cheap white tri-fold poster board to cover the trim work detail on the back wall.
© 2023 Linda Pordon. All Rights Reserved.



The biggest advice I would give you is take your time. Really think about your shot. Take your time holding your camera (even if it's your iPhone).  Look around at the light. When my kids photograph with me for fun, I always have them walk around and take pictures with their hands to really see things before they get distracted with clicking the shutter. Think before you get snap happy!

A few concrete things to focus on:

Composition: This is a really big part of photography and a hard thing to break down succinctly, but try to be mindful of the following:

      • Leave negative space. It lets the eye breathe and actually makes your object more of a focal point.
      • Group smaller objects closer together to give them more "weight" on camera (groups of 3 are generally pleasing to the eye).
      • Vary up your angles. Make sure you get at least one head-on shot. Stand on a stool and take some overhead.
      • Watch your sight lines. Make sure key details aren't blocked. Try to see what your eye is drawn to and how it moves across an image.  

GIF carousel of photos of the same object from different angles

All taken by an iPhone 11 Pro Max (yes, I'm waiting for the new phone); edited on Lightroom mobile.
© 2023 Linda Pordon. All Rights Reserved.

Gridlines: My #1 tactical PLEASE PLEASE do this is get your picture straight.

If you are taking pictures crooked, panned up or down and not taking a minute to get as straight as possible, your images are always going to look more amateur. I can forgive almost any sin above the crooked image. An iPhone trick here is to turn your gridlines on (Settings -> Camera -> Grid set to green), and voila! The Lightroom app (available on iOS and Android) also has a great feature to auto correct gridlines (Geometry -> Upright click this toggle -> keep to "Auto," generally).

Editing: If you looked at a professional photographer's images, they should look pretty good SOOC (straight out of camera), but we would all be lying if we said post-production editing isn't a large part of the creative process.

There are some horrible filters out there, but there are also some good free and cheap phone apps you can use for your camera phone photos.  Lightroom is my favorite for photo editing. I also love Color Story. Your iPhone's built-in camera editing tools aren't all that shabby either. Try to keep your highlights down, your shadows up, and play with the contrast and warmth as much as you want. If you find settings you love using, try to consistently apply them to your images.  

iPhone vs DLSR - Which final photo would you choose?

Taken by iPhone 11 Pro Max; edited on Lightroom mobile  Taken by Nikon Z6 mirrorless DSLR; edited on Lightroom desktop

(LEFT) Taken by iPhone 11 Pro Max; edited on Lightroom mobile.
(RIGHT) Taken by Nikon Z6 mirrorless DSLR; edited on Lightroom desktop.
© 2023 Linda Pordon. All Rights Reserved.


Last, but not least, have fun with it.

Photography is such a beautiful way to tell a story about something or someone you love. My favorite photos are the ones where I wasn't overthinking, I wasn't hyper focused on the technical pieces, and I was just inspired by what I was shooting. Enjoy the gift of translating things you love for others to see and enjoy.  

Original Clay Sculpture, Earth, Linda Pordon

Pop over to Linda Pordon's public Artifcts collection to view the "finished" Artifct from her rain-filled day of Artifcts photography. A bonus Artifct is there awaiting you with an oh-so-sweet story.

Share with us Artifcts you've created putting some of Linda's tips to the test at Or share directly with Artifcts on Facebook or @TheArtiLife on Instagram - we love videos too! 

Happy Artifcting!



Linda Pordon is an interior and commercial brand photographer based out of Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey. She has a B.S. in Finance and started her career in forensic investigations at PricewaterhouseCoopers before pivoting to marketing as an executive at American Express in the premium product space for 15 years. Linda draws on her 20-year tenure in corporate marketing and strategy to enable her to better translate the visions and stories of businesses in her photography work. When she's not behind the lens, Linda has her hands full with her favorite ever-moving subjects, her three young sons, 5, 7, & 9 years old.

© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Make a To-Do List That’s More Than a Task Manager

Reading time: 1 minute

"Key to efficiency," that’s what people claim about to-do lists. Well, even those of us who love a good to-do list to track and tick off our accomplishments sometimes begrudge those same lists.

To-do lists are never ending. We can’t always control what goes into them. And we often ignore the lists that might help to rejuvenate us and prioritize life instead those lists that push us into getting done those tasks that “must” get done and on deadline.

We created inspiration checklists at Artifcts last year in part because we knew sometimes adopting a new habit—like Artifcting—needs a jumpstart mixed with accountability. The other part was that the Arti Community shares with us so many brilliant ideas for how and why and what they Artifct that we wanted to pull together everything and share it right back with all of you. Now you can simply have fun without the stress you may feel with “What next?” or “What now?” with a whole home full of options.

We started by publishing a series of 12 checklists on Can you guess which of those original checklists has been the most popular to date? The list to rule them all: declutter! Stuff really can overwhelm us.

Recently we previewed two new checklists, graduates and sports, in our social media channels, both of which are now available online. And finally this week we released two more to enjoy over the weekend. Their themes? All things photos and culinary connections.

Pause and create a free Artifct


On top of all that, we have still another surprise coming this winter to make these checklists more personal and interactive to help you stay motivated, have fun, and learn new things about each other with every Artifct you create and (maybe) share. 

Have ideas for items we’ve missed on a checklist? Wishing for a specific theme in our future checklists? We’d love to hear from you at

Happy Artifcting!


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Interrogation Techniques for Photos: What is This Old Photo? 

Reading time: 4 minutes

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it 1,000 times – photos really aren’t worth 1,000 words. Yes, you can animate them. You can even use AI to simulate a loved one’s voice. And yet … it’s entirely possible that one generation removed, the story is lost. And two generations removed, no one remembers with certainty who that is in the photo.

You’ve saved all these photos only to, what, make new research projects for future genealogists? 

We’ve written before about the need to rescue photos. We’ve offered tips, too. We are not advocates for projects for projects sake. For the best, most loved, and truly tantalizing photos in your collection, test out these interrogation techniques on your photos, and those you may inherit. You may just discover new personal or even world history in the process! 

Interrogation Techniques for Photos: Let’s Get Beyond the Five Ws

Psst… the same applies to postcards! Here’s an oldie but a goodie in the Artifcts collection.

Interrogation is about reading your subject. In this case, the subject is a photo and the clues it can offer about its past to share stories with friends and loved ones. 


This is as close as you get to the 5 Ws but starting with “what’s true” can be simpler. “What’s true” even leads off our tip lightbulb on each Artifct you create in the “Description,” thanks to writer Jeff Greenwald.

    • Who is in the photo? 
    • When was it taken? 
    • Where? 
    • Who took the photo (if not you), and how did it come into your possession? Did it come down through your mother’s or father’s family? 
    • Is there any information written on it (if it’s a print) or in a caption or the metadata (if it’s digital)? 
    • What type of photo is it (E.g., black and white, colorized, CDV, real photo postcard)?  
    • What are the original dimensions of the photo? 
    • If printed, is it matte, glossy, added borders, or other adornments? 

Word of caution! If your photo, like this example, was pasted into a scrapbook or similar, and you suspect information is hidden on the back, start first by digitizing it. Then most of us should ask a professional archivist for help. If you are more daring, or less concerned if you damage the photo further, you can certainly purchase tools and learn online about approaches to help uncover the information, like applying hot air with a hairdryer. 


Learn more about old photos you may have inherited from your family with our guest Lisa Lisson, genealogy researcher and techie behind Are You My Cousin? Genealogy. 

5 Unique Types of Vintage Photographs | Beyond Black and White with Lisa Lisson.



      • What is the photo of? 
              • E.g., nature, a party, a portrait, a group of people, a cool building 
      • What is happening in the photo? 
              • E.g., blowing out candles, dancing, a ceremony, just smiling, nothing – simple still-life  
      • Is it staged or casual? 
              • This might also inform why it was taken. Do you know? A formal posed photo of an individual or family is very different than a candid moment, in motion or unaware. If it is staged, could it even be part of professional portfolio of work?


      • Do you see: Shadowing, twilight, a moody setting? Or is this bright and sunshiny fun? Somber faces? Joyous expressions?
      • And closely related, how does the photo make YOU feel? The artistry could invoke feelings or your attachment to the people or places in the photo. 


      • Anything surprising in the photo, like a logo, a signature, or an object? Check the background and all around! 
      • Maybe who’s together in the photo is even odd, what they are wearing, type of hairstyles, or perhaps where it was taken.


      • As in why save this photo? What does it mean to you? What did it mean to the person who gave it to you? Why is it special?  
      • And what do you want others to know about it? 
      • Is this photo best paired with another photo, an object, a document, or even a video, to fully tell its story?  



Looking for Assistance? There’s Tech that Can Help! 

When context clues and family are not enough to help, you may opt for some technical reinforcement. For our co-founder Ellen’s mysterious family members on bikes, there are a few tools she’s curious to test. Maybe these tools will help you, too! Let us know at what you discover.

Many tools include facial recognition these days and automatic tagging, likely including the built-in technology that came with your phone as well as popular cloud storage sites, like Google. Review the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions before you get started so you know the ins and outs of the data you’ll begin to share and collect for your privacy and the privacy of others who are featured in your photos. 

Related Faces' patented technology uses the US Library of Congress database as its testing input along with known persons others and you add to identify people in photos. Related Faces offers a free 14-day trial membership.

New arrival PhotoDater™, from MyHeritage, according to the in-person announcement from the company’s CEO at RootsTech 2023. Listen in around minute 38. The system uses everything from the furniture, hairstyles, and textiles to approximate the date a photo was taken. That can be a real help in narrowing where to look in a family tree for the likely people and places in a photo! Like Related Faces, MyHeritage offers a free 14-day trial membership.  

Happy Artifcting!


You may also enjoy these additional ARTIcles by Artifcts:

Could You and Should You Part With a Family Photo?

What Should You Do With Old Scrapbooks?

A Virtual Impossibility: Keeping Up With All My Digital Photos


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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#HabitChange: The Back To School Edition

Reading time: 2 minutes

Earlier this year, we dove into #HabitChange and sought to highlight the tips and tricks to help you make Artifcting a daily, weekly, or even seasonal habit. We received a lot of positive feedback from that first ARTIcles story, and an equal number of requests for a part two (or three or four!) as we look at specific habits, and specific things that may prompt us to take a moment and create a new Artifct. 

So, without further ado, we bring you #HabitChange, the back-to-school edition.  

Artifcting for a Smoother Transition Back to School + a More Memorable Year

Even if you don’t have kids or grandkids going back to school this year, we think the following tips, tricks, and observations can help anyone that is starting a new routine this fall.  

#1 Artifct Where You’re At 

Our first tip for capturing all those school-based memories and creating #HabitChange is "Artifct where you’re at." While some survival tactics mean pre-planning—pack the bag and pick the clothes the night before, enjoy a healthy breakfast to avoid a low energy and brain power day—when it comes to Artifcting, get in the moment! Artifct on the spot. When the emotion, details, and oh-so-precious memories are fresh and not forgotten.  

  • If you have young kids at home, and they are prone to talking your ear off at a rapid pace, Artifct with them as they come through the front door. Take five minutes to snap a photo, upload to the app, and ask them to tell you the story behind their latest and greatest art project.  
  • Pre-teens and teens? Artifct post-game, post-concert, post-event, you name it! Just scored a winning goal? Great, add the photo, video, and details to an Artifct. Ask them to share their favorite moment of the game, and voila! You now have a multi-media Artifct that captures THAT moment in time. (Or THAT science fair trophy.) 

And we’ll save you a headache with a bonus tip: If dealing with physical objects, take that moment to divide into “keep” and “discard” piles, so you also avoid a rapid accumulation of school-based clutter. 


# 2 Sharing is Caring! 

Sharing is caring, especially when it comes to Artifcts. People often report that following through on new habits is easier when there is external, positive re-enforcement. We’ve found this to be no different with Artifcts.  

  • Did you know you can create a private Sharing List on for hassle-free sharing? Simply select the list from the drop-down menu when you click to share and you’re good to go. Our co-founder Heather created a private sharing list titled “Team Hazel” for all the people who love seeing what her daughter is creating at school. It has saved her from typing in dozens of emails or finding screen names over and over. Instead, she selects the list and hits ‘Send.’ Her daughter loves getting the follow-on calls and texts from family and friends after they’ve viewed the Artifct. So much better than a simple thumbs up. 

# 3 Know Your Purpose 

If you want positive reinforcement, start with a clear purpose. Is it about reducing daily clutter? Do you feel like school years past were a blur and you want to find a fast and easy way to ensure you capture more of the memories along the way? Is it about sharing more with loved ones near and far? We think Artifcting is a 2 for 1; accomplish the goal for YOU and easily share with loved ones. 

Regardless of how and where you Artifct, we hope these #HabitChange tips will help you preserve and share the back-to-school memories with loved ones near and far. Got a tip that works especially well for you and your family? We’d love to know! Email us at and we’ll include your tip in our next #HabitChange story here on ARTIcles by Artifcts.  


You may also enjoy these additional ARTIcles by Artifcts:

How to Artifct Childhood Mementos

Keepsake Boxes, Remembrance Boxes, Memento Boxes

Pint-Sized Perspective on Moving and Decluttering


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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How to Take Pictures of Objects at Home

Are you frustrated by shadows, blurry images, and glares in your photos? Wish the colors or the object itself would pop a bit more? We take a lot of pictures, as you might imagine, and none with the benefit of a paid professional or expensive lighting.  

Here are our tips from our own daily experiences. If you have other tips, please share at, and we’ll add them to this story! 

For Smaller Objects

If you want nice looking pictures for personal use (not appraisals - then you often need the pros!) and it's a movable or smaller object, we usually lay a large piece of paper on a floor or other flat surface near a window for indirect lighting and with no direct overhead lighting turned on. We bought our paper here. The direct overhead lighting is the main culprit of shadows you will cast. With a window, you can pivot where you stand to avoid the shadow. 

If you don't have or want to buy plain paper, try a simple wood surface, countertop, cloth, or even a cushion or pillow. 

If you are photographing an absorbent material, like newspapers or t-shirts, you won’t typically be battling glare. Try laying them out anywhere with overhead or natural light to take the picture.

For Larger Objects

For larger and/or immovable objects and scenarios with poor natural lighting, this is the time to grab a couple of lamps to give you more lighting control. If you do this, we recommend spending a few extra minutes taking photos of several items, so you will not need to take the lamps back out again any time soon! 

Remember, it is easy to go straight from the photos in the gallery on your phone, directly to the Artifcts app. Just choose a photo (or up to 5) that you want to use to create an Artifct, select share, and choose the Artifcts app. You’ll have options to crop and rotate each photo you add as you go as well as reorder them into whatever logical order you prefer. Watch this video for more about our app ->

Now, Try Editing Your Photo 

Don’t be afraid to play around with the photo. You can always cancel and revert back to the original. 

And don’t buy special photo editing software out of the gate. Use the built-in features on your phone or computer to play around with images you really care about. We almost always use the built-in editor on our iPhones to play with contrast, coloring, etc., but especially the "Brightness" level.

picture from iOS phone setting to adjust photo brightness

Choose the photo > select Edit > and slide the circular options over to BRIGHTNESS. The white dot on the bar shows your starting point.
Go up and down from there and see what you like!

Because everyone loves a before and after, check out this example. We adjusted the cropped area and the brightness.

Miniature lego figure of Hagrid with his pink umbrella     Miniature Lego figurine of Hagrid with his pink umbrella


Check Out Sample Artifcts 

Here are a few Artifcts we created with a plain piece of paper, natural window lighting, a helpful angle, and a bit of editing with our iOS phone tools. Not professional, but not bad either! 

White piece of paper with a tiny toy solider in a yoga position

Use a plain background, natural lighting, and smart camera angles to your advantage.


Three Bonus Tips Before We Go 

No matter what you’re photographing, or whether you are inclined to edit the photo, here are a few additional tips from our own experiences. 

Tip 1: Composition can help. Pairing items together to help tell the story, like this apron and this photo + brochure, can also reduce the pressure on any one item looking "just so" in the photo. Your eye is distracted by the overall composition of items. 

Tip 2: Try using low-cost, lightweight, non-damaging accessories. A small tripod can help avoid blurry images that result from poor lighting, an unsteady hand, or an object with very fine details. Depending on how you want to use the tripod, you might consider whether it has anti-skid feet, what angles it can achieve, and total height. Here’s an example. Some tripods, like this one, also include a remote, which we haven’t tested but find intriguing. 

A felted or leather paperweight, to avoid damaging a delicate item, can also hold down a page to avoid including your finger in the shot! Small magnets can do the same, one on each side of a page. 

Tip 3: Patterns and odd number groupings. The human mind loves patterns and essentially finds them soothing and more memorable. Here’s a playful example - Lego cars! Ditto for odd number groupings. If you have several similar items or are creating a composition, per tip one, try out an arrangement of three. 

You may also enjoy these photo and other media related stories from ARTIcles by Artifcts.


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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