Everybody has a story

How many times have you passed a homeless person on the street and tried to avoid looking at them, or crossed to the other side to not have to be near them?  Did you think “Why don’t they get a job?”  Did you even wonder how they got to that place?

There are lots of reasons for homelessness.  They include job loss, drugs or alcohol use, argument with a family member who asked them to leave, eviction, incarceration, mental illness and more.

I spent a year getting to know members of the DownTown Streets Team, an organization that works to help homeless people get jobs, get transportation so they can get to work or job interviews, get supportive services to help them in this transition, and finally, to get housing.

The members wanted to share their experiences and kindly allowed me to videotape them telling their stories.  So I created a series called “This is My Story.”

When you see a homeless person do you wonder what their story is?


This is My Story Series
This is My Story Series

Merriest of Memories

Merriest of Memories

Halloween has just finished and Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet.  However, it’s not too early to begin thinking of Christmas gifts for your family

Merriest of Memories
Order Now!

Holiday Memories

 Custom-made gifts and special order gifts take time, and for some things December 1 is the deadline!

And what better personal gift to give than a gift of memories?

Here are some ideas to start you thinking:

Digitize those old family reel movies and VHS tapes.  With Legacy Republic you get an on-line account and 2 DVDs for each movie you transfer.  You can also share your account with up to 5 people. After all, isn’t sharing your memories what it’s all about?

DVD gifts
DVD Gifts

Once you have a Legacy Republic account you can order premium creationsfrom your family stories.

holiday gifts
Premium Gifts

Call Judy at 408-736-7841

or Email her 

to help you digitize your memories.

Dec 1 is my collection deadline!

Need More Ideas?

  1. Collect all those good photos (not the blurry ones) from your smart phones and put them into a photo montage video for your long-distance family members.
  2. Give a gift certificate for a “2016 Year in Review” movie so you can include Christmas 2016 in the movie.  (Wouldn’t your kids’ grandparents enjoy watching their grandchildren’s lives and events throughout 2016?)

Did you know that KeepsakePix offers gift certificates?  Call Judy at 408-736-7841 to learn more.

Gift Certificate

Family Legacy Movies

Preserving your grandparents or parents stories for future generations is what KeepsakePix is all about.  Their stories need to live on after they’re gone. Adding your digitized photos or old movies to a video of your grandparents talking about them is priceless.

Want to take a peek at some family legacy movie samples?

Click here to see samples

Start thinking now about how you’d like to share your memories for the holidays.Judy

I’d be happy to brainstorm ideas with you.  But, don’t wait!

Dec 1 will be here before you know it.



Owner, KeepsakePix

Mobile Videographer Judy Blair Hits No. 1 on Amazon Best Seller Lists

Shortly after releasing Creating Family Legacy Movies: Treasure Your Memories, Judy Blair’s book hit #1 for multiple categories on Amazon’s best seller list.

Creating Family Legacy Movies

The book received the #1 ranking in Amazon’s “Cinematography” category and “Arts & Photography” category in the United States on Friday, May 15, 2015.  The new book also got other rankings on Amazon’s best seller lists.

Judy Blair, founder of KeepsakePix, is a mobile videographer in the Silicon Valley in California who specializes in helping families create family legacy movies so they may pass their histories, stories, and memories on to future generations.

According to a recent survey, 86% of baby boomers and 74% of Americans age 72 and older believe that documenting family history is a high priority in passing on stories to their younger generations. As people age, passing on family legacy becomes increasingly important.

In her book, Judy covers several important topics related to family legacy movies, including:

The best ways to preserve photos long-term
How to pick which photos to use in a family legacy movie project
How to decide what the subject of the movie should be
How to prepare for the video recording session
How to gather, preserve, and use existing video footage

Read entire press release here.

To learn more about KeepsakePix’s services, visit http://KeepsakePix.com


Legacy videos share memories and lessons across generations

Legacy videos

This article demonstrates the personal value of a legacy video for the 77 year old star of the video.  Both she and her daughter laughed and cried as they relived the memories depicted in the video.  I found this article (posted May 16, 2015) in the Meadville Tribune.  The photo shows Mildred “Mitzie” Addison (left) and Tonya Snyder of Hospice of Crawford County watching the legacy video that Addison made telling stories about her life.

The Legacy Program  was created to capture a patient’s life story, family history, lessons learned and any thoughts that the patient would like to convey to family, friends and generations to come.  It is a new free documentary video program offered to Hospice patients through the Meadville Medical Center Foundation and the Meadville Medical Center Auxiliary.  Watching herself on the big screen brings back memories and she smiles as she talks in detail about the stories in the video.

Legacy videos

Read full story here.


Deleting the Family Tree

I was  horrified to read the following article.  They say that things stay on the internet forever, but obviously they don’t.  We all need to take responsibility for making backups of anything we want to save.  And then make backups of the backups.  There’s a huge lesson to be learned from this family’s tragedy.

Here’s the article:

When Ancestry.com shuttered its social network for relatives, it erased 10 years’ worth of my family’s correspondence and memories.

By Jon Christian

The author’s aunts and uncles in Florida in the mid-’60s.

Photo courtesy of Jon Christian

Around the year 2007, just after Thanksgiving, my grandmother noticed a tiny seed near the faucet of her kitchen sink that had somehow, implausibly, sprouted.

Intrigued, she and my grandfather planted the seed in a foam cup of potting soil. It grew the telltale fuzzy leaves of a baby tomato plant, so they christened it Tom the Tomato, transplanted it into a one-gallon milk jug with the top cut off, and left it to grow in the sunny dining room of the stately Victorian home where they had lived since 1957. Tom thrived, even producing cherry tomatoes, and eventually reached the ceiling, where they anchored him with string. My grandmother pollinated him with a tiny artist’s brush.

I followed the life of Tom the Tomato on MyFamily.com, a social network for extended families launched by Ancestry.com in 1998. The Christian family is large, and when my aunt Amy signed up for MyFamily in the early 2000s, well before Facebook, it swiftly became the place my relatives went to communicate—and, not incidentally, to create a record of family history that would previously have been stored in old letters or emails. There were posts about trips, jobs, and a pet turtle that escaped and was finally found down the street in a slow-motion bid for freedom. My younger cousin got in trouble with the police, ran away from home, and eventually cleaned up his act. People were born, got married and divorced, grew ill and died.

“I was very conscious that we were creating family documentation,” said my uncle Dean, who posted detailed travel diaries about the research trips he made to Europe while researching his dissertation. “That’s just how I think.”

In the summer of 2014, Ancestry announced that it was shutting down MyFamily. It was OK, the company said, because we’d be able to export all the “family memories” we’d posted over the years. Ancestry community manager Cara Longpre promised in a post that “photos will be exported as .jpeg files, videos will be exported in the file format used to upload them, and discussion details will be exported as .txt files.” The site would close down for good in September 2014.

My aunt Amy, who was always the account administrator, had no reason not to trust Ancestry’s promise to export our data. So after she downloaded the 748-megabyte zip file that putatively contained our collected correspondence, she just let it sit on her computer. She was busy, after all: She runs an independent agricultural journal, stays active in the community, and had a kid headed off to college.

So when she finally opened the archive, a few months after MyFamily had gone to the great digital hereafter, she was horrified to find nothing but photos. More than a decade of written correspondence was missing.

“I trusted them,” Amy told me later. “If I hadn’t, I would have opened it up right away. In retrospect, I feel so foolish.”

Tom the Tomato.

Photo courtesy of Jon Christian

It wasn’t just us. It turns out that Ancestry didn’t bother to export discussion data for any former users. Reactions online, many from older people who ran sites to keep up with their adult children, are heartbreaking. “Several of my family website members were frequent contributors to the website as elders in the family, and all have now passed on,” wrote one former user. “We will now lose their historical memories, comments on photos, news items, recipes etc. that they left with us on the family websites. We, and they, thought we would have these memories preserved on our websites for future generations to share.”

“The minute that it became obvious that it was gone, I was aghast,” said my uncle Dean, who teaches history at Montana’s Carroll College.* “It’s like taking two boxes of old letters in your grandmother’s upstairs bedroom and tossing them in the trash.”

Ancestry consistently advertised MyFamily, which as of 2004 had attracted an impressive 1.5 million users, as a way to archive family history, once describing it as a way to “save stories, and record dates, so that your family can remember and share with other generations.” Until the summer before it shut down, the MyFamily homepage said that its “[u]nlimited storage space and SiteSafeSM technology keep all of your family memories safe and secure. No matter what.”

That’s why Ancestry’s decision not to give back the data still doesn’t make sense to me. It was certainly possible to export it properly; one of MyFamily’s competitors, Spokt, smelled opportunity when the closure was announced and built its own toolto scrape MyFamily data—including the discussions that my and other families lost—for a $69 flat fee. The problem was that you had to sign up for Spokt’s service while MyFamily was still live; it didn’t work for those of us who realized that our family memories had been erased only after the site was shuttered.

A former MyFamily software engineer told me that he was forced to preserve his own family discussions by manually saving every page of discussions as a PDF, a task he finished the last day before the site went dark. If I’d known we were going to lose our own records, I would have done the same.

Moreover, why not make an effort to warn users? My best guess is that Ancestry intended to export the data properly, hit a technical snag, and made the cynical decision to not follow through, in the hopes that nobody would call the company out on it.

But we’ll probably never know. Ancestry won’t share even basic information about the shutdown—representatives declined to tell me how many users the site had when the closure was announced, whose decision it was not to export the data, or even whether our family history is in fact gone forever or just languishing on some unplugged server. (The company did eventually provide an unattributed statement expressing regret for “any confusion or disappointment” due to the fact that it “ultimately determined it wasn’t feasible to return the discussion data,” and claiming that it worked with some customers to export the data with a third-party contractor, though a representative declined to connect me with a customer whose discussions had been successfully recovered in such a way.)

In the scheme of history, the Internet is still brand-new, and we’re still figuring out the norms that apply to the cloud. It’s natural to assume that service providers like Ancestry will be good custodians of our data, but toward the end of a product’s life, that understanding can be thrown out the window. “It is relatively common for this to happen,” Electronic Frontier Foundation representative Adi Kamdar, who advocates for better user control over data, told me with an audible sigh. “Whether it’s OK is a different question.”

The tragedy is that without a written record, memory is transient—and lost forever to the dead. Tom the Tomato eventually withered up and died, and my grandfather passed away a year or two later. My grandmother, an avid Wikipedian with exceptional recall, told me that she’d tried to remember important MyFamily posts to tell me about for this article. She was alarmed by the degree to which the memories had already started to fade.

“I wish I could come up with more concrete examples,” she said, pausing. “I was hoping they would come to me in a dream, as we read in stories.”

This article is part of Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, visit the Future Tense blog and the Future Tense home page. You can also follow us on Twitter.

*Correction, April 23, 2015: This article originally misstated that Carroll College is in Wyoming. (Return.)

Jon Christian is a writer in Boston. Follow him on Twitter.



Legacy videos let survivors enjoy the happier memories

There were tears when Barbara Bardak’s three young children first started watching the video she’d made for them about her life and what she wanted for theirs. It wasn’t long, though, before they were nudging and kidding each other in affection for the mother they’d lost to breast cancer five months earlier at age 43.

“It was such a beautiful moment,” said Nora Bardak, Barbara’s mother-in-law and caregiver for the children — 10, 11 and 14 — in Rocky Point, N.Y. “What a gift this was, and it couldn’t have been easy for her — she had to think, ‘maybe I’m dying,'” even though she looked healthy on the tape made six weeks before she died in July.

Continue Reading →


An infographic to help you Create a Family Legacy Video Your Family Will Love

Legacy Video Your Family Will Love

“As a mobile videographer, Judy Blair, owner of Keepsake Pix, helps families tell their stories and preserve their legacy for younger generations. Scrapbooks of photos become meaningless if no one remembers the family stories that are tied to those photos. Family legacy videos keep those stories–funny, silly or sentimental–alive for the youngest members to view.

Judy and C K Wilde sat down together recently to talk about her recommendations for creating a legacy video of a family member. If you own a low cost camera or a smartphone that records HD video (most newer models), you can shoot a family legacy video.

We created an infographic to help you plan, prepare, shoot, edit and share your legacy video with your family.”

Ethical Wills and Life Legacy

I just came across a website that talks about “legacy wills” and what the process offers for our lives.  I am struck that the similarity of the needs they meet are also found in the process one goes through in creating a family legacy video.

In Dr. Andrew Weil’s book “Healthy Aging, A Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being,” he says that preserving our history, wisdom, and love for future generations gives us something in our lives today.  He promotes preparing an ethical will as a gift of spiritual health to leave to your family at the end of your life.

Rachael Freed, in discussing ethical wills, goes on to say about his writing Legacy writing clarifies our identity and focuses our life purpose. These are the unexpected gifts received in the midst of life.  Beyond them, six additional needs are addressed as we write our spiritual-ethical wills.  They include our need to belong, to be known, to be remembered, to have our lives make a difference, to bless and be blessed, and to celebrate Life.”

Read the entire article here:



Read Rachael Freed’s article here: