Why I joined Find-a-Grave
I joined this site as a way to honor people who have passed away and to share the family history information that can be found on grave markers. With only one exception, I am related to every person represented by the memorials I currently manage.
Why I scaled back on Find-a-Grave
Find-A-Grave is a great resource and I appreciate it and the many wonderful volunteers who have put so much time into helping others. But, a fundamental flaw, in my view, is the "contributor controls all" approach to the memorials. Some of my relatives memorials are "held hostage" by contributors who refuse to allow edits by actively declining all requests. A better model would be to eliminate "autocratic control" of memorials and make the site more collaborative. I contributed more than 10,000 memorials but I have given up control of most of them as I simply do not believe that control of their content should be my decision.
SSN Death Index: what it doesn't mean
The SSN Death Index provides information based on a person's social security account. But it does not provide "place of death." Instead, it provides the location of a person's last known residence. Death location can be obtained from a death certificate or possibly an obituary. So please do not provide a "place of death" based on the "location" reported by the SSN Death Index.
Often it is impossible to take a gravestone photo that shows both the entire stone and also results in readable information. I recommend deciding what you're trying to do: if you want the grave marker to be readable, zoom in close so that the text is as large as possible. If you want the whole marker to be visible, zoom out, but don't waste a lot of vertical or horizontal space showing bare dirt or grass (one patch of soil or grass looks like another). A great approach is to take two photos: one showing the whole marker and another that provides a close-up of the text. I recommend setting your camera to the maximum resolution available and then using photo editing software to crop away unneeded parts of the photo and resizing the remaining image so that it does not exceed Find-a-Grave's standards. Oh, and unless you're taking photos at night, or the marker is in part shade, part sun, you should avoid using a flash. All the flash does is wash out your photo and, often, create an unpleasant bounce-back of light in one spot.
And about those digital date/time stamps...imagine Ansel Adams's "Moon and Half Dome" - but with the orange digits "3/13/1960 1:28 P.M." plastered across the front! Those digital dates are ugly and unnecessary "features" considering the date/time is already encoded into the "meta tags" found in the photo properties.
Sorry to get into legalese, but at one time, a find-a-grave member duplicated a memorial I created, then stole my photo and posted it on their duplicate and on some other memorials.
Per US Copyright law, as the original photographer of the grave marker photos I've added to Find-a-Grave, I am the copyright holder and the sole arbiter of the allowable uses of my photos.
My photos are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License
What the license means is that I am granting you permission to use my photos for any purpose you wish but if you want to re-publish a photo on another website or in a book or periodical, you may do so only if you give credit to me as the original source and copyright holder. A good way to do that is to say: "Photo Courtesy of D.D. Thompson, Find-a-Grave Volunteer." You could also include a hyperlink to the Find-a-Grave memorial where you found the photo, but that's optional.
Since I spent my own time and money to drive to graveyards and take these photos, some form of acknowledgment of where the photo came from is only fair. Thanks!