Genealogists–real genealogists-have a plethora of tools at their disposal , knowledge, training, tenacity and the ability to dicipher the chicken-scrawl on old documents and records among them. As an amateur in the field of family history research I fall short in all these categories, but I’m learning as I go.
One actual, physical tool that has helped me tremendously is the jeweler’s loupe. I have thousands of photos to examine in our combined family archives and trying to make out the faded ink and pencil marks on the backs, or that tiny date stamp, can be a strain. Enter the jeweler’s loupe. These come in various magnitudes of magification, and with the 30x you can see the fibers in the paper. As I tend to lose things I keep my loupe on a long chain and wear it around my neck when I’m working on sorting photos. Loupes are relatively inexpensive (try Ebay) and worth their weight in gold.
Other people I know tackle this problem by scanning the backs of the photos and then enlarging the written area on the computer. Whatever works! Just make sure you get all the information you can from every photo.