Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Printed Photo Storage: Leaving a Legacy

Where do you store your printed photos?  Most of us have photos tucked away in drawers and closets, boxes and bins.  When you have photos all over your home, it can be an overwhelming task to try to pull them together and get them organized.

Additionally, many people today have stopped printing their photos.  Its important to print those photos most special to you for preservation purposes.  The printed photo is not subject to technical obsolescence or computer crashes.  You can read more about why you should print your photos on my guest blog for Ancestral Breezes.

For those photos that ARE printed, help is here, in the form of the LegacyBox from Linea!

Your photos and stories are a legacy you leave behind.  I'm a strong advocate of making albums (traditional or digital) with your most important photos.  But if you aren't ready to do that, you should be storing those photos in a safe environment, and that is an archival photo box.

The LegacyBox will hold 2400 4 x 6 or 5 x 7 photos.  It comes with customizable pouches in two different sizes, so that in addition to 4 x 6 and 5 x 7 photos, you also have room for panoramic photos, medals and ribbons.  There is also an accordion envelope to hold larger photos and memorabilia.  Also included are 54 dividers for theme or category sorting.  The deep seal-shut lid keeps your photos secure if the box is dropped.  And its versatile style suits any decor for display!  Best of all, this box is manufactured in the USA!  The retail price is $54.99 plus shipping.  Here's the specs:

Contact me or a member of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (www.appo.org) if you'd like more information on the LegacyBox.

Set aside a little time every day to go through your photos.  You've probably got years and years of photos; organizing them isn't going to happen overnight.  But I can promise you will never regret the time you spend documenting your photos and stories!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Photos and Digital Hoarding: A Growing Problem

I recently read an article on digital hoarding.  It was definitely eye opening and it made me realize that I am actually an email hoarder.  I have thousands of emails still sitting in my three in-boxes.  I haven't deleted them because whenever I go to do so, I stop myself, thinking I may need something in them down the road.  This is really not a good strategy.  Chances are I won't need anything in these emails and if I do, most likely I can find it on Google or ask for it to be re-sent.

I have a much easier time with photos.  Maybe it's because I've been in the industry for many years.  There are lots of photos we take that we really don't need.  With digital, we can take 100 pictures of the beautiful sunset on our Hawaiian vacation.  But really we could probably do with one or two of those, and delete the rest.  Those other 98 are taking up space on your hard drive, cluttering your computer, and slowing your computer down.  Not only that, it slows you down too, because the more pictures you have, the more time it takes to find the one you need!  Multiply this by the extra pictures taken at your child's soccer game, family events, and everyday moments, and this can add up to a lot of extra photos clogging your computer!  When you download your pictures, do you go back and delete the photos you don't need?  Most people don't.

I actually go through the deleting process a second time in a lot of cases.  When I download my pictures (and I try to do it as soon as possible after the event), I go through and delete the ones I don't need immediately.  By doing this, it's a quick and easy job versus something that becomes more overwhelming the more you let it pile up.  But I also take a lot of pictures that I share.  I don't need all those pictures, but I take them because I know how much other people appreciate them.  I upload them to a photosharing app and cloud storage app called Linea, and share them with the others from the event.  If anyone else at the event was taking pictures, they can also upload them to the same "Line" of photos, allowing everyone that was at the event to view all the photos in ONE place, add comments and captions, and export any of the photos they want back to their own computer in the same resolution that they were uploaded in.  Linea is a free app, and it works on PC and Mac, iPad, iPhone and Android.  I like this because everyone in my family uses something different.  Its also private and secure.  The only people that can see your photos are the ones you shared them with.  If, like me, you have a lot of photos to store, you may want to consider a subscription for unlimited cloud storage.   There are lots of other sites you can use to store your photos such as Dropbox, Carbonite, Flickr, Picasa, and more but I personally like the viewing mosaic and other features of Linea that I mentioned above.  But for the record, I am a Dropbox and SmugMug user too.

Once I've uploaded to Linea, sometimes I go back and delete other pictures I know I won't need.  For example, I take a lot of pictures for my kids' sports teams.  At a game, I might take hundreds of pictures.  Ultimately, I don't need all those pictures.  I really only need and want the ones of my own children.  So I go back and delete the others from my computer after the season is over and I've shared the photos.

My backup system consists of cloud storage for my photos, and an external hard drive for all of my files.  My photos are the one thing on my computer I'd be devastated about if I lost, so they're backed up in several different ways.  One thing to note when you are backing up everything to the cloud, make sure your photos are being backed up in full resolution.  In the last few weeks during my photo organizing seminars, twice I have run into people who have used cloud storage companies to back up their entire computer.  Unfortunately these two people had their computers crash and had to rely on the cloud storage company to retrieve their data.  In these particular cases, their photo files came back as thumbnails.  They weren't saved in the original resolution and so for all intensive purposes, these folks lost their photos, because you really can't do much with thumbnails.  Needless to say, they were devastated.  So, do your research when choosing a cloud storage option.  But, cloud storage should be part of your backup plan, regardless of who you use.

If you want to read more about digital hoarding, check out this article from the Wall Street Journal.  As for me, I think I am going to go clean out one of my in-boxes.  Maybe I will find it easier if I do it one in-box at a time!  What about you?  Are you a digital hoarder?

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Disorganized Chaos of My Photo Life

by M. Shannon Hernandez

I am a VERY organized person.  I have a notebook and calendar in which I record everything for my business (on paper, with a pen), and then promptly transfer the information over to the computer and place on my blog, in my newsletter, into my digital filing system, or on the calendar.  All my spices are neatly labeled, on the top of the jar, so that I can find what I need quickly when I open the drawer and peer down.  I have 16 upcycled spaghetti sauce jars, all lined up in a row, which have been labeled with a professional label maker and hold my dried beans, rice varieties, lentils and grains.  I only buy purses and backpacks with a minimum of 3 pockets and pouches for easy identification of all the "stuff" that must go into the bag.  I have over 2,000 books, and they are categorized by genre on the shelves of my office and living room.  And my closet?  All pants hang in one section, by color, all skirts in another, by color, and all my blouses...you get the point!

But, something has happened in my photo life!  Mounds of photos sit in bags separated by theme or trip or event.  (I must give myself a little credit.)  Unfinished scrapbooks, complete with notes of what will go where, have been on my shelf for YEARS.  A single ziplock bag holds all of my photos and momentos from a magnificent trip I took to Ireland in 2005.  My wedding album of two years ago is collecting dust, and so are the photos sitting next to it!  Photo storage boxes, albeit with tagged organizers, are stacked -- cluttered with pictures begging me to document my life.

And these are just the printed photos.

Let's talk about the digital photos.  My life is a wreck!  I have pictures on my iPhone camera (current count 1523), photos I have loaded in Instagram, pics hanging out on the Project365 calendar, and all over Twitter and Facebook.  I have a mass storage device, which has over 19,000 photos waiting to be....???  What?  I don't even know where to begin.  I can't find photos I know I have because I haven't tagged them or named the albums when I imported them.  (I knew I should have--but just kept telling myself, "I would 'get to it.'")  My family uploads albums and albums to photo sharing sites like Picasa and Snapfish.  At one time, I was religious about following the links and viewing and printing the ones I wanted, but then the email notifications started sitting in my inbox, later to be deleted because of this feeling of adding more to the chaos of my photo life made me panic.

I am overwhelmed.  I need help.  And until a month ago, I had no idea where to begin.

I met Michelle Nahom, Marketing Manager for the Association of Personal Photo Organizers, via Twitter.  I was astounded!  Wow -- there were really people that would help you organize your photos?  I began following her blog, and then I had the opportunity to meet her at a photo organizing seminar she held in conjunction with Arista Camera in Bronxville, NY.  At the seminar, I listened, in awe to the number of people who were completely at a loss in their photo organizing, just like me.  Stories were shared of massive amounts of family memories and history being lost because the computer crashed or the hard drive was lost, or the online photo sharing site went out of business or accidentally deleted their files.  I learned I was a photo hoarder--and my husband too!  We fit the definition "to a T"--2,127 of our photos are either of sunsets or flowers.  I mean really--who needs 2,127 photos of anything, let alone sunsets or flowers?!

I left that seminar feeling empowered to change my disorganized digital photo life.  I have laid out my own personal plan for "dealing" with all of these pictures.  One night a week, I am purging photos--getting rid of the duplicates, blurry photos, or photos that don't even have a story.  It's a start.  The next phase will include creating categories and event titles, thus organizing them by theme.  After all of this, I plan on consulting with Michelle again and figuring out how I want to display certain photos throughout my home.

The biggest revelation I had at the seminar (besides how much help I needed!) was that I was not enjoying my photos, which are living memories of my past.  Not only was I not enjoying them, but I was not able to share them with other people, because I had "hidden" them away in digital files I couldn't track, name, or find.

If you have "found yourself" in any part of this story, I encourage you to start small, just like I did.  Follow Michelle's blog and Pinterest boards for practical tips and visual solutions to getting organized.  Begin going through your photos one night a week.  (To be honest, this "task" has turned into a "jog down memory lane" and I look so forward to it, because I am reliving my memories as I "work.")  Attend a photo organizing seminar in your community.  You can find Michelle's events on her Event tab on her blog.  The key is to take small steps in your personal quest of photo organization, so you can get them off your computer and shelves, and begin enjoying the visual memories of your past!

M. Shannon Hernandez, owner and designer of Sage & Time Designs, is a stationary designer in Brooklyn, New York.  She works closely with clients around the world to design handcrafted and custom stationary for their personal and social lives.  As a result of attending Michelle's seminar, she is now using a photo sharing software for her clients called Linea.  Linea also offers cloud based storage and syncs across all devices including PC and Mac, iPad, iPhone and Android, so your photos are accessible to you anywhere, anytime.  Linea has been a tremendous resource for organizing event design concepts, drafts of stationary designs, and inspiration boards in one, private location.  Both Shannon and her clients comment with feedback, on the photos in Linea, thus keeping all the design details of upcoming events in one place, which provides perfect tracking, excellent written and visual communication, and superior customer service.  You can learn more about Shannon on her blog, on Facebook at Sage & Time Designs, and Twitter @SageTimeDesigns.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Telling Your Family Story

by Jen Baldwin, Ancestral Journeys, Breckenridge, Colorado, USA

Families collect many photographs, artifacts, art projects, heirlooms, even written memoirs over the generations.  These items can be combined to create an inviting and beautiful family history.  With just a little extra work online, however, that story could easily grow to include facts, geography, and history.  I would like to introduce you to genealogy.

Pick a rainy day on your calendar, and then pick a family line to work on.  Will it be your maternal or paternal ancestors?  What about your spouse's family?

Think back to all those Sunday dinners, holidays, and special occasions when your family would sit around the dinner table and swap stories.  There is truth there; and it deserves to be remembered.  Write down as much as you can.  If you chose to share your project with family members, they will be able to contribute their memories, also.  Photos will be brought out of boxes, heirlooms and momentos will be handed around, and those stories - the ones that must live on - those stories will be retold again.

Start with what you know, or with what you think you know.  Even a rough outline here will get the job done.  So grab your pen and notepad (or your iPad!) and make a few notes.  Here's an example:

  • Grandma Helen Jones lived in Auburn, Washington.  She died there.
  • Her husband was Terrance Alvin.
  • They had children Paul, Terrance Jr., and Samantha.

From this, you can add details, and the big three are BMD: Birth, Marriage, Death.  If you are unfamiliar with the dates and locations, call a family member that might have a good idea.  Even a close guess is enough to get you started.

With those few facts, you can start looking.  I will offer you a few sites beyond Ancestry.com.  (Don't get me wrong, Ancestry.com and sites like it are wonderful and useful.  However, if you're not a committed researcher, there are other ways to get the information you seek without paying any fees.)

  • FamilySearch.org.  The LDS community has established the largest genealogical library in the world, they put more online every day.  A good way to get census records, which can give you a lot of information on just one page.
  • Bureau of Land Management GLO If you had an ancestor that homesteaded somewhere in the United States, you will almost certainly find their information here.  The benefit is that it gives you an exact location - down to the Township and Range.  You can pinpoint their land on a map; along with having the nearest town, county and state.
  • Go to the local library, and access the HeritageQuest database.  I have yet to hear of a library computer system that does not have access to this great resource.  There are several searches you can conduct: Census, Books, etc.  Try them all.  Another great way to get census images, and is easier to search with less information that other sites.
  • A quick internet search will identify local resources for the area you are looking in.  Utilize organizations such as Trails to the Past, US GenWeb and the local historical societies.  Many have searchable databases, and you'll never know what you will come across just by typing in your surname.  
  • Google.  Utilize all of its features, including images, maps, books, and reader.  You never know what you will find on a genealogy or history related blog, or in the details of a county plot map.  

Be forewarned!  Genealogy is very addictive.  There are many that have fallen to the "itch" with an innocent glance at a family tree.  The thing about genealogy is you never really answer all the questions.  We make history every day, and every day more is available online and in other resources.  You will literally never get to it all.  If you are not prepared to commit, walk away.  Just.  Walk.  Away.

If you do choose to begin your own ancestral journey, there are numerous resources available online, and a happy-to-collaborate community just waiting to help you.  Chances are, you have a cousin somewhere out there in the world that is looking at your family.  Might be a 2nd cousin, or a 5th cousin twice removed.  Either way, you have an ancestor in common, and it's possible that you have a cousin across town that you never met.

No matter what you do, take the time to digitally document your family heirlooms.  This is known to most people as taking a picture.  Try to be a bit creative, and have some fun with the project.  Find unique back drops, combine elements to tell the photographic story.  In this manner, you can share at least some of your family story without having to let go of those precious items.  One of my favorites is seen here, on this blog.  It is a photo of my father's tin baby cup, and it was passed down to me when my first daughter was born.  I set the shot with a picture of my father, the original owner, holding his brand new granddaughter about 30 minutes into her life.  When I showed him the picture, it brought tears to his eyes.

Your family story is unique; there is nothing else like it in the world.  I encourage you to begin your journey today.

You can follow Jen on her blog, Ancestral Breezes, on Facebook at Ancestral Journey and on Twitter @ancestryjourney.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On a Mission to Teach Photo Organizing

Photo Credit Nancy Aikins
I've been on the road a lot lately, educating the public on photo organizing.  By the end of this month, I'll have spent time teaching in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Hampshire.

Buried in a Sea of Photos...
Photo organizing is definitely a hot topic these days!  Most of us have boxes and old albums full of printed photos, digital photos all over our computers, old home movies we can't watch anymore, not to mention boxes of memorabilia and children's artwork.  We don't know what to do with it all, and it continues to pile up, creating an even more difficult situation to deal with.  It becomes a vicious cycle.  One couple who was at one of my recent events told me, "We're here because we can no longer walk into our office."  Another woman said she was there because her husband keeps all of their memory cards in a drawer as backup.  And when I mentioned digital hoarding, many people agreed that that term describes them!  Many of us download our memory cards but don't go through and delete the pictures we don't need, taking up extra space on our hard drives and making it more difficult to go back later and find the pictures that are truly important to us.

It's not that we don't feel like our pictures are important.  To the contrary, our photos and memorabilia are extremely important to us!  Studies have shown that after family members and pets, our photos are the next thing we would try to take out of a burning house.  So why have we let ourselves get into such a state of disarray?

The answer to that question is easy...lack of knowledge and time.  It's as simple as that.  But we took those pictures (or saved that memorabilia) because they had meaning to us.  Personally, I think we owe it to ourselves to create a system to ensure our photos are available to us in the future.  But it's easier said than done.

Creating a Plan to Preserve Your Memories
If you live in the Northeast, and you'd like to hear more about how to jumpstart the memory preservation process, please join me at one of my upcoming community events.  I'll be at The Memory Studio in Old Greenwich, CT on May 3rd, at the Cherry Hill Library in Cherry Hill, New Jersey on May 8th, at the Fairfield Museum and Historical Center in Fairfield, Connecticut on May 15th, and the Cragin Memorial Library in Colchester, CT on May 16th.  They're listed under my Events tab at the top.

There's lots of other places to get information on preserving your memories.  Your Digital Life is one of my favorite sites.  Techlicious recently posted a great article on The Best Photo and Video Digitizing Services.  If you'd like some help and want to work with a professional, check for a photo organizer local to you on APPO's website.  They can help you with your digital dilemmas too!  You can also join their Facebook Group: Association of Personal Photo Organizers for tips and techniques.

Photos are a gift we leave to future generations
One way or another, I hope you'll find a way to get help with your photos.  How great would it be to know that you won't be a stranger to future generations?  I want my grandchildren and great grandchildren to know what life was like for my generation, and I also want them to know ME, and where they came from.  It truly is a gift that we can offer them.  Watch for my upcoming blog from guest blogger and genealogist Jen Baldwin on how to research your past!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ninety-six Years of Pictures

by Caren Kimenker

Last year, my daughter's grandparents on her father's side passed away within 8 months of each other, leaving behind a ninety-six year legacy of family memories in photos.  They both loved their family and friends and surrounded themselves with photos of family groups and grandchildren as pleasant memories when they couldn't be there in person.

As precious as these family photos were to my mother-in-law, it would have been a shame to just sort them and box them away or just split them up amongst various family members.  So, I offered to scan them and make a picture book so that everyone could have their own copy of the photos to enjoy.  This turned out to be a larger task than expected as there were old photo albums and pictures stored all over the house - in main living areas, in the basement family room, in the attic, and in drawers.  But, to me, it was a labor of love.

I had so much fun looking at all the pictures as I was scanning them and then putting them into a book.  Seeing my in-laws in their younger years, the way the outside of their house looked when they first moved in without the porch and the landscaping, seeing my ex and his sisters growing up, all the family vacations and the adventures that they went on, and then the siblings' families as they grew.  My daughter was the oldest grandchild and she managed to have her picture taken with all the other grandchildren.  The pictures made me feel a special connection to my in-laws and a special appreciation of the joy and love they brought to their lives and to everyone they touched.

Putting together a picture book for someone else was not something that I was used to doing, so I took special care to make sure everything was just right and in the correct chronological order.  But, the more pages I finished, the prouder I felt that I was doing this not only for the family members but for my in-laws, because I know how special pictures always were to them.  Lil had diligently labeled every photo with the dare, the location, and the names of everyone in the picture so that the memory was never lost.

My special tribute to them is the last two pages where I did a collage of pictures of the two of them together, always smiling and always showing the love they felt for each other.

The book is finished, except for some final editing.  But, even before she saw the final product, my sister-in-law reminded me of why I do what I do as a photo solutions consultant: "You do a mitzvah with this business--in just one example, for those people who have pictures of their loved ones who have passed away, it is a way to continue honoring the loved ones, by honoring their memory."

Pictures are special because the people, places and things in them are special and because they all tell a story.  Don't lose the stories.

About Caren: I have been helping people create their own photo albums for eleven years.  People would buy the products to make their own albums but then they never completed the album.  They would comment that they didn't have time. Making scrapbooks and preserving memories and stories of photos has always been a strong passion of mine, so I changed my focus to help people get it done by helping them organize their photos and creating their albums.  So, I started CSK Photo Solutions to help people organize their photos and memorabilia, paper or digital, create memory books telling the stories of the pictures, photo gifts, wall prints and much more!  I receive a lot of pleasure from seeing client's reactions to looking through their books that tell their stories.  I will be glad to help you.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Photographing Everyday Moments: Soccer and BMX

Soccer and BMX...these are the things I took photos of this weekend.  I like to take pictures of our everyday activities.  I have to say I am better about doing that than capturing big events.

Sports play a big part in our family.  My husband and I are runners.  We both ran in high school and college.  Neither one of us ever played soccer, but for years, that was the sport of choice for our kids.  In the spring and fall, soccer dominated our weekend activities.

This season I will have a lot of different sports to take pictures of.  My oldest son is running track for his high school and playing soccer for a town travel team.  My daughter is playing soccer for a premier team, and my youngest son is playing soccer for a town travel team, and now has decided that he wants to try BMX racing.  It was fun to watch him kicking up the dirt at the BMX track this weekend!

What kinds of everyday things do you take pictures of?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Favorite Pet Photo Contest

Do you have a favorite pet photo?  Do you like to try out new programs?  Here's your chance to show off your favorite pet photo and try out a new photosharing program at the same time!

The rules:
1) Go to my Facebook page Creative Photo Solutions, "Like" my page and leave me your email address so I can invite you to my Favorite Pet Photo line on Linea.

2) Once you have your invitation, download Linea onto your computer, and add your favorite pet photo or photos.  You can add as many pet photos as you would like.

3) Double click on your favorite photos, click on the + sign and add a comment.

4) Our contest ends Sunday night - the photo with the most comment wins!  Want more comments?  Tell your friends to come by my FB page, give me a "Like" and ask for an invite to the line of photos!

The prize: 
A copy of Beyond Snapshots  (a great book on how to take better photos!) by Rachel Devine and Peta Mazey!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Sparkle of a Photograph

by Halli King

Taking photos is what professional photographers do.  They get the right shot, the right colors, the right exposure, and the shot looks great. When the professional photographer creates the perfect shot, it looks pleasing to the eye, so complete and easy.  One might think, "I can do that!"  Some people can; others, like me, don't always create the best or perfect shot.  Unfortunately, the attitude used to stop me from taking photos.  I would be hesitant to take the shot, in reservation of not getting it just right.

Along came digital and the ability to see what you are taking before it is printed.  Now, people take photos of events that happen in their lives on their phones, cameras, iPads, and other digital devices.  They keep these photos on camera cards and keep the cards, rarely printing the photos they so carefully took.  I too have joined the multitude of picture takers.  I snap pics on the phone without thinking.  I take the digital cameras to special events to record the events.  I may even download these jpegs to a computer to keep track of them.  But am I at the same place as before when I was reserved about taking photos?

We take photos to remember an event that has touched us in some way.  We want to remember the smile, the color of something just so.  If we keep these special photos on a memory card (or hard drive), we can lose sight of the event we wanted to keep.  Memories can fade and with that goes the descriptions of the events we hoped the photograph would trigger.  Print the special photos and write something about the event they are "talking" about.  If the photo is a restaurant, why was it important?  Was the food you ate the reason for the picture, or was it something else?  I took pictures of the door to the kitchen at a restaurant we visited as a family.  Ok, I took several pictures of the door.  Why?  Believe it or not, the children in my family were mesmerized by the opening of the door.  It just seemed to know when someone was approaching the door.  The topic at our meal was about the door, not the food or the fabulous scenery.  On the way out, the waitress showed us the trick...a foot panel that opened the door.  I wrote this story on a card that is with the pictures of the door.  The kids still laugh when they see the picture of the door.  That is, in my opinion, why we take photos and keep them.  The photos are triggers to memories that bring us back to when they were taken.

Take photos.  Print the photos that are the sparkle to the memory.  Write something that goes with the photo so that the sparkle to the memory will be there for others (and yourself) to enjoy for years to come.

I have joined an organization called APPO, dedicated to preserving memories.  I, along with my colleagues, work with clients to help them to preserve the sparkle to the memory.  We work in all types of media: photos, memorabilia, film, digital, printed material, and much more.  We can help you preserve some of the sparkles in your life!

About Halli: 
I have been helping others preserve their photos and memorabilia for 9 years.  When I first started working with photos, I motivated others to work on their photos.  After a few years, I noticed that people just don't have the time to work on their photos.  It wasn't that the photos were not important to them; they just didn't have the time to make the traditional photo albums.  

Our photos and memorabilia document our lives, showing the life we lived and what we valued in our lives.  Taking the time to organize the memories that are important to us and those around us is very significant.  I enjoy when I can help a client take their memories and create something that honors those memories.  That is what Cherish the Photos is all about, placing the memories so that others can 
celebrate our memories, too. I offer help in organizing photos/memorabilia, be photos or jpegs, in creating memory books, memory displays, wall prints and much more! 

Friday, March 30, 2012

World Backup Day

Did you know World Backup day is March 31?  When was the last time you backed up your photo files?  Unfortunately backing up is something most of us don't think about until it is too late.  I'm sure you know someone who has lost some or all of their photos at some point in time...or paid a large sum of money to have those photos retrieved after a computer crash.

Creating a secure backup is important.  Not only should your photos be accessible, but you should also be able to recover them in the event of a computer crash, natural disaster or theft without it being a difficult or financially prohibitive process.

To accomplish this, you're going to want to backup and archive in several ways.  An external hard drive should be part of your backup plan.  However, keep in mind that research shows external hard drives have a limited shelf life of five years or so.  If you keep your external hooked up to your computer for backups that happen on a regular basis and your computer is stolen...the thief is probably going to take your external hard drive too.  That happened to a friend of mine.  Her computer was stolen right out of her house, with the external hard drive attached.  She lost a couple years worth of pictures.

You may also want to consider Picture Keeper.  Picture Keeper has built in software that searches for and saves your photos in their original file structure.  It's easy to use, because it's programmed to find your photos for you.  The next time you plug it back in, it'll find the new photos, as well as those that have been edited.

You'll also want to take advantage of cloud storage options.  One of my favorites for photos is Linea for its photosharing and beautiful viewing capabilities, but I also use Dropbox on a regular basis.  When considering a cloud storage service, you may want to consider privacy and security, and you should make sure you can retrieve your images and export them back to your computer in the same resolution you uploaded them at.  You also want to make sure the site stores your images on more than one server.

Another backup option is copying your photos onto archival quality CDs or DVDs and storing them away from your home.  Fires and natural disasters, while not regular occurrences, can happen.  However, remember if you store on CDs or DVDs, you will need to re-record at some point, as technology changes.

And last but certainly not least, the printed photo is your best backup!  Printed photos are not vulnerable to technological obsolescence and can last hundreds of years if stored properly!

If you need help with coming up with a backup plan for your photos, the professionals at the Association of Personal Photo Organizers can help.  Check out the APPO site for a personal photo organizer in your area.

Check out the World Backup Day site for more backup solutions!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How to Photograph Your Teenager!

by Karen McCann

When you walk into the room with your camera, does your teen throw their hands in front of their face and run the other way?  After raising 3 teenagers and surviving the "Mom, please, no more pictures" phase, I can impart a few tips that have helped me survive this and capture some great images along the way.

The first tip is to try to have a camera with you in your bag or car for any photo op that pops up.  I have been known to keep a disposable camera (I have several from weddings) in the glove compartment.  Carpooling your teen around town may provide unlimited opportunities, and will capture them and their friends in their daily lives.

Use humor to sooth the savage beast is my second tip.  If your teens start to become irritated at your attempts to take their photo, getting silly will soften them up and take some of the attention away from them and onto you.  You can be clicking away as they roll their eyes at your efforts to get them to laugh.  You are sure to chuckle at the shots you will end up with.

Finally, don't worry much about the perfect pose.  Long gone are the days you can dress them up in matching outfits and sit them on the couch perfectly.  Just capturing your teen in "real time" will be far more valuable in the long run when you look back at those photos years from now.

After all these attempts, your teen still may not appear to show much enthusiasm at your end results.  But, I'll bet deep down they will be glad and will cherish these memories as they grow up.

If you'd like some more tips on photographing your teen, check out this blog post from Confident Camera Moms.

About Karen: 
Karen has been an amateur photographer for many years and has a Photo Organizing business to assist her clients with managing their photos, both digital and printed; as well as creating beautiful photo projects for her clients.  She is a Certified Member of APPO, the Association of Personal Photo Organizers.  You can check out her website Save Your Memories here.  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Technology...a blessing or a curse?

Technology is a blessing and a curse.  On one hand, consider how far we've come.  When digital cameras were first introduced in 1997, skeptics said they wouldn't last.  There was nothing wrong with film technology.  It worked just fine.  I know I didn't run out and buy a new digital camera!  It took me years to switch over.  But the critics were wrong.   Today, most households own a digital camera of some sort, especially since most phones now have a digital camera.

The reason digital is so successful?  Digital pictures are instant gratification!  You can see the picture as soon as you take it and you can decide whether to delete or save.   We can delete the bad hair days, the unfortunate moments, the bloopers.  That brings up another point though...by doing this, are we re-writing what our family history actually looks like?  I guess thats food for thought, but I have to say I do like the freedom digital gives me!

On the other hand, technology can also be a curse.  We're a society of innovators and that means our technology changes at an amazing pace.  Every time technology changes, we have to decide whether or not to re-record.  If we don't, we risk losing the data.  

Consider our old home movies on various formats that we can't watch in their current format anymore.  In all likelihood, we'll convert them to DVD.  But in 30 years, we probably won't be able to read those with our computers either.  So if you want to preserve those memories for future generations, just be prepared to re-record every time technology changes.

So, what are your thoughts on technology?  Love it?  Wish it would slow down?  I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How my Grandfather Inspired Me to Save YOUR Photos, by Mandi Zucker

My grandfather was a photographer.  He never got paid for it, but he had a real talent.  He had lots of various jobs, from a tire salesman to construction work.  He was a pilot in WWII and took some amazing, historic, and horrifying photos in the war.

My grandparents have an interesting love story.  They married very young, as many people did at the time, had my mom and her brother, but eventually divorced after almost 20 years of marriage.  They both remarried but after a second divorce for my grandfather, and my grandmother's second husband's death, they found each other again.  As a child, I thought it was so cool that my grandma and grandpa were dating EACH OTHER!  They never remarried, but they lived together on weekends and my grandmother took care of him when he eventually got sick and passed away.

I guess my love of photography came from my Pop.  I never took many photos until I had children of my own, and although I'm not great, I can usually get the shot I want and am pretty good with the photo-editing tools on my computer.  I know I'm not a professional level photographer, but I started realizing the importance of taking photos and preserving them when my children were born about 11 years ago.

My grandfather died in 2004.  While helping my grandmother clean out his apartment, we came across boxes and boxes of old photos and memorabilia.  My grandparents' engagement photo and their engagement announcement from the newspaper, love letters, photographic testimonials of the horrific acts witnessed during the Holocaust, report cards, and more were just some of the "treasures" I found in closets and under his bed.

At the time, I wasn't ready to tackle this emotionally and physically exhausting project.  So, my grandmother took the shoeboxes and memories to her apartment, and I figured I would get them back when I was ready to work on them.

That never happened.  About a year later, I was ready.  So I went to my grandmother and asked for them back.  I told her I wanted her help to create a keepsake album so my children could learn about the grandfather they would never get to know.  She said, "I'm sorry.  I didn't know what to do with them, so I threw them away."

Gone.  Family treasures.  My grandfather's legacy.  Historical pictures and newspaper articles.  All gone.

I was devastated.  But at that moment, I swore I would never let that happen to my own children.  I know they are going to be very important people and go on to do amazing things.  I want their grandchildren to know about it.

So chronicle your pictures.  Scrapbook them.  Frame them.  Make a slideshow with narrative and subtitles to tell their story.  If you need help, there is a great nonprofit organization called StoryCorps that provides a list of questions that may be helpful when trying to think about documenting your story.  It doesn't matter how you do it, but don't let your family treasures be thrown away!

If you'd like to learn more about how you can preserve your most precious memories, APPO offers community talks on tips and techniques for organizing your photos.  On April 5th, we'll be in at the Bronxville, NY library doing our "Got Photos?  Get Organized!" presentation.  Click on the link to RSVP and join us!

Mandi Zucker is a Personal Photo Organizer and the owner of NY Photo Services.  She has been helping people with their photos for 7 years.  For more information, email her at mandi.zucker@gmail.com or check out her website.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Attend a seminar near you on photo organizing!

Do you have boxes of printed photos tucked away in closets?  Digital photos all over the computer?  Old home movies, memorabilia and children's artwork?  For most of us, trying to figure out the best way to deal with all of this is simply too overwhelming, so we leave it for another day.

If this sounds familiar to you, maybe I can help.  For the next few months, I'll be criss-crossing the Northeast, teaching the ABC's of photo organizing as well as offering tips, techniques and product suggestions that will help you preserve, share, and get those photos back into your life where you can enjoy them!  If you don't live in the Northeast, one of my colleagues across the US or Canada may be able to help...we're on a mission to educate the public on the easiest way to organize their photo collections and where to get help if you need it!

We're passionate about helping people preserve their memories and tell their stories.  To find an event near you, click on the word "Events" at the top of my website.  I'll be updating these events regularly.  Don't put this off for another day...join us for one of our talks and learn how you can conquer your photo collections!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Telling My Story, by Christy Schimanski

A note from Michelle: I am thrilled to hosting several guest bloggers over the next couple of months who will be sharing their experiences with the photos of their lives!  A big thank you to Christy Schimanski who is my very first guest on my blog!

Growing up, my parents did not take a lot of pictures of me or my siblings.  My parents were not well off, and the only camera we had was a Polaroid Instamatic, for which the film cartridges were expensive.  Picture taking was saved for birthdays and Christmas, Halloween and Thanksgiving.  There are huge gaps in the photo documentation of my life.  How sad is it to know that all of my childhood photos can fit in a single shoebox?  Has this happened to you?

Today we have access to so much more technology…from digital cameras, to camera phones and tablet computers.  Picture taking has taken on a new life in the 21st century…more information is shared now in real time than ever before.

With the rise of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, companies have created new ways to share those photos with those in your media circle. 

I am a mom to an only son.  I have taken more photos than I care to admit to.  Have I gone to the opposite extreme…compensating for my parents’ shortcoming in my pictures?  I don’t think so…and here’s why:

Life isn't just about special moments…birthdays, a holiday celebration, a job well done.  Life is about the little things…things that happen every day.  Documenting what my son’s favorite book is at the time, the length of his hair, a lost tooth…all of these things are important in defining who he is.  I want to capture what is happening in his life while it’s happening.  I want him to look at photos of himself later on in life and remember what his typical day was like.  What his favorite color was in 3rd grade.  Who his science partner was for dissecting his 1st worm.  He enjoys looking through his scrapbook albums now, remembering the details of his life, laughing at the goofy poses he struck, smiling as he recalls events in his life.  This is important to him. 

It is also important for me, too.  As the mom of an only child, I realize that someday when I’m gone, these pictures will hold so much meaning for my son.  I choose to tell my story, his story, through those pictures.  Are you telling your story?

So, the next time you think of it, go grab your camera.  Start taking photos of everyday things…the flowers blooming in your garden, the woodpecker at your bird feeder, your child running through the sprinkler.  Start documenting elements that define who you are…and start telling your story through pictures.

*Christy Schimanski is owner and Chief Creative Officer of Just Scrappin’ Happy, a scrapbook company specializing in scrapbook page kits, mini album kits, and handcrafted page embellishments.  In her spare time, she loves to spend time with her husband, son, and their golden retriever, Jake.  She shares her love of photos and scrapbooking with other photo enthusiasts and teaches classes at her local scrapbook store.  You can find her at www.justscrappinhappy.blogspot.com

Monday, March 5, 2012

Organizing your Photos by Theme

When I ask people why they take photos, most of the time they tell me to remember and to document the important events in their life.  Our photos allow us to re-live our memories and the experiences we shared with our loved ones.   Memories are a wonderful thing....they give us that sense of belonging and significance.  Photography and photo books have given us a unique opportunity.  Our photos tell the world that we were here, and in a photo book we have the chance to tell our stories alongside of those photos.

Over the years though, we've accumulated a lot of photos, and a lifetime of photos can really be overwhelming to sort through.  We talked about the ABC's of Photo Organizing™ in my last blog; now we're going to talk about using themes to help the organization process along as well.

Let me explain what I mean.  If you're trying to create an album using your photos, you don't need every photo.  Nor do you want every photo!  Let's say you are making a graduation album.  Your child played soccer from kindergarten all the way through high school.  You have hundreds of photos.  Wouldn't it be more interesting to look at a couple pages of soccer through the years rather than twenty pages of soccer?

Likewise, if you've got a lifetime of photos, do you think you would enjoy the album more if you concentrated on the themes that were important in your life and focused on those, or if you had every photo you ever took in it?

Go back to the reason you took the photos in the first place! Think of the key themes in your life.  Perhaps your family liked to travel.  Maybe you were really into sports.  What about family traditions?  You can see where I am going with this!

My family loves to ski together.  My children have been skiing since they were 4 or 5 years old.  They learned to ski in Massachusetts, but now we tend to go to Vermont.  However, several times we've taken trips to other places, such as Mt. Tremblant, Winter Park, and Whistler.  This is something we enjoy together.  Our time together skiing has played an important part of who we are as a family.  This is a key theme for us.

What are the themes of your life that you most want to preserve?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Organizing Your Photos Can Be as Easy Using Your ABC's!

If you have boxes upon boxes of printed photos in closets and drawers, and digital photos scattered all over your computer, you're not alone.  Like many others, you probably find yourself somewhat overwhelmed by the task of organizing them.  This process doesn't have to be intimidating though!

Organizing your photos can be as easy as using your ABC's!  At the Association of Personal Photo Organizers, we teach a method called the ABC's of Photo Organizing™, developed by Founder Cathi Nelson, to help people work through the sorting process.    

The first step is to gather all your photos into one spot, whether on the table or on the computer.  Then you'll start making decisions on what to save and toss.  If you have digital photos all over your computer, you might want to consider using Picture Keeper to round up all of your pictures.  All you have to do is insert your Picture Keeper into any USB port on your computer, and it will automatically go and find all of the photos (rather than you having to go find them in various places on your computer yourself!).  This gives you an easy way to corral all those photos, and then you can put them back into the software of your choice to organize them.  Check out About.com's Top Digital Photo Software Picks for Family Photos if you need help deciding which software to use.

Once you've established which software you are going to use for your digital photos, you're ready to move on to the ABC's.  

A is for Album.  Your A photos belong in an album or a photo book.  They are personal and cherished...they have stories behind them.  If you are sorting printed photos, you'll simply place them into an A pile.  If you're working with digital photos, you'll be tagging them with a flag or a rating.

B is for Box.  Not every photo needs to go into an album.  However, that doesn't mean they aren't significant to you.  Your B photos should be organized into an archival storage box.  Printing your photos is the best way to preserve them.  The printed photo is stable, and can last hundreds of years if stored properly.  They aren't susceptible to computer crashes or technical obsolescence.  When you pass away, your relatives are more likely to keep your printed photos than your digital files.  You also should consider using a photo labeling pencil to keep track of the who, what, when on the back of these photos.  

C is for the Can...whether it's a digital trash can or a physical one.  Give yourself permission to throw away the photos you don't need...you know, the blurry ones, the duplicates, the ones with the heads cut off, and the people you no longer know.  With digital photos, I try to download my photos as soon as possible after taking pictures and delete the ones I don't need right away.  Because we take so many more pictures with digital cameras than we ever did with film, we're likely have a lot of duplicates.  If you took 50 pictures of the sunset on your Hawaiian vacation, you probably only need one or two of them.  By paring them down right away, it's a bite size chunk of work versus becoming an overwhelming task if you wait months or years.

S is for the Story.  This is the most important part.  We're a people of stories.  Throughout history we have  used storytelling to communicate and document our lives.  Your stories typically accompany your A photos, and these memories are important to you, your children and future generations.  Sometimes a poorly composed photo is actually significant because of its story.  Consider this picture of this tree from my front yard.  To you, it's just a tree.  But to me, it was our first Christmas tree with our first child. We planted it after the holidays and now its a beautiful evergreen!

Now that you've sorted your photos into the ABC's, you may be wondering what the next step is.  In my next blog, we'll talk about themes and how you can use themes to organize in a way that makes sense for a lifetime of photos.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Stories Make the Photo!

My favorite photos are the ones with the great stories and fun memories behind them.

As I look through my old photo books, its fun to relive the memories.  When I create my photo books, I document the stories so my albums really read like books.  Its fun to read them later and look back on the fun times.

Our family has some great memories on the ski slopes.  One of my fondest memories is of the box car races.  There was the school bus box car that got our family into the brochure at Jiminy Peak.  There was the airplane box that didn't make it all the way down the hill, the peace sign box, and many others throughout the years!  The kids have just as much fun building and painting these as they do riding down the hill in them!

I always love watching the antics of my oldest son and his friends.  From creating ridiculous videos to manhunt games that lasted for hours, they always seemed to come up with creative ways to have fun. Once they built a contraption out of a box, a skateboard and a bunch of duct tape.  I'm sure it was completely unsafe but they'd take turns sailing down the hill in it (with helmets on, of course), and it would keep them occupied for hours.  As my husband says, boys will be boys.

I also have some wonderful photos from our trip to Wildwood, NJ a couple summers ago.  The kids had a fabulous time on the boardwalk and my son won some game that got him entrance into one of those freestanding glass rooms where the money flies all over the place.  He didn't really win anything but he sure had a great time in there trying to catch the money!  Then there was the shark scare.  The kids and my husband were all in the water when I spotted a fin.  Someone had a whistle, and we waved everyone out of the water.  My husband insisted it must have been a dolphin, but we found out afterwards they had shark sightings all week along the Jersey shore.  Regardless, I wasn't taking any chances!

Telling the stories make the photos come to life. What stories do your photos tell?  How do you share those memories with your family?

Monday, February 20, 2012

A New Career: Photo Organizing

There are lots of jobs today that didn't exist years ago.  It might be hard to remember but once upon a time, we didn't have internet!  There were no jobs in website design or SEO optimization.  People didn't make money blogging.  We used to go to a bookstore to buy books...now we have Amazon and Kindle.  And whatever did we do without all the apps that we now use on a daily basis?!  Who would have ever thought there would be such a thing as an app designer?

New industries create new opportunities.   

Digital technology has played its part in creating a new industry: photo organizing.  Years ago, we used film, took our pictures on rolls of 24 or 36, and our biggest decision was whether to print singles or doubles.  Now not only do we have boxes of those old printed photos lying around, but we also have digital photos all over our computer, home movies in obsolete formats, stacks of memorabilia and children's artwork, and usually no clear plan of what to do with it all!

Enter the personal photo organizer.  A personal photo organizer helps their clients find solutions for their photo management needs.  Whether its helping organize printed and/or digital photos, scanning, backing up, creating keepsake photo books, wall art and photo gifts, or converting old media to newer formats, a personal photo organizer is there to help you make sure you enjoy your memories today and leave a legacy for future generations.

Will people really pay to have someone help with their photos?  Yes, they will.  I know this firsthand, because I was a photo organizer, before I came on board at the Association of Personal Photo Organizers as a Training Specialist.  Our membership is growing rapidly and that is a direct result of the need for this service.  Consumers today are more overwhelmed with their photos than ever before and are looking for solutions for managing and protecting their photo collections.

This growing need is further evidenced by the turnout that I had at two recent presentations I did at area libraries called Got Photos, Home Movies and Memorabilia?  Get Organized!  In both presentations, I had audiences of over 40 people, and spent about an hour answering questions afterwards!  At my last presentation, two photo organizers attended, and not only helped with the questions afterwards, but also handed out countless business cards as well.

If you're the family historian in your family, like making photo books and gifts, or simply enjoy helping others with their photos, you may want to consider a career in photo organizing.  Perhaps you already have an existing business in the field of professional organizing, move management, genealogy or digital scrapbooking.  Consider adding photo organizing to the services you offer your clientele.

APPO offers certification, training, marketing support, and access to preferred providers offering an additional income stream, among other benefits.  If you'd like to learn more, Cathi Nelson, the Founder of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO) is offering a free informational webinar on this growing industry and the top ten benefits of APPO membership.  This 30 minute presentation will include an interactive time for questions and answers.  Click on the link at the top of my blog for more information on dates/times.
Helping clients get their photos and stories back into their lives is both meaningful and rewarding.  If this sounds like it might be of interest to you, register for a webinar.  You might just find a new career opportunity in a new industry!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

52 Week Photo Project: Light

The assignment this week for the 52 Week Photo Project was light.  I had all intentions of getting up early one day this week and taking some pictures in the beautiful early morning light.  Unfortunately, that never happened.  But "light" really can have all sorts of interpretations.

Today on our walk, Murphy discovered the snow outside of the hockey rink near our house.  He jumped on it, he played in it, and he ate quite a bit of it.  I think Murphy likes snow.  We haven't had much of it this year, so it'll be interesting to see what he does with it if we get a big snowstorm.

It's not always easy to get a good picture of a black dog.  Now we have 2 of them!  Black dogs do photograph well against the light background of snow though.  So that's how I have chosen to interpret this week's theme: the contrast of dark against light.  

On another note off the subject of the assignment, Murphy is becoming quite an imp.  He is now stealing silverware from the dishwasher, and tries to bring random things out through our electronic dog door to play with in the pool area.  Today I caught him taking one of those barbeque brushes with him (stolen from the dishwasher), and earlier this week he actually tried to drag a mop with him (stolen from the pantry).  We are learning to close doors and to pick up anything we don't want him to spirit away.  

It's a lot of fun having a puppy in the house!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Will Your Family Photos Survive?

There's a good chance there will be more photos that survive into the 22nd century from the 1930s than there will be from today. Considering the fact that we take so many more photos now than we ever did in the days of film, that statement seems a little shocking.

However, many of us no longer print our photos.  Why print?  Everything is digital now...our pictures are easily accessible on our computers and our phones.  They're just a click away on Facebook.  In theory, our digital pictures will last forever.  But the reality is, there's lots of reasons why digital is less durable.

Here's why:
  • Computers crash.  Often times we don't have backup systems in place.  Sometimes the photos can be retrieved, sometimes not.  If they can be retrieved, chances are it's not going to be inexpensive.
  • External hard drives, which many people use to backup, only have a shelf life of about five years.  They can, and do crash as well.  
  • Memory cards fail.  Memory cards were never meant to be long term storage.  I've lost photos, and I know of a number of other people who have had it happen to them as well.  
  • We get new computers every few years.  Digital photo files must be transferred from one computer to the next.  That doesn't always happen.  
  • Our backup systems become obsolete over time.  Let's say you've backed up all your photos to DVD.  It's great to have that backup, but when technology changes, you will need to re-record.  Our computers most likely won't be able to read that technology in 30 years. 
  • Online services go out of business.  Your Digital Life recently posted an article suggesting that if you have photos on the Kodak Gallery, it would be best to back them up elsewhere.  
  • You should also consider what will happen after you pass away.  Your family will be determining which of your possessions to keep.  If your computer isn't in the "keep" pile, your digital images will be lost.   
Before, all we had to worry about was our photos fading over time, or being damaged by poor storage environments, or fire or natural disasters.  Today, with digital, there are many reasons why our photos may not survive.  So how do we preserve our photos for future generations?

The solution to this dilemma is very simple.  PRINT your most important photos.  The printed photo is durable, has the potential to last a very long time if stored properly, and isn't subject to computer crashes and technical obsolescence.

Create photobooks with your photos and family stories so that your stories survive.  Your stories are your legacy to future generations. Lastly, back up your photos using cloud storage.  The cloud will outlast you and I.  However, make sure you use a service that allows you to share with family members who will continue to have access to those photos.

There are some things in life that are priceless...and your memories are one of them!  What are you doing to preserve your history?  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

52 Week Photo Challenge: Cats & Dogs

This weeks' photo challenge was to take a photo that reminded you of a movie or song.  I am finding with the photo challenges each week that I am not particularly good at staging a photo with a topic on the fly like this.  However, last night an opportunity presented itself.

We recently added a new puppy to our family.  Murphy is part Golden Retriever, part German Shepard, and absolutely adorable.  But he has not quite gotten the hierarchy in our family.  You see, we have 2 other dogs, and 4 cats.  We've had the other dogs for years; 3 of the cats joined us 2 summers ago and the last cat came to live with us last summer.  The cats get along well with the dogs...the dogs don't chase them, and they have a pretty amicable relationship.  I once even found a cat sleeping on top of one of our dogs.

However, Murphy is going about making friends the wrong way.  He chases the cats every chance he gets.  A couple of them stand their ground and simply hiss and swat at him.  He's gotten whacked more than once.  Yet he still comes running, tail wagging, every time he sees a cat.

One of our cats is actually trying to make friends.  She'll go nose to nose with him if he's still...if he moves suddenly, she'll give him a whack.  She walks by him every chance she gets.  She's not in the least bit afraid.

The cat that is the most frightened of Murphy is our big tom, which is funny to me.  When Murphy first came home, the cat outweighed him...now its probably a coin toss as to who weighs more.  Of course Murphy is going to grow and be much bigger, but my only point is, this particular cat is a big boy.  He definitely rules the roost around here.  He's not a big fan of Murphy right now.  So last night when I found the two of them sleeping on dog beds that were side by side...not together, mind you, but awfully close, I was surprised.  I took the picture, thinking Milo and Otis.  However when I woke up this morning, I realized the relationship between Murphy and the cats is probably more like Cats & Dogs.

I put Murphy in his crate after our little run this morning, because he didn't do his business while we were out.  A cat immediately jumped on top of the crate and hung out there....almost taunting the poor guy.  He knew she was on top of the crate.

Yesterday when Murphy was hanging out on my bed, a cat walked by and stood at the base of the bed, looked up at Murphy and then slowly turned and walked out of the room.  Murphy could not resist and followed after the cat.  She perched herself in a corner of the hallway and waited for him. When he came up to her, they went nose to nose, and everything was very calm for a few moments.  Then poor Murphy got all excited, wiggled a little too much, and got whacked for his efforts.

The cats definitely are trying to show him who is boss.  He'll learn.  I'm looking forward to that day.  What stories do your photos tell about your pets?  For now, it's all about Cats & Dogs at our house!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Downsizing Memories...Helping Your Parents With This Important Project

When our parents downsize, what will happen to their memories?  

Many seniors have boxes upon boxes of old photos and slides, albums, home movies in obsolete formats, and memorabilia.  Trying to organize all of this can be an overwhelming task.   Because it's hard to know where to start, often times these memories stay tucked away in a box.

I believe our memories are important.  Our photos are for sharing, and also for remembering.  They deserved to be preserved and enjoyed!  

But how do we go about doing that?  

Old photo albums can be scanned and digitized, and turned into coffee table style photobooks, which are lighter, take up less space, and are much easier to store.  Boxes of photos can be sorted (more on sorting in another blog), scanned and shared with other family members using Linea (photosharing and photo archiving all in one), and possibly turned into a life story photobook.  A nice thing about sharing on Linea is that other family members can add photos to the same line, and add comments about those pictured as well, keeping all of your old family photos and information about those photos in one easily accessible place.  Being able to view them in a beautiful mosaic on your computer is a big plus as well!  Family members are also able to export them to their own computers, allowing sharing to come full circle.  

Slides can also be scanned, and stored on DVD, as well as uploaded to Linea.  Important memorabilia should also be dealt with the same way.  Old home movies can be converted to current formats by a professional, so that your parents can continue to enjoy them.  It's easy enough to make extra copies for multiple family members.  

To help you with this process, you may want to consider contacting a photo organizer.  Photo organizers are trained to help you with all your photo management needs and will work with you to come up with a plan that meets your budget as well.  To see what types of projects a photo organizer might help you with, here's a military memoir created about a WWII veteran. 

Let's not let our history be lost!  Our family stories should be enjoyed now...and preserved for future generations.  What steps are you taking to preserve your family stories? 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

52 Week Photo Project: "I Left My Heart in..."

This week's 52 Week Photo Project was "I Left My Heart in..."  To me, my heart is wherever my family is.  I really believe I could live anywhere, and be perfectly happy, as long as my family was with me.  So my picture this week is my home away from home!

This weekend we were at our condo in Mt. Snow, Vermont.  I love going up there.  Its ski in, ski out, which is wonderful.  But the main reason I like being there so much is because it's so different from our home.  It's quiet and calming...away from the busyness of our home and all the kids' activities and sports.  I love the fact that our condo is small (and easy to clean) but big enough for us to bring another family to ski with us.  There's no shopping mall or big box stores nearby...just some restaurants and small retailers.  There's long stretches of road with nothing but houses.  Its a wonderful home away from home.

On another note, those long stretches of roads almost caused a bit of a problem on the way home.  I wasn't paying attention to the gas gauge and when we left to head home, I was almost on empty.  When the light came on, I was in the middle of nowhere, with no cell service, and three teenage boys in the car who found this pretty amusing.  Actually I was somewhat amused too, and also relieved that I had some muscle power in the car to help push it if need be.  (I don't think I would have been quite as amused if I had been by myself!)  I turned down the heat in the car and was coasting down hills, trying to conserve what little gas I had left!  Mile after mile, there were no gas stations in sight...I thought for sure we were going to be stranded.  Believe it or not, I pulled in to a gas station just in the nick of time...when I filled up my car, I discovered I was down to a quarter of one gallon!  Talk about luck!

But back to the photo challenge...where do you leave your heart?!