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 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 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?!