How many photos are stuck on your smartphone? The tremendous growth of digital photography is a mixed blessing for family memories. Instead of one roll of film that might last through an entire vacation, with today’s digital photos there’s no extra cost in snapping multiple images in the effort to capture the “perfect shot.” The trade-off for all these extra photos is, well, extra photos. Hundreds and thousands of extra photos.
If you’re drowning in digital images, here’s help with 5 Fast Tips to Control Digital Photo Chaos from my new book How to Archive Family Photos: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize and Share Your Photos Digitally. I get a lot of questions about organizing and archiving digital photos at my blog The Family Curator and when I speak on preserving and digitizing keepsakes. You’re not alone if you feel overwhelmed by the task of organizing and preserving your digital photos.
We’re taking more pictures than ever before, especially with smartphone cameras that have largely replaced point-and-shoot models. And unfortunately, organizing and backing up photos isn’t nearly as fun as taking pictures. The result?
• Digital photos on smartphones, tablets, computers, flash drives, SD cards, and external hard drives, but you can’t find the picture you want,
• Duplicate photos scattered across your devices,
• The dreaded “Out of Memory” warning on your smartphone,
• Complicated and inconsistent file names make organizing files a dreaded chore,
• Sharing photos through email and photo projects is time-consuming and laborious.
Digital photography can be enjoyable and manageable. Get a head start on organizing your own photo collection and moving from photo chaos to control with these 5 Fast Tips to Control Photo Chaos:
1. Collect Your Photos in ONE Location
Scattered digital files create confusion and result in unnecessary duplication. Decide where you will store your photos and set up a simple, yet organized folder structure to hold your photos. One of the easiest systems to manage is to use an External Hard Drive as your Photo Library. Images can be transferred to a new system when you upgrade your technology, and backed up to a Cloud service or second external hard drive for safekeeping.
2. Celebrate Your Digital Birthday
Pick a meaningful date in the near future – a birthday, anniversary, or first of the month – and vow to make that date your Digital Birthday. On that date, copy ALL the photos on your various digital devices to your computer and make a backup to an external hard drive or a cloud service like Dropbox.com or Shutterfly’s ThisLife.com. From this date forward, make regular or automated backups of your photos and rest easier knowing that you have digital copies in case of smartphone or hard drive failure.
3. Digitize Oversize Photos
It’s hard to fit a large antique print on the standard-size glass bed of a scanner. That’s when I set up my digital camera, set the resolution to maximum megapixels, turn off the flash, and snap multiple photos from different angles. When paired with a tripod and automatic shutter release, a digital camera can become a do-it-yourself copy station that speeds up digitizing scrapbooks, photo albums, and oversize photographs.
4. Plan Photo Books with a Project Board
Whether your goal is a family history book or a photo book of your summer vacation, you’ll save time by planning ahead with a project board that reminds you of photos needed and design ideas. If you’re missing pictures of people, places, or events, think about using alternatives such as maps, census images, or advertising images. A project board can also help you compare prices and features from different photo book websites, and serve as a record sheet for ordering more books.
5. Try Something New
The popularity of digital photography has sparked new products and new ways to enjoy your family and genealogy photos. You’ll find easy, free online photo editors, mobile apps to help you create 5-minutes on your smartphone (no kidding!), and automated tagging and sorting services that make photos fun again. Turn your photos into giftwrap or wall paper with online fabric printing service Spoonflower. Create a quick and easy thank you photo book in five minutes on your iOS or Android smartphone with the Mosaic mobile app.
Find more practical ideas for digital photo management, solutions and strategies for scanning and digitizing your heirloom photos, and inspiration for sharing and enjoying your photos in How to Archive Family Photos. Use Denise’s special affiliate coupon code ARCHIVE20 to save 20% on your book order from ShopFamilyTree.com. Also available from Amazon.com.
Denise May Levenick writes about preserving family photos, documents, and memorabilia at the award-winning blog, The Family Curator. She is author of How to Archive Family Keepsakes and How to Archive Family Photos (Family Tree Books), and a frequent contributor to the Ancestry Blog, FamilyTree Magazine, and other genealogy publications.
Contents of How to Archive Family Photos
PART 1: Organize
- Chapter 1: Getting Started
- Chapter 2: From Camera to Computer
- Chapter 3: Photo-Management Software
- Chapter 4: Online Photo Services
- Chapter 5: Digital Photo Management Work Flow
PART 2: Digitize
- Chapter 6: Collection or Clutter?
- Chapter 7: Prepare to Digitize
- Chapter 8: Gear Up
- Chapter 9: Start Digitizing
- Chapter 10: Organize and Preserve Original Photos
PART 3: Create
- Chapter 11: Core Photo Project Skills
- Chapter 12: Card, Collage, and Scrapbooking Projects
- Chapter 13: Calendar Projects
- Chapter 14: Smartphone and Tablet Projects
- Chapter 15: Fabric and Home Décor Craft Projects
- Chapter 16: Photo Book Projects
APPENDIX: Photo Organizing and Digitizing Resources