Saturday, October 22, 2011

Digital Photo Storage: Where are Your Photos?

I find photos everywhere. People say they cherish their photos and that they are irreplaceable, but the evidence tells me that is not really the case. 

I asked Siobhan Wolf Shaffer, professional photographer, and Creative Memories consultant to be my guest blogger on this the first of a three part series on photos.  



Where are Your Photos?
by Siobhan Wolf Shaffer


When I asked this question of people less than 10 years ago, I would get answers such as: They’re in a shoebox under my bed.  or They’re in the envelope from the developer on the top shelf of my closet. or They are still in the film cannister waiting to be developed.  In this day of digital cameras and iPhones, the answer is more likely to be: They’re on the memory card; I just buy new ones when one fills up. or They’re in my phone.  or They’re on my computer.  


Either way, then and now, we take pictures because we are moved by the moment and then we don’t finish them.  We don’t print them and put them into albums where they can be enjoyed.  We don’t load them into digital photo frames and place them on display. We don’t enlarge and frame them and hang them on our walls.  It is easier than ever to make 
photographs, but with our busy lives, it is hard to follow through with preserving those images. 

I am personally guilty of not loading up my digital picture frames.  I have two of them, still in the box, waiting for my attention.  I do, however, have a good number of my favorite shots of my girls hanging on the walls of my home.  I also have a cabinet full of traditional scrapbook albums that I created when my kids were toddlers.  None of this would be possible for me if my photos weren’t kept where I could find them and organize them for easy access.  


I recommend creating a digital photo file in your computer and organizing it in a way that makes sense to you.  Creative Memories Memory Manger 3.0 (http://tinyurl.com/3gkyn3l) software is my choice because I love the simplicity of the file system and the ease of use.  Every time I finish an event where I’ve taken photos, I import them into the Memory Manager and place them in the appropriate folders within the software.  There is even a place for me to tell the story of my photos and save it right with the image.  Doing this while the memories are fresh in my mind allows me to remember the important details that I might otherwise forget.  There are a number of other digital photo organizing programs available and you can check out Picasa or the My Pictures section in Windows (or do a Google search for Photo Organizing software) for other options.


Once you have your system in place, make it a habit to download your images every time you use your camera.  The same can be done with images taken from your phone; transfer them into your photo organizational system.  Memory Manger reads the date information from your digital files and sorts the images chronologically automatically.  Filing can then be done by event type (Pumpkin Patch, Christmas) family member (Mom, Grandma), or location (Disney World, Hawaii) which will be easier to find when you go back to look for them.  Leaving your images sorted only chronologically with camera generated image file names (like IMG24563) is not helpful when you need to find a specific event or person's photos later on. 

The last step in organizing your digital photos should always be to backup your files.  You can burn the images onto CDs or DVDs.  You can invest in an external hard drive and copy your digital files (preferably in the organized form) to this drive.  You can use online services that provide backup space for digital media.  Whatever you choose, make it a system that you will use and use often.   In fact, if you make backup the final step in your digital image organizing processes, you will guarantee the safety of your images should you ever experience a computer failure.  


Putting a system into place for managing your digital images is necessary in order to then be able to fully enjoy those images later.  More on what to do with printed photos, and enjoying photos in my next installment.




Siobhan Wolf Shaffer has been an Independent Consultant with Creative Memories for ten years.  She is available to assist with your photo organization and preservation needs.  Receive 20 FREE 4x6 prints at www.cmphotocenter.com by using her CM ID 41373165.  Feel free to contact her at wolftale@wolftale.net.  

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