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Don’t Lose Your Family’s Legacy:
How to preserve, manage + organize family photos.
Guest post by Heather Hinson of Hinson Photography
Have you been falling a bit behind on printing your beloved family memories? If you are anything like 53% of people who haven’t printed a photo in 12 months or longer, let alone organize family photos – then you are not alone!
In 2015, Professional Photographers of America did a study and found that 67% of the people they surveyed rely solely on digital storage for their family photographs. Let that sink in for a moment. I am sure we can all remember the days of rolling up to the drugstore to pick up our developed photos. And I am sure most of us have piles of family photo albums with embarrassing, heartwarming and downright adorable childhood photographs. What if all we had were floppy discs and archaic computers to look through our photos on? Or worse, didn’t have them at all.
Are you feeling a little nostalgic now? Are you feeling a little tempted to pull out those old family photo albums? I hope so. I also hope you realize that we have an incredible opportunity to document our family’s legacy like never before.
Most of us walk around with our phones glued to us. We can pretty much take a picture at any given moment of the day in a matter of seconds. This is awesome. However, we could potentially lose a huge chunk of our history if we rely solely on digital storage. Instead of taking thousands of photos that will never be printed, make them last. Make them tangible and create an incredible documentation of your family’s history.
This is NOT a lecture. I am a busy mom myself and I know how crazy life can get sometimes. Trust me. This is a call to action to become better record keepers to organize family photos, as well as manage them, and I am going to tell you how.
Print, Print and Print Some More
Before the digital era struck, we would take a roll of film and get it developed. We would have every photograph that we took whether it was blurry or not. We had to pay to develop our photos before we could see them. Nowadays, we can see our photos instantly and we can perfect our shots.
We are family portrait artists and one of the first questions I ask every new client is whether or not they have experienced a portrait session with a photographer. Many of them say yes! Almost all of them tell me that they paid a photographer for portraits that they shared online but never actually printed. This makes me sad and it’s one of the many reasons we focus on creating tangible artwork for our clients.
Having an expert photograph and create wall portraits for your family is amazing but what do you do with all of your snapshots and family photos? Here are some actionable steps you can take to manage and organize family photos.
Set up a system
The first step to tackling thousands of images is to develop a system that works. Make it an easy, repeatable and organized system that works for you. This will take some perfecting. Once you catch up on printing everything, it will be easy to maintain.
Step 1. Download a printing app
Download a printing app that will allow you to order prints quickly and easily directly from your phone. Alternatively, you can also purchase a photo printer and print from home. My office printer has AirPrint and this technology is life changing. Since connecting it, I can print right from my iPhone or iPad in seconds.
Make sure you are purchasing archival quality prints with archival quality inks.
Step 2. Create an album
There are multiple ways to do this. Personally, I store 4×6 prints of every photo in albums and photo safe storage boxes. In addition to that, we also print an annual coffee table book with highlights from throughout the year. I try to create photo books every month as well but life can get in the way of this sometimes!
STEP 3. ORGANIZE PRINTS
Now that you have thousands of prints, organize them by either the month, year or event. We organize by year. Due to that method of organization, we purchase a 500 image photo album every year for important events or trips. Everyday moments from that year are placed in photo safe storage boxes.
You can also organize by month but I have found year to be easier to maintain.
Display Photos throughout your home
In addition to hiring a photographer to create timeless family portraits for you to hang on your walls, showcase some of your favorite snapshots as well! Create a gallery wall, picture ledges or display them on shelves. I love walking into every room in our home and seeing gallery wrapped canvas and framed prints. Consequently, we have an easel in our home and I display some of my favorite portraits on it throughout the year. It’s great for seasonal favorites!
Storage and preservation tips
Make sure that you store your prints in an archival quality album or photo box. Avoid writing on them, using adhesives or frequently touching them. The oils from your fingers will deteriorate the print over time. Consider using cotton gloves when handling prints, these can be purchased online. Keep them stored in a cool and dry place. Do not store coffee table books on their spine. Also, try not to display portraits in direct sunlight.
Now that you have printed all of your photos and have them organized, it’s time to store them digitally as well. I know, I know. I just told you print, print, print and print some more. But digital storage solutions are important too, when used properly. My general rule of thumb is to back up photos to three different locations.
- External Hard Drives
- Cloud Storage (Dropbox, Amazon etc.)
- Thumb drives
Back up all of your photos onto multiple external hard drives and also upload them to the cloud. Cloud storage is often free or cheap for most families. Amazon Prime members can utilize Amazon Drive and back up an unlimited number of photos to the cloud.
You can actually buy thumb drives that connect right to your smartphone. This would be an added convenience to ensure that you actually get around to doing this on a regular basis.
Do not back everything up to one hard drive
Most external hard drives are very durable and will last but don’t run the risk of losing everything because you put all of your eggs in one basket.
You can also store external hard drives in a safety deposit box for added security. For highly treasured family photos and even important documents, you can easily store them on an external hard drive in a safety deposit box. In the event of a fire or natural disaster, you can rest easy knowing that you have been extra diligent in backing up your treasured family memories. Also, Cloud storage is beneficial in that regard.
I organize digital storage by date and event. For example, 2017>May>Camping Trip
My husband and I both grew up in Florida. We have lived through multiple hurricanes. Due to this we know countless families who have lost photos to fires, floods and natural disasters. It’s devastating and it drives us to educate everyone we meet about preserving their legacy.
Enjoy Your Photos
Finally, enjoy looking at your photos with friends and family. Sit around the kitchen table and relive old memories. Holding physical prints in your hands is way better than sitting around your laptop and clicking through photos. (Which never happens, let’s be real.)
How do you manage and organize your family photos? Let me know in the comments below!
Know someone that could use help with organizing family photos? Please SHARE this post!