Where are most of your photos right now? Stockpiled on your camera’s memory card? Stored in a box or boxes stacked in a closet?
Sitting with my iPad last night I scrolled through digital images I had loaded on to it, surprised by what was there. I’d already forgotten so much about the camping trips I took with my daughter this last year, what we did and saw. And I thought, not for the first time, I need to do something better with these.
For a long while I had a full drawer of photographs, thirty years worth, unsorted, unenjoyed, and largely unseen. I now have two index books full of thumbprints of images I’ve scanned. I dive in to those on a fairly regular basis, looking for a particular image from a particular time in my life. It makes it simple to find the digital file of the image on the DVD that holds them, or on my back-up drive where I’ve archived them.
To organize your own images, the first step might be to do that with your own printed photographs, especially if you don’t have the negatives for your prints. Full service photography stores often offer that service. F-11 Photographic Supplies offers “Prints to Pixels.” Batches of twenty-five to five hundred photo scans can be ready in three hours. Batches up to 2,000 will be ready the following day by 5 PM. The scanned images are high resolution and can be used to make larger sized prints than the original. Imagine the time you save by letting someone else scan those images, even if you do have a scanner that good at home.
To get yourself in to movement -- “organize” is, after all, a verb -- a motivating question for yourself might be, what photo album do you wish you had to look at, but don’t?
The essentials of this process are as simple as the ABC’s: A is for album -- your very best images that you want to have in an album or book; B is for backing up (more on that in a moment); C is for “can” -- toss it or delete it from your hard-drive; and s is for story -- if an image is part of a larger story, you need to keep it, whether it’s a great image or not.
Several low and high tech tools are available to help you back up and organize your images for long-term storage. On the low tech list, Delkin offers Archival Gold CDs and DVDs and PrintFile offers archival sleeves and storage boxes for CDs, DVDs and photographs.
New, high tech, but oh-so-simple to use are the “ClickFree” hard drives and the Picture Keeper for off-computer storage of digital images. With a ClickFree hard drive, simply plug it in to a USB port on your computer and it does the work of backing up your data, including images. Plug in a Picture Keeper, click and it does the work of searching for new photo files and creating backup copies. For just under $30, the 4GB model holds up to 4,000 photos. That should serve your storage needs for just a little while. When you fill one, it’s small enough to store in a safety deposit box.
I want one of each.
Now, back to that question I posed earlier. What photo album do you wish you had to look at, but don’t? Please be thinking about that and next month we’ll look at how to tell a story with photographs. Then, in the following months, we’ll explore possible themes for organizing yours, and the best options for photo albums and books.
Jenna Caplette writes with the expert assistance of the Photo Organizing Pros at F-11 Photographic Supplies, Jennifer Walker and Aloha Williams