Picture This

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I am a bit of a photo and video enthusiast.  I enjoy taking pictures and video of just about anything.  I think I have watched almost as much of my kids activities through a viewfinder as I have just sitting and watching.  So… maybe I have a bit of an addiction problem and that may not be the best thing. Perhaps a topic for another day.  We do enjoy sitting around as a family looking at old photos and video… if I can find the one I’m looking for.  I have tens of thousands of photos from over the years and hundreds of video tapes from before digital video and countless hours of video since.  But what is the point of having all that media if you never go back and look at it or can’t find it?  I remember the photo.  I remember taking it and I remember seeing it.  But can I find it to show anyone?

My photos and videos have been stored fairly randomly on phones, flash drives, external hard drives, my desktop and laptop.  There has been no method to filing any of them.  Typically it was more a matter of which drive had enough storage at the time I was saving it.  As video files tend to be very large, a good portion of my older video is still on tape, much of it has never been watched.  So I decided to remedy this in my spare time, whatever that is.  After about a year and a half, I have all but a few photos on one hard drive, organized by month and year.  I still have a few that need to be scanned in.  I have now started “cataloging” them in Adobe Lightroom so I can search key words and find what I am looking for.  I hope to have all my photos and current video done by the end of the year.  After that, I get to start importing hundreds of video tapes and cataloging them.  I think the number is close to 300.

Maybe by the time I am dead, my kids will have a nicely cataloged library of photos and video to enjoy.  That is, of course, if the hard drives don’t crash and the file formats are still viable.  With video formats changing so fast, will anyone be able to watch all this amazing video I shot?  It would be a shame, because somewhere in these hundreds of hours of video is about five minutes of great video.. at least as best I can remember.  You would think that with the thousands of photos I have taken over the years I would know a little about photography and how to take a good picture.  A professional photographer once gave me the secret to taking good pictures.  “Take 100 pictures and only show people the 4 or 5 that are good.”

Here are a few suggestions on keeping your photos and videos organized and useable.

1.  Get them in a database and keep it updated.  Apple Photos on the Mac is pretty decent.  I like Adobe Lightroom because I have both Mac and PC and it plays well on both.  I can search and find what I am looking for fairly easily.  The facial recognition on Apple Photos is pretty cool and a real time saver in tagging photos.  There are several other apps out there that may suit your needs better.

2.  For photos, I recommend making photo books.  There are several web sites out there that you can make photo albums online and they will send you a nice final product.  We like to do one for each year.  A separate book for special events and trips is also nice to have.  You can get a lot more detailed in an event specific book than you can with a “year in review” book.  I always end up adding several pages to the books to get all the photos in that I want.  The other nice thing about books is you can add text to help you remember that event and who all those strange people are whose names you can’t remember.  We love pulling these books out occasionally and remembering.  Another cool thing about the photo books.  Most of the online services will archive your pictures and books.  When a book gets torn or dropped in a tub of water, no problem.  Just get online and order another one… o.k., they do cost money, so that is one problem.  You can also order one for each of the kids to have for their own memories… or you can give them the password to the site and they can order their own.

3.  For videos, put together another “year in review” DVD/Blu Ray of your favorite moments.  These are also fun to pull out and watch as a family.  Just keep in mind that discs go bad.  Keep a digital copy of your discs.  Putting short clips out on YouTube or Vimeo or another video server is another good way to archive your video and also share them with family around the globe.

4.  The best way to keep your digital media as recommended by pretty much every one in the field, is to keep a back up of all your files.  Books get damaged.  Discs go bad.  Online companies go out of business.  Video servers have hardware failures and have the option to delete your files for no apparent reason.  Any form of storage you come up with can, and likely will, fail over time.  Back up those files to external drives.  The recommendation is at least two drives, most recommend three drives.  One drive that is your active working drive.  One drive is your local back up drive.  The third drive is a back up drive you keep at another location in case of fire, flood, theft, etc.  Large hard drives are becoming less and less expensive, so multiple back up drives are becoming a reasonable option.

Well… I have a lot more photos to catalog and a lot more photos and video to shoot.  Until next time, keep living life every day, and take a photo or two or fifty for your own memory file.

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