Photos & Albums ~ A Daunting Task

Since 2007 (the year my 160G external hard drive died, taking 5 plus years of photos and documents with it) I have backed up my photos on CDs. I back up my documents too, but now with Internet clouds like GoogleDocs I don’t really have to worry about documents…

Anyway, so now I have a stack of Photo CDs…. Just sitting in my living room. Not exactly the best way to share my favorite photos…. One of my many New Year’s resolutions is to organize and create photo albums for the best pictures from each year. For Christmas, I received one pretty album… It fits 196 images. Not exactly 4 years worth of room… Especially when you take into account that I have progressively taken more and more photos every year.

The task – creating these albums – is daunting. I have way too many CDs and I have no clue what is on them anymore. Also, I’m not the type of person who just shoves photos in an album without writing a little something on them. (I have an ongoing travel photo journal which I started in 2008 for all of my travels in that year… I’m still not finished it!!) so, in an effort to organize myself, and to potentially help anyone out there who is in the same situation… Here is my photo organization plan:

Step 1: Organize and maintain your photo library
There are several programs available for download which help organize photos. Picasa is one that comes to mind immediately. Apple also has iPhoto available on their standard systems. Do some research and find a program that works for you. Or don’t use a program at all. I don’t. I keep all of my images in my pictures folder of my computer. Sub-folders are given with the titles “mm-date-event”… This way the folders appear in chronological order when I sort by name and I know exactly which date/weekend the images were taken and why.

Maintaining an orderly photo database isn’t hard. Most people probably already do this to some extent… Find a system that works for you and keep it consistent and up to date. (If you don’t already keep an organized photo database, it’ll be a very large, time consuming task to start, but once you’ve gotten passed the initial hump of organizing existing photos, maintaining it is the easiest thing since putting a sticker on your forehead!)

Step 2: Buy a photo printer
Ok, not necessary… But helpful. I have a portable printer from HP that came with it’s own carrying case for when I might need to print photos on the go (haven’t had to yet, but you never know!)

Though if you’re planning on printing 200 plus photos in one day, maybe stocking up on your cartridges and photo paper is best…. Something I just realized as my printer blinks low ink and informs me, for the fifth time, that I need to reload the paper. Hmmm… Another option is the obvious – by pass the photo printer and pay to have your photos printer at a store. A bit easier in the sense that you won’t have to reload ink and paper, but you’ll also have to remember to pick up your photos.

For all of those people who still occasionally use disposable cameras – get them developed as soon as you can. I had a 24 image disposable camera from 2008 sitting on my shelf until about a week ago… Only 6 pictures turned out because the film had degraded. *sigh*

Again, this is one of those “easier once after the initial start up” situation. The photo printer is especially helpful when you are up-to-date and are just maintaining your albums as opposed to starting from scratch.

Step 3: Decide on you albums
Me, I’m going for three albums per year… One for family, one for friends and one for travel. Since this is this my first time doing this, I essentially have 4 years and thus 12 albums to make. Bringing me to the next step.

Step 4: Start with the most recent
Originally I was dreading having to go through my photos from 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010…. Decide which photos to include, print them and put them in the album. It seemed like a lot of work. Then I realized that I can take my time, enjoy the journey and the project one year and one album at a time. It isn’t a rush… I’m not at work with a deadline and people that need the final product. This is something I want to enjoy producing… Something I’ve wanted to create for a couple of years now. So, I start with 2010 because it is the freshest year in my mind (and still on my computer) and I work backward one year at a time. No worries!

Final Note…

Just like with any other project, be it personal or work related, don’t be afraid to revise your decision. I started writing this blog the day I was working on my photo albums. I’ve since finished my first album – 2010 (minus Christmas… that’s going to be a seperate album) I’ve decided that 2010 will have 4 albums – Family, Friends & Travel and Christmas… but I’m going to my darndest to make sure that 2009, 2008 and 2007 have one album each. The way things are going, 2011 is going to have 5 albums!!

Has anyone else set themselves a task that seems to require an outrageous amount of work but that they know they will truly appreciate in the end? This is mine… I’d love to hear about yours!