Selecting photos for a family slideshow


What makes you dig through old photos?  I am not even sure “makes” is the right word. What inspires, or motivates, or sidetracks you to start to dig through your shoe-boxes or old family albums?  For me it was a project – my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary.   A year earlier I had gathered all the family photos and scanned the collections, but now I had the daunting task of selecting the photos for the family video.  If you are thinking of creating a video you might find these steps helpful when selecting your photos:

  1. Decide on a timeline.  Think about the key events in the lives of the people you are featuring and identify those photos.  This might go on for a while so make sure you have some food and drink close by.  It is also helpful to write down your timeline and then share it with others involved to make sure you have the right order of events.
  2. Decide on the length of the video – this along with how long the photo is on the screen will be the way you will decide on how many photos to use (warning – this may change)!
  3. Equal representation – Ok maybe this will not be the case for you – but I wanted to make sure all of my siblings and their kids felt like they got a fair amount of screen time.  Since I was the designer I obsessed about this way too much.  I watched the video a couple times and felt like my youngest got short changed on screen time but I was just going to leave it.  However, I asked her to watch the video – not because I wanted her opinion on this, I did not even mention it – but to see if the text was coming in correctly on a couple of the slides.  What she reported back to me was “Yes” the text is working and “How come I don’t have as many photos as (my brother and cousin)?  I laughed and she immediately identified the additional digital photos she wanted to add.  And so I would watch again and think – one of my siblings seems like they do not have enough….this went on until the video grew in length from 16 minutes to 21 minutes…and then I just stopped watching.
  4. Enjoy – By the end of the process I was tired of the video.  That is to be somewhat expected.  However, watching my parent’s reaction and seeing their excitement about the photos was all worth it.

The above photo should have been featured in the hairstyle section of the video – (no there was not really a hairstyle section) but in retrospect that could have been a funny component to the video – and believe me there were enough photos to round out such a section.  I am going to keep this idea in mind for a future post!

Here is my favorite photo representing 50 years of marriage for my parents!  233-Broken Top in bkgd

Sharing Photos – Part 2

Family Photo

This is my parents with their grandchildren.  One of the many photos as a result of our week long family gathering celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.  Last week I shared with you the process for taking steps to share photos after a group event.  Dropbox was my tool of choice and this week I am sharing with you some additional steps to manage your photos once they are uploaded (in Dropbox).

  1. Keep the best, delete the rest!  Yes, I said it – delete some of the photos.  We are all a little snap happy with this digital technology and I can guarantee you do not need all the photos that you took.  This should be a quick process eliminating blurry, misfired shots, and excessive duplicates – do you really need 15 shots of the waterfall…keep the best delete the rest.
  2. Organize. When you set up dropbox you identified a shared folder for everyone to upload their photos. Now you need to make sub-folders and organize the photos into these.  Go to your folder, click on it, and where it reads name (at the top of the menu) right click and you will see the option to add a new folder.  Name your sub-folders by theme and keep the names general so that a majority of the photos fall into the categories you name.  For our trip to Sunriver I made eight subfolders: Swimming, Hiking, Family Photos, Games, ect… Give yourself permission for a miscellaneous folder.  A rule of thumb that I follow is only make a sub-folder if there are at least 10 photos tied to the theme.  Move your photos into the sub-folders.  Be sure to c lick on the file row to the right of the file’s name to select it. (Clicking on the file name or icon will open the file as a preview.)   Hold the Shift key and then click on or use the up/down arrows on your keyboard to select another file in the file browser.
  3. Stories.  Using dropbox to document your photo stories is not really that practical, however, it can certainly be used to rename your photos.  Be sure to give your photos a name versus leaving the image name – DSC78493.jpg.  I keep it simple and describe photos in 5 words or less.  Having a little documentation goes a long way when looking at photos in the future.
  4. Share. The reason we take photos is to share them with our family and friends.  Dropbox has a feature that allows you to share the photos with anyone. Right click on the photos you want to share and either share the link or use the dropbox feature of emailing directly.  I found the link share to be much more reliable and you can share multiple files this way too.

Dropbox is an excellent tool to keep your photos safe. However, if you do not take care managing your photos within the tool you will end up feeling overwhelmed and photos are meant to be enjoyed and shared.  Following the above steps will help you be successful.  If you need help managing your digital photo collections please feel free to comment below with any questions.


Sharing Photos

Family PhotoAfter nine months of planning the week finally arrived to celebrate my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary.  All 12 of us arrived in Sunriver, Oregon on Saturday and we celebrated their anniversary on Sunday.  The dinner, slideshow, and presents were all a hit and a complete surprise to my parents.  Additional fun was had playing pickleball, tennis, hiking, swimming, bike riding, family dinners and playing games.

Amid all this fun there were photos taken on two point and shoots and six different smart phones.  If you find yourself in the same situation here are a couple steps to help with managing your photos after a special event:

  1. Set up a dropbox account.  Dropbox is a file/photo/music/document sharing tool. Here is a nice tutorial to introduce you to its offering It also gives you 2GB of free space.
  2. Invite all the members of your party to use dropbox. Dropbox supports dual platform which means PC & MAC users alike can use it.
  3. Create a folder in dropbox specifically for your occasion and share it with your group.
  4. Have everyone upload their photos to the dropbox folder

There are a couple things to keep in mind during this process.  The first is file size.  If you want to use dropbox as a free service you need to consider how many photos have been taken and the size of the file.  The bigger the file size the faster you will reach your 2GB of free space.  The other thing to consider is how you will manage the photos once they are all in dropbox.  I will share ideas on that process next week.  At this point you have all your photos in one place, everyone can see them, and they are saved in a secure place.  With three days still left on this week long celebration I am off to enjoy some family fun on the tennis courts!

Family Pets


Scout was a Christmas present.  My kids really wanted a kitten but they understood my concern.  We already had a cat, Tigger, who is 14 and he has been our only pet (not including the hamster Obie and the numerous fish that have come and gone).  I was concerned Tigger would be annoyed at the newcomer and mark his territory in the house.  That did not happen but by the look on Tigger’s face you can tell he is not real happy about the arrival of Scout.

Tigger & Scout

I got Scout from Northwest Animal Companions.  They bring pets that need a home to the Tanasbourne Petco.  Scout was one of a litter of nine.  When I went to Petco I still was not planning on adopting a kitten, but I thought it would be fun to look.  They have a tent setup so you can sit with the kittens and see which one meets your personality needs.  I initially was drawn to a cat named Chloe she sat on my lap and purred with pure content.  I loved Chloe but there was this little tuxedo kitten scurrying about the tent that caught my attention.  I scooped her up and she let me pet her for just a few seconds and then wanted down.  I watched her play with her siblings, her name was Daffodil.  One of the siblings was Scout, and something about her (Scout’s) inquisitive nature just caught my attention.  I wanted Scout – she was going to be perfect.  And she is.

I tell the kids this story and they constantly tell me I should have adopted Daffodil too – and I usually agree with them – but since I walked into Petco with no intention of adopting a kitten, walking out with two of them would have been pretty crazy…and can you imagine the grief this would of caused Tigger!

How to Make a Memorable Video Slideshow

video slideshowMilestone events are usually celebrated with family and friends. Everyone is in a festive mood and the celebration is underway.  At some point during the event  a toast is given and the focus is on the guest(s) of honor – people bring gifts or cards and some don’t (because the invitation said not to) regardless, now is the time to unveil your gift – a personalized video slideshow.

If you follow these 3 steps you too will be able to give a gift that will be a timeless keepsake and will be remembered (and watched) long beyond your celebration.

1) Make a timeline: Putting together a slideshow will require some planning.  Depending on the celebration you may need to gather photos that span over a long period of time. You need to consider:

  • Who might have these photos and how to contact them to get copies
  • The condition of the photos – they may need repair or restoration
  • What format the photos are in – they may be slides or prints so you will need to allow time for them to be scanned
  • How many photos you will need – based on a standard slideshow time of 6-8 minutes you will need between 110 – 130 photos.  If your slideshow is longer add 10 photos per minute.

2) Consider your audience: The duration of the show is key – who will be watching the slideshow and in what setting:

  • Formal sit-down event with a large group – keep your show to 6-8 minutes.  Any longer and your audience is going to get a bit restless.
  • Open-house where the video is playing in the background – feel free to have a show that is longer (possibly 30-45 minutes) since people can move freely by and an not feel obligated to sit and watch in its entirety.
  • Intimate family group in a casual setting – 20 minutes or so is a nice balance.

3) Decide on a budget: You can design your own show, have it made by a friend or hire a professional.  Consider what is the best use of your time when making your decision.

  • Professional – Hire a company. This will result in a show that is designed with a variety of effects and transitions which are the elements that keep a slideshow interesting. Music of your choice is synched to the show. Custom title and ending slides with your personal messages are an option along with adding captions to slides.  As with any slideshow you will need to dictate the order for your photos. Cost will vary depending on number of photos and music and other custom work – but for a standard 6-8 minute show you should have a budget of a minimum of $400.
  • Semi-professional – You purchase the software and design.  You need to consider cost and learning curve if you make this choice.  Most software is available for under $100.  You also need to consider the cost of music and the guidelines associated with with using the music for this purpose.
  • Free – You can use the feature in Google’s Picasa to create a slideshow. Creating the show is as easy as clicking an icon once you have all your photos selected in the order you prefer and in one folder.  There is only one effect that can be used on the photos and the transition between photos all look the same.  You can synch music to the show- music guidelines apply.

I have designed numerous slideshows and each one is unique and special to the family and the occasion.  The story that is being told is capturing a period of memories that is forever documented and treasured.  They will be truly touched by such a personal gift.  Go to our FAQ for additional information.

4 Steps to take before designing a photo book

Photo Book Tips

I want you to think of designing a photo book as a new ‘photo-finishing’ option. When you took photos using film it was never a second thought that you would have them developed. That same thought should apply to your best digital photos. I am not referring to printing photographs, which is part of the definition of photo-finishing, but instead to use photo book design software to print your photos within a story book fashion. The result is a hard-copy book with your favorite photos combined with your choice of text (no more writing on the back of photos) and a personal way to share your memories with your family and friends.

Here are 4 steps in preparation to designing your photo book:

  1. Identify a specific theme – a milestone birthday, a family reunion, a vacation, an annual yearbook capturing your favorite memories from a specific year.  The list could go on and on, but the key thing to remember is to pick a theme that is memorable and personal to you.
  2. Identify your photos – once you choose your theme you will want to identify the photos to include in the book.  A standard photo book allows you to have 20 pages for a set price (you can add more but the price will increase per page added). With this in mind I suggest identifying about 110 photos.  This is an average of about five photos per page, but it also gives you some leeway if you decide not to use a certain photo or you have picked a couple that are more similar than you originally thought.  It is much easier to over identify photos then to have to go back and find more after you have started designing your book.
  3.  Edit your photos –  I always recommend editing your photos in your software versus the book software.  Most book software provide you the option to fix a photos brightness, contrast, saturation and opacity. However, their core competency lies in their software design and not in editing, so use your own design software to make needed adjustments to your photos.  Some options are Picasa, Lightroom, and Adobe Elements.
  4. Select your photo book software – There are many companies who provide FREE photo book software.  I have been using picaboo since 2007 and have always been very pleased with their book quality and customer service.  You might also visit this site Photo Book Girl.  She provides a good review of photo books along with their features and benefits.  My vendors of choice can be found here – Rita’s Recommendations.

I design about four personal photo books a year.  It is my favorite way of sharing my family memories.  The best part however, is when I find the kids (sitting together) looking at the books from the past years.  That is a memory that I have as a child (sitting together looking at photos) and I am happy that even with all the changes in technology I can give this same memory to my children.

Photo Inspiration: Acceptance

Photo Organizing Inspiration and Ideas

Today is the first of a series of inspiration tips and quotes.  We are all in different stages of organizing or managing our photos.  My advice is to simply accept where you are at with your photos and build a system and process that allows you and your family to enjoy them.  Every day is a photo day for most people and with technology so convenient we snap photos of really anything and everything.

It is estimated that 380 billion images were taken last year, most with a camera phone. Over 380 million photos are uploaded on Facebook every day. Instagram is growing exponentially and had four billion photos uploaded as of July 2012. James Estrin

With numbers like this we need to practice some discipline in how we manage our photos.  Accept that you have more photos than you probably know what to do with and aspire to actually hold and physically share your most precious ones.

Have you ever actually thought it was necessary to write down why you take photos?  Try it

  1. Write down the reason(s) why you take photos on a post it note
  2. Post this list by your computer
  3. Congratulate yourself that you are fulfilling the things you wrote down in step 1

This might seem silly , but really think about it, we spend a lot of time feeling guilty about the massive amount of photos that we have, let’s shift that thought and celebrate it, and then accept that to hold and enjoy our photos we will need to embrace a system to manage them.  That can be a discussion for another day – right now make your list!

Four steps to prepare your VHS tapes for transfer to DVD





The other day a wonderful woman contacted me. She shared some fabulous stories about producing musical performances in the ballroom at The Benson Hotel in downtown Portland, Oregon. Fifteen years had passed too quickly and she was missing the music and the familiar faces of her past.  She was concerned about the quality of her tapes and wanted to know if I could convert them so she could watch the performances with some of her girlfriends. I shared with her the following steps to prepare her tapes:

  1. Gather together all of your old VHS tapes (all sizes) and put in one place. Having all your tapes in one place allows you to see your collection in a new light. The box full of tapes is a box full of priceless memories of your children, holiday celebrations, birthday parties, family reunions, etc..and they are in danger of being lost forever.
  2. Clearly label tapes with date and events if possible. Tapes generally have some information scribbled on the label.  In addition, use your knowledge of your camera equipment to help determine the dates or timeframe (if unknown).
  3. Prioritize conversion based on oldest tapes first.  Videotapes lose their magnetic signal over time.  The quality and color of your memories deteriorate due to the friction between the VCR head and tape, and the tape grows brittle and eventually breaks – even when sitting on a shelf!
  4. Decide if you want copies made for back-up or if your will copy yourself. DVDs can be duplicated by copying or burning them. I highly advise making a copy of your DVD collection in case of damage or theft. If your computer has a DVD burner you can make copies on your own.  Remember to label and store your copied version in a different location.

I picked up my client’s tapes and returned them a week later. They are converted to DVD and labeled with the title, date and run-time. When I arrived at her house she was very excited and was planning to watch the DVD’s as soon as she got back from her hair appointment.

If you are struggling with a gift idea for Father’s Day or an upcoming birthday – think about converting some of your old videos – I guarantee it will be a most memorable gift.

5 Steps for Organizing Your Printed Photo Collection


Sometimes in business we find that we are our own clients. Just because I am a photo organizer does not mean my photos are perfectly sorted, organized, and backed-up. Nor does it mean that how I manage my photos is a perfect solution for my clients. However, I have found that taking these steps is a good starting place when you are ready to tackle your photos.

1. Gather all your printed photos into one place. Once you start looking for your photos you will find them in the attic, the basement, drawers, cupboards, the garage and all sorts of places you never imagined. Be sure to address the photos in the basement, garage and attic first; the temperature fluctuations will negatively affect the longevity of the photo.

2. Identify a room or a space that the photos can be stored. Do not pick your bedroom. Photos can be overwhelming and your bedroom is a place to relax. Pick a space that is away from household traffic. The goal is for you to be able to sort through your photos and not have to box them up every time you start to make progress. Some ideal locations are an extra bedroom, the dining room, or a craft room.

3. Identify a goal. If you have a goal it is much easier to stay motivated as you sort through your photos. Goal ideas: a photo book for a milestone event (a 70th birthday or a 50th wedding anniversary), a video slide show for a family reunion or a family vacation, a digital photo frame, or a collage. When you have a goal the sorting process is simplified. You can focus on your goal and set the other photos to the side. It is a good idea to write down your goal on a piece of paper and have it posted in your working space.

4. Set a timer. While sorting through the photos put on a CD and work until the CD is complete or in 30 minute intervals. Keep focused on your goal and set other photos to the side. Consider having sticky notes with you as you sort. Tag the back of photos with names, dates, or stories this will very useful when you scan the photos. Take a break if you are finding your emotions are taking a toll on you. You are looking at a lot of family history and the memories and the stories can be overwhelming.

5. Celebrate! Be sure to celebrate your accomplishments after each sorting session. You are creating a photo legacy for your family to share and enjoy, now and for many future generations. Congratulations on your commitment to share stories and build memories!

Photographers’ Rights – Just in case you were wondering!

I hosted a presentation the other day on photo organizing and afterwards an attendee asked me about his rights as a photographer.  He mentioned he was told by a police officer that he could not be taking photos in a public place.  He knew he could but he did not want to make a scene.  If I get this question again I will recommend a set of Photographers’ Rights Cards.  Please keep in mind these are general guidelines regarding the right to make photos and should not be interpreted as legal advice. If you need legal help, please contact a lawyer.

1. You can make a photograph of anything and anyone on any public property, except where a specific law prohibits it.    e.g. streets, sidewalks, town squares, parks, government buildings open to the public, and public libraries.

2. You may shoot on private property if it is open to the public, but you are obligated to stop if the owner requests it.   e.g. malls, retail stores, restaurants, banks, and office building lobbies.

3. Private property owners can prevent photography ON their property, but not photography OF their property from a public location.

4. Anyone can be photographed without consent when they are in a public place unless there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.   e.g. private homes, restrooms, dressing rooms, medical facilities, and phone booths.

5. Despite common misconceptions, the following subjects are almost always permissible:

* accidents, fire scenes, criminal activities
* children, celebrities, law enforcement officers
* bridges, infrastructure, transportation facilities
* residential, commercial, and industrial buildings

6. Security is rarely an acceptable reason for restricting photography. Photographing from a public place cannot infringe on trade secrets, nor is it terrorist activity.

7. Private parties cannot detain you against your will unless a serious crime was committed in their presence. Those that do so may be subject to criminal and civil charges.

8. It is a crime for someone to threaten injury, detention, confiscation, or arrest because you are making photographs.

9. You are not obligated to provide your identity or reason for photographing unless questioned by a law enforcement officer and state law requires it.

10. Private parties have no right to confiscate your equipment without a court order. Even law enforcement officers must obtain one unless making an arrest. No one can force you to delete photos you have made.

Remember – these are general guidelines regarding the right to make photos and should not be interpreted as legal advice. If you need legal help, please contact a lawyer.

"People are taking pictures at a record pace, but many are discovering they lack the time to sort, organize and print these images. The need for the services of a personal photo organizer has evolved as consumers seek out effective solutions for preserving and enjoying their precious memories." - The Association of Personal Photo Orangizers