5 steps to Preserve Photos Stored in Magnetic Photo Albums

Magnetic Photo AlbumsDo you  have any albums that look like this? I sure did. I remember putting together photo albums of me and my siblings in the late 70’s. We thought that sticky adhesive was great – it kept the photo nicely in place. UGH – little did we know that would come back to haunt us! If you have any magnetic albums where the photos have PVC plastic overlays and are on self stick  magnetic pages then you will want to follow these steps to start to preserve your family memories.

Step 1:  Gather all your magnetic photos albums in one place and organize them chronologically. Use clues from the photos to help if there are no dates on the albums or pages. Some of these albums will be deteriorating so handle with care to ensure that the loose photos do not fall out of the albums.

Step 2: Gather your supplies.

  • Cotton gloves because the oils on your fingers can negatively affect the photographs
  • Dental floss  – Teflon (because it won’t shred) and unwaxed. Feed under a lifted edge of a photo on a self stick page. Pull side to side – but do not lift up on the image otherwise it can rip or curl.
  • Archival safe storage envelopes or boxes for storing the photos
  • Soft lead pencil for capturing captions. If pencil does not work because of the resin coated paper capture the text on a sticky note and adhere to the edge of the back of the photo.

Step 3: Culling the photos. It is unlikely that every photo in the albums are keepsakes. Therefore, only remove the photos that you want to preserve one page at a time especially if there are captions tied to the photos. Take care to keep them in the same order. Even though it might not always look like it there is most likely an order or theme to the photos in the albums.

Step 4: Scanning & File Naming: Depending on how you want to preserve your photos you can either caption the text on each individual photo and then scan and name the digital file accordingly or you can just scan and name the digital file with the caption. Regardless of which you choose be sure to include the year, month and day (if available) as part of the name of the photo file. For example: 1975-10-25 Carolyn’s First Birthday.

Step 5: Storing the photos. The removed photos need to be stored in an archival safe box. The scanned photos need to be saved not only on your computer but in two additional places: cloud storage and an external hard drive are good options. I also like to include a USB flash drive (of the scanned photos) in the archival box where the printed photos are stored especially if the captioning did not get attached to the printed photo.

A client dropped off these photo albums to have me scan and make some digital photo books for her and her siblings. She brought me the magnetic photo albums with the photos marked with X’s indicating the photos she did not want. I scanned the rest, renamed, organized, and uploaded to Flickr so she could easily show her siblings their childhood photos. She wanted me to throw away her photo albums. Instead, I took the above photo and gave it to her. She said that was a keepsake that she did not know she would treasure. I also gave her back the albums.

Converting Scrapbooks into Digital Photo Books

Creative Memories to Digital Photo BookHave you ever made a photo scrapbook? If so, you are probably intimately familiar with common scrapbook terms like: stickers, die-cuts, embellishments, double-mount, etc… You may have even had a dedicated scrapbook room. Your scrapbook creations required a faithful devotion to put together and the results were a beautiful keepsake documenting your precious family photos and stories. What happens, then, when your children want to take your ‘labor of love’ with them when they grow up and move out. All that hard work, the laughter and tears, it was for them, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want a copy of it for yourself.  So, what do you do – where do you start?

Recently I had the opportunity to convert some scrapbooks into digital photo books and the five key things I learned I would like to share with you to help you get started:

  1. Scanning the pages. You will need a scanner that has a bed that is at least 1/8th of an inch larger than the size of the page to ensure that nothing gets cut-off. I considered two other ides: photographing the pages and stitching the pages, however the source of light provided by a scanner is consistent and scanning the page as a whole versus individual scans and stitching was going to be a better use of my time.
  2. Software. You will need good editing software to clean up the pages and remove any area of the scan that you do not want – like the hinge staples – on the books I was scanning. In addition there was a border around the outside of each page that was meant to protect the page but was not something I wanted in the digital reproduction. I used Photoshop because I could automate some of the clean-up and re-sizing that was needed via the ‘actions’ function. I believe Photoshop Elements also has this capability.
  3. Digital Photo Book vendor. You will want to pick out a photo book company that offers the following
    • a book size that matches your original album/page dimensions
    • a lay-flat option because if you use the magazine style option anything on the inside edge of your pages risks getting stuck in the valley of the book.
    • flexibility in the number of pages – count the pages first. Depending on the page restrictions of the vendor (how many pages you can add and in what number for example a minimum of 4 or 8) you might need to eliminate a page or two of the original book or be “ok” with a blank page.
  1. Time. To perfect the process you need to allow for a learning curve. Give yourself time to establish a process that works for you.  I like to scan one scrapbook at a time (page protectors removed), and then import the images into Photoshop.  Experiment with the best way to clean up the pages, re-size the DPI (dots per inch) to meet the printer’s guidelines for the book vendor, allow for the printer’s bleed (this is the part of the book that gets cut off in the print process) and then export to your upload folder.  A trick here – be sure to build two sets of actions in Photoshop – one for the even numbered page and one for the odd number page – the clean-up is different for the different page sides.  Once the pages are perfect save and upload to the digital photo book software. I like this process because it breaks up the monotony of any one step.
  2. Preserve. Once you have received your books back from the printer you will be IN LOVE with the outcome.  You will be happy to send off the original scrapbooks with your kids and display your new versions.  Be sure however, to preserve your original edited scans on a thumb drive or a DVD.  Why?  If anything happens to the hard-copy books you can easily access the images and recreate. In addition, if you want to access any one individual photo on one of the pages you can do that too.  Make sure to scan the original pages at a minimum of 600 DPI so that the individual images offer a good reproduction quality.

Let me know if you have any questions about this process or if you would like some help converting your scrapbooks into space saving digital photo books.

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Create or Buy One-of-a-Kind Books with Blurb

People love getting really creative, one-of-a-kind books for Christmas. Books that elicit a “where did you find this?” response. As the leading indie- and self-publishing platform, Blurb has an entire online bookstore full of unique books by an incredible array of undiscovered, self-published authors, artists, and photographers. And while these books probably aren’t in your loved one’s bookshelf, many of them should be. So, if you’re thinking of giving unique gifts this year, consider these affordable titles or make a book of your own. And a happy reading holiday gift to my readers – Save 30% with this code: SAVE30

Cookie Cravings by Maria Lichty and Heidi Larsen
We all have cookie cravings. Popular food blogger Maria Lichter decided to put them into something deliciously original: A baking book featuring 30 recipes you won’t find anywhere else.

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Dog by My Side by Adam Schnitzer
This charming collection of original, vintage photos shows us that as long as there have been cameras, we’ve wanted to photograph our canine best friends. As a special bonus, there’s a glossary of the early photographic methods used in the original images.  I wish there was a ‘Cat by My Side’ version – anyone want to attempt that book?

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Around the World with a Toy Camera by Giorgio Giussani

Perfect for the photography or graffiti-art fan on your list. This book is an explosion of gritty color that explores the wonders of street art and analog photography.

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Food Stories by Elena Scott
A short, wonderfully illustrated collection of recipes (and food stories) that will inspire you to pick up the knife and spatula—or just pen and paper.

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Things I Love by Carol Nehls and Jessica Rose
Illustrated and written many years apart by a mother and daughter, this sweet rhyming story told by a fox is pure joy for all ages. This is my favorite!

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Patent Pending by Jordan Natyshen
Chicken goggles, air-conditioned rocking chairs, monkey jockeys for greyhounds… humankind has invented and sought to patent some amazing and crazy things. Illustrator Jordan Natyshen illustrates some of the strangest in this history of odd inventions.

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Tiny Horses are Everywhere by Thea Lux
The perfect stocking-stuffer for fans of off-beat humor, this undeniably nutty book is based on a Tumblr blog and combines simple photo collages of small horses in human environments with incredibly funny captions.

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Rouleaux by Anastassia Elias
What can you do with an empty roll of toilet paper? If you’re French artist Anastassia Elias, you create tiny dioramas inside of the discarded tubes. Inspired by art and movies, these pieces are beautifully crafted, fun, and unbelievably detailed.

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Low Fidelity by Bobby Grossman
If you, or someone you love, listened to New York punk and new wave in the 70s, chances are your favorite artist can be found in this book. Bobby Grossman photographed Iggy Pop, David Byrne, The Ramones, Debbie Harry, Andy Warhol and many more. This book is a time capsule of—and a love letter to—a legendary time, place, and sound.

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Take a second and head over to Blurb to see if you can end your search for that perfect gift this season! 

Photo Wallpaper – Keeping Your Memories Alive

 

Custop Photo Wallpaper by WeMontage

This is not the first post I have wrote about the celebration of my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary – but I promise it is the last.  As a family we gathered together and spent a week in beautiful Bend, Oregon and then on my parent’s actual anniversary my sister and I hosted an open house so the extended families could help celebrate.  The festivities were wonderful, however, I wanted to make sure that my parents had a permanent keepsake of the events.

Fifty years of marriage is worth celebrating more than once (OK we did celebrate for seven days and then a second occasion) but I wanted them to feel like they were always surrounded by family.  My parents live quite a distance from their children and grandchildren.  They are currently renting their home so I knew that I wanted a decorative keepsake they could display on one of their many white walls. OK – let’s face it – I did not really feel the need to have my picture on permanent display – but this is not about me.

What solution did I come up with?  Removable custom photo wallpaper by WeMontage!  This concept is genius for bare walls especially in rental and leasing situations. I also love that it is removable…I know what you are thinking they might get tired of looking at me….but really I was thinking how perfect for when they move or if they decide it displays better on a different wall after hanging. I was concerned about the actual application of the wallpaper, but after reviewing their FAQ I realized that application was all about having a clean surface, a tape measure, and a second person to help make sure your 24″ x 36″ wallpaper is level.

If you have celebrated a milestone birthday, a family reunion, went on an amazing vacation and your photo memories are hiding on your computer – now is the time to display them with your own custom photo wallpaper.  I can’t wait to give this to my parents for Christmas. Who are you going to surprise this holiday season? When placing your WeMontage order be sure to use coupon code PHOTOVATION  and you will save 20%. The PHOTOVATION coupon code expires on November 17th,2013.  Prices start at $69.99.

Disclosure: My relationship with WeMontage is personal, but I was not specifically compensated for this post. I did receive a discount on the WeMontage I made for my parent’s anniversary. This post does include affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

Selecting photos for a family slideshow

Memories

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.

 

Family Pets

Scout

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!

"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