Protecting Your Photos From Natural Disasters

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In the last few months, so many of our friends and family have been displaced by natural disasters. It’s heartbreaking on every level to see families forced to leave their homes, sometimes at a moments notice. Like many of you, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and wondering how I can help during this difficult time. It’s not much but my contribution is to begin a discussion about your family photos.

How are you protecting your family photos?

 

When I think about all the photos that the last few weather events have destroyed, I could just cry. Those are items that no insurance policy can replace. Once they are subjected to water or smoke they are seriously damaged.

The number one action you can take to protect your family photos is to get them digitized. A quick web search in your area “digitize photos” will give you lots of local options. If you are comfortable with technology, have a photo scanner, and want to do it yourself, that is a great option. If you want the advice of a professional organizer APPO and NAPO  have amazing professionals who live for helping. Lastly, you can use on online service. I’m leery of most of those but I have used Fotobridge in the past and they were wonderful.

Bottom line: To protect your irreplaceable family photos–get them digitized.

 

After your photos are digitized there are a number of ways you can protect them: cloud service, thumb drives, CDs, external hard-drives. It depends on how much you want to spend and how comfortable you are with technology. I’ve put together a list below of products that can help keep your photos safe.

Please take this time to get your photos digitized and preserved. It is well worth the investment to know that your family history is safe.

 

Photo ScannerPicture KeeperFire-Proof SafeExternal Hard-DriveFire-Resistant Bags
$59.90$57.35$198.69$69.99$36.95
Pro: Easy to use, compatible with PCs and Macs, front Screen lets you see imagePro: Easy to use, prevents duplicate images being saved, portable, easily placed in safe for even more protectionPro: Fire & water resistant, large size can fit multiple sizes of photos, AFTER FIRE REPLACEMENT GUARANTEE:
*In the event of a fire SentrySafe will replace your fire-resistant product to help get you back on your feet
Pro: Easy to use, portable, easily placed in safe for even more protectionPro: Easy to use, fire/smoke/water resistant, portable, easy to place in safe for even more protection
Con: Only one photo at a time. Only scans print photos not other media types (slides, negatives)Con: Easy to lose, can be damaged by heat or waterCon: not portable, more expensive than other options listedCon: can be damaged by heat or water, easy to misplaceCon: only one size

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5 Steps To Organize Your Family Photos For Cloud Storage

 

Are your family photos stored in the cloud?

How much space do you have left in the cloud?

Tell me about your backup strategy…do you use an external hard-drive, an online service, a zip file on a thumb drive, or are you strictly cloud-based?

 

These are standard questions that photo organizers like me ask every day and they are overwhelming. It can be SO confusing and disheartening when all you want to do is make sense of your family photos and suddenly you feel like an A-class technical dummy.

We’ve all been there…I’m there whenever anyone asks me about the storage capabilities of my phone…I don’t know…and I don’t care. There I’ve said it.

What the well-meaning person above is asking you is what method do you use to store your photos. It’s the same as asking do you prefer print photos, or digital, or slides. The technology has just developed new words and you should not be intimidated if you haven’t learned them yet. You will. I can help.

Today I want to talk about photo cloud storage. If you’re confused about what that means right now you are not alone.

 

Technically: it’s a way of storing your photos digitally on a server.

Practically: think of it as a giant file cabinet in someone else’s office.

The bottom-line goal of storing your photos in the cloud is that they won’t take up space in your space, photos are space HOGS, and if something happens to your computer, natural or technological disaster, your photos are still safe.

It’s the safest, easiest, most effective way to preserve your family photos. I strongly recommend it to all my clients. However, saving your photos to the cloud also happens to be the method you have the least control over and that can be tough when it comes to something as precious as your family photo history.

I’m going to give you 5 tips for organizing your family photos for digital cloud storage.

 

  1. Sort through your photos and place the photos you want to store in their own folder. 

You don’t have to save every photo onto the cloud. Cloud space is generally limited and there is no reason to have all of your Instagram or Facebook pictures saved. Those platforms are already saving those shots for you.

 

  1. Edit your photos before you upload/send them to the cloud.

While some cloud services let you edit photos after they are uploaded most do not. And even those who do, the editing functions are not great. So, take a moment to make sure all your photos are turned the right way. The lighting is right. The cropping is perfect. The filter is awesome. Bottom line: only send finished pieces to the cloud, not projects.

 

  1. Check your meta-data.

Did I just scare you with another word you have NO idea what it means? Breathe deep…you got this. It’s another term people will throw around to sound techy and is actually just another word for information. So, take a minute and check that the date is right. If there’s location info or facial recognition that it’s right…turns out the Mona Lisa is NOT my friend…whatever.

 

  1. Rename your pictures.

When you take a digital photo it gets a name like this: IMG_2433.jpg

Not a lot of help there. In the future when you visit your pictures in the cloud this is going to mean next to nothing to you.

What you want your photo’s name to look like is this: 2003-09-Honeymoon-Boston-Newport-Nantucket.jpg

I know without even seeing the image that this is a photo from my September 2003 honeymoon trip to Boston, Newport, and Nantucket…very helpful.

 

  1. Tag.

If you read my blog… or talk to me for five minutes you’ve heard about tagging. Those are the little words/phrases that get attached to each photo so that you can do quick searches. I recommend that you tag the heck out of your photos as a HUGE favor to your future self.

 

Let’s say time has gone by…you’ve just returned from a fantastic ski vacation with your friends and want to send a cute photo book as a thank you. An easy way to take a cute gift and make it an amazing gift is to add older photos. Now, if you tagged those old photos all you have to do is go to your cloud service type in “ski trip” and Bam!! all your old photos of ski trips pop up…how easy is that?! You can make an awesome gift with little work. If you haven’t…ugh…settle in for a long search…

 

I hope this post has not only given you some insight into preparing your family photos for cloud storage but has reduced some of the anxiety I know many have about cloud storage. It’s not anything to be intimidated by. It’s just a different way to store your photos.

 

What are some of the questions or concerns you have about cloud storage?

Four Tips To Declutter and Organize Your Digital Photos

 

december-2016-facebook-photo-statistic
December 2016 Facebook Statistic

The above quote is from Facebook. They are a photo storage giant. 90 billion photos. Can you imagine?!

 

Here’s the thing…I bet you can. I bet you feel like you have nine billion photos on your phone alone. You probably have another 60 in the cloud…whatever that means? And 160 billion on your hard drive. Let’s face it…we have a lot of digital photos. A LOT. I find the Facebook statistic fascinating because, that’s a lot of photos, that statistic is JUST Facebook. It doesn’t even include Instagram (which Facebook owns) or Twitter or holy cow…Snapchat!! We are drowning in digital photos. I know I am. By my last count, I’m at 30,000. That’s unique images. Not to mention why must iPhoto do that weird face thing? Why?! Does anyone like it? I will say it does give me a chuckle when it picks out my dog’s face or I have one of the Mona Lisa who it thinks is a friend of mine…awesome.

Here are five tips that will help you to organize and declutter your part of the 200 million photos before they get uploaded to Facebook.

 

This first step is crucial. You have to get all your photos into one place. Please do not say “Hodgepodge Girl…they are ALL on my phone!” I will save my rant about leaving photos on your phone for another day. For now, download them to whatever photo service you use: iPhoto, Google photo, Amazon, Window’s photo gallery, Forever, Lightroom

 

 

  1. Delete Duplicates. I like to use Photo Sweeper for macs and Duplicate Photo Fixer Pro for PCs. DPFP is capable of doing both…I just prefer PS.
  2. Now that you have a good idea of how many original photos you have…you need to start deleting. This is usually the hardest part for people because keeping the image seems easier than deleting. It’s not. I’ve   even had clients who had no idea who people in the photo were…but were sure they should keep it. Why?! I might figure it out someday. Ahem…no you won’t.  No one is so bored they peruse old digital photos to see if they can remember people they forgot. It’s not going to happen. Delete.
  3. Your photo collection is now so clean and shiny. It’s time to start tagging. This is a step that is often overlooked because…it’s tedious. We all love the instant gratification of taking a photo, some even download them, but NO ONE wants to tag…before it lands on social media. The thing is tagging…before you upload to your Facebook is VERY, VERY important for you. It makes it really easy to find pictures later on if you should want to use them for gifts or slideshows or just quick trip down memory lane. I recommend tagging the following info: YEAR, EVENT, PERSON (2016, Park City Ski Trip, Danny) That way you can do really quick searches to pull up a great range of photos. Some fun ideas would be a year in review slideshow, a calendar for Danny, a photo album of ski trips. So get tagging!
  4. Now that you have your digital photo collection organized, decluttered, tagged it’s time to get it off your hard drive. There are a lot of great cloud services. I use Forever and I love it. I have an app on my phone and iPad so I can have all my photos handy and they don’t take up any of my storage space. I can make quick gifts and have them shipped. I can even share photo albums with my friends and family. Not to mention they are safe from technical glitches (dropping my phone) that can happen when your photos aren’t backed up.

I hope this has given you some great ideas on how to move digitally clutter free into the New Year. Happy 2017!!

 

Why Family Photos Help With Grief

An unfortunate part of the human condition is grief. I’ve lost people, pets, dreams and it’s never easy. It always hurts.

Let’s face it…it always sucks. There is no way out, only through.

 

I know this seems like a depressing topic but like taxes and poor hair choices, it happens to us all. What can we do? How do we make this a positive?

My only advice is love as hard as you can, for as long as you can.

 

I lost my maternal grandmother about 6 months ago. I miss her. I miss knowing she was in the world. I miss her laugh. She was a force. 

I’m lucky that I knew her, that we loved each other, that I have memories and photos.

September has been the “Save your photos” month and I hope you used all the publicity to take a moment to save your photos.

They are priceless. They are your ticket to loved ones that are no longer here.

 

If you haven’t digitized your print photos, I urge you to make the investment today. If you haven’t backed up your digital photos to a cloud service, I urge you to take the time.

The grieving process for loved ones is hard enough with the photo reminders of love, laughter, and a life well lived. I don’t want you to also grieve the fact that you didn’t save your tickets to the show.

 

Protect Your Family Photos

The most important part of my job is to encourage you to make a plan today to protect your family photos.

 

In the last couple of weeks, mother nature has thrown the mother of all temper tantrums. She has let loose with fires, floods, earthquakes and even a double tornado. A lot of people have had life altering loss and my heart goes out to everyone who is impacted by these events.

As we move forward we can prepare. We can hope that nothing like this happens again but the reality is…it will. If you haven’t created a disaster plan for yourself or your family, please use this opportunity to create one. When I was a kid, my parents would hold regular family meetings to review what we do in a fire. As an adult, my husband and I discuss our earthquake plan. We have emergency supplies. We’ve planned. That even includes what to do with our photos and important documents.

In poll after poll people say that when the evacuation call comes they take their family, pets, and photos. The stuff that really matters. While I am a hundred percent down with the first two, I say forget the third and run! Yes, I’m a photo organizer. Yes, I live and breathe photos. Yes, I believe that your family photos are incredibly valuable. They are also replaceable.You, your family, and your pets are not.

It takes only a few minutes to create a plan for how to protect your photos. There are a few simple questions to ask yourself:

How are your photos formatted? Are they prints? Are they digital?

What type of disaster are you trying to protect yourself from?

How tech savvy are you? Are you comfortable on-line?

I always encourage clients to digitize ALL their photos as the best way to keep them safe. If your photos are in print form there are still a few things you can do to protect them from smoke or water damage.

 

  1. Get a waterproof/fireproof safe: these are not actually waterproof but they will protect photos and albums from most of the damage. It only takes an inch of water to destroy photos so anything you do is better than nothing.
  2. Zquaredaway bags These bags are made from the same material as firefighter uniforms. They offer fire protection and some water protection. The main benefit of these is that they are easily portable.

If your photos are already digitized…YAY! You’ve already made the best step toward keeping your photos safe. My tip for digital photos has much more to do with your computer. I don’t want you running around wasting precious moments looking for your phone or your laptop. Get your photos off those devices and into a cloud service. There are many, many great options loaded with tons of security to keep your pictures private. If you are using this service strictly as a backup and do not want any bells and whistles I recommend using Amazon cloud drive. I use it myself. If you have prime it’s free, unlimited storage. It doesn’t have a lot of the features of a pay service but for a simple backup, it works great.

If you have digitized your photos and do not feel comfortable with cloud services (HI MOM!) There are still things you can do. These thumb drives from picture keeper are specifically designed for photos. Upload your photos to this drive, they hold an amazing amount of pictures, and then put the drive in your safe or Zquared away bag.

I can’t encourage you enough to do something to protect your photos. Just take a few minutes. Don’t lose your family history.