September is here, and the days of relaxing on the beach, swimming at the pool and grilling in the back yard always seem to end so abruptly. Thank goodness you have the hundreds of photos you snapped between June and August, right?
The good news for our nostalgic side is that we can take endless pictures to document the special and ordinary events in our lives. The bad news for our organizational side is that we can take endless pictures to document the special and ordinary events in our lives. Just as taking digital pictures has become easier, keeping track of them and organizing them has become more challenging.
Pictures are for sharing and enjoying, so it’s important to devise a plan that will allow you to do both, without feeling overwhelmed.
The first way to reduce work and save space is by deleting unwanted pictures on your camera or smartphone before you even save them to your computer. This will save time later and make looking through the “keepers” much more enjoyable.
Next, upload your pictures to your computer, and be sure to back them up. If your laptop is stolen, your memory card is lost or your phone is dropped in a river, you will still have your treasured images. You can back up your pictures by saving them from your computer to an external hard drive or by copying them to an online site that will allow you to store and share the files. This sounds simple, and it is, but many people do not take the time to do it.
An external hard drive is affordable and easy to use. The new ones have so much memory space, you won’t have to buy another one for a few years. If you prefer to use an online Web site for backup, there are many good choices: Flickr, Shutterfly, Snapfish, Photobucket and SlickPic, just to name a few. Whichever option you choose, create a schedule for backing up your pictures; set a calendar reminder to perform a backup once a month or even every week.
Now, the real organizing begins.
For Mac users, iPhoto makes organizing your pictures by date, event or person a snap. If you’re working on a PC, much of the organizing is left up to you. In either case, take the time to label your files. Also, consider creating a “Favorites” file where you keep all of your best shots.
The next step is for anyone who wants to share pictures online, order prints or create an album. An online photo site is the place to begin. For information about which site is the best for sharing, producing top-quality prints or easily uploading pictures, Top Ten Reviews provides a helpful comparison at www.toptenreviews.com.
All of these sites make sharing pictures simple. Creating a photo album is equally easy. The biggest challenge is getting started, especially if you haven’t organized your photos since the Clinton administration.
If you prefer an old-fashioned album or just want a few prints to frame, the most efficient way to get hard copies is to have one of the online sites print your selected shots and send them to your doorstep. Alternatively, you can upload pictures directly to a photo store’s site or a drugstore’s site and pick them up the same day.
When you’re out shopping for photo albums, buy several at once for efficiency’s sake; then you can display them together on a bookshelf. The number of photo enclosures will provide a guideline for determining how many pictures to print for that year, trip or subject.
Creating albums entirely online also has become increasingly popular. Templates make them easy to create and simple to duplicate for distribution to multiple people. The final product looks polished enough to sit on a coffee table. But you can’t pull pictures out of an album created online for framing later, and you can’t use existing albums to create new ones in the future.
The sheer number of photos we all have, and the many options for what to do with them, can result in our doing nothing. Instead, organize them to create framed pictures on your walls, photo albums on your bookshelves and a lifetime of memories.
Chat Thursday at 11 a.m. Antonia van der Meer, editor in chief of Coastal Living magazine, joins staff writer Jura Koncius for our weekly online Q&A on decorating and household advice. Submit questions here.
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The Checklist Read Jeanne Huber’s roundup of home-improvement tasks you should tackle in September, such as replacing weatherstripping.
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