#SaveYourPhotos Month Week 3

15smDay 15: Take Advantage of Free Trials

Most photo organizing and photo storage software offers free trials. Use a small selection of your photos and play around with the software and see if it may work for you, your comfort level and your lifestyle.

Have you ever tried to google ‘photo organizing software’? The results can be overwhelming and at the very least, confusing. In addition to that, product changes continue to occur at such a rapid pace; it makes it that much harder for you to make decisions.

Here is some information that will help you make the right choice for you and your memory collection, and ease some of the fears you may feel about moving forward.

Desktop Photo Organizing Software

A desktop photo organizer is an app or software that you download and install on your computer.

  • Some programs work directly with your folder structure (on the hub you created) and apply changes directly to the photos in your folders.

  • Some programs work together with your folder structure and their internal database while applying changes to your photos.

  • Some programs are proprietary and work with their internal database or catalog.

Your workflow will be easier if you choose a program that works with your folder structure. If you select a proprietary program, you would have the added step of importing your photos from your hub into the program. There is no right or wrong; it’s really about personal preference.

Here are some essential features you should expect from a desktop photo organizer:

  • Is the program user-friendly and does the company provide training tutorials and good customer service?

  • Does the program use non-destructive editing (does it retain your original image)?

  • Does the program adhere to IPTC standards for applying metadata to your images? Yes, there are industry standards that you can learn more about here.

  • Does the program have key features such as keywording, a rating system, simple or advanced editing, captioning or storytelling options, smart albums, etc.?

  • Does the program offer a pleasant viewing experience or slideshow options?

  • Will your program organize video formats?

  • Is it easy for you to export and share images from the program?

  • Is your metadata intact once you export your image(s)?

Online Photo Organizing Software

An online photo organizer resides in the cloud, and you upload some or all of your photos from your hub.

In this scenario, you are sending a copy of your photos to your online provider and keeping your original images in your hub, which is stored locally on your computer or EHD. The distinct advantage of this option is you naturally, create a 2nd backup of your photo collection that is stored offsite (in a different location than your home computer or EHD).

In addition to some of the features we outline above, here are some features you should look for in an online photo organizer. Remember, when choosing an online provider to store and organize your precious photos, you are entrusting their safety to a company. Please do your research!

  • Do you maintain ownership over your image? Read the fine print!

  • Do you have complete control over your image privacy settings and are they easy to understand?

  • Does your provider protect your privacy regarding your personal info? FREE services mine your data for advertising purposes and share your information with third party services.

  • Does your provider keep your image metadata intact and in its original size? Some services compress your image and strip your metadata upon upload.

  • Does your provider have any space limitations? Some services have a cap on how much space you have.

  • Does your provider make it easy for you to retrieve or download your photos if you choose to discontinue the service? Some services charge you a fee or have download restrictions.

  • Does the service offer keywording, ratings and a folder or album organizing feature and how is this information captured in the metadata? Some providers have very limited organizing options and don’t embed metadata in the image file upon download.

  • Does your online provider have backup redundancies in place and high-level security?

  • Does your provider offer a succession plan for your photos? If you pass away, will your family be able to access your account?

16smDay 16: What About Your Videos?

Don’t forget about your home movies whether they are on film or on your phone. They need to be culled, organized, digitized, backed up and stored safely just like your photos.

Your old home movies are filled with special moments. From the laughter of a child, to footage of wedding vows, to someone’s first steps or first words captured on tape or film, videos can be just as special as old family photos or school portraits, and they merit just as much emphasis when it comes to preserving and sharing with loved ones.

Old videos are much harder to share than photos because they require additional equipment. VCRs break down and are getting harder to find. Camcorders require charging clunky batteries and hardly anyone has a film reel projector anymore. The best option for sharing home movies is to preserve them in a digital format that can be easily shared with friends and family.

Both videotapes and film reels can be digitized into files whose quality is equivalent to the original formats. Once digital, there are many cloud platforms that make it easy to share almost instantly once your videos are digital: Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, iCloud and YouTube are just some of the many options available.

17smDay 17: Prints, Home Movies and Keepsakes

In addition to your digital photos, your family’s collection will include print photos, photo albums, scrapbooks, slides, family artifacts, kids’ artwork, documents, memorabilia, home movies and and any tangible item that contributes to your family story. It’s important to get rid of the clutter, organize what remains, identify the most important items, digitize them and create a backup. We suggest you approach part of your collection with four goals in mind.

Reduce the Clutter: Your boxes may be bulging with memories, but we know from experience that your collection is filled with stuff that can be tossed. Duplicate prints, memorabilia that has lost its significance, broken trophies, and more can be tossed. Let’s see if we can lose a few pounds in the sorting process!

Organize and Identify: Your memory collection will be easier to access, digitize, and share when you create order and identify your most important photos, movies, and memorabilia.

Digitize and Backup: Your printed photos, home movies, treasures, and memorabilia are just as vulnerable as your digital images that haven’t been backed up. Until you digitize your physical collection, these memories could be lost through fire, flood, natural disasters, human carelessness, natural decay, and any unexpected tragedy.

Create a Safe Archive: Once you’ve identified the keepers in the collection and created digital copies, you’ll want to ensure that your originals are archived and stored in a photo-safe environment.

Here’s some additional hints on how to slim down your collection of keepsakes: http://thephotoorganizers.com/let-go-of-sentimental-items-7-easy-steps/

18smDay 18: Themes of Chronological?

Are you going to sort your pictures chronologically or in themes? Is there any structure to your collection that you can build on? If you survey your photo collection, you likely took most of your photos in themes. You probably have birthdays, vacations, weddings, graduations, babies, sports and so on.

Organizing by theme has many advantages:

  • Themes make it easier to pull together a photo album. Put an entire theme into one album like a vacation album, or take a handful of photos from each theme for a family yearbook.
  • Themes are easier to identify than dates. You may not be sure which year a Christmas photo was taken, but you’ll know it’s Christmas!
  • Themes translate into tags and keywords. Once digitized, themes make it easier to determine keywords or tags when you move them into your digital photo hub.

If your photos are a mess of disorganized prints with no structure, then we recommend a theme-based approach.

If you already have some chronological organization in place then keep this intact and look for ways to build on that structure. You can still identify themes, and group photos based on your end goal.

With your structure in place, set up some index cards in sorting boxes or on a table and use these to group your photos as you sort. Jot down details on the index cards so they can be scanned in with your prints.

19smDay 19: The “2 Second Rule”

We all love to visit memory lane but when sorting your photos resist that urge. Use the 2 second rule to help make quick, gut-level decisions. You can also…

Set a timer: This can be tiring work, so set a timer for 1-3 hours maximum and give yourself time between sorting sessions.

20smDay 20: The Chemical Sandwich

As you organize and sort your photos, you may come across photos in old scrapbooks, pocket page albums and old magnetic albums that were popular about 25 – 30 years ago. Unfortunately, many of these albums may be accelerating the deterioration of your photos and you need to take steps to remove your pictures now.

The biggest offender is the magnetic or sticky album. The glue on the page surface, the acidic cardboard page, and the plastic overlay create a ‘chemical sandwich’ that is rapidly destroying your photos.

If you have these albums in your collection, removing the photos is a priority! Some may be easy to remove, and some may be troublesome.

How to Remove Troublesome Photos

Here are a few tips as you approach this next step.

  1. Find a photo in the album that is a ‘throw away’ and try to remove it first by gently lifting a corner. If it comes up easily without having to pull or curl the photo, then proceed.

  2. If the picture is stuck, take a thin metal spatula and gently work under the photo, or slide a piece of unwaxed dental floss under the corner and gently saw back and forth to work through the adhesive.

  3. Try heating the back of the photo slightly with a blow dryer then attempt the dental floss again. Or heat the metal spatula and use this to soften the glue as you work behind the photo.

  4. Try using a product like Un-du which is an adhesive remover used by scrapbookers and safe to use on the backs of photos.

  5. If all this fails, leave your photos in the albums and make digital copies with a flatbed or mobile scanner.

Here are some more hints on how to remove those stuck-on photos: http://goodlifephotosolutions.com/magnetic-photo-albums/

21smDay 21: Be a Detective

Memorabilia like documents, certificates, and letters can help you learn more about your collection. Take care of them the same way you take care of your photos.

Review for dates and details

Documents, report cards, certificates, awards, trophies, newspaper articles, invitations, letters, and other similar items contain dates and information that may contribute to your family timeline. Transfer dates to your timeline.

Do any of these items correspond with a photo in your digital or printed collection? Make a note (sticky note) with the image name that this memorabilia corresponds with so you can add this to the file name when scanning or digitizing.


Once you start reviewing your memorabilia, toss out anything that has lost its meaning or level of importance. Kids artwork is a challenge for most parents, and these beautiful treasures can clutter a collection very quickly.

Get into the habit of taking a photo of your child displaying their artwork as it comes into the house. Showcase their art for a period then scan and toss with the reassurance that you have digitized and cataloged accordingly. If you have a budding Picasso, then keep and store the very best pieces.

Digitize and backup

Divide your memorabilia into two categories for digitizing. Documents, report cards certificates, etc. can be scanned but bulky items will need to be photographed. Once you have a digital file, rename your files and add metadata using the same procedure as your photos, then store in your digital photo hub.

Organize and store

Store documents flat, in archive envelopes or boxes designed specifically for document storage. Label envelopes and boxes with as much detail as possible in case your envelopes or boxes become separated from your photo collection. Or add a few duplicate images that correspond with your memorabilia (not your original prints), so you keep your timeline and photos connected.

Finally, store all protected media in a safe place away from light, humidity, and extreme temperatures.

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