Thursday, August 27, 2015

Back up your photos in 4 easy steps

I did it! I finally backed up the past two years' photos! 
I admit that I'm behind because I don't want you to feel guilty, or like you're the only person who procrastinates. I procrastinate just like anybody else! In an ideal world, we would back up our important files, like photos, at least once a month. Some people have a backup or scanning day on the last Sunday of the month. A regular schedule can be easy — it's getting started that's hard. 


1. Select your storage: online service (the "cloud"), external hard drive, CD or DVD, etc. 

I used to back up digital pictures on CDs, but they'll be obsolete in the near future as new computers don't even have CD drives. Now I prefer an external hard drive (EHD) because it has plenty of space and I have control over it (not some company that can go bankrupt or raise their rates). Compared with monthly plans for online storage, the EHD will pay for itself in half a year. 
If you don't have a ton of pictures, try one of the free online services like Google drive or DropBox (free for smaller storage). New Mac owners can use iCloud for free. I don't recommend one of the photo-printing companies for backup, because they charge fees to download your own pictures. However, they're better than no backup at all. 

2. Download pictures off your camera. 

I'm always astonished at people who consider a camera chip to be their main storage. Perhaps that's because my first digital cameras were shared work cameras, and any pictures left in the camera were subject to be deleted by someone else. Keeping pictures on my computer is the only way I know to organize them (in folders with file names or using photo software), print them, search for them later by name or date... everything I need to do. Some people can print from those little cards and even edit on their cameras, but I prefer to edit on a bigger screen. 

3. Back up your digital photos.

Now that your pictures are on your computer, back them up using whatever system you decided in step 1. Open some of those backup files to make sure the pictures copied correctly.

4. Delete the pictures on your camera. 

My camera isn't my main storage, but it's my first backup. Now that I have two copies of every picture in two different places (one on my laptop and one on my portable EHD), I wipe the camera. Believe me, it'll make your camera happier! Mine gets really slow, especially when downloading, when it has too many pictures on it. Our old work camera got moody (sometimes refusing to turn on and take pictures!) when it hadn't been cleared in months of heavy use. It always worked fine after deleting pictures. Just be sure you've backed them up. 

My newsletter subscribers received this article, a free border ideas sheet (pdf file) including a "Sand and Surf" border, heads up on the new Now Boarding Fast2Fab travel album, and information on the latest CM incentive (free products with a minimum purchase). Don't miss out on another newsletter — sign up today!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

So, you think you have too many photos? — part 2

I miss Marge. Not only was she a cousin, customer, and friend, she was an inspiration. 
In the last post, I mentioned a friend who was discouraged by plastic tubs full of photos, and showed my shelf of Daddy's negatives and my own photos. Then I showed off my shelf of completed albums and gave out guidelines on where to start when you're overwhelmed. Today I want to share a success story from a customer (who passed away earlier this year). Maybe she'll inspire you, too!

We think we have too many photos. Marge was a professional photographer in her younger days. Then she became a flight attendant, married a pilot, had children, and travelled the world with her young family. She had collected some photos for herself in those old albums and her daughter is an avid scrapbooker. Her son, however, didn't have those mementos. Now a great-grandmother with poor health and arthritic hands, she decided to make an album for her son and called on me to help. 
My first night on the project, I found Marge with a slide projector and reels of slides. There were flowers, streets, and buildings galore. Remember those old family slide shows? *yawn* When I asked how many we'd have to go through, she pointed to the hall. "There's a closet full." We were overwhelmed.
Did I mention that Marge was determined and goal-oriented? The next week, she had her scrapbook supplies out on a card table. She told me we would go ahead without the pictures. I tried to wrap my mind around that. 
Without. The. Pictures.

We ended up completing not one, but two beautiful albums of trips she'd taken with her son. Marge had kept bags of memorabilia, itineraries, and "journals" of abbreviated notes on scrap paper. We cut pictures out of brochures, used tickets, maps, and beautiful postcards. We transferred her notes onto journaling boxes. I encouraged her to include her own handwriting, but as she became unable to write clearly, I printed beneath the postcards and pictures. I even snuck in this picture of her working on the album — I knew her son would appreciate it.
It's as if Marge knew how much time she had, and finished what was important.

Friday, July 17, 2015

So, you think you have too many photos? — part 1

The most common problem I hear from my customers and friends is they have too many photos.

Ann (not her real name) said, "But Beth, I have stacks of those big rubber tubs, and they are just full of pictures! I'll never get it all done!"

She hadn't touched those pictures all year. She was too overwhelmed to start.

I've got a news flash for you. Just like other things in your life, you'll never get it all done. We have limited time on this earth. The best we can do is finish what's most important.

I have a lot of photos. I took very few when I was younger, then more as I traveled and became the documenter of family events. Between journalism work and getting my own digital camera in 2010, the number of pictures on my computer exploded. Now I'm not competing with anybody about feeling overwhelmend, but there's more! My dad was a professional photographer and I've inherited wonderful negatives and slides, mostly from the 1950s. (Here's a wonderful article my sister wrote about Daddy.) As the family genealogist, I've also been entrusted with pictures that date from the 19th century. What does this mean? (besides lots of fun as I look through them) It means I have a backlog of pictures that's older than I am!

Is there any hope? Look at my album shelf.

No, I don't scrapbook full time. No, I don't have every weekend free.

I know I can't get all my pictures done. But I finish the Thanksgiving pages so I can take them with me to the next family gathering. I finish the mission trip pictures so I can take them to the next church event. I work on my albums a little at the time, event by event (I like to do pages by event, then stick them into albums for each year).

Thinking about all your pictures is overwhelming. Instead, focus on one of three things:

1. The most recent event. (We had a lovely wedding and bridal shower this year. I've already bought an album and my second priority is to get those pictures printed.)

2. The most important event coming up on your calendar. (I finished the family history album on the right for an 80th-birthday gift.)

3. The album that's almost finished, or that's continually on your mind. (My first picture priority is to finish my 2009 album. A few more pictures to print, and it'll be done!)

Pick the most important thing and mark the next steps on your calendar (eg. print pictures, check album supplies, etc.)

You can do it! 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Note about Digital Freebies

Pre-2014 links, including those for high-resolution digital freebies and layouts, no longer work. I'm leaving these posts active to give you layout ideas and, if you like, you can still download the low-resolution image in the post.

To do that on a PC, right-click on the image and Save Image to the appropriate folder in your computer. To save on a Mac, simply drag the image off your browser's window and onto your Desktop.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Compete an album in an afternoon!

The wedding — two years ago.

The photo album — completed in an afternoon.


Photo courtesy of Jenny Rowan

Read how Jenny used a pre-decorated Fast2Fab Album and slide-in pocket pages to scrapbook her wedding album, including all the extra pictures she wanted to use, in just a few hours — on the CM blog

What album have you been wanting to scrapbook, but didn't think you had the time?

I just recommended a Fast2Fab album for a friend to take to her mother's birthday celebration. She plans to have her mother's friends and family bring pictures and write notes. With the pre-decorated album and tape runner, she can put it all together right there at the party!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Review: Slide-in pocket pages

Slide-in pocket pages are a great way to catch up on a pile of photos. I was excited about the new CM Multi-Pocket Pages for 12x12 because I'd used the Picfolio Milestones album (11x14) in the past and found it an easy way to catch up on photos, but I wanted to mix pocket pages with traditional scrapbooking pages in my 12x12 albums.

(Disclaimer: I sell CM products and will benefit if you use these links and see "Elizabeth Saunders" as advisor at the top of the page. However, I use these products for my own pictures and intend to give an honest review.)

Overall, I like the new pages and intend to use them again ... and again. It's a great way to scrap a pile of pictures in an hour or two. But I did note some differences and tips to keep in mind.

The new pages are clear and have pockets on just one side. So you have to put two pictures, facing opposite directions, in the same pocket. It's not that hard once you get used to it.

Because the pages are clear (Picfolio had a blank tan background), a cropped picture will show the back of the picture or paper on the other side. To fix this, use paper from one of the Slide-in Packs behind the photo (Change in Latitude paper shown here).

You can also use the papers for journaling and to fill in extra slots.

If you have the old Milestones paper packs, or photo mats from previous paper packs, simply trim the larger papers down to 4x6 inches (as I did for the page at the top of this article).

With pockets on just one side (which keeps pages thinner so you can fit more in your album), you don't have room to stash extra pictures — you know, the duplicates, or the ones that turned out a little blurry (am I the only one who does this?).

Tip: if the pocket is getting too tight, say, with two pictures and two slide-in papers or with one "stashed" picture, trim one or two items just a little less than 4x6. They'll slide in easier.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Where do you print your photos?

I've been using Swan Photo Labs to print photos by mail. They have great quality but, unfortunately, no bulk discounts so they can be pricey. Another great thing about Swan is they still process film — lots of different kinds of film.

Over the past year I've tried local shops — Walgreens and CVS — but I'm not impressed with the quality. The pictures look like I printed them at home, or maybe not that good.

Here's a review of 10 online photo services (It's a little dated; Kodak Gallery is now run by Shutterfly). I'd like to find the following:
  • Good quality prints
  • Decent prices (eg. bulk discounts)
  • Ability to share with others
  • Free high-resolution downloads (Hey, if I took the picture, I shouldn't have to pay to download it.)
  • Reliable backup, or "cloud" service
  • Quality photobooks and page prints

What do you use, and why do you like it?