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Tag: digital photos

One Way to Help You Reflect on the Past Decade

Happy New Decade

Have you taken a moment to think about your last ten years? What’s the story? Here is one technique to help figure it out.

Life always seems to have a way of moving so quickly. Like me, I’m sure that you’d sometimes like to slow it down to take a breath and reflect.

The good news is the end of every year is always the traditional time when you’re encouraged to look back at the past twelve months. That could take the form of a champagne toast or creating a photo book or even a cloud digital photo album to encapsulate the story of your past year.

But how should anyone begin to look back and gain a real understanding of their past decade? That’s a much bigger psychological exercise. Of course, anyone can easily pick out significant life events like marriage and kids being born, but those consist of just a few days over the course of several thousand.

Do you recall what was going on during most of those other days? Of course not. So how then are you supposed to begin putting together a point of view on this much bigger chunk of your life?

Well, here’s one tactic that I’ve used.

Photo Review
Simply take a couple of hours and walk down memory lane with your digital photo collection.

I mean really dig in.
My decade in 14 seconds
If it’s in any semblance of order, you should be able to expose yourself to a good percentage of your past decade’s activities that warranted a photo. Not that you can’t remember some of this on your own, but this exercise can really help to shake the branches on those ‘second-tier’ memories that also added to your overall experience from the decade.

Finding the Meaning
But here comes the hard part.

Which photos represent the pieces of your life that really tell your story? And which story are you actually trying to figure out? (Everyone’s life contains multiple stories.)

At this point, I recommend not stressing over the impulse to answer these questions. Simply enjoy the visual echoes from your past. Refresh your mind.

A New Photo Collection
That’s the gift to give yourself as you approach the end of the decade. How you process it is entirely an individual experience.

You can also throw the digital pics that stood out to you into a new folder on your computer. This specific collection can be for your eyes only, or if you choose, you can share them with your family and friends.

No, most lives are not neatly organized into ten-year chapters. So, looking to tie it all up in a bow is an entirely flawed exercise.

Still, this is one way to help remain present in living your life today, because you’ve got a better handle on your past through this little photo project refresher.

And if you happen to get a new photo collage out of the exercise, that always a bonus!

How to Tell Your Story with a Photo Playlist

Music playlists are everywhere. But what about photo playlists? Not sure what I’m talking about? Great! This is really how you can put your digital photos to work. And it involves using digital photo frames…

I’m a fan of digital photo frames for how they unlock the countless pictures you’d otherwise not be sharing with your family and friends. Sure, you can post your pics to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and online family photo folders, but those are one-offs, individual images that describe a moment in your life. And you’ve got to hope that nobody misses any of your photos as they fly through their social feeds.

That’s not at all the same as a larger grouping of photos you can control on a digital photo frame that you’ve given out. These always-available images rotate through to tell a larger and every-changing story about your family and its ongoing adventures.

And if you think that digital photo frames are a pain to update, you’re behind the times. Many models can pull their pics from the cloud via WiFi, and you can update your displayed images anytime from any location in the world.

The Photo Playlist of Your Life
But I think the opportunity to maintain an ever-changing photographic ‘playlist’ is the big “aha moment” that lots of folks still haven’t discovered. Do you want to rotate through photos from your past vacation? Maybe your last few weeks of weekend fun? How about some family archival photos? It’s all as easy as a few clicks away…

Whatever the topic, photo playlists give you the opportunity to display a much richer story.

Everyone makes photo books, right? But these books often just sit on a shelf. Why not use those same images to add to your life’s photo playlist that’s always rotating through on a digital photo frame?
(If you’re twitching about the idea of ‘always,’ don’t worry… These frames have sleep modes.)

Loving Nixplay’s Dynamic Playlist Feature
I’ve been using Nixplay digital photo frames for the past few years. Originally, I uploaded my pics to Nixplay’s cloud and then synced the photos to my frames from there. Truthfully, it was a bit cumbersome. So, when Nixplay began linking to cloud services like Instagram, Flickr and Dropbox, that was the upgrade that made moving my photo files to my Nixplay frames almost effortless.

Here’s why…

I simply created a Dropbox photo folder on my iMac’s desktop. I linked that folder to my Nixplay online account and digital frame. Then, I simply drop my photo files into the folder to add to the frame’s playlist.

Just as importantly, I regularly delete older photos in the folder to keep the frame’s content fresh. This is how I maintain my “dynamic playlist.”
(You can have as many playlists or dynamic playlists as you want.)

I know I’ve said this before, but you absolutely don’t want to keep older pictures hanging around when you’ve got fresh content to share. There will be exceptions, but I find this rule generally holds.

How Illuminating is Skylight?
If you’re in the market to pick up one of these visual portals to your recent past, congratulations! Is Nixplay the only choice out there? Not at all…

In fact, a friend asked me the other day about digital photo frames made by Skylight. I did some research, and here’s what I found…

Skylight’s big trick is you can upload photos its frames it via email. No cloud storage. And no extra steps to slow you down. Operationally, viewers manage all of the photos locally on the frame and delete them when they want.

That may sound easy, but consider this… If you give out Skylight frames to relatives, you can’t manage the photo playlist from your own computer once you email the pics out.

For me, that’s a deal breaker.
(I need more control.)

That said, Skylight’s one really cool feature is its touch screen. Your viewers can swipe through your photos and ‘heart’ them much like they would on a smartphone.
(And you get an email informing you of the ‘heart’)

The Skylight frame even displays a “New Photos Have Arrived” button. That can be especially useful to give your viewers a heads-up.

The only model is the Skylight 10″ Plus frame, and it costs $159.00, which is in line with the competition.

I appreciate that Skylight originated from a Kickstarter campaign through the Harvard Innovation Lab, but the design doesn’t give me the kind of control I’m looking for to maintain my playlists.

So, I recommend you check out Nixplay…

Sticking with Nixplay
My ongoing relationship with my Nixplay frames hasn’t exactly been perfect. I’ve occasionally had delayed syncing problems, but Nixplay has ultimately come through for me.

  • Again, I really love Nixplay’s dynamic playlist feature through Dropbox. Nixplay also gives you 10 GB of free online storage. (You can pay for more.)
  • And the Nixplay ecosystem keeps getting better. Now there’s a mobile app, which give you on-the-go control of your frames. Plus, you can snap a photo with your smartphone and almost instantly add it to your photo frames. (Sorry, Skylight.)

There are a variety of Nixplay digital photo frames and sizes to choose from:

Nixplay Seeds are WiFi-only frames, which is just fine with me. But if you also want the old-school ability to upload pictures via SD cards, there’s the Nixplay Edge model.

Use this Visual Storytelling Strategy
I’ve talked previously about ways to maintain your public brand online.

But you also have a personal brand to feed that’s uniquely positioned for your family and friends.

And with distance often challenging the continuity of extended family units, displaying your photo playlists on WiFi digital photo frames is a wonderful way to communicate your family’s ongoing story.


Why Forwarding Photos May Not Be a Welcome Gift

You should think twice before sharing lots of digital photos with your peeps. Sure, it may be fun for the recipient to take a quick look. But guess what happens after that…?

All of this time, I thought I was doing my family and friends a favor by emailing downloadable Dropbox links of photos I’ve snapped at group settings. I’ve been doing this for years. What’s not to like?

I know that people generally love to participate in digital photo sharing.
It’s immediate.
It’s free.
It’s easy.

It’s also a quick and simple gift.

But you’ve got to admit, it’s something of a sloppy art.

Even so, I figure that folks can be responsible for what they do with the pictures they receive.

Well, yes.
And… no.

I think the problem is many people today just don’t have the time to do anything with your photos once they take a quick look at them.

That requires organization.
And good organization takes time.
Organization that even I have a hard time maintaining.
In fact, I’m still years in the rear at creating those ‘annual’ family photo albums to proudly live on our book shelves.

Some Assembly Required
I suppose emailing one or two photos shouldn’t really be a problem to handle. Even several… if they’re good pics.
But when you just throw twenty or thirty photos at someone, because you just don’t have time to do anything else, that just shifts the burden of organization onto the recipient.

You might think that you’re still doing them a favor, because once they go through everything, they’ll certainly separate the creative wheat from the chaff.

But you’re essentially sending someone more work to do.
That’s not such a great gift, is it?

Now, this is not a universal declaration. Take me for example…
If family and friends want to send me lots of unfiltered pics… I feel that’s better than not receiving anything at all.
(But I readily admit… I probably don’t represent the norm.)

The bottom line is you should always know your audience before you click on ‘send.’

The Analog Advantage
If you want to give the true gift of photo sharing that doesn’t require anything else to do, then you may have to suck it up and put in a little more effort…

And do you know what that looks like?
(I think you do.)

It’s a physical photo album or a photo book that’s completely done!
(How analog)

Will that take more time than you’re willing to commit?
Well, of course… there’s the rub.

Case in Point…
I’m always appreciative when someone hands me a little photo book celebrating an event or activity.
Sure, I might think… “Huh… I might have done that a little differently.”
But the reality is… I probably would never have gotten around to doing it at all!

And there’s your opportunity…

So recently, when a family friend scoffed at receiving a bunch of photos I emailed over, I didn’t take it personally.
Instead of a “Thank you,” I got a “When am I going to have the time to do anything with these?”
(And I had even gone through the batch to pick out the best ones!)

It was clearly time to create a tangible photo book…
Not to mention that I also received a direct request for one of these as a birthday gift.
(Isn’t clarity a wonderful thing?)

The Inner Truth
And for those of you digital geeks out there who don’t own a printer or know what a piece of paper is anymore (let alone a physical photo album)…
Guess what?
Deep down…
…You know you’re craving the same thing.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone made you a physical photo album or book?

It’s okay.
Your secret is safe with me.

What’s Old is New Again
It’s not so old school.
People love photo books.

And there are lots of companies out there serving that need… like Shutterfly.
Since I’m doing my photo management in Adobe Lightroom, there’s an integrated process to work with Blurb.

It’s time to stop taking the easy way out by throwing your photos to the digital wind and hoping for the best.
Roll up your sleeves and create a physical photo collection that’s actually complete upon arrival.

Now, I’d better take a bit of my own advice and get to work on the birthday gift… The party is next week!

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