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Tag: family photographer

You’re Taking Way Too Many Pictures

Does your picture-taking style resemble throwing lots of pasta at the wall to see what sticks? That can help you nail the perfect photo, but what about the mess you’ve also created?

Does your picture-taking style resemble throwing lots of pasta at the wall to see what sticks? That can help you nail the perfect photo, but what about the mess you’ve also created?

Last week, I asked someone to take a couple of pictures for me on his iPhone for a project. It was something of a spontaneous moment… But everyone’s got a smartphone these days, right?
So no biggie…

Later that afternoon, he walked over and offered to AirDrop “the bunch” to me between our iPhones.
(And that was so much faster than receiving an email with the photos attached and then having to save the pics to my iPhone.)

So I stare at my iPhone’s screen. A message popped up that asked if I wanted to accept the incoming photos.
(They would get immediately stored in the native Photos app.)

I clicked “Yes” and voila, my iPhone ingested… 81 photos.

81 what?!
You read correctly.

Yes, the ‘few’ images I had requested ended up being a photo essay of 81 images.

I thanked him, but really… I didn’t want that many photos.
(I secretly grumbled about much time it would take me to go through all of them to find the best one or two.)

Tick Tock
Now, I’m sure he was just trying to be helpful by capturing a whole lot of photos to ensure he nailed some good ones for me.
(And now I’m feeling a little guilty being so ungrateful.)

But there’s a fundamental problem at play here that this kind of moment demonstrates.
And I think we’re all guilty of this when we start snapping photos…

We act like digital photography is essentially free.

And to a certain extent, that’s true. The only noticeable cost is the gradual filling up of your smartphone’s memory or your camera’s media card.

But trust me, this way of thinking is certain to create a time bomb down the road.
‘Cause you’re going to wake up a few years later and realize you’ve got 12,000 photos in your phone.

And what are you supposed to do with all of those photos?!
Are you spending the necessary time to separate the wheat from the chaff?
And more importantly, what have you been doing with your thousands of pictures along the way?

Overwhelmed
Here’s your true cost to taking thousands of your free photos every year:
You’re going to need huge chunks of time to manage your growing photo archive.
or
You will give up trying and figure you’ll deal with the problem another day.

And you know what that means…

  • You didn’t print them.
  • You didn’t share them.
  • You didn’t enjoy them.
  • And nobody else did either.

Whoa… that’s a bummer.

And you know how I feel about waiting too long…
Yes, I say that lots of your pictures actually have expiration dates!
Because beyond your immediate family unit, nobody really wants to see a three-year-old photo of your six year old.

People want to see fresh photos.

Sure, there are always archival benefits to your pictures, but they’re much more valuable in the here and the now!

Less is More
Remember the old days of film photography just before the turn of the century?
(Ahem… the 21st century)
Come on… it wasn’t that long ago when we used rolls of physical film in our cameras. There were only 24 or 36 pictures per roll, and it cost you about twenty bucks to develop each roll.

Trust me, you probably weren’t taking 81 pictures of anything back then.
I know I wasn’t.

The beauty from that pre-digital age was you’d take two… maybe three photos of something… to be sure you got the photo just the way you wanted.
(There was no way to know, because there was no screen in the back. How did we ever survive…?!)

You’d maintain a few family photo albums and probably a couple of shoeboxes with some disorganized pics, and that would be it.

Okay, let’s fast forward to the present….
How much physical space would it take to house… say… twenty thousand physical photos?

Well, of course the answer is zero, because most of these photos would either live on your hard drive, which will eventually go caput, or in the Cloud somewhere.

What happens if one day you forget to pay for your Cloud account? Then, you’ll lose access to those photos.

And then where will you be?
You’ll have no photos of your life… at all.
(You’ve got a stronger back up plan, you say? Well, bravo for you. You can skip to the end of this post.)

Okay, I know I’m being a little apocalyptic.
Perhaps, I exaggerate. But only slightly.

Your Sock Drawer is a Mess
I really feel we’re losing control of all the photos we’re taking.

Too Many Photos

 

 

 

 

 

(I know I’m having a hard time keeping up.)

Sure, many of us effortlessly post dozens or even hundreds of photos online to share our lives in the moment, but I believe this apparent fluidity masks the larger problem of what’s happening to the others 19,000 photos.

Imagine a giant sock drawer you haven’t opened in twenty years with thousands of unmatched socks.
Do you feel the problem now?

If you don’t pay attention to your digital photo library and to the volume of photo files you’re feeding it, you’re going be in a world of hurt down the line.

Magical Sequences
Of course, there’s often an exception to any rule….
And that’s when you’re capturing a series of related moments via rapid-fire picture taking. My wife has done this a bunch of times with me and my son using her iPhone 6 Plus.
(This art form is very intuitive for her.)

These magical photo sequences can represent a few seconds to up to a minute. You’d never be able to capture these wonderful connected images unless you simply snap away… as if the price per photo were free.

How Many Photos Do You Need?
So no, don’t take lots of pictures all of the time.
Except when sometimes you should.

Got that?

All right, so you’ve got to be a little flexible when confronting how to capture your family’s lives through digital photography.

Just always ask yourself this question-
How many photos do you really need to take to get what you want?

If you decide to take 81, that’s okay.
Just don’t leave it for another day (decade) to figure out which two or three you should keep.

And remember, nobody really needs to hold onto 20,000 pictures to tell their life story.

Sometimes, it only takes one.

If You Snap a Family Photo and Nobody Sees It, Does It Really Exist?

This nixplay WiFi Cloud Frame is a digital photo frame with lots of tricks to help display your photos. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s ready for prime time.

This nixplay WiFi Cloud Frame is a digital photo frame with lots of tricks to help display your photos. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s ready for prime time.

My life as the family photographer feels like a huge storage container of ‘quadro- triticale’ and a bunch of tribbles.

If you’re not familiar with the classic “Star Trek” episode, “The Trouble with Tribbles,” Captain Kirk uncovers a Klingon conspiracy to poison relief supplies designated for a distant planet‘s population. He realizes the evil plot when an expanding family of cute tribbles starve in a poisoned shipment of wheat.

The Trouble with Too Many Family Photos
I’m taking thousands of pictures a year, but you wouldn’t know it.
Neither would most of my family or friends.
Because the photos are buried away in my computer’s hard drive, burdened down by a self-inflicted organization and processing system I designed.

My original plan was solid (or so I thought):

  • Take lots of photos
  • Separate the digital wheat from the chaff every week
  • Upload the very best online to share with family and friends
  • Print photo albums by the year or event
  • Print one-off photos with your home printer

But I didn’t properly factor in the variable of time allocation per photo…

My system’s fatal flaw:
There are simply too many pictures to go through.
And now I’ve fallen behind…way behind.

I’ve talked before about the challenges of organizing vast numbers of digital family photos.

Yesterday’s Photo is Yesterday’s News
I’m a busy father.
Looking through all my photos every week isn’t exactly at the top of my to-do list.

My review process has slowed so dramatically, I’m getting to photos of my three and half year old son that don’t really look like him anymore!

And when they say a picture is worth a thousand words… that’s for yesterday’s picture. Six months from now, that cute photo of my boy ‘rowing his boat’ in a laundry basket still may be a keeper, but our extended family and friends want to know what he did six days ago!

So in a manner of speaking, family photos have an expiration date.

Life moves pretty quickly.
Your photos had better keep up!

Digital Photo Frames to the Rescue?
The same rule goes for sharing your photos at home with the inner circle…
So I decided it was time to update ‘the plan.’

One option was to simply take fewer pictures.
(Believe me… that would solve a lot of problems.
I almost pine for the days when you only had 24 or 36 shots to work with.)

The other ‘obvious’ solution is to power up a digital photo frame to help get those photos quickly in front of the family’s eyeballs.

I know this isn’t a revolutionary solution.
In fact, digital photos frames are already yesterday’s tech.

The idea of buying a digital screen and loading it up for the one purpose of rotating a group of photos isn’t as wonderful as it once was.
You can already display photos on all the other digital screens you own.

Who needs to spend money on another one?

Plus, I’ve generally found digital photo frames to be a pain to use.
(They’re just glitchy!)

Maybe since they never became such a hot tech commodity, all the kinks never got worked out.
(Not that I’ve tested all of them…)

That said, I’ve bought two digital photo frames so far,
including the positively-reviewed Pix- Star PXT510WR02 for my father a year ago.

I found the Pix-Star to be perfectly functional but also somewhat unresponsive whenever I tried adding more photos into the mix. The Pix-Star was supposed to make the upload process really simple, because it can pull existing photos from one of my Flickr family albums.
(It’s web connected.)

Third Time’s the Charm?
But I haven’t given up.
I’ve been paying attention to see when a new digital photo frame that could be a game changer hits the market …

Recently I noticed a new player:

nixplay Cloud Frame

The Nixplay WiFi Cloud Frame

It’s just come out and was displayed at CES 2014.

Nixplay’s Cloud Frame’s particular trick is it can access your pictures not only from your hard drive, but also from Facebook, Instagram and Picasa. Then you create your own albums and slideshows on nixplay.com and finally send them to your web-connected frame.

Plus, it’s got a motion sensor. So it can turn off when you’re not in the room.

Sweet!

Beta be Good!
For full disclosure, this Nixplay Cloud Frame is also a beta version.
But I figured it’s got to work since it was on sale at Amazon.

Click.

Buyer beware…
Beta versions always come with risks…

Setting up my nixplay and connecting it to my wireless network went smoothly enough, but as soon as I tried loading up some photos, I ran into a bit of trouble.

As in… I couldn’t load any photos onto the frame!

Yes, I was able to upload the photos onto my nixplay web albums, though a few pictures didn’t make it up to the nixplay cloud on the first try.
Instead, I got a scary ‘communications error’ message.
(A second attempt was ultimately successful.)

But when there’s smoke, there’s usually fire…

So Close and Yet So Far
For almost a day, I couldn’t get the frame to pull down any of the photos from the nixplay cloud.

NONE!

But it did recognize the existence of my online slideshows.
Just not any of the photos!

ARGH!!!!

Actually, all of the blank slideshows didn’t always show up in the menu.
Getting confused…?
Exactly.

NIXPLAY, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!

Nix the Nixplay?
When I first unpacked the nixplay, on the top of the its screen, there was a peel-able sticker that read,
“Congratulations on being one of our first nixplay customers. We are really excited to have you as part of the family!”

The feeling’s not mutual.

  • I’ve lost time trying to get this beast to work!
    (that precious commodity I was trying to save in the first place)
  • I’ve lost money!
    I just saw the nixplay’s price on Amazon has suddenly dropped 20% to $79.99!!!
    (I guess that $20 price drop is good for the next guy… though that’s predicated on the frame actually working!)
  • And I’ve lost a happy ending for this post!

But it gets worse.

The Taunt of the Intermittent Problem
To demonstrate further proof that technology has already reached a sentient stage… the next day, my frame inexplicably started working.
It started sucking in the photos.

Not all of them, mind you…. but a lot.
I think it was taunting me.

So what’s going on here?

  • More communication errors?
  • Or perhaps, it’s normal for nixplay photos to take their time downloading to the frame
    (so much for instantaneous gratification)

The questions keep pouring into my brain like water into a leaky Octonauts submarine toy during bath time.

Help At Home with Tech!
I’ll reach out to nixplay’s tech support for help…
But this kind of thing is really supposed to work from the start.

A device that works some of the time is the worst kind of tech to keep around.
It should either work right or not at all.
(I think I was happier when the frame remained stubbornly blank!)

Owning a solid digital photo frame shouldn’t be a pipe dream!
Like flying cars, it still seems like such a great idea!!

But it looks like Amazon could be getting a return very soon…

(If anyone out there has a recommendation for a good digital frame that’s not hobbled in some inscrutable way, please let me know!)

Stay tuned…
(Ugh)

Get a Life as the Family Photographer

Which of these holds more value… a 32 GB memory card or 32 photos? The answer can change your entire perspective as the family documentarian.

Which of these holds more value… a 32GB memory card or 32 photos? The answer can change your entire perspective as the family documentarian.

Are you getting stressed out being the family photographer?
Does it feel like a thankless job?

Are you overwhelmed by the task of processing all those pictures?
A burden that’s killing your joy?

You’re not alone.

The good news is you’ve come to the right support blog.
I think we’ve got some ideas that will help get you back on your photo footing.
Please come in and have a seat.
The meeting is about to start…

Print a Photo a Week
“Hello. My name is James, and I’ve been the family photographer for 5 years.”

“Hi, James.”

“I don’t think I’m going to have enough time to create a best-of-2013 photo book for the holidays. What am I going to do?”

No problem.
Don’t even try.
Instead, I’ve got an idea to get you there… one photo at a time.

As you sift through your massive intake of family pics, the ongoing organization can get daunting.
(It’s worse than wrangling kittens!)

The last step you usually get to is printing any of them out, right?
So here’s a crazy idea… Turn your workflow on its head!

If you pass by a photo that feels special, just print it! You shouldn’t give it much thought…
Don’t wait for your final print job or photo book. Just send it to the printer, now!

Then, simply enjoy the image:

  • Look at it
  • Show it to your family
  • Tape it to the refrigerator door
  • Take it to work
  • Maybe frame it

Make that individual picture its own activity and absorb all those good vibes that photo brings you.
Perform this cleansing photographic impulse at least once a week, and it will do wonders!

Plus… you’re going to organically build a nice photo collection for yourself that you can place into an old-school album at the end of the year.

Sure, photo books are wonderful, but they take time to organize and create.
This method also gets you to the finish line… stress free.

Of course, this does require you to have a photo printer your child hasn’t already hobbled with a might penny…
(but that’s another story)

Always Keep an Extra Battery with your Pocket Camera
“My name is Fred, and I’ve been taking family photos for the past 7 years.”

“Hello, Fred.”

“I’m always worried I’m going to run out of battery power when I’m taking my pictures. It’s so stressful!”

“Take in a big breath. Now exhale. Fred, do you have your battery charger nearby?
Good….”

There’s really no way to know for sure if your camera and a fully charged battery will carry you through the day. And that assumes you charge up your battery every time you put your camera in your pocket.

There’s only one way to maintain relative peace of mind on this front:
Carry an extra battery.
It’s not that expensive, and it’s relatively tiny.

The big problem with carrying around an extra battery is losing it.

I think the best solution is to always keep your backup battery with your camera in its carrying case or neoprene envelope. That way it’s always close to the camera when an untimely power drain threatens your perfect photographic moment.

(You do have a protective case for your camera, don’t you….?)

Get In the Picture!
“Hello. My name is Wendy, and my family has been looking to me to capture our family events for the last 10 years.”

“Hello, Wendy.”

“And I’m really angry that I’m never in any of the pictures.”

Believe me, you’re not alone if you find yourself missing from the visual documentation of your family’s history.
And of course that’s what’s going to happen, if you’re the one taking most of the shots! The obvious solution is to hand over your camera and ask someone else to do some of the heavy lifting.
(a suggestion I often get which always leads to wonderful results)

But that doesn’t mean you’re handing over your visual influence. You still may need to orchestrate from afar. Letting it happen naturally may not create the shots you want.

Does that make you appear too self-centered?
Get over it!! You’ve been taking everyone else’s photos for years.
It’s about time you asked for a few of your own!

Everyone stand up now, and scream at the top of your lungs,
“I want my own photo!!”

Good. Now please sit down.
(James, you too.)

The same general rule applies to large family group photos.
Inserting yourself into the family portrait may seem harder than walking a tightrope, but it really only requires a bit more juggling:

  • Just make sure you’ve brought a little tripod with you
    (like the GorillaPod)
  • Adjust the framing of the group shot like you normally would
    (after herding your family together)
  • Then, set the countdown timer on your camera and sprint into the shot
    (It may seem a little crazy, but it works like a charm.)
  • Extra Clever Tip:
    Set your countdown timer to take several consecutive photos
    (That will increase the odds one of them will capture everyone smiling at the camera.)

Share Your Gems Quickly!
“Hello, my name is Pat, and I’m distressed that I never get around to sharing my photos quickly enough.”

It’s sad to say, but most pictures have an expiration date.
(more like an optimal viewing period)
And then they become less relevant… because life moves on.

There’s always a newer family event that everyone’s going to be interested in…not your pictures from last month’s birthday party.

Plus, there are always those slick smartphone cats. You know them.
They snap a photo and share it almost instantly… taking all the glory.
(not that I’m feeling at all competitive)

So if you want others to enjoy your photographic eye, you’ve got to move quickly. And quick doesn’t always mean sharing the perfect picture…

Touching Up will Slow You Down
“Hello my name is Susan, and I take too long tweaking my favorite shots.”

“Hello, Susan. How long have you been the family photographer?”

“I’m not. Isn’t this the Cute Cat and Dog Photos Support Blog?”

“Uhhhh…. well, kind of…”

So it’s true… bringing out the best in your favorite photos take time:

  • Leveling the horizon
  • Reframing the shot
  • Brightening up murky shadows
  • Adjusting the color
  • Manipulating the ‘sharpness’ tool

You’re never going to get your shots out quickly if you force yourself to make each one perfect before you release them to your adoring public.

But if you’re like me, you’re not going to be happy sharing photos that aren’t ready for prime time.

Here’s a solution:
As you review your top 20 or 30 pictures from your most recent family event, just pick the top 2 or 3 to get out the door tonight.
(tweaking those won’t take much time)
And these will tease your audience’s appetite for the larger collection to be released later!

Share the Love
You are the family photographer. Own it!

And your family may not tell you this as much as they should… but they really appreciate all those photos you’ve been taking of them.

Really.
(Fortunately, my wife tells me this all the time.)

If some of your relatives were here right now, they’d give you a big kiss.

So it’s time for a group hug.
Everyone stand up and bring it in!

Now, don’t you feel better?

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