At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: family vacations

How to Build a Cloud Family Photo Archive for your Smartphone

It’s time to release the power of your best family photos! Here are four steps to help you create a family photo archive that you can carry around in your pocket.

Remember how your parents and grandparents liked to carry around wallet-sized photos of you when you were a kid? I think some folks still do that. How quaint… how silly…how unnecessary!

With smartphone tech that can house thousands of photos, why would anyone want to carry around a tattered physical family photo in a wallet?

Well, for one reason… you know exactly where that photo is. And when someone asks you about your family, you can pull it out on demand and show it off.

Can you boast that same super power?
…Right now?

Stop Looking for a Needle in your Visual Haystack
Yes, this topic may fall under the category of ‘super obvious,’ but you can’t simply hope to swipe through a mess of photos in your smartphone representing years of moments and successfully pull the desired image out of a hat whenever you need to.

You’ve got to tuck away a few of the really important ones in a place where you can easily access them (beyond your wallet).

And I’d say the best way to do that is to create a family archive photo album in the cloud that you can access from anywhere, including your smartphone.

Here are four easy steps to help get you going…

Step 1:  Create a Shared Cloud Photo Album
In the Apple ecosystem, of course that’s really simple to do…

You can create a ‘Shared Album’ either on your iPhone or in ‘Photos’ on your Mac and then simply pop in your top 50-100 pics that represent the entirety of your family and your life to date.
(Keeping the number down is much easier said than done, because you’ll find so many choices that you’ll want to include!)

The trick here is to only choose a small number of pics among the thousands you’ve got. Remember, you’re trying to essentially simulate the tattered wallet photo experience… with some obvious improvements. Simplicity and easy access are paramount.

Then after the heavy lifting of curating your little photo collection, simply share the album with your partner and whoever else you’d like…
How considerate of you!

Step 2:  Choose only a Few Photos
So which photos are you going to include?
Well, think about which pics best represent your family’s ‘story.’

Yes, that may take you some time to figure out…
(Our ancestors had it easy with only having to manage through a shoebox of disorganized photos.)

But once you go through your digital collection and pull together this new group of archive-worthy gems, you’ll realize the awesomeness of your accomplishment.

Step 3:  Include the Major Moments
I don’t think there’s one particular recipe to follow… you just need to take a little time to decide what those exact photos are…

For me, I wanted to include some of the obvious milestone family moments…

  • Our wedding
  • Our son’s birth and first days

 

Then show off a little of the ‘where…’


And then I realized, beyond the several landmark moments in life and fun places that anyone might want to display a picture from, there’s a blur of countless other experiences over the years that you really don’t need to consider.
(That’s sobering, right?)

So, what’s left…?

Step 4:  Focus Mostly on the ‘Who’
Well, it’s the people in your life… your family and friends.

The “who.”

Yes, we’re back to essence of the wallet photo phenomenon.

You’re going to want to carry around the pictures of the people in your life who have mattered most.

Those images are what I immediately felt the need to collect into my own cloud family photo archive…

And so I put those photos in a cloud folder titled ‘Family Portraits.’

Some were candid pics, but most were posed group shots taken at family events. The organic organization of the people in these photos nicely framed much of my family’s history.

Carry Your Family History in Your Pocket
Remember when I said that your photos have expiration dates and that your family and friends only care to see the most recent pics from your life?

While that’s certainly true at one level, some of your pics will defy that phenomenon and retain their long-term value as foundational explainers for your family’s history.

Just make sure you don’t lose them in the endless mass of digital freeze frames from your life.

Sure, they might be properly archived in a portable hard drive somewhere, but if you can’t immediately access them when you want to on your smartphone, you’re going to miss most of the opportunities to share them throughout your life!

A cloud family photo archive that lives on your smartphone is a strategy lightyears ahead of using those tiny wallet photos.

You’ve just got to build it!

How a GoPro Opens the View on Family Life

My new GoPro was so much more than a little tank of a camera. It changed my whole view as the family photographer. Here’s how…

All of this time I thought it was about how to capture a tight family photo. Or how to freeze the action of my speedy 8-year-old boy with better lenses and bigger sensor sizes…

Last year, I invested in the high-end Panasonic LUMIX LX-10 compact camera in the hopes of really improving the quality of my family photos. But I was often forced to keep it packed in my beach bag on vacation to protect the camera from the damaging effects of salt water and sand. (Those little grains can easily fly right into the crevices of a motorized zoom lens and jam the mechanism.)

This summer, I decided I needed a different plan.
And yes, a different camera…

So, last month I bought a GoPro, because I was tired of worrying about ruining my gear during our beach vacations and not taking the photos I really wanted.

Worry-Free Durability
Using a GoPro easily solves the problem of taking your camera into all the action at the beach. It doesn’t have a moving lens to ruin, and the whole thing is waterproof. It’s actually designed for a little abuse.

No, I didn’t really need an ‘action cam’ to replay and slow down any crazy stunts my son was practicing (at least not yet). But the idea of more freely following his action with more ‘durable’ gear in the outdoor elements was totally appealing.

Selecting the Right GoPro Model
I bought the more expensive GoPro Hero6 Black as opposed to the older ‘Hero5’ or the newer (but stripped-down) entry-level ‘Hero’ in an attempt to future-proof my investment. That’s usually my strategy with these types of tech purchases. If I end up using the gear for an extra year or two before wanting an upgrade, I feel that makes it worth the extra upfront cost.

Even though I don’t currently need all of the frame sizes and high-speed frame rates that the Hero6 Black offers, I’m generally committed to capturing content in 4K. And the Hero6 is much more capable living in 4K.

The Parent Test
So, I’m just back from a week at the beach in the North Fork of Long Island, and I’m happy to report that the maiden voyage of my new GoPro was a big success.
(And by ‘voyage,’ I mean… full water immersion!)

I didn’t use my GoPro in the ‘traditional’ ways by bolting it somewhere ahead of an impossible athletic stunt. Instead, I carried the tiny device in my swimsuit pocket throughout the week, as a traditional dad… ready to start capturing family photos and videos at a moment’s notice.
(Yes, I also attached a little floating hand grip to prevent my GoPro from sinking into the ocean if dropped.)

And I’ve got to tell you…safely snapping away at those ‘found moments’ was like being a kid in a candy store.

And my GoPro’s ability to capture my son underwater was impressive… most impressive.

Wow

Your Family’s Life in Wide Angle
But I realized something unexpected as soon as I started working with my GoPro Hero6 Black…

The wide-angle orientation of the camera’s lens opened up a whole new view on my family’s life…

First off… the wider range made it so simple to shoot family selfies. Then, using the GoPro ‘3-Way’ selfie stick/tripod helped to eliminate the prominence of my arm in the selfies. And saying, “GoPro, take a photo!” to the camera’s voice sensor was wicked cool.

Although once my son learned my Jedi voice trick, he thought it was so much fun to take over the camera’s functions with his own voice right as I was crafting the perfect selfie.
(Note to GoPro designers: I think the next GoPro model needs person-specific voice recognition!)

A New Angle on Storytelling
More importantly, using the wide angle lens for front-facing photography reveals a whole new side to family storytelling. It provides more context with the entire environment enveloping your subjects.

So, your goal is no longer about how tight you can shoot. It’s about how wide!

And don’t worry… you’ve already got thousands of tight shots of your family!

In fact, I enjoyed my newly found perspective so much that I shot my family vacation almost entirely in wide angle!

The GoPro Hero6 Black can also shoot in a more ‘linear’ format without the edge distortions that wide angle brings, but I rarely chose the traditional view.

I was loving seeing the world (and my family) in wide angle… all of the time, baby!
(Moving forward, I’m sure some balance will return to my photography.)

Expand the Edges of Your Photography
I know I’m just scratching the surface of what my GoPro can really do. But it’s already taken me to so many new places and empowered me to snap away without fear….

  • On the windy beach
  • Underwater as my boy explored unusual rocks (Yes, a bit like a Jacques Cousteau documentary)
  • “Hauling” in our first snapper on our little fishing excursion

Note to other ‘boring’ parents out there – Using a GoPro can also make you feel like the coolest kid on the beach.
(After I spent 20 minutes videotaping our son underwater, my wife walked up to me and mentioned that she overheard another parent on the beach whisper to her spouse, “That’s a GoPro.”)

Clearly, I’m on to something…

Sharing Your Media ‘In the Field’
The Hero6 Black is also designed to enable quick and easy sharing of all your cool content…

It has the capability to generate a little ‘hotspot’ and tether to my iPhone… and then wirelessly hand over all of my photos and videos via the GoPro app. From there, I was able to quickly upload a few of my best pics to my shared Apple ‘Photos’ album.

But that was only the first part of GoPro’s one-two punch when it comes to clever media management. GoPro also offers a companion QuikStories app for smartphones, which can whip up a complete music video with your photos and videos in minutes.
(What?)

Well, sure… It takes some time for any smartphone to render out video transitions and the final video to share, but the whole app interface is designed for minimal human involvement. And I mean minimal.

Stand By for QuikStories
How good is this little video editing platform that lives in your pocket? Was I as blown away as I was with the photos and videos generated by my Hero6 Black camera?

Let’s find out next time on At Home with Tech!

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