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Tag: photo organization

How to Turn Your Smartphone into a Time Machine

If you’re getting bored snapping the same picture over and over again through the years, then you might be in for a pleasant surprise…

I expect you’ll agree that life serves up a fair number of repeatable sequences that are simply driven by the calendar, such as birthdays, holidays and certain vacations. And these moments often orbit family events at the same locations.

If you purposefully remember to snap similarly framed photos at these occasions every year… then, think about the mind-bending results.

Now, you’re capturing the passage of time with your smartphone, and you’ve effortlessly stepped into the role of photo historian. And in fact, you’ve created a time machine of sorts.
(How great is that?!)

Granted, this type of project is not for those with short attention spans. You’ve got to put years into it. Even decades.

It’s not difficult to do. You’ve just got to remember a few shots and keep repeating them.

You’ve Probably Already Started
I’ve found it’s better to go with posed shots that are easier to replicate over the course of time. But certain action shots can also be predictable (like blowing out birthday candles). And then it’s always great to connect them together across the years.

To this last point, you might already be collecting certain repeated photo moments. You’ve just got to find them… and then let the magic unveil itself!
(They don’t always have to be taken in the exact same space.)

For example, here’s a July 4th fireworks sequence covering the past few years that I quickly put together…

Pretty cool, right?

It’s All about the Journey
The truth is… this type of archival photo documentation never really ends. Assuming you’re printing these photos on quality photo paper, or you’ve figured out a way to ensure your JPEG files survive the passage of time, you should eventually hand off your project to ‘the next generation.’

At some point, we all think about our legacy. That you can hand off those series of images that succinctly represent the journey through life.

What a concept.

And it’s never too late to start.

It’s time to start building your ‘Guardian of Forever.’

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!

The Fix for Your Vacation Photo Mess

Do you have an overpopulation of disorganized pictures from your last holiday trip? Well, I’ve got a new organizational trick that could be a game changer…

If a picture tells a thousand words, then what do a thousand photos tell? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I’d say that nobody in your life has the capacity to look at a thousand pics you might put in front of them.

What am I getting at? I’m here to remind you that you’re probably taking too many pictures. It’s essentially free to snap away these days, and you’ve got a better chance of capturing ‘the perfect pic’ if you take a few at the same time. The problem with that strategy is it’s clogging up your digital life. Trust me. I speak from experience…

And if you think I’ve got a problem, a friend of mine just told me he’s got 7,000 photos to go through from his recent trip to New Zealand. Good luck!

Barrett’s Rules to Organizing Your Photos
I just got back from a week-long family vacation, and I’m not proud to admit that I returned with over six hundred photos.
(That includes the pics from my wife’s iPhone.)
What are you supposed to do with all of that?

I’ll tell you how I’ve been handling the challenge of separating the digital wheat from the chaff…

  • First, I rate my photos on a five-point scale.
  • Then, I throw away the 1’s and 2’s.
    (Total misfires and blurry mistakes)
  • Next, I work with only the 5’s and tweak them as needed in Adobe Lightroom.
    (Brightness, color, straightening, cropping)

And for a family vacation, that usually gets me down to around 100 photos.
This time, I clocked in at 165 ‘best’ photos.

  • Then, I choose my ‘picks’ from the 5’s.
    (I guess that makes them my 6’s.)

That helps to slim the group even more, but I’m always left with more pictures than I really want…

Last week, I ‘invented’ a new step to my photo organization process…

Are you ready for this…?

Slimming Down to 36
How many pictures do you really need to ‘properly’ show off a week-long family vacation?
A hundred?

Let me offer up a radical concept…
What about just 36 pictures?
That’s a nice, round number we worked with in the analog days when rolls of film ruled the world.

How about 24?!
(Okay… baby steps.)

I say force yourself not to go above that number… like you’ve got a physical photo album with only so many pages.

Which Pictures Tell Your Story?
Does it take time to choose the very, very, very best?
It sure does.

Is it hard to figure out which few photos tell the complete story?
(And that’s usually a slightly different grouping than your ‘picks,’ which are individually chosen.)

And why have I created yet another step to what is already a long and laborious process to organize your photos?

Because, it’s the big payoff, baby!

If you’ve gone through all of the work to organize hundreds (thousands) of pics, shouldn’t you also have access to the few that truly rock? The ones that say, “Whoa! We’re really awesome!”

The ones that tell your story.

Family Test Case
I implemented my new concept, popped the fabulous few on the family iPad via an iCloud shared photo album and sat down with my wife and seven-year-old son after Saturday breakfast to go through them.

It was perfect.
(Daddy felt like a hero.)

And then, they remembered some moments that weren’t included and wanted to see those too.

So, I pulled up my folder of 165 ‘best’ pics (the 5’s) and we reviewed those too.
But the fatigue factor was noticeable.
I could tell we wouldn’t go through this group again.

My ‘fewer-photos’ theory was still sound!

Be Flexible
I also realized that when you try to get to the core of your story through just a few photos, one person will likely choose a somewhat different grouping than another.

And that’s okay.

The easy fix is to just add in the few extra pics that your other family members have called out.

So maybe your fabulous 36 grows to 40-something.
(I won’t tell.)

The Better Way
At the end of the day, it’s all about truly ‘enjoying’ your pictures. Sharing them is a big part of that. And receiving a little head nod, Spock eyebrow move, or comment of affirmation is a whole lot better than a look of relief when you’re done with your photo show.

Sure, it’s much easier to swipe through a mind-numbing amount of disorganized pics on your smartphone when you’re trying to show someone a few vacation photos. But that’s always such a mess.

There’s a better way.

And when you’ve mastered my ‘slimming-to-36’ technique, I’ve got your next challenge for you…

Choose the one picture that represents an entire vacation.

Now, that’s deep.

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