I’ve talked about how important it is to maintain your most important pictures in cloud-based photo albums that you can access from anywhere, including your smartphone. These are the photos that reflect back on your life’s big moments… not necessarily the best few pics from your recent family vacation.
(Your smartphone’s local photo app and your index finger can handle that.)
If you sit down for a few minutes and think about which groups of pictures you’ll always want available at a moment’s notice, you’ll probably come up a short list of categories.
I decided to create this group of cloud photo albums that I can also share with my wife:
- Our son’s first day of school each year and his annual school portraits
- Our boy’s birthdays
- A sampling from our best vacation photos
- My mom’s photo archive
- My dad’s photo archive
- My photo archive of me growing up
- Our wedding
- Other weddings
- Group shots at big family events
These nine photo albums will hopefully cover most moments when I’m talking with family or friends, and I want to magically access a photo from my life to support the conversation using my iPhone.
But there’s one important technical detail you’ve also got to have in place to ensure your cloud photo albums grow properly over time. And I must admit, I forgot about this piece until I realized it wasn’t there…
Retaining the Constant of Time
Your photos in each cloud folder still need to be sortable by date. That will allow you to keep the chronology of a photo group in order when you add other pictures to the album that are out of sequence.
This may seem like a minor detail, but believe me, it isn’t. The natural order of any group of archival pics is the constant of time. Without that, you’ll eventually end up with what appears to be a random group of photos.
Sure if you start this project when you’re five years old and keep going in perfect order until you’re ninety nine, you’ll be fine. But I’m still sorting through my family photos from many years back.
(I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how much time it takes to keep up with all of your life’s incoming pics.)
Some photos inevitably get integrated into long-term storage faster than others. And the last thing you want to worry about is having to process them in the order in which you took them.
iCloud Photo Streams aren’t the Answer
I thought I was all set using Apple’s tools when I began creating shared iCloud photo albums through Photos to handle this archival need. But then I realized these sharable photo albums were essentially just sharable photo streams. The photos simply positioned themselves in the order in which I uploaded them.
I quickly decided that this wasn’t going to work as I build out these albums over time.
(For the record, Apple does provide a solution if you decide to sync your entire Photos library to iCloud. But that would immediately eat up my 5GB of free iCloud storage.)
So, I set out to explore other cloud photo-album solutions with the ability sort the photos by date…
Photo Archiving for Free
There are lots of choices out there, and some have certain limits or costs. So, I decided to first see if I could get the job done without adding a new monthly fee to my digital life.
And in fact, I could!
Three top choices quickly immediately emerged…
- Free and unlimited storage as long as you’re willing to let Google compress your photos to a max size of 16MB. (Unless you’re processing huge RAW photos, that shouldn’t be a problem…)
- Free, but only up to 1,000 photos.
- This limit is a little tight for any long-term plan, although if you’re really talking about the most impactful pictures to represent an entire life, who’s really going to want to look at more than 1,000 pics?
- Free and unlimited storage. Period.
- The big catch is you’ve got to be an Amazon Prime member.
- And I suppose that means you’re intending to be an Amazon Prime member… for the rest of your life. (Well, you could migrate your photos somewhere else when a better option comes along.)
- Amazon offers a solid app for smartphone use.
Primed to Use Prime
I gave Amazon Photos a try a few weeks back, mostly because I already live in the Prime ecosystem. Also, the ‘limitless,’ and ‘no-compression’ structure was appealing.
And though, I am, in fact, paying for Amazon Photos, it’s money I’m already spending on Amazon Prime. And that’s, of course, just another way to make Amazon Prime more than just ‘free shipping.’
I found it really easy and quick to create my cloud albums and upload my photos to them, and the Amazon Photos app works great on my iPhone.
So far… I’m really happy with Amazon Photos.
I’m sure the other options would get the job done as well. The critical element is simply putting a cloud-based solution in place where you can best archive and easily sort through your photos that tell your ongoing life’s story.
Leave the Stream Behind
Ensuring your pictures show up in the right order is essential to the plan. And using the linear nature of time as your organizing principal needs to remain in place.
Cloud-based photo streams simply don’t provide that basic level of functionality.