Archive for September, 2010

September 30, 2010

Take Fewer Photos!

Sure, the beauty of digital photography is that you can delete the bad shots, but the problem is, you have to go through all those photos, to find the good ones. AND, if you were so busy taking pictures during the entire event, were you able to be present and enjoy it? Sometimes a camera can be a great tool to put down!

Now, I’m not saying, that you should STOP taking photos. I’m just saying that fewer photos might be better in some instances, especially trip and event photos. In the end, the photos I really care about are the ones that include my family (looking fairly presentable), signs (***Big Tip Here! Sign photos are so helpful later in pinpointing where you were when a photo is taken), and a few nice scenery photos.

Obviously, if you are looking for that a beautiful shot of your child, that catches gorgeous light in their eyes and an expression that feels so “them”, then  you’ll need to take a lot of shots. If this is your fifth trip to Disney, you don’t need one more photo of Mickey. Right?

When you get home, you’ll be so grateful that you have fewer photos to process and organize.

The quick thought for today is try taking fewer, but more meaningful shots.

September 27, 2010

A is for Athlete, Tri & Adidas

Big Picture Classes offers wonderful online classes related to scrapbooking, photography and other crafty adventures.

My absolute favorite blogger, Cathy Zielske is currently teaching a class called Me, The Abridged Version. The idea, taken from a book called “The Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life“, is to create an A to Z book of simple paragraphs that tell about yourself. So, for those of us who think scrapbooks are all about the kiddos, here is one class that is all about the scrapbooker! There’s a little blinkie in my sidebar that will show you more details about the class, although, I believe it is too late to sign up now. The class is two weeks in, and so far I’ve got entries for the letters A & B. Go me!

I’m enjoying the writing, playing with Photoshop Elements and generally thinking about what I like and who I am. I’m making digital pages, cause I love them! I normally use Creative Memories Storybook Plus Digital Software, but the template for this class is based in Photoshop Elements, so I decided to learn something new. My papers are from Creative Memories Day to Day Kit.

If you want to read the entries for A on my page, you can click on it, and see the text a bit bigger.

Oddly, I wrote the Athlete entry before my “tri” partner and I had actually “tri”ed to combine all three in a single workout. As fate would have it, the following day we did all three. Wow! HMMMM! Hope I can complete the race!

It’s just two weeks away and yesterdays “tri” run was challenging to say the least. We did about half of what we will do on October 10th. I learned a few things… ocean water tastes very salty (ok I already knew that, but I’ve never really swam with my head down in the ocean), biking into a headwind does not rock, and I need to make sure I eat enough so that I don’t feel like passing out or puking (my spell check is telling me I’ve got this spelled wrong, maybe it’s really saying I’m being inappropriate! oh well) when I’m done.

OK, enough of the gory details. I”m still proud of myself, and I’m proud to feel like an athlete once more!

September 23, 2010

How do I get started creating a (meaningful) Photo Album?

First, this may be a surprise, but please, don’t start at a store! Starting at the store is very seductive. There are loads of supplies, and they are beautifully displayed. And it feels like you are doing “something”, but you aren’t!

You probably already have purchased “scrapbooking” supplies at one time or other and they are in a closet (maybe still in the bag!) or you sold them in a yard sale. Buying supplies you don’t use, just adds to the guilt we often associate with not doing something with our photos.

Banish the Guilt! Guilt paralyzes, it does not accomplish. Guilt keeps us stuck when we want to move forward. Yup, the first thing you need to do is put aside any guilt you have that your child is 15 and doesn’t have a baby album. (Insert your own guilt story here!)

Once you have vanquished guilt, congratulate yourself and move on to what really matters to you now. Now is probably the perfect time for you to create that special album about your slightly bigger baby!

But, what makes a meaningful photo album? Pictures and your words, c’est tout! Nothing more. Of course, there are so many beautiful albums, papers and embellishments, they can be very enthralling, or overwhelming. If you come down on the side of overwhelming, skip that stuff. If the decorative, crafty stuff is the part that rocks your world, then by all means, have at it. But not yet!

Hopefully, you’ve read the previous article about gathering your photos all in one place.

So, once your photos are gathered, then it is time to look through them and begin to sort. Determine a sorting method, preferably not chronological, and begin. I started making albums after my daughter was born. My husband and I had been married for 8 years already. I’d always been a chronological keeper of photos, but when I decided to make an album about our life before SB was born, I wanted something more general. So I organized by events, vacations, pets, holidays, parties (we like to throw parties!) and family. The only chronology part is about how we met, and decided to marry (which happened pretty quickly!)

Throw out the bad photographs. Throw out the duplicates if you don’t intend to give those away. Everyone orders too many school pictures of their kids with good intentions of sharing them with friends and family, but we often end up with a stack at the end of the year. It is OK to throw all those extras away! If you have a hard time with tossing photos, keep this mantra in mind, “Throwing away photos of loved ones does not equal not loving them.”

Hopefully, as you have sorted your photos, you have begun to imagine the album you most want to create. What would be most meaningful to you? Once you’ve got that in mind, you can begin to think about supplies… but that is a topic for a whole other day!

September 17, 2010

Where Do I Begin (the eternal organizing dilemma)?

A new twitter follower said, “I really would like to do ‘something’ with my photos, but I don’t know where to start!”

She is overwhelmed and I know she is not alone. Once I get overwhelmed, I go into avoidance behavior. (if I pretend it’s not there, maybe it will go away…)

Of course, I know that the avoidance weighs on me, and whatever I was trying to avoid becomes bigger and more powerful.

I say, take back the Power!

Most of the time, once I tackle the project I’ve been avoiding (the task I’m usually avoiding is cleaning my desk), I realize that I made the project bigger and more insurmountable than it really is.

Your photos are no different.

So, here are a few small suggestions for getting started doing SOMETHING with your printed photos. (we’ll cover digital photos in another post)

Although Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind”, I’m going to suggest that to keep from being overwhelmed, you do step one and two without worrying about the end result. And as you do the first two steps, you may find some inspiration sneaking into place…

One, gather your printed photos in the same temperature-controlled place (see my last article about getting Hurricane Ready… you could insert all other types of disasters here, natural and otherwise.)

Two, buy some type of photo safe container and put the photos in it. They don’t have to be organized, just safe. In my previous post, I recommended a product that I like and sell, however, whatever you choose to purchase, look for these two qualities:

  1. the container should block light (light damages photos so, no clear plastic containers)
  2. made from a material that is non-reactive to photos. (If you want some nerdy details, here is a great link to the National Archives Website)

Once you’ve completed Step 1 & 2, you can begin to think about this question, “What is it that I want to do with my photos?”

If the answer is I’d like them organized in the boxes in some fashion, then that is your next step. Although arranging your photos in chronological order is very tempting, it is the most time-consuming and perhaps the least useful.  Consider arranging by family member, holidays and events, or use Stacy Julian’s Library of Memories approach, it’s up to you! Make it easy, make it fast and don’t sweat over each photo.

If the answer is I’d like to create photo albums, then, ask yourself this question, “Which of these photos means the most to me right now?” If you hear yourself saying “I should”, unless the should is intimately connected to the photos that mean the most, don’t go there! The photos which are most important, that provoke an emotional response are a sure bet for a great album that you can finish. If you have even just one album (scrapbook or slip-in style) of photos you really love, you’ve accomplished something genuinely worthwhile.

If you still feel overwhelmed, get help. Leave me a comment and I’ll see if I can help!

September 13, 2010

It’s Hurricane Season… where are your photos?

It’s officially hurricane season (it has been for a while) and as Scott Simon of NPR tweeted earlier today, a Hurricane named Igor seems a lot scarier than Hurricane named Earl. But, no matter, it’s past time to have a Hurricane Plan. So here are my thoughts.

Flashlights with Fresh Batteries – Check
Enough Fresh Water to Last Several Days (One Gallon Per Person/Per Day) – Oops, I’ve got some but not enough, better put that on the to do list.
Battery Operated Radio (or one that we can wind up to listen to) – Check (thanks to Georgia Public Radio!)
And of course, there is more… but

I think you get the drift (please check here for a comprehensive list of hurricane preparedness tips), because what I really want to talk about is your photos.

First, do you know where your photos are?

Are they scattered all over the house, tucked in drawers, baskets, etc? If they aren’t in a central location – that should be. This is step one.

At Least They Are All In One Place!

For physical photos, I use a Power Sort Box by Creative Memories and Photo Albums. I’m a Creative Memories Consultant, so that is a given. But even if I weren’t, this is a box I’d want.  It features dark storage (benefit = your photos are protected from light, photo’s natural enemy), the material is photo safe (benefit = materials won’t speed up degradation of photos) and it holds 1200 photos (benefit = just enough photos that you can carry it comfortably) with a lid that clasps (benefit = if it drops, the photos mostly stay in place).

If you have to evacuate, you want to access your photos quickly and easily. I probably have too many albums to load all of them in the car, so I’ve been giving some thought to which albums I’d take. I’ve decided I’d take the albums which have “film” photos in them, such as my wedding album, my 12 year old’s baby album, and her first school album. I can’t replace those.  If I can get the dogs and cats to cooperate, I may try to find room for more! Of course, I hope it won’t come to that, but, it’s good to consider these questions now, while my brain isn’t in panic mode.

This Is More Like It!

So, what about all those digital photos?

First, backing up is ESSENTIAL! I use Memory Manager (from Creative Memories… big surprise) and here is the simple reason. It works really well and backs up automatically every time I shut down. In 2005, I lost about three months of photos (on a new computer which completely died). Never Again! As soon as I got my replacement computer I bought an external hard drive and forever after have used the “shadow copy” feature of Memory Manager.

I figure that part of my evacuation plan will be to grab my external hard drive (much easier than trying to grab a tower. Additionally, I am using Mozy to back up to an offsite location. This way I have three copies of all my photos – my originals, my shadow copy and a copy that is not in my house.  Occasionally I back up to CD, but I do this less and less, since I have the other options. There are other great options for offsite photo back up including but not limited to the Creative Memories Photo Center, Shutterfly, and Flickr.

Do you have a hurricane plan for your photos? I’d love to hear your tips… please share your suggestions!

September 7, 2010

Hooray For Evernote

First, a quick thanks to Ali Edwards for my headline!

Today, I added my 100th note to Evernote. Hooray!

And. I. Love. It.      A. Lot.

Not my 100th note, but Evernote!

If you came upon this post because you already love Evernote, you know that 100 notes is laughable, most people have thousands of notes, but I’m just getting started, and celebrating a bit early!

I downloaded it several months ago at the suggestion of Noell & Izzy Hyman from Paperclipping Roundtable, but I never got around to using it. Recently, they mentioned it again and I remembered I had downloaded it to my iPhone. I sprang into action and completed the process of getting downloaded to all possible machines. It works on my iPhone, my laptop and my desktop (and of course, they all sync!). Their logo is an elephant because it remembers Everything in a completely searchable and organized format. I also just realized I haven’t mentioned that it is FREE! Yes, there is a premium version, but I haven’t needed it yet. If I ever do, I’ll happily fork over some $$ to the folks who have created this great product.

Evernote‘s marketing is way more fun and entertaining than I could ever be, so pop over to their site to check it out.

But, what I can share is how I find it so incredibly helpful:

  • Notes for my girls book club… instead of bookmarking the questions I find online for discussion, I get Evernote to “clip” the info and send it to my Evernote account. That way, I don’t have to print notes and I will have them handy on my phone when I’m away from home. It also means I don’t really need a decent internet connection because once my phone syncs to my account the information is residing on my iPhone, not in the cloud! Hooray!
  • Recipes… Evernote rocks as a searchable database for recipes. If I didn’t use it for anything else, this alone would make it worth having. I’m planning a dinner party with a middle eastern theme and as I’m searching and finding recipes, I send them to Evernote via my little elephant icon in my browser. Once in Evernote, the note goes into my Recipes Notebook with the tag “Middle Eastern Dinner”. I think I can remember that! I also add a few other tags, like chicken or lamb, olives, couscous, you get the idea.
  • Notes from/for Shopping… Another incredible use. I use this folder to store my electronic receipts, in stores, I take pictures of products and their prices (so I can figure out the best place to buy the stuff we use a lot). The camera integration works very smoothly and I have the very oldest iPhone.
  • Oh yes, the point of this blog… I use it to keep track of Scrapbooking & Card ideas… I see a design I like & POOF, I push the Evernote Elephant and WHOOSH, the picture goes to my Holding Notebook. Once I get back into Evernote‘, I tag and move it to my Scrapbooking Ideas notebook. Then, when I’m stumped for an idea later, I’ve got a bunch of ideas to inspire my creativity.

And on a final “note”, after listening to the Evernote podcast today, I decided to switch to Google Chrome. The ‘webclipper’ feature was recently updated and has more functionality than in Firefox which I was using.

What do you use to keep your ideas, notes and other “stuff” organized?

September 5, 2010

Rituals and Scrapbooking… Who Knew?

“Gather in peace, gather in thanks, gather in sympathy now and then.”

These words come from the Unitarian Universalist hymnal and were so appropriate as we came together as a community after taking our regular summer hiatus. We celebrated our first meeting of the new church year with our annual “Water Communion”. Many congregants brought water from places they visited this summer and thankfully, for those who forgot, there was some kitchen tap water provided for “representing” the water they might have brought (if they had remembered). Each person poured their water into a communal bowl.

I grew up Catholic and I love ritual. I believe these are connected, but they may just be random facts.

While ‘Water Communion” only happens once a year, there are other rituals we have which happen every time we meet.  We always share our “joys and concerns”,  lighting candles to mark each one. At the end of the sharing, there is a bowl on the altar filled with lit candles carrying our happiness, hopes, dreams and sorrows.

Today, as I sat participating in both of these rituals [by watching] I wondered why don’t I ever participate by sharing? Fear? Maybe, I’m not sure. But I do know that I love rituals.

I like yearly rituals, daily rituals, all kinds of rituals. [My morning coffee. My family’s way of saying grace. Getting a Christmas Tree. Walking my dogs each morning along the same route.]

When we fully participate (even if we ARE just “watching”) in ritual, we connect to the past, live in the present and in some way reach out to the future.

Now here is the leap, a ritual is kind of like scrapbooking, and by that, really I mean, ritual is a kind of  memory keeping. As we repeat the act, we live in the other times we’ve been a part of the ritual, who we were, where we were as humans.

When we tell our stories in photo albums, we get to live the memory again, in the light of where we are today. Sometimes it’s nice to tell the story right away, but sometimes, it is even better to have some distance, to tell the story years later. Our perspective has changed, we may be kinder to ourselves and maybe to others.

What rituals do you love? What life story to you want to relive in a photo album?

I hope you are gathering in peace, thanks and sympathy (only now and then.)

September 3, 2010

School Pages – Digital Of Course!

Every summer I look over the photos I’ve taken of my daughter throughout the school year and create 2-6 pages to celebrate and remember her year. In 2009 she began middle school and so this was a new chapter, deserving of a new album. This year was the time to switch to a digital album, and I loved creating clean, graphic pages which showcased the photos and her stories.

GMS’s colors are Red, White and Black, but you probably already figured that out!

I used Storybook Creator Plus for the 12×12 layout which is easy and fast! I invested in a large format printer last year and made my prints on that. Once the prints are made, easy peasy, they get slipped into sleeves in a (you guessed it) 12×12 Red Album!

I actually enjoyed this process so much, when 7th Grade started two weeks ago, I got a jump on next summer’s project and started my first page. I especially love the photos of the labels from her new clothes. As a family historian, I love when I remember to photograph the details. Of course there are still gray squares waiting for photos, but I know they’ll come along soon!

What details are you noticing as your kids head back to school?