I was looking at my school day treasures book the other day and I was so thankful that my mother kept it for me until I was able to take it over. Its a little on the damaged side but it has become so valuable to me to look back and be reminded of the simpler times and how I have changed over the years. My next photo project is to scan all of the pages and mementos and turn it into a photo book so it can last me for several more years and my kid can get a kick out of laughing at pictures of my younger self and read about what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Its so important to collect, secure and organize kids memories for them to enjoy upon adulthood. Its such a thoughtful gift to give them one day to reminisce over. You'll want to get started at the beginning of a school year because its the easiest time to set it up while you are prepping for back to school.
It doesn't matter if they're a little older now as most people still have those lifetouch photo bags with left over school pictures from when they started school, so you can at least fill out most of the pertinent information and post a photo from previous years.
You can certainly purchase pre-made books like this for memory collecting at dozens of retailers, but they are often too small to keep much in the pockets and can get expensive. if you want to keep costs down, you can build your own for much less. All you need is a presentation binder of sheet protector pockets and some printables. I have provided links to access both below.
As far as what to keep in the pockets, report cards, class pictures without the cardboard frame, awards, samples of their work and photos of their art projects are the most popular but keep anything small that will make them go "awwwwe". Have fun creating your school treasures book!
Sorting your family photos can seem like a really daunting task, especially when confronted with boxes upon boxes of photos. I mean, where do you start, right?
Before I start a big project like this I make sure I have all the tools I'm going to need. If you have to continuously stop, go find something and then restart the sorting session, you're less likely to get much of anything done. So what exactly are you going to need?
My sorting toolkit consists of the following:
1. garbage bags
2. rubbermaid totes / bankers boxes
4. photo safe pen
5. sticky notes
6. sorting criteria
7. clipboard, pen
8. ziploc bags
No one has time to complete a large project like this in one sitting, so I have broken it down into more manageable pieces. I would usually set myself a timer for this first sort to ensure that I don't go down the rabbit hole of reminiscing over each photo and get lost in time. For this first sort all you will need from the kit is the garbage bag, and tote. You will only be sorting the photos into keep and toss based on the criteria you have prepared. Your criteria may look something like this, but make yours to fit your needs.
Toss the following photos:
1. Blurry: Unless it has supreme sentimental value, there is no need to keep these
2. Doubles / triplicates
3. Poor quality with a finger in the photo or something similar
4. Landscapes: unless they evoke a specific and sentimental memory you're not likely to look at the photos ever again from the trip you took back in 1982. Images of people will likely have much more meaning to you.
5. If you don't have a clue who the people in the picture are nor does anyone else in the family.
Now get comfortable and complete the keep and toss sort. Don't get stuck in the notion that getting rid of a photo of someone is akin to getting rid of the person. The first time I sorted my own photo collection, I had difficulty tossing the hundreds of extra school pictures I had of my daughter. It seemed wrong to throw away anything related to her, like it was bad karma or something. I finally went and asked for her opinion on the matter. She laughed at me. That's just stupid mom was the answer I received. I realized it was a non rational fear and threw them all out except for one copy of each. Now, I take no issue with tossing images of any type.
The second sort is more involved and will take more time, with a greater risk of getting drawn into the memories. Try to keep on task as much as possible. Once your project is completed you will have more time to appreciate your photos and their memories.
This time you will be sorting your remaining photos into broad categories. You will want to decide before you start this sort, what types of categories you will use. People, years, events, some other theme.
You'll need to get your containers ready (or just make piles). You will use the sticky notes to write down the categories as you come across them. If you come across photos that you need to write something on the back of them, use the photo safe pen. Other pens and some pencils will push through to the other side of the photo causing damage.
As you work through this sort, you may come across categories that have dozens of photos of the same event. Challenge yourself with those large categories and save only the best 5 of each event. Your photos should hold meaning and 25 pictures from your friend's cousin's wedding probably isn't necessary for the memories.
If your time runs out before this sort is complete, use the ziplocs to keep the photos sorted until your next session.
Choosing storage and backups for your precious photos is incredibly overwhelming and there are so many things to consider. I will speak to this more in upcoming posts and want to only discuss one of the many options available that I am familiar with and when you should consider using it. That is Backblaze.
Backblaze is an automated backup service. For a truly minimal fee, Backblaze, once installed, automatically backs up your entire computer and your external hard drive and is incredibly easy to recover.
The backup is stored off site in the cloud, meaning that unlike syncing services similar to DropBox, it will not slow down your computer and use up space on your hard drive. It works in the background to update new materials regularly.
This would be one part of the 3 part 3-2-1 backup suggested for all photos. 3 backups, 2 different formats, at least 1 off-site, in the cloud. Backblaze is a great option for the cloud storage part of your 3 part photo backup solutions with the added bonus of protecting everything else on your computer as well. I suggest using the free trial below first to see if its the right solution for you before purchasing.
I use SmugMug religiously in my photo organizing business. I use it as one of my main photo storage areas for both clients and my own personal photos. I love the flexibility of the settings of each folder and gallery so that people can only see, and download based on my permissions. I also love how easy it is to upload to galleries by simply sending people a customized link. I think it is one of the best options for families to all share access to their family photos. If after you watch the video, you want to try if for free, click on the affiliate link below.
Aside from a car or a whack of cash, a great memory is the best graduation gift I can think of. I don't know about you but that car and cash thing just aren't happening, so the video slideshow might be right up your alley.
Although it may seem like a quick and easy thing to do, and it can be if you aren't putting in any actual effort to make it personal, a thoughtful, memorable video slideshow can take a lot of time to prepare for and create. If you are going this route, I suggest giving yourself at least two months, depending on how much time you have to commit to it.
The first three weeks can be dedicated to locating and gathering the perfect pictures and deciding the theme for the project. Will it only include school photos or their life up to this point? Will you use just photos or will their be memorabilia and videos as well? Flipping through albums, boxes and our often disorganized digital image collections can take time. Especially if you get misty eyed reliving events as you go. Have a criteria for the types of pictures you are looking for to keep you on task. You may want to contact your graduate's friends for additional social media images to add in.
The next three weeks will likely involve digitizing the prints and memorabilia, editing any videos into usable clips setting up a storyboard with the order of the images as you want them to appear. To make it thoughtful and memorable, you want to tell their story not just a bunch of random images. Think about how you want to separate the parts of the story into chapters and add any captions you think may enhance the story. Don't go overboard with the captions, people don't want to have to read every slide.
The last couple of weeks will be uploading into your chosen software, editing the appropriate slide lengths and transitions and choosing and adding the music, fades and timing. Remember that you will need to check into copyrights for images and music if you intend to show it outside of your event or home. You don't want to violate copyright if its going on-line. I use Proshow Pro software but there are many excellent options available out there.
If you find this overwhelming, simply collect your images and videos and find someone local to do the work for you. Just be sure to give them the necessary time to do a great job on it as well. Your slideshow will likely be something they will remember and watch over and over again over the years, so all the work will be worth it.