Our kids are probably the best-documented generation in the history of the world. Not because they’re spoiled or because we’re helicopter parents, but just…because we can.
One short generation ago, when we were kids, taking pictures involved a little forethought and patience. Pictures were for “occasions.” Our parents had to buy film and flashbulbs (remember those?) and carry around a camera that was a little on the bulky side. And when the last photo on the roll was snapped, that was it. Three days after you took them in, your pictures came back from the Fotomat. Your editing choices? Like it or lump it.
Left: Photo by Brandie Langer, Journey of 1000 Stitches. Right: Scrapbook page by Amy Mallory, Snap & Scrap.
Now, when taking a picture is as easy as whipping out a tiny digital camera or your phone, capturing family memories isn’t just for birthday parties and vacations. It’s all about documenting the wonderful, fleeting moments of everyday life, the ones that are so easily buried under, well, the rest of everyday life.
We talked today with Michele of Scraps of My Geek Life, along with Katie Pertiet of Designer Digitals, Stephanie of Bizzie Living, and Amy of Snap & Scrap. They shared their thoughts on capturing and preserving family memories in the digital age.
A Year In the Life
I’d heard of Project 365, but really didn’t know what it was about, or what was required to participate. It’s simply a project where you take a photograph every day for a year. It started as a way for photographers to hone their skills, but as Michele observed, it’s become much more. She says, “I see it as a way to capture my family’s daily lives…the mundane. The things you never think you are going to care about, but 10 years later are awesome. Like all the shoes in my back hall that drive me crazy….” Michele offers a link to this tutorial to help us get started. Although many people start their project on the first day of the year, starting on any day is just fine; Stephanie suggests that starting on a birthday can be fun.
Several of us expressed some regret at not having taken more pictures of our older kids while they were growing up. Project 365 provides motivation to snap photos on days that don’t necessarily cry out to be documented, and that can pay dividends later, as Amy notes: “My kids seem to be drawn to the everyday photos when looking through their albums.” Looking for inspiration? Michele recommends Googling “Project 365 shots” and checking out Photojojo, where she first discovered the project. View a sample of what Michele does with her photos here.
Okay, I’ve Taken My Pictures – Now What?
Taking pictures with film and having someone else develop them took a lot of the pressure off. On the one hand, if they came out badly, you couldn’t do anything about it. On the other hand, if they came out badly, you didn’t have to do anything about it. If you were feeling fancy, you put your pics in a self-stick album; if not, into a shoebox.
Now of course, there are all kinds of options for photo editing and getting creative with how you display your photographs. Several people confessed to being stymied by Photoshop. Michele concedes that Photoshop can be challenging to master and suggests, “Photoshop is much more complicated, but Photoshop Elements takes the features most of us would use often for our personal photos and makes it easy to do them. There is a 30 day free trial. It’s much easier.” PicMonkey is a free photo-editing site that Deborah called “super easy,” and which offers upgrades for a fee. Lightroom is a good option if you have large numbers of photos (Michele has over 75,000!).
Speaking of which…one of the joys of digital photography is that you can take all the photos you want. But then where do you store them?
Left: Photo by Stephanie Elie, Bizzie Living. Right: Photo by Katie Pertiet, Designer Digitals.
Katie says, “I have crashed iPhoto…and now that file is 400gig and I can’t get it backed up! Not good. I have gone to storing photos in a folder system on an external hard disk.” Others use external hard drives as well, and Michele also keeps her photos on Flickr. Her settings are such that only she and her family can see them, a privacy feature that’s likely important to you if you’re posting pictures of your kids.
If you want to share your photos, of course, the photo editing tools above can help you come up with hundreds of creative ways to do so. It may take a little patience to sit through the tutorials and master techniques, but it’s a lot better than handing someone a dusty shoebox full of snapshots with curling edges, isn’t it?