Dealing with Digital Disarray

Anyone who takes digital photos would probably agree that it’s no easy feat to manage the ever-growing number of photos we take in today’s world. It was challenging enough when we had just one computer and one digital camera; nowadays it’s not uncommon for a family to have photos stored on multiple computers, smart phone cameras, tablets, Facebook, Instagram, and more. Just thinking about it might make you feel like throwing in the towel before you even start to formulate a plan to consolidate and organize your photos!

As a Photo Organizer, my goal is to help people gain control over their photos and alleviate the stress and guilt caused by having photos scattered among various devices and memory cards. If you want to learn a step-by-step plan for getting your photo life under control, sign up right here on my website to receive a FREE Insider’s Guide to Photo Organizing by The Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO). Not only will this guide give you a plan for organizing your photos, but you’ll also receive insider tips from other professional Photo Organizers like me.

“What’s the best software or app to organize my photos?”

This is a question I hear frequently from people who want to get their “digital disarray” under control. There are many different options for digital photo management, and it’s important to consider your own management needs and goals, as well as what computer hardware and devices you use, when making this decision. Not everyone will benefit from the same software or system. Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you evaluate what system might work best for you:

How many photos do you have? How many photos do you take and how often?
Do you have a Mac or PC?
Do you use multiple computers or devices?
Do you have a backup system in place?
Do you want or need editing capabilities?
How do you want to be able to find your photos? By person, theme, and/or date?
How are your photos organized in an ideal world?

Keep in mind that you don’t have to use software or a special app to manage your photos. Many people simply build an organized folder structure on their computer, with folders named by year and sub-folders by month, for instance. This can work well enough, especially for those with small photo collections. The downside to this photo management system is that it lacks sophisticated filtering capabilities to find your photos. Filtering means you can cross reference; for instance, you can look for a photo by date, person, and location.

Personally, I have a large digital photo collection (almost 40,000 photos to date, including some older family photos I have scanned) and I was seeking numerous features in a photo management system, such as filtering functions to find my photos easily, user-friendly editing tools, and the ability to sort my photos to plan albums. I use Forever’s Historian software, and it has all of these features and more.

Panstoria Historian

Forever Historian Software

In Historian, my photos are sorted automatically upon import onto a timeline (assuming the date in my camera is set correctly, and if not, I can quickly change dates for a group of photos all at once). I also quickly sort them into categories/tags by people, places and events that I know I will want to search by in the future (facial recognition is also an option for sorting). This way, when I want to find a photo of my two children in Hilton Head, I can do it in a matter of seconds. I have the ability to rate my favorite photos, attach notes/stories to a photo, and plan out albums with my photos. The Historian program requires Windows to operate, so you either need to be using a PC or be willing to run a Windows environment on your Mac in order to use it.

Mac users have long been seeking the perfect photo management system. iPhoto didn’t fit the bill for many, so some people were lured to Aperture by the promise of advanced tools and better ways to organize images. Those who weren’t happy with the Mac-provided programs looked elsewhere; many choosing Lightroom for their photo editing and management program. But Lightroom isn’t for the faint of heart; it’s a robust program that, while not just for professional photographers, is definitely for people with solid skills in photo editing and management.

Now Apple plans to cease development of iPhoto and Aperture and launch “Photos for OS X” sometime in “early 2015.”   This is not all that surprising as iPhoto has sort of stagnated over the years in terms of updates, and both iPhoto and Aperture have had stability and performance issues. Mac users probably won’t see Photos for OS X until sometime in the spring, but there are some reviews out now that allow Mac users to take a first look at Photos (here’s one if you are interested).

In the meantime, along with many other Photo Organizers in the industry, I have been testing an innovative new photo management system called Mylio (which stands for “My Life is Organized”) that allows you to organize, search, edit and protect a lifetime of photos from any device, with or without relying on the cloud for any kind of back up or replication.  In addition, if you are a Lightroom user, you can use it right along with Mylio.

mylio-calendar

Mylio’s Calendar View

Here are just some of the great features of Mylio that I have discovered while using it during the last month:

  • Mylio works on a PC or Mac (for families that have both this would be especially nice!)
  • It has a beautiful, easy-to-use interface. The screens and photos load quickly and easily, and it’s simply a beautiful way to view and scroll through your photos.
  • Mylio automatically syncs copies of your photos to your other computers and devices. It is really fun to see how changes you make to a photo on one device, instantly change on another! And to be able to carry your whole photo collection with you on your iPhone and/or iPad is pretty amazing.
  • The calendar and location views are quick and easy options for finding your photos. Mylio has additional powerful search and filtering capabilities that allow you to search by keywords, ratings, people and more.
  • You can customize your import settings and basically import a big ‘ol mess of photos and Mylio will organize it all by year and date, or however you’d like. You can also rename your photos upon import. No more DSC084 or IMG787. You can also import photos directly from Facebook, Flickr, iPhoto and more. Metadata and tags can transfer with your photos into Mylio.
  • The organization structure of your photos on your PC or Mac that Mylio creates is one that you can find and understand through Windows Explorer (on a PC) or Finder (on a Mac) and easily move to another photo management system or computer should you choose to. (Note that the organization structure you build in iPhoto, Aperature or Photos for OS is only readable from those programs.) This is a really nice feature of Mylio. It basically means that the structure you set up in Mylio (or that Mylio sets up for you!) is portable, and not dependent on the application. You can take your organized photos and go somewhere else, should you choose to at some point in the future.
  • With Mylio, your photos are stored locally on your computers/devices (and therefore the fee is not set by storage/gigabytes). If you want cloud back up too, you can opt for that, either through Mylio or through a cloud storage service like Carbonite or Backblaze (which is an option I recommend anyways, because you can back up your other files as well).
  • Mylio has great tech support, including online videos, help topics, FAQs, a fabulous in-depth book you can get on Amazon, and their tech support staff is very helpful and responsive with email questions.

For more information on Mylio, including ways to sign up for subscription plans (including a free trial subscription), visit mylio.com.

If you need help at any point in your photo organization journey, Infinity Photo Solutions is here to help! Contact us today for a complimentary photo organizing consultation.

Sandra’s 2014 Top 10 Holiday Photo Solutions & Gift Ideas

As the holidays approach faster than ever, I wanted to share some fun & unique gift ideas and simple solutions to help you manage your photos during this busy time of year. I hope something here inspires you!

Sandra’s 2014 Top 10 Holiday Photo Solutions & Gift Ideas

1. Photo-Filled Letters
I introduced these fun photo collages at a recent craft fair and they were a big hit! Great gift for a child, teenager, or college student, or you could choose the family monogram and have it filled with photos of your whole family. Order one for Grandma filled with photos of your kids, or as a wedding gift for a newly married couple, displaying photos from their big day.

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Photo-Filled Letter: $39.99; Frame Add-on: $19.99

To order a Photo-Filled Letter, just choose 8-12 photos for us to include in the letter of your choice. You can also choose your border color. Contact us for instructions on how to send us your images and payment.  We can use digital images or scan your printed photos if necessary.  $39.99 (Frame Add-on: $19.99)

 

 

2. Personalized Photo Pillowcase
This fun and personal gift is sure to be enjoyed by all who receive it. Perfect gift for a grandparent, child, college student – just about anyone! The pillowcase measures 20”x30” and is made from 100% sateen polyester, is soft to the touch, and is machine washable. Gorgeous gift! To order, contact us for instructions on how to send us your photo and payment. $29.99

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Personalized Photo Pillowcase, $29.99

3. Restore an Old Photo
Do you or a loved one have a photo tucked away in a drawer or box that you’d love to have out and enjoy, but it’s too damaged to display? Infinity Photo Solutions offers Photo Restoration Services that can take your cracked, torn, faded, damaged photo and restore it to a beautiful image that you can then display in any format of your choosing. Take a look at these samples:

First, a collage my mother made years ago of me and my sister when we were kids. (She painstakingly cut out each of those photos with a knife!). She was going to throw this out because it was so worn and faded, but instead we had it restored, and look at it now!

Original collage

Original Collage

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restored Photo

Restored Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restored Photo

Restored Photo

Original photo

Original Photo

And here is a photo from a client who had only this one picture of him and his father. How wonderful to have this photo restored so he and his family can enjoy it now!

Contact us to take a look at your photo(s) for a complimentary restoration quote. Most restorations range from $48-$85.

 

canvaspop digital preview

canvaspop digital preview – for this particular “collage” photo I chose a white edge, but you can have your photo “wrap” around the sides as well.

Doesn't my mom look happy with her canvaspop?!

Doesn’t my mom look happy with her canvaspop?!

4. Create a canvas
One of my favorite ways to display a beloved photo (or series of photos) is on a canvas. Canvases are beautiful, artistic, and you don’t have to worry about buying a frame that will go out of style or clash with the rest of your décor.

It’s overwhelming the number of places you can get a canvas printed these days.  I’ve tried a few different vendors and one of my favorite printers is canvaspop, and here’s why:

  • The ordering process is easy and user-friendly.
  • You receive a digital proof of your order, which is critical for ensuring the photo wraps around the edges just as you envision it.
  • There always seems to be a coupon pop up when you go to the site (who doesn’t love a sale?).  Also, contact me by 11/30/14 if you’d like to be entered into a drawing for a $30 off coupon code that expires 12/31/14!
  • They have a 100% “Love it” life guarantee.
  • You can actually call them and talk to a human if you have questions (can you tell I value good customer service?!).
  • You can make a custom size if you need to (and I did for the canvas shown here).
  • And they are sticklers about color, so their canvases look great!

 

wemontage5. Photo Wallpaper
James Oliver of WeMontage developed a unique and stunning way to display your photos – by capturing your memories on removable wallpaper! This product is beautiful and truly easy to hang on your wall (and remove and replace if necessary).   Choose 15-20 of your favorite photos and WeMontage will arrange a collage for you. This makes a wonderful gift for yourself or a loved one. Shipping is always free, and James has kindly offered our photo solutions clients and blog readers a special coupon to use this holiday season! Just enter “infinity” at checkout for your 20% discount. Expires 12/31/14. Enjoy!

My dad loved his new Monopoly Board, personalized with family pictures and a message to him.

My dad loved his new Monopoly Board, personalized with family pictures and a message to him.

6. Personalized Monopoly Board
This past summer my mom mentioned that the Monopoly Board she still had from when I was a kid was old and falling apart (what does this mean about me?!). My kids love to play Monopoly when they go to Grandma & Grandad’s house (despite the fact that Grandad always wins!). I don’t know how the internet could actual mine through my brain that day, but when I got online a few hours later, I stumbled upon this personalized Monopoly Board at CafePress.com. I quickly found a few photos to use, ordered my board – and voila – I had a gift ready for my dad’s birthday in October! Consider this for a holiday gift for your favorite game-lover.

My kids enjoyed playing with the new Monopoly Board during the next visit to Grandma & Grandad's house.  Guess who won?  Some things never change!

My kids enjoyed playing with the new Monopoly Board during their next visit to Grandma & Grandad’s house. Guess who won? Some things never change!

 

New on CafePress! Create Your Own Monopoly Board Game!

legacy box

Photo credit: thephotoorganizers.com

7. Legacy Photo Organization Box
Do you have photos hiding in boxes or drawers, or -gasp- still in the envelopes from the photo lab? Has it been on your perpetual to-do list to get those photos organized and in a safe place? Look no further than this beautiful, archival box designed by photo organizers. It was awarded the Organizers’ Choice Award for Best Solution for Everyday Organizing at the 2014 NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) Conference. It’s a wonderful gift for moms, grandparents, or anyone who has printed photos that need to be consolidated, organized and kept in a safe environment. The Legacy Box is acid & lignin-free, holds approximately 2400, 4×6 or 5×7 photos, and includes a large envelope stored on the underside of the lid for larger photos. Contact us to order one for yourself or a loved one for a gift this holiday season. Pair it with a Gift Certificate for photo organizing help and your loved one will be so grateful! $68.99

pkstocking stuffer8. PictureKeeper Stocking Stuffer
I can’t really think of a better stocking stuffer than this – who doesn’t need a backup of their photos? This little device just pops into your computer (PC or Mac), finds your pictures and puts them all on the USB drive. It’s great for consolidating pictures from various computers and having them all in one place. Infinity Photo Solutions offers fabulous prices on PictureKeeper (PK) devices – often better than what you’ll find on Amazon or the PK website!  (Though certainly check out the PK website for holiday deals!)

 PK 4 Stocking Stuffer (SPECIAL PRICE!): $21.99
PK 4: $24.99
PK 8: $47.99
PK 16: $69.99
PK PRO: $159.99

Contact us to purchase the PK Stocking Stuffer or other PK device, or if you have questions about which PK device is best for you.

9. Holiday cards made easy
If you find it stressful creating holiday cards and/or navigating the sea of photo card options on the web, we can help!  Infinity Photo Solutions can design your photo card and print them for you! Contact us for pricing options. If you want to do it yourself but are just looking for a quality, user-friendly vendor, my favorite online options are Minted.com and Tiny Prints.com.  Both offer beautiful designs and easy-to-use systems. Minted even offers “recipient addressing,” which as of the time I am posting this blog entry, is “FREE, for a limited time!” Another vendor that makes nice quality cards, and may offer more cost effective options, is Shutterfly.com. One money-saving tip is to design your card early and save it in your cart until some good deals come around, like on Cyber-Monday.

Tiny Prints Holiday Card Collection

10. Gift Certificates for Photo Organizing Help or Photo Scanning
Give the gift of photo organization this holiday season! A Gift Certificate for photo organizing help or scanning services is a wonderful gift for a friend or family member who needs or wants help getting organized. Contact us to purchase a Gift Certificate today.

IPS Gift Certificate - Page 001Speaking of Gift Certificates, congratulations to Marice W. who is the lucky winner of 100 FREE PHOTO SCANS from the drawing at my booth at the Holiday Bazaar at the Vienna Community Center recently. I will have another booth on Sat, Dec. 6, 2014 from 10am-3pm at “Shop the Shepherd Christmas Showcase” at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 9350 Braddock Road, Burke, VA 22015. If you are local, stop by and see me, many of my products, and enter to win another drawing for 100 FREE PHOTO SCANS!

Check out the Gift Ideas and Products sections of my website for additional ideas and product reviews.

Happy Holidays!

Cheers,
Sandra

*Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my clients.

Grateful for a Great First Year!

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Recently I had the unique opportunity to be interviewed for Tory Johnson’s Women for Hire All-New 2014 WORK FROM HOME webinar that will launch in September. You may recognize Tory Johnson from her weekly “Steals & Deals” segments on ABC’s Good Morning America, but she is also an expert in small business success and strongly encourages women to take control of their own careers. In 2012, Tory hosted her first WORK FROM HOME webinar, and thousands of women subscribed to the video to view valuable tips and tactics from a wide array of people who owned and operated businesses from their homes. With this second video, Tory is examining the latest industry trends and growth opportunities, and I was both honored and humbled to be included.

The interview experience was exciting (and a bit nerve-racking, of course!), and afterwards I even landed on Twitter! What I enjoyed most about preparing for the interview, was that I was able to take time to reflect on the first year of owning my own company, and I am just filled with so much gratitude for all the people who have helped me get off to such a great start. I am grateful to James Cudney, owner of PostNet, a local print shop in my community. I went to PostNet to print my business cards and, after connecting with James, he referred me to one of my first clients with whom I’ve developed a long-term working relationship. (You can bet I am taking care of all my printing and shipping needs at PostNet now!) There have also been many other people in my local community, some new contacts and others I’ve known for years, who have helped me make new connections – I can’t possibly name them all! I’m also so grateful to fellow personal photo organizers in the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO) who have been so willing to help and share information and resources. I attended the APPO annual conference in February and made invaluable connections and gained a wealth of knowledge about photo solutions and organization. And let’s not forget to give a shout out to my financially-savvy husband, Jason, who helped me develop spreadsheets, forms, and has been of vital assistance with my accounting!

Most of all, I am grateful to my clients who have entrusted me to help them organize, preserve and share their family photos. I consider it a joy and a privilege to help people get their photos organized like they’ve always wanted them to be. I look forward to continuing to do this rewarding work for many years to come; please let me know if I can be of assistance to you!

Keeping up with my photos

We all know that with the sheer number of photos we take and the fast pace of life, it can be difficult to stay on top of our photos. In between working with my clients to help them organize their photo collections, I work hard to keep up with my own photos.   I try to stay current on special events or vacations my family takes by doing a digital album or digital album pages soon after the event. It’s not that hard because the memories are fresh and I am still feeling excited right afterwards. The other motivator for me is that my family is usually begging to see the photos and I don’t want to show them off until they are on an album page accompanied by the stories! The biggest hurdle is making the time commitment to do it, but like most things, once I dive in, it can go pretty quickly. Right now I am organizing and editing photos from a really fun trip we took over spring break. My favorite part of the process is putting the photos on album pages and telling the stories, so that is what keeps me motivated to finish selecting my favorites, doing some light editing, and putting the photos in the order I want.

What vacation, special family occasion or other photos might you like to celebrate and share with others in an album? Grab that box of photos or find those digital images that you’ve wanted to get into an album and get started!

In my March 23rd blog post I offered a Gift Voucher to anyone who set up a Panstoria Print Shop account through my website by the end of April, so congratulations to Jenny G. who won the drawing! Hopefully Jenny will enjoy using her $10 Gift Voucher towards her next digital StoryBook order (or other fun photo project)!  If you haven’t already, set up your Panstoria Print Shop account so you’ll be able to order your Storybook or Artisan projects when you finish!

Capture

 

Panstoria Historian 4.0 – a clear winner for digital photo organization (and announcing a great update!)

Finding a photo organization system for your digital photos can be a daunting task.  I have been using Historian Software for about eight years (this is the same software offered as Creative Memories’ Memory Manager) and have been happy with it for many reasons.  Here are just a few:

(1)  Ease of storing and finding my photos.  I love that I can easily sort and find my photos by date, category, and/or person. When I import my photos into Historian, they are automatically sorted by the date set by my camera, so I could stop right there and be pretty darn organized.  But I also choose to sort important photos into categories such as “vacations,” “school,” etc, and/or by people who are widely represented in my photos (my kids, husband, etc.).   Then when I want to find certain photos, for example, photos of my son and husband from a vacation in 2012, I can control what I see on the screen by filtering by those same categories.

(2) Effortless back-up.  I don’t want to have to think about backing-up all the time, but I do want it to happen!  You can set up an automatic “shadow copy” so that every time you exit the software, any additions or changes you’ve made to your photos are backed up to an external hard drive.

 (3) Powerful yet easy-to-use photo editing tools.  Historian has some simple and great editing tools such as color and red-eye correction, cloning (have you ever wanted to move a head from one photo to another?!), and you can save as many revisions of photos as you want.  And I am excited to share that the latest free update includes the Perfectly Clear one-click image enhancement technology from Athentech Imaging, Inc.  When you open a photo to edit it and click on “Auto Fix,” instead of just having “Standard Auto Color” and “Standard Auto Contrast” as options, you’ll now have “Perfectly Clear” as an option as well.  This was an option in Creative Memories Memory Manager software (almost exactly the same as Historian) and I am so excited that Historian now offers it as well.  Almost 90% of the time that I auto-fix my photos, I use the Perfectly Clear option over Auto Color or Contrast.  Here is an example:

originalPerfectly Clear

Standard Auto ColorStandard Auto Contrast

Which photo do you think looks best?  My choice is the one on the top right, which was corrected with the Perfectly Clear One-Click editing tool.  It is obviously brighter than the original photo on the left, and it has less shadowing on the face and truer colors than the photos in the second row (the bottom left photo was edited with “Standard Auto Color,” the bottom right photo with “Standard Auto Contrast”).   Perfectly Clear rocks!

The latest Historian update also includes Custom watermarking and PDF file support.  The update is free to current Historian users (click the link in the lower left corner of the welcome page to download the update), or included in the purchase of the software for new users (PC Compatible). 

There are many more reasons to love Historian as a photo management and editing tool.  Check it out and let me know if you have questions. 

*Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my clients. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

“Where should I print my digital photo books?”

Many clients have been asking for my recommendation on where to print digital photo books now that the Creative Memories (CM) Digital Center has closed up shop.  After spending much time researching and physically comparing many different books to find the best solution for printing digital photo books, my professional recommendation is the Panstoria Print Shop.  And here’s why.

Those of us who use(d) CM’s StoryBook Creator (SBC) software and printed our books with CM are use to excellent quality, and Panstoria has stepped up to meet our high expectations.  In addition, they have offered us excellent support and service.  Panstoria provided technical support for CM software users for several months at no cost, and they offer Artisan digital scrapbooking software (which is almost identical to SBC but less expensive and licensed to use on two computers) for users who want continued support.  With a simple upload from either SBC or Artisan, you can order quality digital books and other products directly from the Panstoria Print Shop.   No worries about saving your pages as jpegs, uploading them into another system, and making sure your margins won’t be trimmed off, which can be a cumbersome process if you were to order from another print shop.

I had the pleasure of seeing and touching Panstoria’s products when I attended the Association of Personal Photo Organizers conference in Dallas in February.  I was extremely impressed!  (I also loved many other products offered by the Panstoria Print Shop, such as their ornaments, calendars and playing cards!)  I have been comparing photo books from a wide variety of vendors and reading countless photo book reviews, considering factors such as covers, page thickness, and one very important factor to me – binding.  I really try to avoid glued or stapled bindings because they are not as durable and do not hold up over time.  I would highly recommend a stitched binding.  Panstoria’s standard hardcover books are stitched, and as you will see when you order one, the quality is essentially like the books many of us were use to getting from CM.

I recently became an affiliate with the Panstoria Print Shop, and also at Panstoria.com, which means if you click through a link in this blog or on my website and then purchase a product, I will make a small commission from Panstoria (though you pay no more than you would otherwise).  These commissions enable me to continue to research products and services and share information with you.  Note that I only have affiliate status with companies and products that I use personally and highly recommend!

If you haven’t printed from Panstoria’s Print Shop yet, click here to set up an account.   (If you already have a Panstoria Print Shop account, please just click through the same link and login to your account to connect yourself to me.)

Set up your account (or connect your existing account to me) by April 30, 2014 and you will be entered into a drawing for a $10 Gift Voucher to the Panstoria Print Shop!  This is just my way of saying thank you for connecting your Panstoria Print Shop account to me!

Some other good news to note:

Creative Memories digital content is now available for purchase on the Panstoria.com website through December 2014!   (It might be helpful to understand that Panstoria.com and Panstoria Print Shop are two different sites.)  There is also a lot of beautiful content by other designers (Cottage Arts, pixels2Pages, Kaisercraft, Little Feet Digital Designs, and Simply Kelly Designs) and all digital content on Panstoria.com is on sale for 30% off the original price until the end of March!  No coupon necessary; prices are already reduced.

And here’s a great tip…here’s a link to the all the PDFs of content offered on the site.  Note:  it may take a few minutes for this site to load because of the great deal of content here.

All this blogging about digital books makes me feel like getting back to mine.  I’ve been working on catching up on my annual family books.  What photo books would you like to get done?

Welcome to My Photo Solutions Blog!

I built and launched my website in the fall of 2013 and am excited to now add a blog as well. My goal is to share great resources and tips with you to help you with your photo-related challenges. I am learning so much as I research this ever-changing industry, attend conferences, network with fellow photo organizers and work with new clients. I am excited about sharing information that will hopefully provide you both the knowledge and motivation to make progress with your own photos. Wish me luck on my new blogging journey!