Managing Memories

With memories passing by every minute, it is a safe bet to say that most moms wish they could better manage their family photos. Since the last thing you need is more stress, we’ve spent the past six months doing in-depth research to discover the best ways to manage memories. In this era of technology that has given us digital cameras (and the seemingly infinite amount of pictures that go with them, thankfully there are also several tools that can make memory keeping simple.

We’ve got loads of information to share, but first we want to remind you that the trick to stress-free memories is to stop putting too much pressure on yourself. The universal complaint we have heard most from moms was that they just could not keep up. Which is not too surprising given that you often feel like you’re behind before you even start!

The key is not to take an all-or-nothing approach, but instead relish in the progress you make. Your family will be forever grateful for every little bit you do.

If you need more encouragement to get started check out The Big Picture by Stacy Julian, founder of Simple Scrapbooks magazine. Julian’s guilt-free approach to memory keeping is empowering and inspiring — after perusing the beautiful pages of her book, you’ll be dying to start capturing memories of your own.

You’ve got the pictures, now what?

The first step to making memories out of all those megabytes is to organize and delete (yes DELETE! the photos that are less then stellar. Decades ago, a photo was something scarce and precious to be cherished, but these days not all photos are created equal, and you should not be afraid to get rid of photos.

“The average American has 5,000 plus pictures on their hard drive,” said Julian. “You have to be the editor of your own life’s story.”

American Crafts Sample

To make the task of sorting and deleting easier, some kind of photo organization software is essential. We like Google’s Picasa (for PC and Macs or Apple’s iPhoto (for Macs only. Both are free tools that are designed to make photo management easier, and they also provide basic photo editing functions such as cropping, red-eye removal, color adjustments, and so forth.

Regularly download photos from your camera and save them in folders labeled by month — so all photos taken in November, regardless of the event, will be saved all together in the “November 2008” folder. Filing by month rather than event will make it much easier to find photos later on.

Julian recommends that you sit down once a quarter and review the last three month’s pictures. Delete all the blurry, boring or otherwise bad photos. Then make a “Highlights” folder within your month’s folder and move in only the very best photos. For an excellent and complete explanation of how to organize and simplify your photo stash, check out Julian’s newest book Photo Freedom.

Now that you have your favorite pictures, it is time to decide what you want to do with them. Of course you can print and frame them, but you’ve only got so much wall space. How about scrapbooking? For most people scrapbooking is relegated as kitschy and only for those who are crafty. We say, “Not so!” You can scrapbook in your own style, and now with the wide variety of digital scrapbooking options, you can make a beautiful photo album without even lifting a glue stick.

American Crafts Sample

Julian recommends new scrapbookers start with a “Photos I Love Album.” This simple technique involves taking a scrapbooking page, putting a favorite photo on one side, and then writing down why you love it. From there do whatever else feels right — add a ribbon or other embellishment. Perhaps you have a piece of memorabilia related to the photo that can be incorporated into your design. Remember, all it takes to record a memory is a picture and a few written words to tell the story.

Read on to learn more about Paper and Digital Scrapbooking…