• The Photo Organizers

Enjoy Your Photos Now!

Updated: Aug 14, 2018

Over the 21 years that I have known my husband, he has given me several pieces of very nice jewelry. Some of them were expensive so I diligently hide them in my underwear drawer to keep them safe. Eventually I will hand down to my children, because the pieces are so special and meaningful. But I hardly ever wear them. Some of them my children have never even seen. Unfortunately, I have never gotten in the habit of wearing diamonds to a PTA meeting or when I’m working from my home office. So I just keep them safe, knowing that they will make someone very happy one day.

The question is: Why do I hide such special things away when I could be enjoying them now, sharing their stories with my kids now? Wouldn’t they be more meaningful to my husband, myself and my children if they could see me wearing them now and knew the stories of when I received them?

Does the same thing happen to your photos? We take thousands of photos every year to preserve all these wonderful memories and stories. Hopefully we organize and backup all the photos to keep them safe for our children and grandchildren. But when was the last time you actually went back and looked at the photos you took from the last birthday party, or that fantastic vacation? Did you share the photos with your kids so you could all relive it together? Or, like the jewelry, do you just make sure the photos are safe and you’ll get around to looking at them later, and handing down a photo collection of yours and your children’s lives, many of which they have never even seen?

Often the only reason we even download the photos is to regain storage space on our phone or camera memory card, a message that we inevitably get just minutes before the recital or the birthday party. So then we hurriedly download months of photos while the rest of the family is waiting in the car, heading for the next photo-worthy event. Going back and leisurely looking at the photos ends up on the to-do list right between “organize sock drawer” and “teach the dog to use the toilet.” We think: The photos will be there. I can look at them when I retire. Hopefully I’ll remember who everyone is.

Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy the photos now? My kids love looking at photos of themselves when they were young. They love reliving old vacations and birthdays. And let’s face it, I like seeing photos of myself before the gray hairs appeared. So is there an easy way to view and enjoy your photos now? Yes! There are several! A couple that you can even do while you’re reading this. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Enjoy Your Photos

One caveat…. To really enjoy your photos (and not end up seeing 15 variations of the same shot, or all those pictures your daughter took of her brother’s tongue), the first step needs to be a certain amount of editing. If you are an average digital photographer, you cannot help but click the shutter at least three times every time you take a photo, just to make sure you got the shot, and just in case the first (or second, or third) one was out of focus. You need to edit down to the best shot of each sequence, take out the tongue photos and any other photos that are out of focus or just not worth keeping. Once you’ve gotten down to the selection of the best photos, consider your options to enjoy and share them.

Traditional Picture Frames

Traditional picture frames may seem very old-fashioned in our high-tech world. But I smile every time I walk by the photos sitting on the piano or hanging on the wall. I also like to change the photos in the frames periodically. My family notices when a photo in a frame has been changed, and they always comment on the event in the photo. Find inexpensive frames at stores like Marshalls, TJ Maxx or Home Goods and then it’s easy to print out a few photos from a fun event or from the previous year and swap out the photos in the frames.

Video Slideshow

There are several software and online options for making easy (or more complex) slideshows. In addition, both Mac and PC computers have resident software that allows you to make a simple slideshow in seconds. In Apple Photos, simply create an album and put all the photos you want to view into the album. Hit the play button to view your slideshow full screen.

If you don’t use iPhoto or Photos, but have all your edited photos in a single folder or directory, just highlight/select all the photos you want to view in your slideshow and double-click one of them, or select File->Open to open them all in Preview, the Mac photo viewing software. Once the photos are open in Preview, select View->Slideshow to view a full-screen slideshow of the photos.

On a PC, open the folder of photos you want to view and double click on the first photo in the folder.  It should open up in the resident photo viewing software on your computer (probably “Windows Viewer” or “Windows Live”).  At the bottom of the screen you can use the right or left arrows to move through the photos or you can click on the small slide show icon in the bottom left, or click on the “slide show” button at the top of the screen.  Both will start a full-screen slideshow.  Roll your mouse down at the bottom of the screen to get a play or pause button to start or stop the show.  To exit the slideshow, hit the “esc” key on your keyboard.

Digital Frame

The only downside to a slideshow on your computer is that for more than one person to view it, you need to crowd around your computer screen. A portable laptop can solve this problem, but you might also consider a digital picture frame that displays a continuous slideshow. There are lots of different digital frames but most can hold a memory card with over a thousand photos. There are also several wi-fi frames, where you can easily email photos from your phone to the frame without having to plugin a memory card or camera. Place the frame where everyone can enjoy it as they walk by.

Photo Book

If you have a little more time and want something that’s more tangible and permanent, a photo book is a great option. Photo books are created digitally, usually online, and then printed and sent to you. They are the current (and much improved) version of the old magnetic photo albums with the plastic overlay pages. There are seemingly endless websites to make photo books, many offering a wide variety of layouts and designs.

Whenever you make any kind of photo album (digital photo book, or more traditional photo album), consider burning a DVD of all the photos in the book and placing the DVD in an adhesive pouch in the back of the book. (You can find plastic adhesive DVD envelopes at Staples or Amazon.) So when you or someone else are looking through the album and you find the perfect photo for Throwback Thursday, or need to collect photos for a wedding or anniversary party, you can easily find the photos on the DVD. The DVD also serves as an additional backup of the photos on your hard drive. (But always make sure to backup your photos in at least 2 places.)

Photo Gifts

You’ve probably received (and most likely made) a photo holiday card. And maybe you’ve seen or purchased photo mugs and mousepads. But did you know that you can make personalized photo items such as placemats, aprons, playing cards, blankets, shower curtains, coasters, puzzles, neckties, and much more? You can even customize a Rubik’s Cube with your photos on each side, instead of solid colors! What unique conversation pieces and fun ways to enjoy your photos every day.

Don’t forget why we take photos in the first place – to actually view and enjoy them. So enjoy them now. Make it a January tradition, or a holiday tradition, or at any time, to review the photos from the last year and share them with your family. The photos will mean even more to you and your family when actually enjoying the photos becomes part of the story you are handing down.

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We also invite you to visit our sister blog The Photo Organizers for more tips and in-depth knowledge from some of the top photo organizing industry professionals. To find a photo organizer near you, visit the Association of Personal Photo Organizers.

Cheryl DiFrank is the owner of My Memory File.  Growing up with her professional photographer father, Cheryl has always known the power photos have to tell a story, to teach, to inspire and to connect people.  For many years she owned a professional photo agency, managing the collections of over 400 professional photographers.  When she started her own family it became even more clear how important it was to preserve her family’s story and be able to share it with her own children.  Cheryl started helping individuals organize their own photo collections in order to preserve and share their own stories.  She is passionate about making sure that her clients’ irreplaceable photos are organized in a way that keeps them safe and allows them to be viewed and shared, not just kept in a box or hidden on a hard drive. Whether it’s scanning the boxes of old prints in the attic, or organizing all the digital photos that are spread over computers, cameras, memory cards and phones, Cheryl can help get them all organized and in a format that is easy to access and enjoy.

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