One option for preserving digital photos

Recently I did some unscientific research asking friends in a Facebook group what their biggest challenge is with their photos.  Many of the responses were around organization, storage and preseving their digital photos.  Here are a few of the responses:

  • Being able to upload them to the cloud in organized files
  • Something to indicate if photos have previously been archived
  • Organizing them into a simple system we can actually look at
  • Storing them in a way that they are easily accessible when needed
  • Being able to put all my photos neatly in a book


There is a solution to all of these problems and that is

Converting old media into heritage album in Forever


I was first introduced to FOREVER in 2014 at the annual conference of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (now known as The Photo Managers).  I was attracted to them because of their mission to help individuals preserve their family history by preserving their photos and documents.

Here are some of the features and benefits of having a FOREVER account:

  • You pay once and own your cloud storage. There is no subscription.  If you need more storage, you can purchase it.
  • The FOREVER guarantee that you will have access to your photos and documents for your lifetime plus 100 years. And they put this guarantee in writing.  As technology changes so will the way you access your photos and they will make those changes and not charge you anything extra.  They will migrate your stored content to the latest file formats over time so there are no worries when your DVDs and flash drives become obsolete.
  • Your files are triple backed up and secure.
  • Your files are completely private unless you choose to share them with family and friends. FOREVER will never data mine, advertise or sell your information.
  • You can access your photos and documents from anywhere on any device.
  • You can setup your account to automatically upload all your photos from your phone – iPhone or Android – so that all your photos are backed up and secure.
  • When you upload your photos to your account, from your computer, FOREVER automatically checks for duplicates and will alert you if that photo is already in your vault.
  • You can add descriptions to your photos and documents and they will stay with your file even when you download it.
  • You can organize your photos and documents into digital albums.

FOREVER also has services to convert all of your videos, slides and photos to digital format.  When they do, they will automatically upload your digital images to your account.

FOREVER also has an array of services for physically sharing your photos including photo books, photo gifts such as mugs, ornaments, calendars, table top panels, and wall décor.  And, they make it easy to create these items with drag and drop templates in many themes.Photo gift items that can be created in Forever

So, as you can see, FOREVER provides a solution for all of the issues that the respondents to my unscientific research identified.

If you would like to learn more about preserving your digital photos with FOREVER, click on this link.  When you do, you can sign up for a FREE 2 GB account and receive a $15 coupon good toward the purchase of more storage or any print item of your choice.


Note: If you purchase anything from FOREVER using my link, I may get a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, I only support and recommend products I love and/or have tried myself.


Are your photos safe in the event of a natural disaster?

burning houseThe news lately has been full of stories of natural disasters affecting millions of people: fires in California, hurricanes in the northeast or along the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, and an earthquake in North Carolina.  What all of these have in common is that they could significantly damage our homes.  In addition, when the disaster is approaching, we don’t have a lot of time to prepare and to save our belongings, especially our photos.  It is important that our photos are protected and safe in the event of a natural disaster.

When we are confronted with a natural disaster in our homes we try to protect and save what is most precious and important to us – the 3 P’s: people, pets, and photos.  People and pets are portable and are usually easy to evacuate.  But our photos may not be as portable.  If your photos are stored in boxes and bins in closets, basements, or attics or are displayed in photo albums on book shelves then it would be difficult to quickly grab them to get them out of your house and pile them into your vehicle.  However, if your photos have been digitized and stored on an external hard drive or safely in secure cloud storage then they are portable and accessible from anywhere.

Now is the time to think about securing your photos before you are confronted with a disaster.  Here are a few steps to follow to ensure that your photos are portable and safe.

  1. Locate and inventory all your photos

    When you start looking, you may be a bit surprised as to where you have stored your photos and how many you have.  Don’t just look for printed photos, also include slides and videos.  And don’t forget about memorabilia.  All of these items can be digitized.

  2. Sort and organize your photos

    sorting photosThere is no right or wrong way to organize your photos but it is an important thing to do in order to make them easier to access.  If they are already in some sort of chronological order (by decade, year, and month) then try as best you can to maintain that.  Otherwise, you may also want to consider organizing them thematically such as by event, location, holiday, family, kids’ sports, etc.

  3. Digitize your photos

    Digitizing your photo collection ensures that it is preserved, portable and easily accessible.  When digitizing, be sure to maintain the organizing structure that you created when sorting your photos.  Don’t just digitized a pile of photos because then you are left with a digital mess.  If there is writing on the back of the photo that helps to identify the location or people, then it is a good practice to also digitize the back of the photo.
    scanning photos

  4. Backup your photos

    Having your digitized photos in only one location, such as your computer, does not ensure their safety.  When you back them up to multiple locations such as an external hard drive and secure cloud storage, this ensures redundancy and protects them in case one type of media fails.

If you find that doing all of this work to preserve your photos is a bit overwhelming, you might want to consider hiring a professional, such as myself, to help you – a Certified Photo Manager.

Your photos are a precious procession, they reflect the story of your life, so it is important that they are protected and safe in the event of a natural disaster.

Spring Cleaning For Your Photos

Spring is just around the corner and it’s the time of year when we start to come out of our Winter hibernation and start our Spring cleaning. We usually think about cleaning out closets or re-organizing our kitchen but what about our photos?  Do you just keep them stored in bins and boxes in a closet or under a bed?  Are they hidden away on a bookshelf in old albums that are deteriorating?  Organizing and preserving your photos is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your family legacy is protected for generations.

One of the comments I always hear from attendees at my presentations on preserving your photo legacy, is “I’ve been wanting to do something with my photos but I don’t know how to get started and what I to do” or “I never seem to have the time”.  Now with the health crisis keeping us home it is a good time to get your photos organized.  Let’s start spring cleaning your photos.

Set Your Goals you get started, stop and think about your final outcome – what is your goal?  What is your vision for your photos?  Do you want to be able to share them with family and friends?  Do you want to have them available online?  Do you want to create photo books?  Make sure you are clear on your final outcome before you get started.


Hunt and Gather

Locate and gather all of your photos into one location.  This includes boxes and bins of photos, photo albums and scrapbooks, baggies of photos, envelopes of photos, framed photos in closets or boxes, slides, and any other photos that are not on display.  If you don’t have the space to gather everything in one location then take an inventory of what you have and where it is located.  As you start sorting and organizing each item on your list, cross off the ones you have completed – you will feel a sense of accomplishment as you do.

Sort and Organize

Start by creating a timeline of important dates for each family member and special events.  This will assist with the sorting and organizing process if the photo isn’t dated.

The next step is to determine what categories you want to use for sorting your photos.  This is very important because once you start sorting it will be difficult to go back and change your categories.

There are many ways you can sort your photos.  There is no right or wrong way, it is whatever is best for you and how you want to be able to access your photos.

The most common way to sort photos is by date.  This is because cross-referencing photos by date is easier when you have similar or duplicate photos to compare.  We tend to think chronologically, and you can refer to your timeline to assist with the sorting.

Sub-categories within the dates can then be subjects, people, events, locations, etc.  When sorting this way, it will be easier to pull out the photos by the subject for creating a special photo book such as one for family vacations over the years or holidays through the years.

Once you have determined your categories, write them down on a separate piece of paper for future reference and create an index card for each category and attach them to a bin or place them on a large table for sorting. you are ready to start sorting.  It is best to spread out on a large table in a space that you can leave everything until you have completed the sorting process or at least working through each box.  Pick a box, bin, album, or any group of photos and start sorting them into the categories in front of the index card if you are sorting on a table.

As you are sorting, this is the time to dispose of duplicates, blurry photos, extra photos of scenery, and photos you no longer want to keep.  Toss these into a trash bag.  If you are having difficulty disposing of photos right away, then put them into a separate bin and then deal with them later.

If you are removing photos from an album and there is a description of the photo in the album, either transfer the description to the back of the photo with a photo-safe labeling pencil or jot it down on a post-it-note and attach it to the back of the photo or on an index card that will stay with the photo.

When you come across photos that remind you of a special moment or a special story, write it down on an index card and store it with the photo.

If you know that you are going to be creating a special photo book when you are finished with your sorting and you come across photos that you know you want to use in that book, label them with a smaller post-it-note.

Box and Backup

During the sorting process you might want to use inexpensive shoe-box size boxes for storing the sorted photos, but you don’t want to use these for long-term storage.  For that, you want to make sure to use archival-safe photo boxes.  I recommend the Legacy Box from Native Archival or boxes from Archival Methods.  Each one of these offers permanent dividers.  You will want to transfer all of your temporary labels to these permanent dividers by either using a label maker or a permanent marker.  Then you can transfer your photos in their categories from the temporary boxes into these permanent storage boxes.  Be sure to store them in a dry location in your house.  Do not store them in a basement or attic.

It is very important that your photos are backed up in two other places just in case of a natural disaster or other emergency.  In order to do this, you will want to make a digital copy of your printed photos by scanning them.  You can choose to do this yourself or outsource the scanning to someone else.  If you choose to outsource the scanning, I recommend that you thoroughly research the vendor you choose.

Once your photos are digitized, then you can easily store the digital copies in two locations.  I recommend copying them to multiple external hard drives where one is stored offsite at a family member’s home and the other in a fire-safe location in your home and easily accessible in an emergency.

You can also choose to store your photos in the Cloud where they can be accessed via the internet from any location and by any person you chose to share them with.  When you are considering Cloud storage be sure to check the fine print and choose a reputable company.  You want to make sure that your photos are private, secure and always accessible.  My vendor of choice is Forever.  They offer permanent, private, secure online storage.

Enjoy and Share

Now you are ready to share your photos and enjoy them – don’t keep them locked up and out of sight.  The best way to share and enjoy your photos is to create a photo book.  There are many types of photo books you can create and here are a few ideas:

  • A gift for a child to celebrate a special milestone such as a first birthday, graduation, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation, or wedding
  • To celebrate a significant wedding anniversary
  • To celebrate a special birthday
  • A family history book
  • A family reunion
  • A memory book for an aging parent

You can also create photo gifts such as calendars, holiday ornaments, collages, mugs, smartphone cases, and lots of other items.

Final Thoughts

It has taken you a lifetime to accumulate your photo collection so it will take some time to organize and preserve – remember, you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time, so take your time and enjoy the process.

If you need help along the way with spring cleaning your photos, I am here to assist you with organizing, digitizing, and creating custom photo books.