What’s a Shutterbug Mom to Do?

So… sharing a couple of pics of That Baby this week has got me to thinking. About pictures.

I take a lot of pictures of Stinkerbelle. I mean, a LOT. I can grab the camera on any given day and take 250 shots in just one sitting. Part of the problem is that, at this age, That Baby is a moving target. Well, not so much moving, as bobbing and weaving and lurching and tilting. So, I do what the sports photographers call “spray-and-pray” photography: take a whole bunch of shots in rapid succession, with the hope that one or two will be good.

Now, of course they are digital, so it’s easy. I remember the days of film and bemoaned the fact that I could never get any good at photography because I could not AFFORD to get any good at it. I couldn’t afford the film to practice or take a lot of shots. But now with digital, the only question is storage space.

Our photos are pretty huge. Unlike BDH, who has taken the time to learn this stuff, I am still at the “point and shoot” stage of my photographic adventure, and so I don’t know about changing settings or whatever. So the photos I take are giant, and high resolution. Which is fine — I am fortunately learning a lot more on the software side of things so I can make them smaller on the backend as needed. BUT… I don’t, unless I am using them.

Herein lies the problem.

We literally have thousands of photos of Stinkerbelle now — not to mention the thousands and thousands of photos we have of other things. Some are quite good, some are quite average. And many are of dubious lighting and composition, or are not in focus, or are of the “ooh-I-wasn’t-looking-so-my-eyes-are-closed-or-all-squinty-like-a-drug-induced-haze” variety.

When I graduated from university, our commencement speaker was a very old lady who was the niece of one of the Group of Seven. She was their archivist. She was fascinating. The premise of her speech was “always keep all your photographs, even the bad ones, and make sure you write the date and a little description on the back”. That’s how she started the speech. We thought she was a loony.

But as it turned out, she wasn’t a loony. She was really engaging and funny. From that premise, she related her stories of archiving items about the Group of Seven, and how the same should be done in our own lives with our memories. We only go through life once, and no matter who we are, we have a rich history of stories and memories and experiences to leave to our children and grandchildren, so we should be sure to share them by making sure they know what these treasures — ostensibly photographs, but anything really — are all about.

I took it to heart. For awhile. But then, it got to be too much. I had too many photos and items to save.

Now, with the advent of digital photography and digital archives, the dating of items is automatic. That part is fine. But I am not so good at annotating the items I save. The writing I do is self-explanatory, but photos and other items not so much. So I have to get better at that — and who has that kind of time? I have a myriad of little projects like that I dream of doing. I guess I just add it to this endless list.

And then there’s the issue of storage. As I said, our photos are huge. Saving them takes a fair bit of space. And saving them consistently, categorized consistently and in one place, in a house full of computer bits and pieces, is a task. And one we keep saying, “ooh, we should do that” and just never seem to get around to doing.

And that’s not even counting the project I have going to take all our photographs and negatives and scan them to store digitally… a project that I started with my photos from Japan and then, after a few weeks, abandoned to whatever other demands in life that came along.

So I wonder: How can I do this better?

If you were me, would you save everything — all the photos you take, good and bad? Would you take the time to make a little note on each? How would you keep track of what the photo was about, why you took it, what you were thinking and feeling at that time? And how would you organize your masses of photos?

There is so much history and so many memories to pass along to our daughter in these photographs and other little bits of our life.

What’s a shutterbug mom to do?

5 thoughts on “What’s a Shutterbug Mom to Do?

  1. I guess I’m a shutterbug mom. The best purchase I ever made was a passport drive for only my photos. I’ve been putting all of my raw images straight from the camera onto the passport as well as edited images and I’m a LOOOOOOOOONG way from running out of room. It’s fabulous.

    I don’t really do much in the way of notes. I think I like seeing what other people think of my photos. But to be honest, unless it accompanies a blog entry where I speak about the photos, I don’t have any “notes”. I guess I’m not good about that either.

    The images I love the most of my kids are ones I can remember anyway…. So far.

    But buy a passport. A huge amount of storage for around a hundred dollars. So. Worth. It.

  2. First off, don’t keep all of your photos. You don’t need 15 images all with the same expressions. Keep one or two and delete the rest. If someones eyes are closed and you have a better one from that same moment, delete that one. Definitely delete any blury ones. Who wants to see it?

    As for notes on the photos, you could save a copy with a more descriptive name. Example “Stinkerbelles fisrt solid food”.tiff or whatever file type you are using. If you keep it in a dated folder, you can still keep it chronological.

    Depending on what program you use for photo editing, you can store notes in the metadata. Key wording is also great to keep track of locations that you have been to.

    One thing I highly recommend is to have all your photos backed up somehow. Either on an extra external hard drive or on dvds and stored somewhere else. Either at BDH’s work or at a friends home. That way IF something were to happen, you don’t loose all of your precious memories.

    My favorite way to add lots of journaling with a photo, as you know, is to scrap book it. It is not hard and you can make it as simple or elaborate as you want.

    Good luck with scanning all of your old images. That is a project that we have wanted to do for years now. I guess the only way to do that is to set yourself up in an area and just commit to scanning so many a day and eventually it will get done.

    Hope this helps. I look forward to everyone elses suggestions.


  3. We take tons of photos and store them in folders for each trip event with a date on the label but that is the extent of it.

    We also delete the really blurry ones, one with just a nose and an eye (because really in 20 years will we know whose nose and eye that is) and triplicates etc.

    I am also looking forward to other’s ideas but I knew Shannon would have some good ones.

  4. Well, you have seen my personal journal blog, which is a story every month of what we have done with pictures, then once a year or so we print it all out as a book. This way we have a hard copy (and all our family members have copies), which means if something was to happen, we could get copies of our journal, complete with our favourite pictures from that month. Plus depending on your publisher, they often keep the files so you could reprint in the event of a great loss.

    One thing to keep in mind about CDs, DVDs, thumb drives, external drives, is that they all fail at some point. Even if you burn a CD, then never touch it, a few years later you may have difficulty accessing the data. So do not rely on them, all these mediums are not considered indefinate, you need multiple back ups.

    Your IT Geek can give you the full low down, but the best bet is to re-back up every few months (and ensure each time your medium is still working).

    As for how to label them all, I organize all my photos into folders – Year, then within that Month, then within that folder I create event folders (ie. Hayley’s birthday, first snow angels, etc.). Sometimes these are even given an exact date in the event folder title if I feel the exact day is important.

    Hope this helps! Feel free to quiz me if you have questions!

  5. All great advice, gang. Thank you! One of the projects BDH and I have (when we have money to do so) is to find a reliable and consistent means of storing and backing up all our images, so all these suggestions will really help. We are a little (*snort!*) haphazard right now, and we know we need to get our photos organized and stored — it’s one of those things that are irreplaceable.

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