One of my fondest childhood memories is going through our family photo albums. I loved flipping through albums while listening to my mom share memories of my early childhood, as well as her time with my dad before I was born. Last year I started to do the same with my sons, but I soon realized that I didn't have a great archive of printed photos in albums that were easy to access.
In this digital era of Facebook, iPhones and iPads, we all have photos of our children floating around on various devices. It takes added effort to organize and archive these photos in a method that is easy for you and your children to look back on one day. Here are a couple of best practices that I have found to be effective:
1. "Best of" Folder
Right after you download photos, create folders to organize them. Many moms create a monthly folder (e.g., January 2011). Since I don't download my photos as frequently as I should, I prefer the quarterly or seasonal folder ("Winter 2012"). Each time I do download photos, I file the cutest, "keeper" photos in a "Best of 2012" folder. The "Best of" folder makes it easier to update my framed pictures and create yearly albums and archives.
2. Blog/ Facebook Page
You can either put a lot of time into creating a fancy blog or make it simple and post a picture/video every week. The goal is to have one medium where you have organized photos. By uploading pictures to Facebook or a blog you are essentially creating a web based "Best of" folder that you can later leverage to create a printed archive of photos.
3. Annual photo book
One of my girlfriends started this tradition after the birth of her first daughter, and I loved the idea and recently started it in our household as well. With iPhoto, even the least tech savvy mom can easily create an iBook of photos -- all you do is drag and drop the photos and then organize as you please. This holiday season I put together my first Family Photo Book. It was fun going through my "Best of" folder and organizing pictures for our "Varma Family 2011" photo book and it made a great holiday gift for my husband. This will now be an annual tradition in our household!
4. Annual Calendar
This is another great gift that forces you to arrange your photos and create a printed archive. Every year we create calendars of our children to give to both sets of grandparents, and we make additional copies to hang in our offices.
5. Annual Holiday Card
Creating our holiday card is a month-long affair in our household! It takes me way too long to pick the perfect photos for our card. Like most moms, I feel a ton of pressure to select the best family shot where everyone looks good and is smiling at the camera -- which is not always easy with a 2- and 4-year old! The beauty of the holiday card stress is two-fold: 1) it forces me to take many pictures of our family and 2) while going through all of the pictures to select the perfect picture, I am able to organize the pictures into folders. The timing is perfect because right after the holiday card is complete, I move on to creating the annual holiday calendar and photo book!
6. Annual DVD
This can be as simple as downloading folders on to a DVD. Or, you can get more creative and make a slideshow of photos -- essentially, create an electronic photo book. A cute variation of this idea is to set the slideshow to music. Some use this concept as a holiday e-card to post on Facebook or email out to friends.
Now, my sons scroll through the "Best of" folders on the iPad and pile up the calendars and photo books on the floor as I sit and tell them stories. Hopefully, we're creating memories that will last them a lifetime!