A Different Kind of Resolution?

Let’s be honest for a minute. How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? It’s been a couple of weeks, maybe the typical type of goals have slipped a little?

I’ll be honest here, too: The luster of attainable self-improvement has certainly faded for me these past few weeks of the New Year. I always start out so energized and enthusiastic at the beginning of the year and then quickly realize that the New Year isn’t some magical point in time where all my changes will be made.

What do you want to change? What were those resolutions you were so excited about not so long ago? Maybe a different kind of resolution is in order? Do you want to figure out how to sort, organize and delete your digital photos? Do you want to make that special and unique baby book for your special and unique baby-that-maybe-is-really-a-toddler/kiddo-now? Do want to digitize that dusty and neglected box of photos you’ve been ignoring for years?

Do you want to make a slideshow to show off to your far-flung loved ones of all the fun you had on that awesome Mexican vacation? Would you like to make a photo collage of your pregnancy photos and watch your belly grow again? Do you want to print (Gasp! Remember those?!) your Instagram photos?

Changes can be made, but it takes small and incremental steps. The key to realizing any goal you set, any time of year, is making small changes, taking small bites. Maybe just start with the photos taken over the holidays this past year. 

These are the simple (and attainable!) steps I recommend to anyone with the goals of organizing their digital photos or starting a special photo project:

Step 1 – Gather your photos into one hub, be it a pictures folder on your computer or a table in your house for prints.

Step 2 – Sort your photos so you can identify which are duplicates, which are bad photos to toss and which are the very best photos to share with loved ones.

Step 3 – Back up your photos so they are secure and preserved in case of a disaster, digital or natural. Scan your prints, and make a backup copy of all digital images to the Cloud or to an external hard drive that you keep at work.

This could be your year to succeed with your resolution to get your photo chaos under control! 

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A Journey Measured Through Family Photos

I started a journey that can be measured as beginning several months ago or several decades ago before I was born, before my mother was born, even before my grandparents were born. I took this journey through two cigar boxes packed full of photos and documents kept together through many years.

The Old Cigar Boxes Were Full of Treasure
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I sorted through this collection of family photos, documents and ephemera with my mother this past spring. The cigar boxes had been catch-all boxes of mementos that my grandparents had maintained for decades. Seems that snapshots were just tossed in to keep them all together. The collection then fell to my mother to maintain for many years until we took the time to sit and identify just what she was holding on to.

We spent a cozy afternoon together revisiting family history while my very young son napped. My mother was a valuable resource and was quick to identify people, pinpointing dates with ease, and she kept us both entertained with family stories during the sometimes tedious sorting process. I dutifully documented this flow of valuable historical data as we worked and laughed and enjoyed the time together.

I was pleased that these precious family photos were now being “dusted off” and brought into the light of day again, but just knew that they deserved to be showcased in a unique and special way. After all, we couldn’t remember the last time anyone had even looked at the photos while in those cigar boxes. Once the photos and memorabilia were scanned and organized, I would design a family heritage photo book that would tell the story these cigar boxes had been holding for so many years.

The book would be a journey through time and through my mother’s family, beginning with a handwritten postcard from 1893 announcing my great-grandfather Joseph Francis Brady’s birth and continuing through my grandfather George Brady’s 80th birthday party.    

The journey of this collection of family photos, kept for years in cigar boxes, has resulted in a truly wonderful family heritage book created with my mother. We look forward to sharing the book with my own son who carries the family name Brady as his middle name. 

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Organizing and Preserving Children’s Artwork

I love art, and I love that schools are encouraging and facilitating lots and lots of creativity in the classroom. What I don’t like is lots and lots of piles of cheap construction paper, glue, and paint cluttering my house. Does every sheet of paper my little one dabs with a marker or slaps a sticker on have to come home with him? Sigh.

Usually I work with printed and digital photo collections for clients but one of the largest and most cumbersome collections to organize is children’s artwork. Parents have a lot of guilt surrounding what to save and how much to save of what our kiddos make during childhood.  Kids’ creative output is staggering, and so much of it is just too cute to toss in the recycling bin. Parents want to preserve all the special masterpieces but ultimately end up with just too much stuff in their house. Compound that by the number of kids in the home and the artwork organization situation can be out of control in no time. 

Anyone with children can set up a simple system to organize and process children’s artwork when it comes home with them from school. First, each child in the home should have one bin, of whatever size makes sense for you, dedicated to their work. When they bring a little masterpiece home, decide right then if it should go in the special bin or the recycling bin (maybe do this after they have gone to bed). If it is a keeper, make sure to write the date and child’s name on the back and place in the appropriate bin.

Done and done. But…wait! All that adorable artwork tucked away in a bin is no fun! No one can see it and enjoy it.

Kids are proud of the art they make at school, and it gives them a feeling of self-worth when they know their parents are proud of it too. Find creative ways to display the very best art in your home so the whole family can enjoy. Simply sticking it on the fridge with strong magnets is the tried and true method for displaying kiddos’ artwork. You could create a rotating gallery wall in the kid’s room, family room, or hallway with inexpensive plastic frames. Change out the art as the seasons change to keep the display fresh. Create an even easier gallery wall in your kitchen with colorful washi tape, and skip the frames all together. I have a wire curtain rod from IKEA mounted to the wall in my kitchen corner where I like to hang new art with tiny clothespins. This is mounted at about eye-level for my toddler so he can see his artwork every day too.  He loves to point out a new painting I’ve just hung up and say, “That’s mine, Mommy!”

How should your children’s art be preserved for the long-term for the years to come? Much of the art kids create, at least in elementary school, will be on very cheap materials. These are usually full of acid and will deteriorate rather quickly. You can mitigate much of this by keeping the paper out of the light, stored in acid-free or archival-quality materials, and away from extreme climate fluctuations found in the attic or basement.

Another excellent way to preserve children’s artwork is to collect those very best and very special pieces at the end of the year or end of the school year and photograph or digitally scan them. Each child could have a custom book made dedicated to the art from the past year.  I like to include some of my son’s art from the past year in my family photo book. A photo book full of your child’s artwork will certainly have a slimmer profile and will take up much less space in your home. It is also a lot easier to share with grandparents. 

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