They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but thousands of pictures lying around in boxes and electronic storage devices deserve only two words: Get organized.
Cameras have shown up in just about every electronic device of the last few decades, from iPods and iPads to phones and laptops. Most people have computer files packed with digital photos from various life events. Add to that the boxes of old photos that need to be archived, and the thought of organizing family photos can be downright frightening.
Never fear, snap-happy friends. We’ve searched around for tricks, tools and websites that make it easy to organize photos, share them with your friends and family, and transfer those musty boxes of photos in the attic to easily accessible electronic picture files.
Ship ‘n’ scan
Let’s start with the photo boxes, as they take up the most space in your life. No one wants to get rid of precious photos from decades or centuries ago, but seeing that they’re just sitting in boxes not getting any younger, it may be time to trade them in for something more space-conscious and functional, like say, a set of glossy photo books.
Several web-based businesses offer ship and scan services, perfect for people who aren’t tech-savvy, need a delicate touch for old, precious photos, or simply want someone else to handle the tedium of creating an organized system from a hodgepodge of images.
Scan Café offers a service that allows customers to ship boxes of assorted photos, negatives, slides, video tapes and even entire albums for scanning, repair and organization. The "preservation fanatics" at Scan Café process and scan the photos by hand as opposed to an automatic process, and offer cropping, color correction, red-eye removal and scratch and dust removal.
Cited by CNN Money as the best scanning service in 2008 and by MacWorld in 2009, Scan Café allows customers to preview scanned photos before the order is processed, and nix up to 20 percent of the photos without having to pay for them. The final result is a box of returned photos for permanent archiving, a CD or DVD with a digital file of all photos, and online viewing capability for friends and family.
Do-it-yourselfers who are fearless in the face of modern technology and want to save a few bucks can use Windows Fax and Scan or FxFoto to scan, file and organize photos into online folders or albums. 1,000 Memories takes photo organizing to the next level with award-winning design, family tree concepts and an app for taking a photo of an old photo to upload into your digital album for touch-ups, preservation and digitalization.
Memolane is a great tool for those who use social media to post photos or updates. This free online service takes photos and other information from social media sites and creates a chronological electronic scrapbook. Users can then invite others with shared memories to add their photos and be a part of their walk down memory lane. The site works with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, WorkPress, Myspace and several other sites to pull info and create a unique photo experience.
The latest photo gadgets
If using cables and other hardware to upload pictures isn’t your thing, check out the new Eye.fi, the first memory card with wireless capability. Users can select up to 32 networks, and when the camera is in range of a network, videos and photos will automatically transfer to your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android device. The cards are priced from $49 to $99, available online or in Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and other retailers.
The new Kodak Pulse digital frame allows family anywhere in the world to send photos to this ultra-modern picture frame. Just imagine, Grandma and Grandpa could be sitting in their rockers or doing yoga on the beach — whatever the case may be — as new photos are being uploaded to that sleek frame over the fireplace. They don’t even need to turn on the computer (not that they don’t know how, but that’s a whole different article). The 7-inch frame has a retail price of $129; the 10-inch frame is $199. Not a bad price for the photo gift that keeps giving.
Have other thoughts on how to organize family photos? Leave us a note in the comments below.