Saturday, January 3, 2009

storing and printing photographs in a digital age

I am in the middle of trying to figure out a solution to printing and storing photographs for years to come.

I, like many of you I'm sure, have loved the power that my digital camera has given me to take great photos (and LOTS of them), edit them, and store them on my computer.

The tricky part seems to be actually printing them out.

I have often found myself wondering what the future holds for photo storage.

Will the grandma walls of tomorrow display a row of digital photo frames rather than the classic mismatched photo frames displaying a myriad of memories from all different eras of a lifetime?

It is hard for me to imagine the classic still photo framed beautifully and simply ever being replaced, but still, I wonder.

There is also the subject of scrapbooking. I have thought a lot about this too. When I was in college I decided I would never be a scrapbooker. I liked (and still like) clean classic modern things and I boldly declared the scrapbook world was too "cutesie" for me.

The other thing that gets me about scrapbooking is all of the scrapbooking trends that come out. Because of the trends it doesn't take long for a scrapbook to look dated. And the mess it creates... I don't know how mom's in particular keep up with it. Last but not least is the issue of the economy and being green. Scrapbooking is not too pocketbook friendly nor is it very "green."

It seems to me that it was somewhat difficult for the previous generation to merely keep up with putting printed photos in albums. Who in their right mind decided to add cutting, pasting, stamping, and glueing all sorts of embellishments on to that?

Well with all of that negativity out of the way, I must confess a little part of my heart seems to have an affinity for scrapbooking. After I had been out of school for awhile and married to my husband for awhile I thought it would be nice for me to be able to scrapbook his football career as a gift for him. I knew he wouldn't appreciate all of the frills anyway so I assured myself I could stick to my clean, simple, classic taste.

Soon after that I had my first baby and was given an empty scrapbook as a gift. I actually got excited at the idea of being able to create a scrapbook for my baby.

Well, you know the rest of the story I suppose. I found myself in the scrapbook aisles of every craft store I came across oohing and ahhing at all of the tools there were to offer when it came to paper crafting. Man o' man has scrapbooking come a long way! There are so many options for stickers, stamps, papers, tools... the works.

Soon I was scrapbooking weekly with friends, going to stamping parties, and wanting more and more and more! The world I had shunned opened its loving arms and soon I had crates full of scrapbooking stuff with which to create my two little scrapbooks. Sadly it took me two years to put all my purchases to good use.

Now that I am done with my two scrapbooks, I am fretting over what to do in the future. I am debating on digital scrapbooking, which in my opinion is a bit greener, more cost effective, and more empowering for me as I feel the sky is the limit on the computer.

Or do I do blog books, create my own digital photo books, regular photo albums, digital photo displays, cds, dvds, etc. etc. etc.??? What will stand the test of time and be able to be easily passed on to future generations?

These are my thoughts on possible solutions-

Creating yearly dvd's with video clips, digital pictures, music and captions and letting people make copies as wanted.
Pros- Fun, easy, and super cost effective.
Cons- Hard for people to be able to reuse the photos, not sure if the dvd's would be as easy to share with friends and family as a scrapbook, photobook, or photo album. Will dvd's stand the test of time?

Blogbooks- I have heard great things about blurb.
Pros- Reasonable priced and fun to look back as blogs tend to focus on great family photos as well as fun insights and memories.
Cons- Difficulty being able to edit out posts you don't want in the book as well as figuring out how to do yearly ones as blogs are ongoing. Photos would have to be scanned to be reused. Each book would have to be photocopied for each child for future generations.

Similar pros and cons to blogbooks. Photobooks may be cleaner and a bit more cost effective, but may not have the fun insights of a blogbook.

Digital Scrapbooking
Pros- Kids to come won't be sad that my first born was the only one that got a scrapbook. Fun to make.
Cons- Again, usability for future generations and timely to make.

Displaying only the most memorable photos and keeping back-ups on cds
Pros- Cost-effective.
Cons- Harder to share old family memories with friends and family. Cd's may not stand the test of time.

Classic Photo Albums
Pros- Easy to look through, re-use photos, and divvy up in years to come?
Cons- Not as fun as scrapbooks? May not be so easy re-use and divvy up in years to come?

I think I am leaning towards classic photo albums or photobooks with keeping back-ups on cds... any thoughts?


Anna said...

okay so I made a similar comment on your personal blog, but this is an issue I think about lots. So here are my long winded thoughts:

For archiving photos: let me know when you find a good (reliable) solution. Currently they are all on my comp so if it got fried I'd be in big trouble. Yikes. Ali Edwards has some insights on this on her blog.

For the memories: I like photo books. I've used blurb and the quality is great. Their blog to book platform for blogger is currently broken. Blogger changed something in their programming and blurb has yet to fix the problem. I did play with the feature before it broke and it was really easy--you can choose which posts to import and which ones to ignore, you can add extra photos from your computer that never got blogged. So I haven't yet made our blog book, but I plan on it once they fix it. But I did make wedding albums for our parents as a thank you and they rave about them. I also made a scrapbook of my mom's childhood in blurb. You should play with their software. I also like the Creating Keepsakes line of scrapbooks at Snapfish, but I haven't made one there yet. I do hate that for them you have to upload all your pics to the internet before you can work with them. With blurb you design on your computer and upload the finished project for ordering. Simpler if you ask me.

So if I were you I'd find the safest way to archive (probably a combo of an external hard drive and burned to DVD images) and then I'd do photo books---probably printing a hardback copy for us and a paperback copy for our kids so they could take them when they get older.

Phew long comment. If you lived closer we could just be friends and chat in person :)

Ali said...

Oohh, clever girl, Anna- I like the idea of doing a hardback copy for yourself, paperback for your kids to take with them...that is cute. I also plan on backing up all of my digitals onto DVDs this year and storing them in a safety deposit box in the bank. (one of my goals to do before baby) ...I have to say though, I have waffled on this a lot too and it's one of those issues that like you say, have pros and cons to both sides- I think the most important thing though is that you just pick ONE, and stick to it instead of stressing over the thought of it and never organizing anything- that's when the memories are lost... aw, not to be so depressing. I like all the options you outlined though!

Photobook Mom said...

Like you, I struggled with this decision as well. I loved scrapbooking, but I didn't have the time to ever catch up and get current. I made my first photo book on Shutterfly about a year ago and haven't looked back. The best part was that it only took 2 weeks to get a year's worth of photos into a book. I love all the layout, background, other design options that Shutterfly has. After making several books on Shutterfly, I made a book on Blurb and a book on Shutterfly with the same photos for comparison purposes. The quality of the photo prints was much better on Shutterfly -- clearer and better color. I often create my books on the Shutterfly website and wait for the best deals before I order them.

Now, I skip printing photos and just print my photo books instead. I can make duplicate copies for anybody who wants their own. I also copy all my photos for the year onto a CD or DVD and adhere a pocket to the inside of my photo book and store the disk in there. When the technology changes, I'll know where to find my CD and can get it converted.

Good luck and I hope you find a solution that works well for you.