What do I do with my digital memories?

Raise your hand if you have a hard drive or two or three with photos sitting on it?

Raise your hand if you paid several hundred dollars for a professional to take your picture, and then left the photos on your hard drive?

Raise your hand if dealing with all those photos gives you anxiety?

Well I’m raising my hand on all three!  I think you might be too.  We’re in new territory from how we grew up.  This was never an issue 30 or 40 years ago!  If you had a super organized mom, you probably had 4×6 photos all chronologically organized in photo albums.  At the very least, a box of prints sitting in the closet would find it’s way out every now and then for a school project.

These days it’s not so simple.  I don’t know about you, but the years seem to be blending together more and more.  I have to reference the year one of my kids was born to figure out which file folder a photo might be in.  And even then I struggle to find something sometimes.

We’ve even had family photos taken and then I do nothing with them.  They sit on a hard drive waiting for the year end album to hopefully see the light of day.

Technology is changing at an every increasing pace.  Anybody remember flopped disks?? When I first started in photography, one of the ways I backed up was on CD’s.  Most computers don’t even have a CD drive anymore!!! How in the world can we expect to keep our memories safe with technology changing so fast?  The answer is we can’t.  It’s not possible and the only real way to hold on to your memories is printing them.  Tangible form.

I want to change the story of our pictures though.  I want to get those beautiful images off hard drives and into our lives in a tangible way.  So let’s break down what the heck we do with all our digital files, shall we?

STEP #1; Set the intention.

We all make time for what we hold important.  I believe our pictures – our memories – are that important.  I will make time to go through them, find my keepers, and make tangible proof of them.

STEP #2;  Back up those files!

First and foremost, you need to have the digital files backed up.  I can’t stress this enough.  Technology fails.  Did you see the episode of The Middle where they delete all their photos?  Don’t let that happen!  Storage is cheap anymore.  I recommend using a cloud storage option that back’s up your files automatically so you don’t even have to think about it.
If something were to happen to your prints or albums, the digital copy will hopefully still be available to make new copies.

STEP #3; Decide what tangible form you want.


Prints are great for people that want pictures of their life and family on the walls or the old school shoe box full of 4×6’s. They’ll be taken to school or tapped to the science fair project in 10 years.  You’re daughter will find her favorite picture of you and her when she was a baby and take it off to college with her.  You’ll dig up all funny moments for your son’s high school graduation party.  Imagine not having to figure out what hard drive a 15 year old photo is sitting on.  (if the hard drive still even works)

Now image what it would feel like to walk by your family photos on the wall every day.  All your dreams and hopes are wrapped up in family and those photos help your over worked and sleep deprived brain remember what you’re fighting for.  Plus it has long been acknowledged that family photos displayed in a home help boost a child sense of identity and create a sense of belonging. Each time they walk by a family photograph, which is countless times a day, a message is sent: You, my dear child are important. You matter. You have a special place in this world. You are a part of this thing called family, and we love you.

Prints are powerful.

If you’re a fan of changing out the pictures on the wall a lot, like I am, you should read this; 10 Ways unique ways to display your photos.

I’m a huge fan of Mpix.com for printing as well as Artifactuprising.com.

Chatbooks.com are a great option for phone pictures.  Make a plan to print every month!  Then at the end of the year you have a beautiful collection of memories.


I love albums.  I may be terrible at printing and framing sometimes, but our year end album is something that is a labor of love.  Yes it takes time to get thru and pick a years worth of photos.  Yes it can be expensive depending on the quality of album you choose (we use Artifact Uprising).  But the reward is priceless.  Countless times throughout the year our daughter wants to ‘read’ our photo album.  We talk about the stories behind the picture.  We talk about what we loved about that stage in life.  She hears how our family began and the history of us and her.  I can’t wait for 40 years from now to have a huge bookshelf with ever year end book lined up.  Just waiting to be pulled from the shelf and thumbed through, stories told, and family history passed down to the next generation.

STEP #4; Make a date once a month to go through your photos.

Decide what photos to delete and what to keep.  Then organize them into folders.  I have a year fold with each month filed under it.

2016 Family Photos
– January
– February
– March and so on.

At the end of the year I do a big final edit and put all the final keepers from that year in one folder.  It makes it a little easier to go back and find pictures if I can’t remember what month something happened.

How important are your memories?

I’d love to know what you’re doing with your all your precious memories.  Comment or email me.

xoxo – Rachael

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