Take More Photos

Take More Pictures…..

I was saddened to hear of the loss of a friend’s house during the recent Colorado wildfires. They were out of town when the fire started and, as a result, lost everything that was in their home. As you can imagine, one of the most significant loses is of their family photos.

Family photos tell the history of our lives. Many people do not have the discipline or the skills to keep written journals. I am guilty of having started a dozen different diaries over the years with the best of intentions. I have usually managed to write in the books for several days or even weeks before losing the momentum to keep the story going.

Photographs have filled the gap. After hearing of my friend’s loss, I have reevaluated my photo collection and begun the time consuming, but surprisingly enjoyable, process of scanning my film photos into my computer. Memories flood back as I see the early story of our family come to life.

My one regret? I wish I had taken more photos. Of course when my children were young, the only photo option was film. I was diligent and, I thought, fairly thorough. I even had a separate line item in my budget for film, processing and photo albums. Photography was an expensive hobby. I was very diligent about developing each roll, purchasing three sets, and filing them into albums. I shared duplicates with my mother, mother-in-law and friends. Not only did they enjoy the photos but I knew I had a back up set in case of a fire or disaster at my home.

Those photos tell the story of the days, weeks and months of our lives and document all the milestones and special events. Still, I wish I had taken more–shall I say it again? I wish I had taken more.

Once digital cameras became economical and easily available, I made the leap to digital with gusto. I started snapping photos regularly and voraciously and generally could be found with my camera around my neck.

My regret? I wish I had taken more photos. I admit that sometimes I was hesitant to intrude and did not want to be seen as a nuisance. Sometimes I even felt silly or awkward. Still, the more I look back, the more I am motivated to take even more photos. I now it consider it my goal to photo-journal our life.

It is funny, people often shy away from being photographed. They may protest being photographed. Interestingly, now that several beloved family member have passed away, those photos have become more treasured. Suddenly, everyone is more cooperative when I set up my camera.

When I am now engaged in documenting an event, I ask my subjects, “May I take your picture?” As I raise the camera to my eye this focuses their attention on me and allows the truly resistant to object. Most of the time it allows for the subject to be captured in a more attractive pose. I don’t delay and snap several photos quickly.

I was recently talking with a friend who has been blessed by the birth of her first child. I have shared my advice with her and emphasized how important I feel it is to document every day of her baby’s life. I took thousands of photos when my children were babies but looking back I have still found large gaps.

She listened intently and it occurred to me that perhaps it would be helpful to actually share my experiences my advice and suggestions. She asked me to send her an email with some of my ideas. I decided to do more than that. I decided to share with my other friends as well.

That said, I am sharing my advice about photo-journalling.

Every moment, every event, every day, presents an opportunity to tell the story of your life. You will be amazed at how the most mundane event, will inspire a flood of memories. My children frequently mention the simplest memories with pleasure, inspired by looking over old photos.

“Remember when we saw that movie at the mall?”

“Remember the old tree house in the back yard?”

The simple moments make the magic.

Practical Advice….

Now here is the practical advice….take these suggestions as the opinion of an amateur photo fanatic.

Have two cameras–a really nice digital camera and a small, compact point and shoot. Read the instructions and learn to use them.
Always, always carry your camera with you. Put it in your purse or car. Never go anywhere without it. No matter how simple the activity, photograph it.
Use your photos to tell the story. Tell the story of where you have gone, what you did, who you were with, what you ate, what you experienced. Even a visit to the car dealership can be a memory trigger—everything is a photo event.

Take group shots thinking about what you will want to remember in the future. Who did you go to the park with? Who were your children’s friends? Take close ups as well as distant shots. Take one shot per person in the group. Ask your subjects to look at you then count to ” three” before snapping. You will significantly increase your chances of getting a good group shot with everyone smiling and with their eyes open.

Use your photos to tell the story of the event. Think of your photos as the journal of the activity. Break it down to steps. We loaded the car with all our picnic supplies (photo of car with stuff packed), everyone was buckled in and happy (photo of kids in back seat with friends who were included in the adventure), drove to the neighborhood park and found a great spot under a big shade tree (photo of of the tree, the picnic set up, the area) ate a great lunch (photo of the food, the kids eating and smiling, lying around enjoying the day), kids flew kits and played soccer (photos of kite flying, soccer game) Johnny fell down and cut his knee (photo of injury and bandage) Mary’s kite ended up in a tree (photo of kite in tree, photos of trying to get it out of tree), packed up and went home late afternoon (photos of dirty, happy children heading home). When you look back at the pictures, you will be flooded with memories of the whole fun day.

One important caveat….have someone take your picture too. I am surprised at how few pictures of me, the photographer, are included in our collection.

Organize your photos. Organize them the very day (or the next day) as you take the photos. If you organize them as you go, you will be able to enjoy them and use them and share them. Be diligent.

Best way to organize your photos?

I have used three different options for organizing my photos. All of them are good in different ways for different reasons.

The most basic and simple method uses Microsoft Windows Photo folders.

I organize my photos as follows:

I purchased and attached three stand alone external hard drives to my computer. Each hard drive is a duplicate of the other. I STRONGLY recommend the three drive back-up. system.

My photos are stored in folders labeled “My Pictures.”

Within that folder I open folders labeled by each year. Within the year, I label each month, within each month, I label folders for special events by dates.

The best format is Year, space, two digit month, space, two digit day


2012 01
2012 01 01 New Years Day
2012 01 20 Grandma’s birthday

2012 02
2012 02 14 Valentine’s Day

Within the master “My Pictures” folder, I create “subject” related folders.

Very important, all photos that I take go into their appropriate master DATE folder. That is the home for each photo. I always place every photo that I take into the master DATE photo file that corresponds to the date the photo was taken. That is the first place the photo is “filed.” After I have “filed” it there, I then make a copy and “file” it in a subject matter file.

Some of the topics are things like, Flowers, Sunsets, Vacation Photos, even special friends.

This system works great for creating a master, intuitive and easily used filing system.


I mean this….don’t ever not back up the photos as you simultaneously upload them.

Create three duplicates of the folder system, one on each hard drive.

Now the next most important thing you can do:


I mean this…every time you leave take one of the hard drives with you. Leave it in your car or in your purse but update it and take it with you every time. The new external hard drives are very small and have large capacities. You want to make sure that you have one drive with the most current collection away from your home if the unthinkable happens.

If you want to get more detailed, I have used Adobe Photoshop Elements which allows you to create detailed folders and tag the photos by person and topic and location. It is great software that will allow you to edit your photos as well as organize them. Photoshop is not inexpensive and must be purchased.

Another good alternative is Picasa which is a free software. It is more limited for purposes of editing and organization but it does allow you to tag the people who are in the photograph which is a very useful feature. It also has excellent face recognition which is very useful for tracking people.



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1 Response to Take More Photos

  1. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back in the future. Many thanks

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