Recording, Sharing & Saving Memories

first haircut
our 2-year-old's first haircut at Harmony Barbershop in the Magic Kingdom

After we returned from Disney World a couple weeks ago, I was left with the job of sorting through the 22,432 pictures my step-dad and I took (maybe a slight exaggeration, but I can’t be sure!), the dozens of videos from my handheld camcorder, and the various pictures we took with our phones to share on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Recording memories is easier than ever. You can use your phone, your digital camera, your DSLR, your handheld or full-size camcorder, your tablet or your computer, and I’m sure I’m forgetting something!

With the ease of recording memories, we should be doing it more than ever, right? And yet I have a sneaking suspicion that our memory-capturing may be less intentional and more scattered than ever.

Think about it…how many times have you thought about grabbing your camera and then decided not to bother because you have a smartphone that takes decent photos anyway?

How many unsorted pictures are sitting on your camera card(s) now?

How many pictures have you actually had printed in the last month? The last year?

This technology is a huge blessing, and I’m so thankful that I’m able to snap an impromptu photo of one of my girls dressed in a crazy outfit or a video of the baby singing a song in nothing but a diaper!

The danger is in stopping there…capturing the memory and not doing anything about it! It won’t be long before our memories get fuzzy and we have trouble knowing which baby picture belongs to which child (especially if you have children who look very similar, like our 3rd and 4th daughters), and those photos will get lost and forgotten, never to be seen by future generations, if we don’t organize them — and the back them up — in a way that makes them accessible.

What are some ways to do this? Here are just a few suggestions. I’d love to hear how you capture, share and organize memories in the comments as well!

Recording

I remember when we bought our first digital camera, and it seemed like such a novel idea to be able to take as many pictures as we wanted without worrying about the cost of film. Now, however, it’s so common that we probably take it a bit for granted!

  • Nothing beats the convenience of a smartphone for capturing unexpected photo opps, in my opinion. In today’s society, most of us have our phones with us 24/7, even at times when we may not have a regular camera, and as the quality of camera photos continues to improve, it’s a great option. I love to use Instagram because it creates a timeline and virtual album of all the little moments I might not otherwise capture.
  • Photos certainly tell a story all by themselves, but there’s something really special about sitting down to watch old videos together. I still love to watch the videos from when I was growing up, and although I’ve gotten out of the habit of videotaping my girls in the past couple of years, I treasure the ones we do have and want to start doing it more. It won’t be long before their lisps and funny dances disappear, and I don’t want to forget them!
  • There’s no point in having an expensive camera if you’re so afraid of breaking it that you never use it. Buy a lens protector and case that you love and take it with you. It’s worth the risk!
sea shells by the sea shore
examining a sea shell with great-grandma

Sharing

Technology makes it easy to share memories with the people we love, no matter how far they are:

  • Certainly Facebook is at the top of the list for sharing photos. As the social networking site continues to grow by leaps and bounds, it’s a great way to show off our kids (and our own accomplishments) to friends and family who might miss out on them otherwise. I love seeing photos from our local friends as well as those around the world, and Facebook makes it incredibly easy to share photo albums and individual shots with my great-grandmother in Florida too!
  • Over the past 8 years, I’ve uploaded more than 12,000 pictures to Flickr (and I’ve been slacking for the past year!). While we use Facebook for the highlights, Flickr is a great way to share allllllll of our shots, especially with the grandparents who actually want to see them all. And you can share videos on Flickr as well.
  • If you record videos more regularly, YouTube and Vimeo both offer great video-hosting & sharing services. It’s a great way to share all of your videos in one place rather than trying to shrink and compress files to send by email each time you take a video!

One note about sharing: It’s important to decide how much you want to share with the world as a whole. All of these sites have detailed privacy settings that let you set limits on who is able to see your photos and videos. You may want to limit it to the people you actually know or make them available to a wider audience. I think that’s an individual choice, but it’s one you want to think about early rather than waiting until you’ve uploaded thousands of photos!

Saving

Another important aspect of recording memories is, of course, organizing them and backing them up so that they can continue to enjoy them for decades and generations to come! There are several methods for doing this:

  • The first place to start is by organizing photos in folders on your computer. I like to organize mine by month, but other people prefer to organize by event (using a generic “Fall 2011” for miscellaneous photos). I’m not sure it really matters either way — the key is just to develop a system that works for you.
  • Next, you should tag or label photos. I used to be really good at labeling every photo with a description, but I’m lucky to get them sorted these days, so that just doesn’t happen anymore. However, tagging photos with keywords and names is a great way to be able to find all of the photos of Little Junior without having to sort through each folder!
  • Most importantly, backup, backup, backup! Losing photos because you don’t have them backed up is truly heartbreaking, so I encourage you to take just a few minutes today to figure out how to backup your photo. You may want to use a third-party service like Flickr for an annual fee. Or an online backup service like Dropbox or Mozy. Or, if you prefer a hard copy, you can burn photos to DVD or save them to an external hard drive. Personally, I like to use a double-layer of online and hardware backups to be sure that my photos truly are protected!

It’s hard to believe how fast my first 7 years as a mother have gone by already, and I can only imagine how fast the next 16 years are going fly by, so I’m doing my best to capture the moments — big and small — before it’s too late!

I am so excited to be partnering with Intel, the sponsors of tomorrow, to bring you my opinion on some of the issues that affect our lives today. Join the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #IntelEMP!

How do you record, share and save memories in this digital age?

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