Several years ago, my cousin came and house-sat for us.  I actually left a note that said, “In the event of a fire, if you can safely grab (XXXX), I would really apreciate it.”

Do you know what that item was?  It was my huge box of photographs.  Why?  Because everything else in my house is replaceable.  But not my photographs.  I am so paranoid about losing my photographs that I have scanned in almost EVERY picture from my life.  I took them out of my baby books and scanned them.  I have taken pictures from my parent’s photo albums and scanned them.  Now they are all in a digital format and I keep them stored on two portable hard-drives, plus have them stored off-site. 

I also scrapbook- my children each have 3 books of their own: A “First Year” book, a “School Days” book, and a “Life Moments” book.  The first two are self explanatory, but the latter is simply a book where I can put in pictures of things specific to them- their birthdays, their first haircut, their sports pictures, dance pictures, best friends, etc. 

I also create one scrapbook album every year of our family pictures for that year.  I started this in 1998.

I have learned to not take A LOT of pictures, just a few to capture the moment I’m wanting to remember.  I have learned that it is OK to delete (or toss) the bad pictures.  I have also learned that if I do not stay on top of keeping my pictures organized, then I feel like I’m lost and there’s a big monster standing over me.

“Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be jpegs”

I love that quote. I don’t know where it originated, but I saw it on something from a Creative Memories event.  And in this day and age, it is so true.  I often talk to people who say they haven’t printed a picture all year- that their pictures are still on their camera cards.  Or that their pictures are on their hard-drive and they don’t know where to find them.  Or worse, their hard-drive crashed and they lost them all.

Why are you taking pictures if you aren’t doing anything with them?  Really.  Why?

You don’t necessarily need to scrapbook, but you should at least be organizing your pictures so you can find them.  And maybe print out your favorites and put them in a photo-safe album….it doesn’t need to be fancy.  Just something your family can look at.

I really enjoy scrapbooking as my creative outlet.  I became a Creative Memories consultant because I truly believed their products are the best out on the market, and I didn’t want to pay full price, I wanted the discount!  This was 4 years ago now and I am still a consultant.

Scrapbooking has changed how I take care of my pictures.  I don’t take a lot of pictures.

Digital photography has also changed how I take care of my pictures.  Here’s how I stay organized.

1) Immediately after I get home from the event I was taking pictures at, I load the card onto my computer and start deleting the ‘bad’ pictures.  I try to only leave a handful of good pictures.  (Because when I scrapbook the page, I usually only put 3-5 pictures on a page….and I also only dedicate 1 or 2 pages per event).  Really, I only need to keep 3-10 pictures.  I play the Optomotrist game:  “which is better, 1 or 2, 1 or 2” and I delete the one that is NOT better!

2) I organize and tag the good pictures using my photo organization software (Creative Memories Memory Manager).  It allows me to ‘tell the story’ that goes along with the picture so that later down the road when I retrieve it, the details are already there.  They are also tagged so that if I need to find the picture of Riley in a red dress on Christmas a few years back, I can actually search based on that!  Tags, dates, details, it’s all there. 

Those 2 things are the biggest life savers when it comes to taking care of your photographs.  My camera card is always empty and ready for the next photo opportunity, my computer isn’t overloaded with a bunch of junk pictures, and when I need to find the pictures, I know exactly where it is or how to find it.

I don’t physically scrapbook anymore, I’ve turned the corner into modern technology and I make Storybooks.  It’s digital scrapbooking and when you are all done creating your pages, you upload your ‘book’ to Creative Memories for publishing.  I’ve made 7 books so far:

– A tribute album for my Grandfather’s 80th birthday
– A home remodeling album filled with before and after pictures from our home addition in 2007
– A tribute album for my Grandmother’s 80th birthday
– A tribute album for my other Grandmother’s 80th birthday
– A memory album after my Grandfather passed away last year
– A vacation album showcasing our trip to Disneyland last year
– A vacation album showcasing our trip to Alaska this year

Right now I’m working on a tribute album for my Great Uncle, who is turning 87 this year.  I’m also working on our 2009 Family album. 

Where do I find the time?  Usually I have to get away for a weekend to find time- right now I’m overlooking the ocean, at a condo on the beach.  Been working on my albums all day long- so now I’m taking a break.  But it’s easy to spend 15-30 minutes at a time working on the digital books.  It’s not like having to get out all my scrapbooking supplies and take over the dining table- spending 30 minutes just getting things set up! 

Moral of my story….if you are letting your babies grow up to be jpegs, do something now….before it’s too late!