Building your family photo album

  • Family History Album

Our lives are filled with photographs and storing these in your family photo album becomes a really important issue. These treasured images represent our most valuable memories. The longer that time elapses, the more valuable those memories become.

You may not have realised it before, but each time you take a photograph, in that very moment you have created a family history document. When you have stored a few images — you’re already on the way to building an album of family photographs. Many people save their photographs into folders on a their computer. And then they end up managing those folders themselves. The main problem is that it becomes difficult to manage all those folders, and it also becomes more problematic to look at the entire collection of your family photo album. Furthermore, you can’t search the folders easily, nor can you browse them easily either. Sadly, for many, there’s no folder structure at all and everything appears randomly on their computer systems. Finding anything soon becomes mission impossible in such circumstances. One of the biggest side effects is that it becomes incredibly difficult to backup the entire collection safely.

Digital photos are so easy to download and dare I say it, easy to delete or worse still, loose them altogether because your computer or hard disk has crashed. I’ve seen so many people loose years of photographs in the blink of an eye! All that family history gone forever! And sadly, the family photo album becomes incomplete.

What’s the solution? Here is a three-step process that can help you:

This is the kind of structure you would build for storing your family photos.

This is the kind of structure you would build for storing your family photos.

Step 1: Organise your photos by “event”

Create a parent folder which will be the home for all your photographs in the family photo album. I call mine, “Events”. Then you sort through all your digital photographs. If they were captured using a digital camera, then they should be marked with a date and time of when the photos were taken. Create a folder for each year and then place the photos into an event folder. Then name the folder with the date and a name of the event.

Organising your photos like this makes it a lot easier to search and browse your album. Always create an event folder, even if you have just one photo to go in it. This provides a useful hint of what kind of event the photograph refers to.

Step 2: Use dedicated software for managing collections of photos

Specialised software exists that allows you to manage large collections of photographs. Trying to manage a large number of photographs through folders on a hard disk soon becomes very tedious. I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. This is an excellent piece of software! It is designed for professional photographers, but it is a great solution for managing lots of photographs (like your family photo album). It supports tagging and a numerous other features. Probably the most beneficial to you is the built-in support for printing photobooks with Blurb.

Lightroom's Main Window

Step 3: Backup

There are a number of easy options to backup your collection of photos. You can simply copy your “Events” folder to make a backup to another hard disk. Or even use specialised synchronisation software to sync a master copy of your photos to a mirrored backup. Or you may decide to sync your files to a cloud-based backup solution. But having all your photos under one main parent folder makes it really straightforward to make a backup. I personally have 3 backups of my family album (all on hard disk) and I have one of those backup’s stored off-site at a friend’s house. Just in case the speakable happens at my home.

This simple strategy has worked well for me over the years. I tried all sorts of different approaches and none of them worked. This way of storing and managing your collection of family photographs is an extremely reliable way of doing it. When you add new pictures into the album, its done with forethought and purpose. This system keeps you alert and ensures you never forget to keep your memories safe. Even photographs sent in email or captured on mobile phones goes through this process. I hope this top tip works for you.