How to make the most of your photos

As parents spend hours taking baby photos, Rhiane Kirkby looks at how to make the most of them

Taking photos has never been easier, as most of us carry a camera (in the shape of a smartphone) around in our handbags or pockets. Look at the camera roll on any parent or grandparent’s phone and you’re likely to find hundreds of images of their children – in some cases, a catalogue of their every move! Of course, it’s not just about smartphones, many of us have digital and SLR cameras, too – all of which adds up to an extensive collection of images.

Not too long ago, proud parents would rush to their local photo shop to get them printed, carefully frame the chosen ones and stick the rest in an album. But that was when, with film reels of 24 or 36, there was a manageable amount of pictures to deal with. Nowadays, it’s quite possible that in the first few weeks of a newborn’s life, thousands of images will be taken, and most of these will never see the light of day. “This generation is going to be the most photographed, without a doubt, but will have the fewest physical images to treasure later in life,” says Anna Moreland of Photography for Little People.

Of course, with a camera always at hand, it’s easy to get snap-happy. And while not all of your photos will be worthy of wall space, what can you do with the ones that are? Anna advises you save them in at least two places; to your laptop or the device they were taken, then back them up on an external hard drive (ideally stored at another location). And, if you’re as cautious as her, also save them to an online cloud service such as Microsoft One Drive, Google+, Dropbox, Snapfish or iCloud.

Technology journalist, Casey Newton believes “there’s real value in using dedicated online photo storage.” In his opinion, it doesn’t really matter which service you choose, as “they’ve all evolved to become so similar.” Google+ is his site of choice, though, as there’s no limit on the amount you can store. And with an estimated 900 billion photos uploaded to the web last year, it can’t be that tricky to do – can it?  Not according to Ania Wilk-Lawton, founder of Photography for Parents. “Many of these sites can be configured with your mobile devices, which makes backing up photos easy. In most cases they’re free and allow you to set up sharing preferences and stringent privacy settings so your images can only be viewed by the people you choose.”

While Facebook and Instagram continue to maintain their popularity amongst ‘sharers’, be warned, they’re not the best option for storing your photos. “All your photos are stored in a low resolution,” says Ania, “so you’ll never be able to recover them in the same quality.  Also, as social networks they have a myriad of regulations and one small issue could result in the immediate shut down of your account, leaving you with no way to recover it.”

It’s lucky, then, there are plenty more family-friendly options to choose from. Mum-of-three, Alice Grant, recommends Lifetile, which “stores photos, documents and videos and presents them as a timeline that is easy to share with just our closest family and friends.” On the other hand, SmugMug is Chiswick mum Dani Povey’s site of choice: “It’s great for storage but also sharing, as you can choose which galleries are public and password-protect others.” If you’d rather create a journal on your phone, the free-to-download Tweekaboo app is a good place to start.

Lucy Skennerton, mum to two-year-old Oliver, knows only too well the importance of backing up photos, after losing hundreds when her phone crashed. “I felt like I’d lost a whole heap of memories.” Thankfully, she’d printed some for family and finds it “comforting that these can’t, in theory, be deleted or trashed.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, professional photographers warn that printing and framing your images is the only way to really future-proof them, but there are other options.  Photobooks are a popular choice and with so many sites out there – Photobox, Bobs Books and Blurb, to name a few – you can shop around for competitive deals. Ela Law makes a photobook every year for her two children and while she admits it’s time-consuming, she believes the end result is well worth it.   “William and Milly love to look back through their books. They’re a lovely, tangible memory of their childhood for when they get older.”

If making a photobook seems daunting, you can always start small. Artifact Uprising creates wooden photo calendars with your favourite prints, and Tinyme has a range of magnets. The company proudly boasts that it exists to “rescue the photos of the world from the confines of digital servitude and get them out into the glorious sunshine of physical reality.”  A philosophy we should perhaps all aspire to, given the snap-happy world we now live in.

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