Aug 13, 2018 | By: Virginia L. S. Freire Photography
Don't over think this. Just do it and forgive yourself if it doesn't match your initial vision and the standards of perfection to which you hold yourself. I did.
After years of promising myself that I would make albums for my children from the thousands of photographs housed on my phone and my other cameras toted along to family events, I gave up. The first three years of my daughter's life are sitting on an external hard drive somewhere. It was time to do something, anything, so that my children would actually have a record of their lives, even if not organized in a perfect way.
In my first round, I purchased close to 3,000 4x6 prints from a volume consumer print house — choose your favorite there are tons out there — Shutterfly, Snapfish and more. I chose the 4x6 prints because they are the least expensive and fit neatly in a shoebox. You will get some cropping off of the short edge with the Samsung's native 4:3 image ratio, but you will get cropping on any of the traditional print sizes with the native size from most phones. It has only been a problem on a few of my images.
I loaded them up and ordered them in batches because I couldn't do more than 999 images at a time. I didn't spend time culling. I just put them on my computer from my phone, loaded them to the website, and selected as many as I could and ordered them. So what if I end up with the photos of what toilet we might buy when we renovated a few years ago. I didn't have time.
Then I ordered archival boxes that are basically the same size as the shoeboxes my sister and I dug through when my mother and father turned 70 and we scanned hundreds of photos from our childhood into a digital frame. Now I was reversing the process. Extracting the digital to provide a safe record of life for my kids. You can find archival boxes in different places — even at the Container Store — but I really like the products at Gaylord. These are the boxes I purchased and have options to fit 4x5, 4x6, 5x7, or 8x10 sized prints. I went with 4x6.
Is it perfect? No. I am a fine art portrait photographer. To be honest, I cringe at the color balance and the countless imperfections in the prints that arrived. But it was magical to see my son and daughter sitting on the floor surrounded by their memories. Telling stories, even about things that happened just a a few months ago. And each time a new batch arrives, we all sit around passing the photos from one to the next before adding them to our "shoeboxes."
Now it is part of the system. Once a month, I transfer photos to my computer where they will live to be accessed when we want and where they will be backed up to a cloud server. I load a batch from my phone and print through an app which also makes sure that the photos are living on the cloud with Shutterfly. And Shutterfly offers unlimited free 4x6 prints so all you pay is shipping which ends up being about $25 for 250 images. It averages out to about 10 cents an image. When they arrive, we usually huddle together to go through them and then we load them into our boxes to be saved for a future date when we sit around together — knee to knee and elbow to elbow — reliving our adventures and filling up with love, nostalgia, and warmth as we remember our lives together, where we come from, and what we mean to one another. And someday, my children will sort through these photos with their children — when I am here and long after I am gone. But the next generations will know the stories from their parents, grand-parents, and great-grandparents. They will be connected to the past by tangible memories.