Welcome, Memory Keepers!

Whether you are new to memory keeping, or are a seasoned, avid scrapbooker, you know that there are many, and varied, methods of memory keeping.  If you are confused about which method is the “right” way to preserve your memories, then please remember this one crucial point:  there is no “one” or “right” way to preserve your memories!  Memory keeping is as individual as you are, and is accomplished by many methods, from photo organization and storage to photo display in albums and home decor, and this site is dedicated to all those methods.  So, if you’re looking for some tips about how to store your photos safely, or you want some creative paper crafting ideas to decorate your scrapbook pages, then you’ve come to the right place.  You will also find information about, and links to, various products that will help you with your memory keeping journey.  Enjoy browsing the site!

Categories: Uncategorized

“A birth certificate shows that you were born, a death certificate shows that you died, a photo album shows that you lived.” — Author Unknown

Categories: Uncategorized

“In 50 years, the most photographed generation in history will have no pictures.  Print what you want to preserve.” — Missy Mwac

Categories: Uncategorized

Where Should I Print My Photos?

I am often asked for my opinion about the best place to print photos. Since I have been focusing on digital album making, and had become frustrated with the quality of photo prints over the last few years so had not printed photos in a while, I decided it was time to do a little research and find a place to print my photos.

My primary focus was quality, because if I am going to spend the money on printing my photos, I want the highest quality I can find. I chose to evaluate online printing services that ship directly to my home. Some of the services also offer in-store printing or pickup, but the in-store printing may be different than the online printing, and I wanted to compare apples to apples.

I chose 15 photos for my test. None were edited before sending off to print. Some photos were taken with a cell phone, and some were taken with a DSLR. The selection included a variety of subjects and backgrounds, taken indoors and outdoors, of people and pets, dark subjects and bright subjects, bright colors (particularly red, which is a color that can be challenging to print well) and muted colors. Some photos are casual snapshots and some are photography. The photos I chose are below, so you can see the range of subjects and colors. (All photos are copyrighted, so may not be copied, snipped, downloaded or shared.)

The printing services I chose for my experiment were ones that had been recommended by fellow scrapbookers, who print a LOT of photos and who are rather particular about them. I uploaded all 15 photos to the following eight printing services: AdoramaPix, Costco, MPix, Persnickety Prints, RitzPix, Shutterfly, Snapfish, and York Photo. I chose not to test Walgreens, Walmart or CVS because their online portals are powered by Snapfish, and Target offers store pickup from Shutterfly, both of which were already covered.

I ordered prints using the default settings unless the settings were easy to change, because that’s how most people would quickly order. I prefer matte photos over glossy because I think the colors are more true, and I prefer the automatic color correction be turned off. A quick note here about color: unless your computer monitor has been calibrated with a system such as Spyder, the colors you see on your screen are not necessarily the true colors in the actual photo. So, I find it best to TURN OFF the auto color correction when printing to see how the original photo looks. If you have edited your photos before sending them to print, you should definitely turn off the auto color correction. Turning off the auto color correction is not intuitive on some sites, so you may have to do a little searching to find it. I had to Google how to turn it off in Shutterfly.

Once I received my prints, I wrote on the back of each photo where it was printed and the price per print. To be as objective as possible, I shuffled the stack of each photo, while looking away, and laid them out on a table in an area with a lot of natural light and no glare, and compared them. I did this with each of the 15 photos. One service quickly stood out, and I discovered that I wanted to test one of the other printing services again, this time with the auto color correction off and with a matte finish, so I sent off another round of photos.

Most people won’t be able to tell the difference among the prints from the various printing services, because the differences are subtle, for the most part. But a couple of things stood out. The prints from RitzPix were consistently dark, and the prints from York Photo had a very slight yellowish tint, just enough to bother me with my sensitivity to color. Snapfish uses Kodak Paper rather than the higher quality Kodak ENDURA or Fujicolor Crystal Archive that are used by the other services. The thinner paper was noticeable and was disappointing.

In my opinion, MPix offers the best quality, and is the best choice for photography photos. It was the only service that picked up the subtle hues in my photos, which is important when those hues are crucial to the story. However, there were others that were very close, and are perfectly fine for everyday (non-photography) photos: Costco, Persnickety Prints, and Shutterfly. AdoramaPix was close, too, but they failed to recognize my one vertical photo, which came back printed horizontally. With both Costco and Shutterfly, I highly recommend that the auto color correction be turned OFF. There was a definite difference with Shutterfly between the auto color correction being on or off, which determined my opinion of their print quality.

My primary focus was quality, but I know that price enters the equation for most people, too. While it’s true, for the most part, that you get what you pay for, for some people the cost is a large determining factor. The price per print ranged from nine cents (Snapfish and York Photo) to twenty-nine cents (MPix and Persnickety) per print, which is a significant difference, so quality may very well be sacrificed over quantity. However, if you prefer the price point of Snapfish, then I suggest that you check out the pre-paid print plans with Shutterfly, which offer the same price with the higher quality paper. Most of the printing services have similar print plans, coupons, discounts, and sales.

So, bottom line, which printing service will I use personally? My top two choices are MPix (for the photography pics) and Shutterfly (for the everyday photos, with a pre-paid print plan), although I will definitely keep an eye out for sales on MPix because it is my number one, top choice. I’m on their email list now, and I’ve already seen one sale.

Below is a table that summarizes my findings. I hope this information has been helpful, and I hope you get those photos printed so that you and your family can enjoy them in your beautiful albums!

Capture Photo Printing Services Table



Categories: Fast to Fabulous Album Making, Photo Preservation, Photos, Traditional Scrapbooking, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Facebook and Your Photos

Once again, a slew of “legal notice” posts on individual Facebook pages denouncing Facebook’s policy on intellectual property runs rampant following Facebook’s announcement of a revision to their terms of services, which becomes effective Jan. 1, 2014. After reading Facebook’s terms of service, I want to discuss photos, and the implications of sharing, and storing, them online.

First of all, Facebook does NOT “own” your photos, despite all the rumors to the contrary. Let’s be clear on that. However, according to their terms of service, when you post a photo on Facebook, you are giving Facebook “a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License).” That means Facebook can, indeed, use any photos that you post because, by agreeing to their terms of service when you opened your account, you gave them permission to do so. Furthermore, even if you delete your photos from Facebook, if you shared any of those photos with friends and those photos remain on a friend’s page, then Facebook continues to hold a license to use them. But Facebook doesn’t own them.  Oh, by the way, posting a notice on your page stating that Facebook doesn’t have permission to use your photos is invalid. You agreed to the terms when you created your account and you can’t change the terms.

So, is there anything you can do besides quit posting photos on Facebook or close your account? There are always precautions, but in this digital age, if someone is determined to get a copy of any photo online, there are ways to obtain it. Your privacy settings will determine who initially sees your photos in your timeline, but once a photo has been shared with a friend, you have lost control of the photo. The more photos that are shared among your friends, the more likely someone you don’t know will see it and may decide to download it. So, the first thing you need to do is decide if each photo you post is one that you are comfortable having show up anywhere in the world. (Go to my Facebook page through the above link to see an article I posted about a family whose photo did indeed end up all over the world.) Those people who have public pages and who accept every friend request they receive, even if they don’t personally know that person, are particularly vulnerable.

Another thing you can do is watermark your photos. It’s not completely foolproof, however, because anyone with decent PhotoShop skills can remove the watermark, but it’s a deterrent to most people, and it’s a written notification of your ownership. Below is a photo that I have edited to include a watermark. I used Historian, a photo organization and editing software, to create this watermark. It’s quick and easy, and there are several options for formatting the watermark, such as the ability to change the text of the watermark, change the font, change the angle of the watermark (the example below is 45 degrees), change the opacity (busy photos require a higher opacity), and place the watermark in the center of the photo only, or to repeat the watermark over the entire photo. Your copyright notice should include the copyright symbol or word, the year of the copyright, your name or entity’s name, and the words “all rights reserved.” A third thing you can do as a deterrent is lower the resolution of your photo, which can also be done in Historian, which would make the photo fine for viewing in Facebook, but not for enlarging and printing.

Downloaded from FB

The only photos that are required to be public on Facebook are your timeline’s cover photo and your profile pic. So, if that makes you uncomfortable, you can use stock photos, leave those two spots empty of a photo, or you can use photos that have watermarks. If you have an album of all your cover and profile pics, you can change the privacy settings on all those photos so that you can limit who sees them. Otherwise, the public can see all of your previous cover and profile pics, even if your page is private. Simply click on the album and then the photos to view each individual photo. For each photo, under your name is a little globe that you click and then change the privacy setting to your preference. You have to change the setting for each photo in the album, which takes a little time, but may be worth it to you. Please note that you will not be allowed to change the privacy setting of the cover and profile pics you are currently using.

Now, I have to admit that I cringed when one of my Facebook friends posted a large number of photos on Facebook with the message that they needed to clear some photos off their phone, so were posting on Facebook to store them. While I enjoyed viewing their photos, I wanted to remind them that Facebook is not configured to be a photo storage site. Facebook would not be a free site if they were to “store” the millions or billions of photos that are posted every day. That requires an exorbitant amount of virtual space, which is expensive. So, what Facebook does is compress all photos, up to 80%. This means that if you post a photo to Facebook and download it later, you will not receive the original file. This can greatly decrease the printing quality, especially if you want to enlarge the photo. I tested a photo from my cell phone, with an original size of 1.92 MB (1,920 KB), by uploading it to Facebook and then downloading it. The downloaded photo had a size of 184 KB. That’s a compression rate of almost 90%. That photo might very well be pixelated when printed.

If you want to store your photos online, it’s best to use a website that is designed for that purpose. Flickr is an online photo sharing site that allows photos to be uploaded and downloaded in their original size, has extensive privacy settings, allows you to share photos with family and friends in various privacy configurations, and offers one terabyte of storage for free. However, they are very clear that the site is for sharing photos, so if there is not enough activity, they have the right to close your site. Online photo printing sites often offer online storage; however, some of these printing companies have gone out of business, leaving customers with short notice at best, and lost photos at worst. Always check the format in which your photo is stored, how much storage is available, and what happens to your photos if you exceed the allocated storage limit. It would also be a good idea to check their terms of service, too, to make sure your photos remain private.

A new online storage site to join the photo storage scene is Forever, which offers guaranteed permanent online storage for your lifetime plus 100 years after your death. You can organize your photos on the site, share them with family and friends, and maintain original photo size and privacy. They offer long-term photo migration, so when (not “if” — this is technology, you know) photo formats change, they will migrate your photos to the new format. It’s an interesting and innovative concept, and I recently purchased a Forever account for myself.

The final advice I offer about online storage is to never delete the original photo, whether taken with a camera, cell phone or tablet, and to always keep a copy on your computer that is backed up regularly.

Only you can make the decisions and choices that fit your comfort zone about having photos online, so it’s always a good idea know what options are available to you.

Categories: Digital Scrapbooking, Memory Keeping, Photo Editing, Photo Organization, Photo Preservation, Photos | Tags: , | Leave a comment

CM is Now Open!

I am very excited to announce that the new CM is now open! After months of anticipation, memory keepers can once again order their favorite strap hinge, photo safe album.

The CM Group will carry both the Creative Memories and the Ahni & Zoe lines of photo albums. The CM line will include traditional book cloth cover sets with blank pages in white, spargo, and natural, along with page protectors, decorative paper packs, tape runner, and pens. Creative Memories albums have been a favorite among scrapbookers since 1987 because of their high quality, lifetime guarantee, and photo safe pages.

The Ahni & Zoe line will include the award-winning Fast 2 Fabulous albums with the trendy, soft-touch laminate cover sets and the pre-designed pages with themes such as travel, baby, school, sports, love, and holiday. Although pre-designed, these pages also offer the same quality and photo safety as CM’s traditional pages. Below are photos of the lovely, softly classic, Fast2Fab holiday album, with pages that are ready for photos and that can be completed in only an hour or so.

Along with all the great new albums, CM now offers a refreshing, unique business opportunity for those who wish to share the memory keeping vision. For a low annual fee that covers the cost of the website, a CM advisor can choose how to work their business, with no minimums and no personal volumes, group volumes, or leader requirements. There are no titles or ranks; everyone is an Advisor. And the Advisor chooses how to do business, whether it’s home parties or workshops or one-on-one consultations. Each Advisor has only one level of Advisors on their team, which can be an unlimited number of Advisors — no building of multiple levels. This business model is totally unique to the direct sales industry.

You can read more about the new CM in the press release posted below. And you can view all their albums, read their blog, and learn about the business opportunity on my website by clicking on the “My Business Website” link in the right sidebar. This is definitely exciting news for the scrapbooking and memory keeping community!


Creative Memories Reopening Press Release

Categories: Fast to Fabulous Album Making, Memory Keeping, Product Info, Scrapbooking, Traditional Scrapbooking | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Interacting vs. Amassing Photos

“The sheer volume and lack of organization of digital photos for personal memories discourages many people from accessing and reminiscing about them.  In order to remember, we have to access and interact with the photos, rather than just amass them.”  — Linda Henkel, Psychological Scientist

In this age of digital photos, we are taking more photos than ever before in history. Without the restriction of a set number of photos available on a roll of film, and with memory cards increasing in capacity, and with the convenience of taking photos with smart phones, we can take a seemingly endless number of photos and then decide which ones to keep later. But, in reality, do we really take that last step of deciding which ones to keep? Or, for that matter, do all the photos even find their way off the memory card or smart phone and end up on the computer . . . and in organized folders, to boot? In my 17 years as a professional memory keeper, I have experienced how the changes that have occurred in photography impact memory keeping. While digital photos make some aspects easier, they also create a huge, overwhelming task that extends from memory cards and phones to multiple computers and online sharing sites. This is a virtual task, a task that was formerly restricted to the physical photo prints that were stored in shoe boxes — physical prints that we touched and enjoyed and placed lovingly into our albums, physical albums that occupied physical space on our bookshelves, that could be pulled and viewed, with physical pages to turn. This physical interaction with our photos is what makes them alive for us. And, although digital photography is great for the instant gratification of sharing on social media or with the participants of a group activity, and for allowing us to take a virtually endless number of photos so we can be sure to capture a few outstanding moments, these poor photos are gathering virtual dust, because in the exhilaration of our photo taking frenzy, we have lost the control of organization, and have begun to amass photos and not interact with them.  As an amateur photographer, I plead guilty to this phenomenon.  In the era of film photography, I would consume a 36 exposure roll of film every month, for a total of 432 photos a year, a large number of photos at that time.  In the last five years, in the era of digital photography, I averaged about 3000 photos a year.  That is a ridiculous number of photos to organize and print and place into photo albums, so how would you even begin to interact with them and enjoy them, especially if they are scattered among several devices?

Here are a few ideas that may help you begin to organize your photos so that you can find them, print your favorites, and interact with them:

1. Choose one computer to house all your photos from all your devices. You don’t necessarily have to remove your photos from your other devices, just copy them onto the one computer designated to be the central resource.  If you do not know how to copy from your devices or upload from your memory card, please find someone to help you.  It’s quite easy once you know how.

2. Decide your organizational scheme.  You can organize your photos by year, type of event, etc. Choose a scheme that coincides with your thinking process, one that comes naturally to you so that you won’t forget what that scheme is. Choose what works for you, because this time, it really is all about you.

3. Copy and organize photos from one device at a time. For once, do NOT look at the big picture! To keep from being overwhelmed, just focus on one device or memory card at a time. Take your time; this project is too important to rush and does not need to be finished in a day.

4. Use a photo organization software to assist with locating photo files. If your designated computer already has photos on it, but they are scattered among the various folders, use a photo organization software to assist you in locating those files. An easy software program to use is Historian by Panstoria (see link on the right sidebar).  It will scan your computer for photo files and then bring them all together into the program.  It does not move your photo files, it simply makes a copy and puts them all together. You can then organize your photos in the program and add notes to each photo to remember the details. It even has a face recognition feature.

5. Start printing your favorites, one event at a time. You don’t have to be completely organized to start printing your photos. Choose one event to print, and once you receive the prints, put them into an album so your photos can be easily accessed (no electricity or batteries required!). A simple, photo safe, pocket page album will suffice.  Try to limit your printed photos to the relevant and the favorite ones so that you are not overwhelmed. Of course, only you know what is important to you.

Once you realize how much you enjoy interacting with your photos, despite how many you have amassed, your photos will become more meaningful to you, and your memories will stay with you.

Categories: Memory Keeping, Photo Organization, Photos | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Fast to Fabulous

One of the fears about scrapbooking is that it is a time consuming hobby that requires a huge expenditure in specialized tools, as well as an abundance of creativity.  Whew, I’m exhausted from simply writing that sentence!  While scrapbooking truly can be all of those things, it absolutely isn’t necessary.  Memory keeping is all about the stories, and the stories can be told very simply and very quickly.

The traditional scrapbook consists of blank pages that are wonderfully flexible and beg to be filled with photos, memorabilia, and any other enhancements that appeal to the memory keeper.  But those blank pages can be intimidating to many, if not most, people.  How many photos should be on a page?  Should the photos be matted with coordinating colored paper? What about stickers, or ribbon, or paper flowers, etc.?   Suddenly, you’re envisioning an expensive trip to the hobby store, and calculating the hours that you will spend creating each . . . and every . . . page.  Then you throw up your hands in frustration and decide that scrapbooking just isn’t for you.  (Seriously, who HAS that kind of time?)

Don’t despair!  And please don’t give up on sharing your story!  Those photos of Junior playing in his first soccer game are just too important to store on a computer (or in a shoe box if you’re a member of the film generation).  There are options that can be completed very quickly, and can even have the “true” scapbook look, and I’m going to share one of my favorites:  Fast to Fabulous albums by Ahni & Zoe.  These Fast2Fab (a.k.a. F2F) albums are scrapbook albums that will look like decorative scrapbook albums when finished, but only require a couple of hours to complete.  These award-winning albums have pages that are pre-decorated so all you have to do is adhere your photos to the page in the designated spots.  Some people refer to this as “slapbooking” — you just slap the photos on the page and you’re finished!

So, just who is Ahni & Zoe, and how do you get your hands on one of the fabulous albums?  Ahni & Zoe is one of the brand names sold by the CM Group, who also sells the Creative Memories brand.  Creative Memories is known world-wide for producing the highest quality of photo-safe albums.  The Ahni & Zoe brand albums are the same high quality, just with the pre-designed pages and the trendy, soft-touch laminate covers.  So, even when you need to finish a project very quickly, whether for yourself or as a gift, you still get the highest quality album on the market.  Did I mention these albums make great gifts?  Below is a photo sampling of some of the Fast2Fab albums, in both the 12×12 and the 8×8 size.

I absolutely love these albums, and think they are a superb solution for those who want their photos in a decorative album without expending a lot of money or time.  Your time is better spent making more memories!

Categories: Fast to Fabulous Album Making, Memory Keeping | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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