ATTN: Parents of Graduates...you can't do this wrong

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My middle child is graduating this year. In addition to the mom emotion of it all, I'm not gonna lie, finding and selecting pics to create graduation keepsakes has been rough. I'm comforted, however, by the fact that I can't do this wrong.

For the most part, I feel pretty good about my photo organizational system. It's not perfect, but I can typically find that proverbial 'needle in a haystack' photo. With that said, finding my favorite pics from my son's life to create graduation keepsakes has been kinda painful. Here are some of the challenges I'm running into and some tips that may be helpful.

1. I haven't kept up. Years ago I started using a process to pull my photos wirelessly off my phone and onto my computer. While it works great for that, it doesn't work so hot when you don't take the time to incorporate those pics into your main collection, or what we call the 'digital hub'. Instead, I have a habit of pulling only the ones I need for the 'project of the day'. See where I'm going with this? I now have 4 years of phone pics that may or may not be in my main collection. Ugh! So I have 2 options. 1) Go through my phone pics and just pull the Ben pics for the 'project of the day', or 2) I can suck it up and take the time to pull them all in and know that I have a deduplication task ahead of me. 

Tip: Suck it up. Take the time and do it the right way now. Your future self will thank you. For me, I need to practice what I preach and keep a date with myself monthly to maintain my organizational system and save myself hours of work when kid #3 graduates...or when the next 'project of the day' comes along.

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2. Pre-digital photos. We got our first digital camera in 2005. Ben was born in 2000, so we have 5 years of extreme cuteness that I need to digitize. Years ago when I purchased my professional scanner, I scanned all of my loose printed photos, so luckily, I have quite a few done. I haven't, however, tackled the albums where I'll find my favorites.

Tip: Digitize all of your favorite photos that you want to pass along now while you are going through photos for graduation. If you only do some of them, you will likely end up re-scanning them someday because you won't remember which ones you scanned. 

For me, as long as I'm taking the time to gather Ben's memories, I'm going all the way, which means I have some sorting and scanning to do. Someday, I'm going to want to hand Ben and my girls a digital archive of their childhood memories and I want it to be complete.

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3. WAY too many pics. When I was going through my 6000+ phone photos, I couldn't believe how bad I have been about deleting pics, such as: when my phone camera took 2 pics instead of 1, photos or screenshots I took to remember something (e.g. grocery list), or the several pics I took to get the perfect photo. In a sense, our cameras are our new 'paper and pencil' and it's creating a mess. I have WAY too many pics from my phone that I don't need or want in our family archive. 

Tip: Delete, delete, delete. Seriously. If I would have been better about doing that, those 6k phone photos probably would be closer to 3k, cutting my work in half. For me, this is a reminder that during that monthly maintenance time, I need to fall in love with that delete button.

4. Tagging pics and marking favorites. If only I had done this well. I am okay at tagging the pics of just Ben (putting them in a 'Ben' folder), but I'm not at all good at going through pics from vacations, holidays or family events and tagging people, which is a bummer because I want to use some of those in his graduation keepsake album and slideshow.  If I would have tagged them, then rated my favorites (you can do this with a click in most photo org software programs), this project would already be done. 

Tip: Until technology catches up and tags pics for us, it's up to us. Why do it?

  1. It's a great time saving tool that helps us find our pictures. Face tagging is already a thing. I can't say it's great in any one program, but it is getting better all the time.
  2. From a preservation perspective, it gives us information about the photo. It's like writing on the back of a printed photo.
  3. Lastly, we are entering a digital age where we are going to expect to 'search' for things instead of 'browse' for them. 'Searching' requires keywords or tags.

Because my pics won't tag themselves by Ben's grad party in June (bummer), I'm going to have to do some manual tagging. I'm telling you right now, it won't be perfect, but it doesn't have to be.

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Graduation is one of those life events where it's really meaningful to look back and see how far our graduates have come. PARENTS - YOU CAN'T DO THIS WRONG! Anytime you bring back these memories and share the stories, you are doing it right. Getting your photos organized can save you a ton of time and probably some frustration, but I encourage you to focus on the reason we should be bringing these photos out. It's not to impress the party goers and it's not because it's expected. We should do it because reliving the memories and telling the stories will touch the hearts of the people we love most, including our own.