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What To Do with All the Baby Pictures You’re Taking
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You’ve gotta take the pictures. I know. I’ve been there. The smile that changes every couple of weeks. The milestones reached. The funny expressions. The sweet cuddles. These have to be captured in photos! Looking at these photos a year from now, or ten or twenty years from now will make you happy all over again. You need these photos, and your baby will need them, too. And we all know grandparents need photos!
But what do you actually do with all those pictures? Let’s look at a few things you may not have thought about before and then find the perfect solution for your sweet photos.
Digital Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be
What? Actually, it’s true. Most ways we share photos these days are temporary and fleeting. Each social media post is replaced by something new in minutes. Even if you’re not sharing pictures of your baby on social media for grandparents and loved ones to see, technology is a pretty iffy place to trust your baby pictures to.
The reason is that technology is both fickle and changing. Anybody who remembers floppy disks or beta tapes knows what I mean. I’ve got lots of photos saved on CD, but the latest trend in laptops is no disc drive. Will I be able to read those discs 10 years from now? Will disc drives make a comeback? I have no idea. And neither does anyone else.
I’ve actually done a fair amount of research on this. If your computer is three years old, you have a one in five chance of a hard drive crash. If it’s older, the chances increase. One laptop is stolen every 53 seconds. And phones aren’t any safer. Each year, 70 million (!) cell phones are stolen. 100,000 smartphones are ruined by water every day.
You know what this means? The most photographed generation ever is quickly becoming the generation without photos. That’s not what you want for your precious baby photos.
So I’m going to rock your world a little bit now.
Solving the Problem
You might be surprised at the best solution for avoiding all those digital problems. The solution is going old-school! If you Google the best way to store your digital photos, you’ll find lots of suggestions, but something every good article will have in common is to print your photos. No matter what happens to the digital versions of your photos (which is usually out of your control), you’ll have the hard copy—the printed version.
Print is where it’s at. You’ll see here shortly that when I say “print,” that can mean a lot of different things, but something tactile instead of a digital file is the idea.
Most people don’t remember the last time they actually printed a photo. Everything is on phones or computers, and they pretty much just live (and probably die) there. Did you know that a printed photo can last about 200 years? It’s true. There are Civil War-era photos still in existence. I have a whole collection of family photos from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
But guess what?
I don’t have any computers that I had 10 years ago. I don’t have any phones that I had 10 (or even 2) years ago.
I know that digital photo storage is all the rage, but hear me out. People feel like they need their photos in the cloud and on external hard drives, with backups of backups.
But think about this.
The very definition of the word “storage” is to put something away that you don’t intend to use to see. That’s not what photos are for! Like old-school film negatives, having a digital backup somewhere is a great idea.
(Be careful, though, as many digital photo storage companies reserve rights to your photos—you’re literally signing away your private photos for their public use. That link has some creepy examples. This is the only company I know of that doesn’t do that.)
Just don’t forget that digital photo storage is a backup! Like I said, print is where it’s at. That’s where you SEE your photos, not just store them.
The best thing about print, though, is the ability to actually write down memories, thoughts, feelings, dates, and details. I know these are moments you think you’ll never forget, but as someone whose youngest child is now 14 years old, trust me.
Yes, pictures bring memories flooding back, and yes, pictures are worth a thousand words, but memory fades much quicker than you ever think it will. A jpeg file isn’t even worth anything unless you know who is in it and why it was taken.
Preserving your photos in print, complete with some notation and detail, makes them priceless to everyone, not just the person with the memory of it. That’s what will make it important to your baby when he or she is 13 and needs to sit and flip through pages to see how much he or she was adored. There are, in fact, many therapeutic results of memory-keeping!
Four Ideas and a Little Advice
Let me share four fantastic ideas for preserving your baby’s photos in print. The first thing you absolutely have to know, though, is that you shouldn’t get tripped up about printing photos if you think, “I’m not a scrapbooker,” or “I’m not creative.” (Those are both myths, by the way, and I’ve thoroughly busted them here.)
The ideas I will share all have one thing in common: high quality. Believe me when I say that the “buy one get one free” deals you see advertised by photobook companies sound like a good deal but might not be what you really want.
What kind of quality does “free” usually get you? I always say that if you’re going to spend time (and money) on preserving photos and memories, you only want to spend it once. You don’t want to have to re-do it five years down the road because it fell apart. (And I do actually know people who try to get bargains in the memory-keeping department and end up regretting it within the year! It’s amazing how cheaply some things are made.) So what I’ll share is high-quality, which is the most important thing to me personally!
And just a little advice. I’ve been helping people with their photos and memories for 13 ½ years now, and in that time I’ve seen the number of photos people take just increase and increase to the point that people are swimming in their photos. They’re often completely overwhelmed at actually preserving their photos in print because they just have too many of them.
My advice is to take as many as you like but then choose your favorites to print. Narrowing down to just your favorites makes memory-keeping much less daunting. It makes it doable. And fun. (If you’re overwhelmed with your photos, I’ve got a video for you with some strategies and solutions right here.)
Idea 1: Baby Yearbook
I love this idea because it’s organized so well. There are pages for each month of baby’s first year, so you kind of already know where all the pictures go. How easy is that? You can see the whole book, page by page, at this website then clicking “Template Gallery” at the upper right. From there, click “browse the gallery,” then enter 145221 in the search field.
There are lots of other templates, by the way, so if you’d like a different style or book size, type “baby book” into the search field. Keep in mind that all templates are FULLY editable, which means you can change EVERYTHING. If you want two pictures instead of three, you can do that. More text, less text, different font—you can do that.
There’s even an adoption storybook there, too! And, of course, you can make something from a blank book instead of the templates if you prefer. All the digital artwork is part of the program so you don’t buy any of it!
And this doesn’t have to stop at Baby’s First Year, either. I have a friend who does one of these books for each of her kids each year! She literally sits down once a month with her pictures and does a page or two for each kid. It makes it totally do-able for her, and the kids look forward to it every year.
Instructions on getting started with Baby Yearbooks are right here.
Idea 2: Baby Connections Books
This is a great idea for a toddler or little kid and would make a fantastic gift! This will probably only have one or two pictures of your babe, and then you’ll add pictures of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Each page highlights someone special who loves your little one. It can be a wonderful way to make connections across the miles, too, if your family members aren’t close by.
This photo below is one I made for my nephew when he was born. It’s called Guess Who Loves Me. In the book, there’s a description of a family member on the right page with an opportunity for him to guess who loves him, then when he turns the page he finds a picture with the answer.
I also made another very special book for baby connections, one that’s very dear to my heart. When my mom passed away three years ago, my brother and sister-in-law worried a lot that their toddler daughter would never get to know my mom, her grandma. I made her this book called Grandma Loves Me. I decided the best way for my niece to really get to know my mom in a simple way was to list out all the things my mom loved. One of the things she loved the very most was her grandchildren, including my niece.
(You can read the story of how my niece reacted to the book and how it has become a bedtime reading staple here.)
These little Board Books are sturdy and just perfect for kids! Like the Baby Yearbooks, these books are high-quality and the templates are fully editable. Instructions on getting started with books that make connections for Baby are right here.
Idea 3: Pocket Pages
If you like the idea of preserving your baby’s photos by printing them out in traditional 4×6 picture prints and putting them in an album, I highly recommend Pocket Pages. The reason I love this method is that it’s so darn fast!
Order your pictures then just slide them in the pockets! All the cutesy stuff shown in this kit is obviously optional, but be sure you use one of the pockets on each page to slide in a paper with your memories and details of the photos on it!
If this looks like a good solution for what to do with all the pictures you’re taking of your baby, you can find more information on Pocket Scrapbooking here.
Idea 4: Digital Scrapbooking
If you like the idea of preserving photos and memories digitally using individual pages that are high-quality and professionally printed, digital scrapbooking is your dream come true.
This has been my go-to method for years and years, and I hold it fully responsible for allowing me to be consistently caught up preserving my pictures and memories in print!
This method obviously requires you to make additional purchases—a binder or cover of some sort—but since the pages are not bound you have a lot of flexibility for moving things around. Eventually, your baby pictures are going to be kindergarten pictures so you may want space to slide in your kiddo’s handprints or other artwork. This is one big reason I love this method.
You can see exactly how digital scrapbooking works (and why I use this particular company) right here—and it includes a video tutorial so you can actually “look over my shoulder” to see how fun digital scrapbooking is and how it helps me stay caught up on my memory-keeping.
Encouragement for Moms
Moms have a lot to do—all the time. I remember the days when showering was the last thing on my to-do list and still didn’t get done. (Okay, that’s still sometimes true and my youngest is in high school now.) I know sometimes pictures can also be that thing you put off and put off until it falls off the list.
But families and kids need pictures far more than we realize. We need what comes from making a record of our lives—the sense of purpose, the increased happiness, the greater self-esteem and resilience.
You can even think outside the box to make memory-keeping happen, such as making it a family tradition!
Especially during those years of mothering little ones, moms need care! I hope you are reserving some YOU time for meditation, reading, prayer, or any type of activity that fills your bucket. Don’t forget that personal growth from memory-keeping is the real deal! It can soothe your soul in many ways (several of which are listed at that link). It’s truly self-care and wellness.
So keep taking those sweet pictures of your little one! They will only increase in value over time–as long as they are preserved in an accessible way complete with their stories (your memories).
Choose one of these four great methods and get started! There’s no time like right now. The less time that passes before you write down your memories of these moments captured in photos, the easier memory-keeping is, and the more meaningful your books will be.
If you need a memory-keeping teammate, contact me.
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Jennifer Wise is a wife and a mom of three. She loves traveling, the beach, new recipes, laughing, creativity, and homemade guacamole, but not always in that order. She holds a B.A. degree in Humanities and loves what the arts do for the soul. She is an occasional American Sign Language interpreter for the Deaf, and she currently teaches an early morning scripture class to a fantastic group of high school students. She is a Heritage Makers consultant, passionate about the power of photos and memories when they are recorded and preserved, so she blogs about it every week at www.lifetalesbooks.blogspot.com. She is also the #familyhistoryfriday contributor at www.livegrowgive.org where she writes about family, photos, stories, and connections. She is a Christmas addict and collects both nativity sets and Christmas ornaments. Her first guest post at Confessions of Parenting was Bringing Christ into Christmas.