Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tech Tuesday ~ Keeping Those Images Together

And now back to the story of how our family scanned and organized years of slides, photographs and jpegs.

So, now that our images were preserved, protected, published and brought into the 21st century – where did we go from there?

I looked at the photo organizing software available on my PC as well as “for purchase” software.  I also read online reviews of the various programs.  I played around with the program installed on my PC – first Windows Photo Gallery (in Vista) now Windows Live Photo Gallery (in Windows 7).  The earlier iteration (when I started using it) was not as robust as the current iteration and I found the identification and tagging processes clunky.

My sister Karen is a Creative Memories consultant and after playing around with the software I decided to use their photo organizing software program Memory Manager (both for the family images as well as my genealogy) because
  • I find the layout intuitive for the beginner and the advanced user
  • I like their organizing system (customizable for organizing and viewing)
  • I like their editing, captioning, saving and backup capabilities
  • I can easily upload images, audio file and video files to the software
  • I can easily upload my finished images to online social networking sites and photo sites
  • It works with their traditional and digital scrapbook program, Storybook Creator – as a result we are actually using our images!
Disclosure – I have no connection to Creative Memories and purchased both software programs through Karen Keough because hey, she is my sister and I always know where to find a responsive and helpful consultant to answer any questions I have.  I am simply a very satisfied customer and think their products are extremely high quality.   

We uploaded all the jpegs to Memory Manager, the software we maintain on an external hard drive and back up on a separate external hard drive.  In case you think this is overkill, keep in mind that we are constantly adding and editing images in the software and this program contains our most up-to-date images (and metadata).

A screenshot of the Welcome Screen in my Memory Manger
Note it always shows if there is an update and provides the latest news,
similar to my Legacy Family Tree software

A little preplanning at this stage goes a long way to doing it once and doing it efficiently.  I am a big believer in reading, listening, watching and learning about a project before jumping in – my motto is “work smarter, not harder.”  As a result, I save time and effort, make fewer mistakes, and am happier with the results.  I suggest that you check out how others organize their images and watch online tutorials and YouTube videos (whether or not you end up using any particular software).  The key is to set up a system that is simple, that you understand, and that you will actually use!
  • We organized our family’s media library images by setting up sort boxes including
    • event
    • family
    • extended family
    • friends
    • holidays
    • household
    • memorabilia
    • places & trips
  • Our event sort box contains the following folders
    • anniversaries
    • baptisms
    • birthdays
    • confirmations
    • family gatherings
    • first communions
    • graduations
    • school days
    • weddings
  • Our family sort box contains the following boxes
    • Keough family, including folders for 
      • all individuals named (my father, my mother, all my siblings, their spouses, and their children by name)
    • Keough family extended, including folders for
      • my grandparents, and my aunts & uncles’ families
  • Our holidays sort box contains the following folders 
    • Christmas
    • Easter
    • Halloween
    • New Year’s
    • Thanksgiving
  •  My suggestion on sort boxes (or whatever organizing system you use) is to make enough folders to easily find particular images but not so many that you have to drill down too far to find them.  Don’t make this so involved that filing images becomes a chore.  The examples shown above are only a portion of my sorting/filing system.

An example of the organizer (left hand column) shown in greater detail
and the timeline (lower center column)

Our Family Media Library in Memory Manager open with left, center and right work areas – 
Note the sort boxes & folders, the images & timelines, and the properties & work area
The center column shows images that are linked to School Days (176 items) and that 
imgscan_01104 has a date of Jun 1928 and 5 stars

My Grandmother Antonia’s graduation jpeg – note the name (imgscan #), the reference
 that it has been edited, and to what folders the jpeg has been linked

In the “Tell the story” section I wrote that this is my grandmother’s high school 
graduation photo as well as when and from where she graduated; 
you can also change the date (currently the import date); and rate the image – 
this is after I have corrected the image (see below). 

This is an example of resizing the image in order to make corrections 
(see the toggle in the lower left hand corner); 
possible correction might be to clone the curtain area to remove the line 
(fixed in the jpeg shown above).

  • When each image is displayed – the item properties include the following (all of which can be individually or batch edited)
    • name – from your camera’s naming system, scan software, or image importing software
    • date – from your camera’s system or scan software 
    • rating – from 1 to 5 stars; useful as images can be filtered
      • Suggestion – delete poor images or rate them a 1 – then be sure to filter them (for images you want to use) so you don’t work with poor images.
    • tell the story – you can write up information about the image
    • folders – you assign the image to various folders (people, places, events) but it is saved as one image then linked to the various folders

  • Additional reasons I like Memory Manager software (and things to look for in whatever software you choose):
    • work area – allows me to save edited images in a folder and send to my desktop (for my blogs, email, or screensavers), to another program (PowerPoint slides), to social media sites, or to StoryBook Creator for a project. 
    • backup and print track systems (management functionalities) - I am assured of and prompted to maintain a backup and a shadow copy.  The software keeps track of which images I print either through Creative Memories, on my own printer, or through a local printer (e.g., Costco, Target, Walgreens, Walmart, etc.).
    • metadata - on closing the software, all new metadata is written and saved with no further prompting on my part
    • version support - which keeps my original jpeg plus all edited versions layered together
    • layout of the main screen is easy to work with
      • the sort box & folder organization system on the left hand side
      • the media library layout and timeline in the center
      • the item properties and work area in the right hand side
    • help and support provided by Creative Memories – whatever software you decide upon, make sure there is a good support system and someone who can answer questions and provide assistance.  This could be a users’ forum, a blog, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, an email system, or face-to-face assistance (phone calls and perhaps even a Google+ Hangout!).

  • Having uploaded all the images into Memory Manager and organized them by person, place and/or event – and the key here is one image linked to various folders - I have the option of adding the story if and when I have the time to work on it and/or I visit a family member who is better able to “tell the story.”

  • Suggestion:  4 key points 
    • maintain a standard naming system (similar to a RIN), 
    • identify people, events and places,
    • rate your image (and then filter and focus on images starred 3 – 5), and
    • assign a date to your images.  
After that you can do as much or as little as you choose to continue organizing your images.

I have found the following additional resources useful to help learn more about scanning and organizing photos.

Scanning Basics 101 - A Few Scanning Tips by Wayne Fulton (a wealth of information!)
Photo Editing Software at FamilySearch TechTips
How to Scan Genealogy Photos for Archiving at ProGenealogists
Labeling Digital Photos at All About Digital Photos
Copying Family Photos at All About Digital Photos
The Importance of Metadata and Keywords  by Michael Clark
Heritage Collector Suite  from LifeStory Productions, Inc. (I know others enjoy using this software, however I did not find it as intuitive as Creative Memories’ products, but check it out to see if it works for you)

I like having complete control of my photos on an external hard drive, with a shadow copy (backup) constantly made by the software.  I do upload my jpegs to Picasa for my blogs and my Google+ photography project.  However, I simply am not there yet with keeping all my family’s jpegs and my genealogy jpegs and pdfs in the cloud! However, with the constant changes we see in free and paid cloud storage, I might be tempted to change my mind or at least save in an additional place. Today Google Drive with 5 GB free cloud storage went online and Microsoft SkyDrive with 25 GB free for current users and 7 GB for new users is also available. I think more and more of us will combine offline and online storage in the future.

Next week ~ now that you have all those images together, what are you going to do with them?


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