Many of us have received photos, photo albums, boxes and/or scrapbooks from our parents and grandparents. Back in first half of the 20th century not many pictures were taken and the ones that passed on were treasured, that is if you knew who was in the picture. Fast forward to the present where we are taking pictures at breakneck speed. The problem isn’t too few pictures, but too many.
Look at your shelves of the dozens of albums or boxes of photos and think about what really is important to pass on to your loved ones that tells the story of your life. Trust me, no one looks forward to inheriting 30 photo albums from their parents, however, they will cherish a smaller, curated collection.
Start thinking of our photo (and media) legacy now. If you plan on passing on any of your photos, videos and film to our children or other relatives, I can guarantee they don’t want everything. However, they do want something.
“A photo estate is a collection of photos, film, video, documents, and memorabilia organized in a manner that allows another person or person to view the photos, learn about the lives documented, and be impacted by the legacy of those people.”
Don’t be overwhelmed by the term. The concept of a photo estate or a legacy collection is simple, find the important stuff that tells your story, digitize or preserve it, and share it with your loved ones.
Here are 8 steps to help you create your Photo Estate
Gather together all of your media – including, photos, slides, videos, film, and memorabilia together.
Organize your media. This is a good time to eliminate duplicates and bad or unimportant photos and slides.
Scan your important photos, slides and documents and convert video and film. After conversion, you can also sort out bad video and films from the collection.
Combine your scanned items with your existing digital collection (assuming that is organized).
Add the stories to your photos and other media. What is important about this photo or video? This can be added to digitally to photos through the metadata saved to each picture.
Did you know that Amazon Prime Members have access to unlimited photo storage? Since many people already pay for Amazon Prime, I decided to download the service and check it out and see what it has to offer. What does Amazon Photos storage include? For Prime Members they will store unlimited photos at full resolutions and up to 5 GB of video files.
Part of my work as a photo organizer is to assess different photo organization storage systems. The downside is that I have my photos in far too many locations, let’s just say they are pretty well backed up.
I do have a unique situation. Our “Photo Hub” is actually a Network Attached Storage Drive (NAS). It is running in a raid (two drives with the same information). It is sort of a backup, but not a safe offsite backup which I recommend to clients. I already run Backblaze to backup my entire computer. This is a cloud backup service that is very reasonably priced. Backblaze backs up my entire computer and will also backup attached external hard drives to the cloud. The problem is a NAS is not the same as an external hard drive. I discovered that cloud backups of NAS drives can be very expensive, primarily because they are often commercial products that hold large amounts of data.
I discovered that Amazon Photos will backup my photos directly from my NAS. Woo-hoo!
You will need to go to Amazon and install the Photos Desktop App that looks like this:
So, I got started. My Photos folder on the NAS contained about 270 GB of data, mostly photos but also some videos. It took about 3 days to upload the photos. We just switched to Metronet that has much faster upload speeds than Comcast. Expect it to take much longer with Comcast. Also, if you are streaming a lot of movies this month, and who isn’t, you might go over your data limit. That is part of the reason we got rid of Comcast was that I frequently had to upload and download photos from clients from the cloud.
I reached Amazon’s 5 GB video limit almost instantaneously. I wasn’t surprised. Anyone that has a smartphone and takes an average number of videos and has videos saved with their photos, will run into the same problem.
What to do? This is where Amazon gets its extra money. You can get 100 GB of video (and documents) storage for $19.99/year and 1 TB for $59.99/year. They also offer larger plans. I just finished a large conversion project with about 300 GB of video, so I needed to go with the larger plan. I was able to add my about 260 GB of videos at a later date and they downloaded overnight!
Note that your files are getting uploaded to Amazon Drive that will be accessed by Amazon Photos. This is what it looks like on Amazon Drive. On the left sidebar, you can click on Amazon Photos to open up a Window for Amazon Photos.
Another feature is a Family Vault that allows up to 5 family members to share their photos to this library. That can be a nice way to get photos from your family members.
You can also set up the app on your phone to automatically download your photos. It will download to a directory on Amazon Drive and Photos will access the photos from there.
When I open Amazon Photos, frankly it looks like every other automatic photo program. You see a mass of images/videos on the page that are automatically organized by date and time.
Here is the Home Screen for Amazon Photos.
If you scroll down the screen farther you can see how Photos categorizes photos, including a breakdown of year and month.
Organizing automatically by date and time can problem for many people.
I have a meticulously organized collection organized by chronology and events. Amazon Photos does not recognize any sort of folder structure you might have set up.
Anyone that has pre-digital photos and videos will see a big mess of files that are basically organized by the date they were digitized/converted unless someone had gone through the effort of changing the EXIF data in all the photos and videos. Not likely. Not even me.
If you have any digital pictures that were organized in a folder structure but had the wrong data in the metadata, they are also not going to end up where you want them.
However, you can go to the Amazon Drive Backup directory (https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive) to see the existing photo structure. These are two different applications, but one set of files. You can’t see this in Amazon Photos.
What I like about Amazon Photos?
It backs up your photos at full resolution. If you need to download them back from Amazon, they will be returned at full resolution and the metadata remains intact. Google Photos compresses files and Apple Photos returns different resolutions based on how you share them.
You can access the photos anywhere you have access to the internet.
People tagging is easy and efficient. None of these programs are perfect though, and many of my daughters’ pictures were mixed up. You can fix it on each photo. This feature is proprietary and can only be used in the Photos program right now.
It also picks up “places and things”. You can search for beach or Orlando or other places or things that Amazon detects in your photo. It also lists the options on the sidebar.
The location information with a map showing when you click to get information is nice. The picture below was taken from an airplane. I had no idea where it was specifically taken, but my GPS was recorded in the image. I love geotagging.
The search function is nice. It will search the file name information as well as places and things and it does it quickly.
You can do basic photo editing in the program. However, the changes will not go back to the original files on your computer. When you edit it will ask you to save as a copy.
You can order prints or create projects directly from Photos. I could see myself doing that. You can create albums of photos for particular projects, you can either download the specific photos you want to use (without impacting originals or use their services to create projects.
Other issues with Amazon Photos
If you make changes to the filenames in the folder it is watching for backup, it will create a duplicate file. The program will only make additions to your backup folder.
I have found other duplicates that I can’t explain, especially from the phone download. Amazon will use the same file name but add info in parentheses. Some have suggested not using or disabling this feature for this reason.
It is possible to create albums based on Amazon Drive Folder Structure, but you have to do this one directory at a time. It is probably not worth the effort.
I can’t see any metadata such as descriptions or keywords that I might have added to the photo. You also can’t add any.
You can’t change file names and you can’t sort your photos by file name. For those of us who put dates in the file name, especially for old files, this decreases the program’s functionality.
It is possible to change the date and times of files. However, if you choose a grouping of files it will make all the dates and times identical. Other programs offer the option of a time shift.
Inability to make “smart albums.” Other photo organizing software allow you to set parameters to create albums, this does not.
This is by no means a complete how-to for Amazon Photos, but I wanted to give you the feel of the program before you might want to commit time and effort to it.
The issues related to not being able to make changes to metadata or file names may be because Amazon Photos Backup sends files in only one direction – from your device to the cloud. The Backup feature Photos is not Syncing like in DropBox or Google Photos. That is not necessarily a bad thing though. In this case, I want a backup.
There is a syncing option in Photos/Drive that I have not addressed in this review.
Know that Amazon Drive and Amazon Photos are two different applications. However, the photos you load into Amazon Drive will show up in Amazon Photos. Photos you Backup into with Amazon Photos will show up in the Backup Directory on Amazon Drive.
If you want to use Photos for a backup, understand the folder structure won’t show up in Photos, only in Drive.
If all your photos are digital originals and don’t have date issues, this can be an effective way to backup files.
I would not use Amazon Photos to Organize your photos.
It is a great way to access your photos from the cloud. You can share them to a TV via Firestick and the Fire TV Amazon Photos app and you can post to social media from Photos. If you have a Tablet, it can be a great way to access photos to show to others.
Whenever I talk to a new client, one of the first questions I ask is whether they have a backup plan for their photos. If they don’t, it will be the first thing we do. Why? Digital media is very prone to have failures. Here are a number of ways we can lose our photos:
Electricity spike fries hard drive or computer
We drop or phone, hard drive or laptop
Fires, floods and other natural disasters
Hard Drive Failure for no apparent reason
Corruption of individual files
Stolen phone, camera, computer
Here are examples of what files may look like once they have become corrupted. More likely though, you won’t be able to open the files at all.
This can happen and you won’t even know it. But it will happen inevitably if you keep your photos on one device for a long period of time. Unfortunately, it is not “if” it will happen, but when it will happen.
What can we do? Photo Organizers will tell our clients to subscribe to the 3-2-1 system to for your photo backup. 3 – Copies of our photos 2 – Different media they are copied to 1 – Copy of the photos offsite It sounds overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
START WITH AN LOCAL BACKUP OF YOUR ENTIRE COMPUTER. The first things we will do is get an onsite backup of your ENTIRE COMPUTER. Don’t try to organize things first! Purchase an external hard drive (EHD) that is at least twice the size of your computer’s hard drive to dedicate to backups. You can find 2-4 TB Hard Drives locally from $50-$150. Setup a backup to run frequently to this external hard drive. For Macs you will use Time Machine and it will automatically want to set it up for backups. For PCs using Windows you can use File History or a program like Genie Timeline to setup your backup. Some EHD’s come with software installed to backup your computer. With that done you now have your photos in two different places- but not two different media.
PRINT YOUR PHOTOS – this is also a photo backup I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you PRINT your photos. Not all of them. Not all at once. This will help protect you from any sort of technical failure. In my personal collection I have had to re-scan photos from my albums that had become corrupt on my hard drive. I wouldn’t have been able to do it had I not printed them on the first place
ONE COPY OFFSITE The easiest way for us to do this is to store your data in the cloud through the internet. Yes, there are plenty of places we can safely store our photo backup. I recommend a backup service for your entire computer such as Backblaze. You can back up your computer and your EHDs with the service for about $50 a year. Other options include Carbonite and Mozy.
Another option for offsite storage is to periodically back up your information and put in a safe deposit box or keep at friend or family member’s home. This may not always work in a case of a natural disaster.
I always thought one of the advantages of living in the Midwest was the ability to take advantage of our inside time in the winter to work on inside projects without feeling guilty. One of my favorite activities is to finish up my yearly albums in January, although, I admit I am also behind!
Our photos don’t get in our way or remind us that they need to be taken care of. We don’t trip over them, or there isn’t a “maintenance light” to tell us it is time to spend some time organizing and sharing them. Unfortunately, it becomes important when there is an all too frequent technology problem that could put them all in jeopardy like the woman who posted her photos on Facebook featured in my Jan 10 Blog Post. Sometimes a water leak, flood or fire destroys our precious photos.
We need to make careful choices about where we store and backup our photos to help prevent these photo catastrophes. For digital photos, you need to start by saving them in one location and then making a backup. For your physical pictures, consider scanning your pictures into digital files as a backup.
ACTUAL FACEBOOK POST: ISO HELP??? 😢😓😫 90% of my photo albums are completely gone. Totally disappeared overnight!! This was the fifth report I’ve submitted to Facebook with absolutely no response!!! Those are the only copies of every picture I’ve taken from all my medical missions from 10 different countries. Please help me find them, I have no idea where they went and they are extremely important to me!!! 😢 😤 😡 😫😩😢😭😤😠😡🤬🤯😰😥😓 Who knows how I can submit this directly to Facebook to get an answer???😫😫😫
First, I have to say my heart goes out to the woman who wrote this. The tough lesson is that Facebook should never, ever be the primary storage for your photos. It’s fine to use Facebook to show pictures to your friends and family but please don’t make the mistake that this person did and rely on Facebook to store your pictures.
Facebook compresses pictures dramatically so they are unprintable
Facebook renames pictures to a string of unrecognizable letters and numbers
Facebook strips all metadata from the image. If you use Keyword, titles or captions and comments they will be lost.
Facebook strips date information from the file. Every digital picture automatically records date information and is often the easiest way to find a picture.
This is the original photo uploaded to Facebook.
Same Photo Downloaded from Facebook
Take a close look at the two graphics above. The top graphic is the original image uploaded to Facebook. The bottom graphic is what is downloaded from Facebook. The file is compressed from 2.29 MB to 80.8 KB, All identifying information about the picture has been obliterated, from the file name, to date taken to added keywords and camera information.
So even if the woman in the Facebook post were to recover her pictures to they wouldn’t resemble what she uploaded. She is relegated to thumbnail-sized pictures of her life.
Around 350 million photos are uploaded to Facebook each and every day. In order to keep a handle on storage space, files get compressed, image date is lost. Facebook even has an option to upload a high quality image. Unfortunately, you get the same tiny file on download.
What is the moral of the story? Share photos on Facebook, do not store your photos on Facebook. Also, do not consider your photo printing site such as Shutterfly or Walmart a place to store your pictures. If you want a cloud solution to storing and backing up your photos, consider iCloud if you have an iPhone, Dropbox, Google Photos or Drive, Amazon Prime Photos, OneDrive and Forever are also possible choices for all computer users. All have varying degrees of automation and ability to save your file information (metadata).
Are you the family curator of photos? Have you recently inherited a photo collection from a family member and you are not sure what to do with it? Forever might be the answer for you, especially if you are interested in sharing these photos with other family members now and in the future.
Forever is a complete memory keeping solution where people collect, curate and celebrate memories now and for generations to come. How does this work? On Forever you purchase storage space, you don’t rent it. You find your favorite photos, ones that you want to keep forever, upload them or digitize them to be uploaded to the Forever website. Here you and your family can manage the photos together, add information about the photos and organize them with Forever’s easy to use software.
Forever Storage prices start at $299 for 10 gigabytes of space. It seems expensive until you realize this is a one time fee! They will keep your images safe and migrate to different formats for you, to keep your memories safe.
Check out the Forever website for more information. You can sign up for a free 2 gigabyte account to learn how Forever works. Feel free to contact me for more information or a demonstration of the product.