You Ought to be in Pictures!

Spring 2007 CSANews Issue 62  |  Posted date : Jun 06, 2007.Back to list

One of the most precious items which a family has is its photographs. Our family tends to keep our pictorial history in those neat little envelopes from the photo store randomly stacked in shoe boxes for safekeeping. Other families employ a little more diligence and store their history in photo albums or, better yet, scrap-books with expansive editorial components as well.

There was a study done by one of the insurance institutes several years ago and it determined that in the case of a household emergency, such as a fire, the first thing that the mother of the family would retrieve and save is the photo album. Let's face it, clothes, personal effects, electronics and furniture can all be replaced; the memories contained in family photos obviously cannot. Incidentally, I cannot remember which item the father of the family was most likely to save, but it wasn't as important as the family history.

So, in this new "digital age," what tools are there to improve the safety, security and integrity of our family history? Well, one very useful tool is the photo-sharing website. Instead of limiting the potential of a photo album by allowing it to collect dust and only bring it out upon request, we can now create an online photo album for as many or as few viewers with whom you would like to share it; it doesn't take a lot of work either. But your family history, or your trip to Cape Cod last summer or Bobby's fifth birthday party can be easily documented and made available for friends, family, the entire universe or, if you prefer, just yourself, all online.

Just thinking of the potential is marvellous. Now everyone in your family can have his or her own copy of the family album and they can enjoy it whenever they like. And if you have concerns about protecting the original photograph, what could be better than making digital copies for anyone to "handle," while keeping the original out of harm's way? Still skeptical? No problem, here is a general rundown of the basic steps involved in the online photo-sharing process

Easy steps to prepare yourself

1. Create an account

You have to be able to distinguish your own "photo album" from the rest, so this is a "no-brainer." Most sites require minimal personal information, such as your name and e-mail address. Typically, there is no physical address or personal identification number involved. In cases such as AOL or Yahoo!, you can use your existing account, if you have one.

2. Upload your pictures
If your photos are already loaded onto your computer hard drive or are on a CD or DVD in your player, you are in business! Most sites simply ask you to "browse" your computer directory to find your pictures. Other photo-sharing sites may ask you to download and install their software in order to upload your photos. In either case, it basically comes down to pointing and clicking on your pictures to upload them.

3. Organize your pictures
Once you've got all of your pictures uploaded, you can organize them by date, a branch of the family tree, a special event such as a school play or wedding, etc. You can be as detailed or nondescript as you like.

4. Share your pictures
If you wish, you can make your online photo album available to the general public. We recommend a little more discretion. Those baby-in-the-bath pictures always tend to turn somebody's face red eventually. There are a couple of different methods available; you can send a group e-mail to your "contacts" advising them that the photo album is online, or some sites will allow you to protect your album with a password.

There are literally dozens of sites which will host your photos for you, but among the most popular are:

AOL Pictures
You must have an AOL account to use this service, and they will ask you to download their software. We did this and found the service very easy and user-friendly, like most of AOL. www.aol.com

Flickr
Flickr is one of the original online photo-sharing sites. It is owned and operated by Yahoo!, so you can use your existing Yahoo! Canada account or you can sign up for FREE. Flickr is one of the best sites for organizing your photos, so if you find yourself swamped with hundreds of pictures, this may be your best choice. www.flickr.com

MSN Groups (Microsoft)
Microsoft's MSN Groups was also easy to use, and has a few more helpful tools than some of the other sites, including Message Boards and Chat Rooms that can help you keep in contact with friends and family. www.groups.msn.com

Our memories play a significant role in defining who we are in this life. So, taking a little time to protect those memories and share them with the ones we love may be one of the most valuable things that we can do. You'll probably find yourself having fun doing it too.

Transfer your prints to Digital Format
Most of your photos are prints. So they need to be converted into digital format before you can share them online. Here are a few options to get you started:

Purchase a Scanner
These affordable devices are available at stores like Staples®, Office Depot® and Walmart® within a price range of $100. to $200.

Scan prints at a store
Black's One to Ten prints $2.49 each
Eleven or more $1.99 each
Japan Camera One to Twenty prints $2.00 each
Twenty to Fifty prints $1.50 each
Fifty prints or more $1.00 each
Walmart 40 prints for $7.97

Note: A great feature of scanning prints and converting them to a digital format is that they will be presented to you on a CD and you can make as many copies as you like.