Your kids have left the house. Now is the time to do something great with your photos and videos!
It’s September in New England. A month of transition for everyone, but for some families, it’s been a month of saying good-bye and figuring out life now that a special young person has gone off to college.
While a child leaving home inevitably creates a void, the bit of extra free time created allows for investing in family in new ways. For most parents, there’s a huge backlog of projects around family photos and videos. For years, it’s been “Too many photos and videos, not enough time.” We consistently hear about the guilt and frustration parents feel regarding the state of their photos and videos. Baby books are incomplete, Bar Mitzvah albums were never made, and shoeboxes are filled with half-organized piles of photos. Most of us don’t have equipment to even view our home videos anymore. And digital technology means most of us have over 10,000 photos and videos spread across numerous devices. We feel like we’ve lost control.
It may seem like you are behind (especially if your son or daughter has just left for college and all of the work that entails), but honestly, you are in the same boat as just about every other parent!
The good news is that the team at EverPresent can help, and now that the kiddos are out of the house, this may be the perfect time to get organized and celebrate the great job you did raising your child for 18 years!
See below for five projects that we find bring a lot of happiness to empty nesters.
1. Start by digitizing your old home videos.
Digitizing home videos usually represents the easiest win and the least stress. Most of us have thousands of photos, but just a box or two of tapes, so there are fewer decisions to make and the financial investment is smaller. Video tapes are also fading the fastest, so it’s prudent to get them digital ASAP. Any format tape you have in your house (VHS, 8mm, miniDV, etc.) qualifies. If you don’t know what’s on your tape and want to avoid accidentally paying to digitize an old TV recording, local clients in New England can visit our office in Newton, MA and use our viewing station to view each tape before digitizing.
TIP: If you aren’t using our services at EverPresent, make sure you use a service that digitizes into a computer and not directly to DVD. You want to make sure you have the actual mp4 files and that your only copy of your videos is not on a device that will soon be outdated-again!
2. Don’t let perfection be your enemy when it comes to organizing your printed photos.
A common dialogue from our clients is that they want to make everything perfect before they start digitizing. We hear things like, “I need to sort through it myself. I want to put everything in order first. I think I need to spend some time thinking about what I want to do.”
While we don’t disagree with any of those sentiments, we find that these hurdles for perfection and order can prevent any progress and make people feel totally overwhelmed and unable to take on the project. Years can go by.
We encourage clients who are feeling overwhelmed to start small and start with the key items you know you can’t live with out, like baby photos or special albums, ancestral photos that link your children to their past or meaningful art work or special papers. The beauty of digitizing is that once items are on the computer, your options are limitless. You are not beholden to order or pages like we used to be with old albums, your new files are completely editable and not copyrighted, so you can manipulate them however you want. Once you have an early win and you see how great it is to have your old images come alive again, you will be encouraged to do more and keep going!
TIP: When you ultimately organize your photos, we discourage clients from trying to organize thousands of photos chronologically. It’s usually not worth the effort, and you will get frustrated when you don’t remember the details. We like to sort client photos by decade and/or family event. We remember our lives mostly by events, trips, jobs, hobbies and schools, not by exact years.
3. Come up with the ultimate goal for your photos and videos.
It’s so important to be honest with yourself about what you will enjoy and what your goals are. Everybody’s goal is some version of the same thing: get everything safe and digital, and share it with my family in a way that will be special. But what does that mean?
Do you want a photo book for each decade of your kid’s life? Do you want a slideshow to show your family at an upcoming event, maybe something for Christmas morning? Do you want edited video clips that you can send to your kids as a way of staying in touch and reminding them of the good ole days? Do you want a private, family website so you can easily share your memories with all your loved ones? Or do you want to make a few USB copies of everything and give them to the kids so they can have fun making projects.
Luckily for you, our company can help with all of those things once you decide what you want. And here’s what’s great about that: you can spend time on what you like, and then we can do the stuff you find frustrating. For example, we have some clients who love designing their own photo books, but have no interest in organizing or scanning photos. We have other clients who absolutely love organizing piles and making decisions, but then have zero design sense for making books. We also have clients who just want everything scanned spend the minimal amount of time on that piece, but then want to learn how to do video editing because it interests them. There’s a lot of fun to be had on this project if you are honest about what you will enjoy and what you want to outsource.
TIP: Before you dive into making decisions, we always recommend asking other family members about their priorities. It’s very common for parents to be 100% focused on digitizing photos of their kids growing up. But then the kids’ first priority is often seeing photos of YOU and the grandparents growing up. This is an important family project and your relatives will have surprisingly insightful input. And it’s often most efficient for you to get the photos and old films from your parents as part of this process.
4. Use the upcoming holidays as motivation to get started.
At this point, it’s probably not easy to find great gifts for your kids, siblings, spouse or parents. But we guarantee there’s a special gift to be made from your photos and videos, and starting here could be the perfect way to kick off your long term mission to get a handle on your family memories. Maybe a modern wedding album for your spouse? A hilarious 10-minute edited video slideshow to watch around the tree? A photo book celebrating your child’s first 18 years? Even a USB of the family collection in every stocking can be a wow moment during the holidays.
TIP: While the holidays are still a few months away, for certain projects you need to get going sooner rather than later. It’s not that you can’t wait until the last minute, but that takes the fun out of it and replaces it with stress as you begin to rely on photo book printers and shipping schedules. Our general recommendation is to get any digitizing work you need done in October so that you can have the bulk of November to enjoy designing a great gift, and then order it before the rush fees start applying in December and making things unnecessarily expensive.
5. Make a fresh start on your digital photos and videos.
The ultimate goal for everyone’s photos and videos should be that they are everpresent in our life. They are on our walls, a part of our family events and are shared with loved ones near and far. And in order for us to use and share our photos, we must be able to find them.
The digital photo mess that people have can be much worse than their analog mess. And we often make it worse despite the best of intentions, creating hundreds of folders across devices that ultimately leave us more confused than ever. Thankfully, we have a service that can help people consolidate, prioritize and organize their digital photos and videos. And the beauty is that with a little guidance we can do it all for you! Imagine this: All your photos and videos in one place. No duplicates. All in order. All safely backed up. All accessible from all of your devices. We can also organize by person and topic and help you with video editing, printing, designing gifts and more.
TIP: If you want to spend some time organizing your digital photos, it can be very daunting to know where to start. Our recommendation, prioritize before organizing. If you have 20,000 photos, even when organized, it’s still just so many to look through. Taking a first pass to delete the photos you don’t want (and it’s going to be at least 1/3 of them in most cases) and starring the very best so you can always find them is a relatively low stress first step in the process.
ABOUT EVERPRESENT: We are a team of 40 New England based organizers, technicians and designers who work with families to pass history across generations. All of our digitizing and design work is done locally. We meet with clients in their homes or in our stores throughout New England. We have digitized millions of photos and videos, and never lost one. We are truly the best at what we do, and would be honored to work with your family on this very important project.