It’s wildfire season; do you know where your photos are?

It’s wildfire season; do you know where your photos are?

Depending on what part of the country you live in, natural disasters can strike, and strike fast. While here in California we are bracing for another torrid wildfire season (and it’s always earthquake season), the Gulf States are readying themselves for a hurricane season that seemingly gets more intense each year. Other parts of the country can experience tornados, floods and Nor’easters.

Natural disasters can be horrific, but fires and floods in your home can also cause terrible damage and wipe out most, if not all belongings.

So of course you grab your kids and pets, but what is next on the list, that’s if you even have the time? Many people grab the family photos. But as we are living in the age of digital, the question has to be asked – do you know which hard drive to grab? And what about your older prints and albums?

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Legacy Project - Erich Fromm, Bennington College, 1943

Legacy Project - Erich Fromm, Bennington College, 1943

…scanned from my archive. Erich Fromm, Bennington College, 1943. Going through the photos archives of my grandparents can usually turn up some interesting images. Sometime I know the back-story, often I can only piece together what I know with what I see. From the many photos I have of theirs, and the stories I have been told, their community of friends and associates was vast and impressive – Albert Einstein and Willa Cather just to name a couple.

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Summer tips for taking photos

Summer tips for taking photos

How many photos will you have in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Kinda scary right? And what about videos? Yikes!

Aside from the holidays, summer is the time of year we take a lot of pictures. Taking lot of pictures is great, but taking so many that you don’t even want to look at them, let alone edit them, is not OK. Also ballooning the storage on your phone is not fun, so let’s focus on quality not quantity this summer. Here are a few ways to do that.

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How to take better travel pictures this Summer

How to take better travel pictures this Summer

“Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs.” ~ Susan Sontag. Funny, when I read that, I totally related to it, as someone who was a professional travel photographer for over 20 years, that sentiment was right on. But if you read the rest of the passage in Sontag’s On Photography, the collections of writings she did about photography, well it turns out she did not really intend it in a positive way. She was essentially saying that when we travel, we can often use the camera and the act of photographing as a way of limiting our experience of traveling.

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Legacy Project - Mom, circa 1928

Legacy Project - Mom, circa 1928

…scanned from my archive. Mom, circa 1928. Mom just celebrated her 96th birthday last week. She’s here in LA, a long way from her Brighton Beach, Brooklyn roots, but she is close to her family, especially her grandson, and that is more important to her than geography. These are a couple of photos taken in her father’s photo studio which was located on the first floor of the apartment building she grew up in. The entrance to the building was on Brighton 4th street, but my grandfather’s studio was entered to directly from the Coney Island Boardwalk, just a hop, skip and a jump from the beach and the Atlantic Ocean.

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Is your digital photo collection healthy, under the weather or ready for the ICU?

Is your digital photo collection healthy, under the weather or ready for the ICU?

Sounds like the diagnosis of a patient, right? Well like the human body, a photo collection is really a system of connections, and if all is not well with that system, it doesn’t work quite the way it should.

As a professional photo organizer, when I see a client for the first time, I actually do a diagnosis of their photo collection to see how healthy it is. I’ve seen some pretty sick photo libraries in my time, but thankfully no terminal cases so far.

So the question becomes, what makes up a healthy photo collection? Basically I am looking to see how it works in these six areas:

Is it organized?
Are images findable?
Are images accessible?
Is the collection safe?
Can images be shared?
Is it endurable?

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Apple Photos – Options for setting up on your computer

Apple Photos – Options for setting up on your computer

The Apple Photos app exists both on your computer as a desktop application, and as a mobile app on your iPhones and iPads.

The way Apple Photos typically works is it uses your iCloud account to sync your photos between your computer and your mobile devices. Apple calls it Hand Off, the idea being that if you take a photo on your iPhone, it will then sync (or hand off) that photo up to iCloud, which then syncs it down to your computer (and other devices you may have).

When you edit a photo on one device, it updates that photo on all other devices. And when you delete a photo on one device it also deletes it on all other devices, this is very important to remember.

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Setting up Apple Photos right from the start

Setting up Apple Photos right from the start

The Holidays are upon us and that means we are going to be taking a lot more pictures than usual. All good, except when the storage on our phones or laptops starts to max out and we have to scramble to free up space. Here are some Apple Photos settings that can help you avoid that mess and get you set up the right way.

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Using iCloud Photo Sharing to share your pics with family and friends

Using iCloud Photo Sharing to share your pics with family and friends

One of the questions I get asked the most is “When I’m using Apple Photos, what is the best way to share my photos with others?”

You could use the Apple Family Sharing plan, but that will entail a bit of a set up, plus a subscription fee for iCloud storage (This would be in addition to any iCloud account you may already have in your name).

Some folks have asked me if they could have other family members sign into their iCloud account. The problem with that is everybody who signs in will not only have their photos shared, but also their Contacts, Documents and whatever else they have backed up to iCloud as well. Not a good answer!

The easiest way and cheapest (its free) way to share your photos is to use iCloud Photo Sharing. This is how it works.

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Bringing Life into Focus

Bringing Life into Focus

Why get organized? Why should I organize my photos? As a Photo organizer, I sometimes take for granted that we should just all organize our photos, but getting organized for organized sake is not going to be a good answer if that question should pop up from a potential client and I am unprepared.

Bringing Life into Focus was a talk I created based on my family history and personal experience of going through and organizing my own family photos. But it wasn’t the organizing that was the important part, it was the insight and perspective I gained as a result of that experience.

Starting down that road was interesting for me. I have been a professional photographer for many (many), years and back in 1996 I had formed my own photo agency. Read the whole article

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Lyn - An easy and fast way to view your photos on your desktop

Lyn - An easy and fast way to view your photos on your desktop

I came across Lyn on a website listing alternative photo cataloging apps. I had been looking for a simple, desktop-based photo management program to offer as an option to my clients. Aside from Apple Photos, there is a trend towards cloud based image platforms such as Google Photos that offer no desktop management at all. Lots of my clients like working on their desktop and don’t like being forced to do all their work on the web. Also, with so much hacking going on, I think it’s asking for trouble to be completely reliant on web based platforms. Read whole article...

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Adobe Lightroom Basics

Adobe Lightroom Basics

Adobe Lightroom is a great way to catalog and edit your photos but it can be a very intimidating program to work with. Here is a recent article I wrote that tries it make it a little simpler to use. Hope it helps.

Many years ago during my misbegotten youth, I worked as machinist in the San Francisco shipyards. It was there I learned two very important lessons. First, you can lose a finger. Second, make sure you have the best tool to get the job done right. Happily I can report that I still have all ten digits. During my later years as a photographer, photo agency owner and now, photo organizer, Adobe Lightroom has proved, since its inception, to be the most valuable tool at the center of my workflow. Read the whole article...

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Before & After 40 year old print of my brother water skiing

Before & After 40 year old print of my brother water skiing

Scanning and restoring old color prints can be a tricky process. Trying to make it look brand new is not always possible or even desirable. We want to evoke and bring back the memories, not make it look like it was taken yesterday.

While it is not realistic to restore every print that you want scanned, the good ones, maybe the images you will want to print in an album or hang on the wall, are worth the time. I can scan hundred and thousands of your old prints quickly and inexpensively, and restore your favorite ones back to life. Learn more here...

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How to edit down a large selection of images and rate them from Favorites to duds

I used to do freelance photo editing and it was not uncommon to be given up to 20,000 images from a photo agency and asked to edit it down to about 20-30 pictures for a story. Now it is highly unlikely you will ever deal with those kind of quantities, but the same editing process I used for that will also work just as well for an edit of 500 photos.

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Don't run away from your photos!

Don't run away from your photos!

We are living in a constant state of digital acquisition and accumulation, and nowhere is that more evident than with our photos. Last year it was estimated that over one trillion photos were taken.

How many did you take? Now think about how many photos you will have in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? And what about video? Yikes!

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Apple Photos vs. Google Photos

Apple Photos vs. Google Photos

Two of the most popular photo apps being used today are Google Photos and Apple Photos. I thought it would be helpful to look into and talk a bit about how they both work and what they actually do with your photos once they have them. You will find a number of other websites that show side by side comparisons of their editing features and the others bells and whistles they both offer, but as a professional photo organizer I am more concerned with how they handle your photo files, how accessible your photos are, and most importantly, if they keep them safe for years to come.

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Before and After - A 100 year old print of my paternal Grandmother.

Before and After - A 100 year old print of my paternal Grandmother.

I have been scanning thousands of my old family prints. It is not very realistic to retouch and restore every print that I scan, but the good ones, maybe images I will want to print in an album, I will take some time and fix them up. It is very cool to see an old yellowed, faded and damaged print look like new (almost).

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Picjoy – mini review

Picjoy – mini review

I get notices about all sorts of products and photo organizing apps, in the last week alone I received articles about apps and products called Everalbum, 61N and Picjoy. They all pretty much work only on smartphones and/or utilize cloud storage, which is fine, but there are already so many of these, what makes one different form the next. Well Picjoy caught my eye because it mentioned story-telling, and that IS something I am interested in.

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