Creating a Visual Diary

Do you like to write in a diary? Journal about your day? I enjoy writing and journaling, but over the years the boxes of journals (put in storage through all of our international moves) started to put a damper on it! Now I write online, where my fingers can fly across the keyboard and keep up with my thoughts, and the cloud can store all of my musings.

In the same way, photography has changed with the jump to digital. We no longer have to depend on rolls of film or boxes of printed photos. We can and should print our photos, but with just a few clicks we can rest assured that digital versions are backed up safely in the cloud, and we can file them away with peace of mind.

Today, I want to challenge you to create what I like to call a visual diary. In a diary, we usually record the events and emotions of our life. You can do the same with photography! With your camera, you can freeze moments in time so you can look back and remember them later. 

Life changes so quickly. Kids grow up and loved ones pass away. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Today is the time to take out your camera and document everyday life around you! Capture home life as well as the holidays. Don’t worry if it’s messy, just capture the shot. Take a photo of the family at dinner, of Grandpa with his newspaper, and the baby in her latest phase of growth. You won’t regret having these memories a decade from now!

Try photographing your friends and family with some of the following ideas: special items, common activities, pets, around the table, or in their everyday environment. These are the tidbits of our life that often get overlooked. And as you document your everyday reality, don’t forget to jump in the frame yourself now and then!

I recently heard from a woman who became a photographer because her house burned down, and she lost all the photos of her loved ones. She’s now passionate about capturing photos for families that can be backed up to the cloud, so that they’ll have them forever.

Are you backing up your photos? In today’s world of Google Drive, Dropbox, iPhones and more, it’s so easy to do it. If you’re not, start this week.

It’s also super helpful to have an organizational system to help you find the photo you’re looking for years from now. There’s nothing more frustrating than wanting to find a photo and not being able to locate it. 

And are you printing your photos? Printing photos will mean you have something tangible and physical to look at and enjoy over and over. Hang some on your wall! It’s been said that having their photo on the wall makes kids feel more secure in their family and gives them a sense of place. A photo book is a great way to print and enjoy your photos, and they’re so easy anyone can make them. 

Want to know my best tips for storing, printing and organizing your photos?

  1. Enable photo storage on your phone (so that backs up to the cloud)
  2. Utilize a cloud-based service like Dropbox or Google Drive and drag photos over that don’t automatically back up from your phone
  3. Delete any duplicate, blurry or bad photos that you’ll never want
  4. Create a consistent organizational system. Start now. 
  5. Name folders so they will arrange in alphanumeric order on your computer. Include the year first, then the month, plus a good descriptor of what is in the folder. For example, 2021_07 Yellowstone with Cousins. Be consistent!!
  6. Name images in a similar way if possible (if you’re exporting from Lightroom, you can use a custom name)
  7. Add a “Best Of” folder inside each of your other folders, or where relevant. You could do this month by month. Then, drag your monthly folders into a “Best of 2021” folder. You’ll thank yourself one day since this will allow you to view, print, and share only your best photos, and quickly.
  8. If you use Lightroom or a similar photo editing software, use the tagging and starring features to tag dates, people, 5 star, etc. so you can easily find them later.
  9. Don’t forget to print your photos! Photo books are small and compact and allow you to drag your “Best Of” folders over to fill your photo books. I like to pre-make photo books in Shutterfly. They even have an auto-fill feature so it’s really painless. Then get on their email list and wait for their free photo book offers to come out (they come out several times each year). Order the book sitting in your cart when the special comes and you’ll just pay for shipping. 

I hope this helps you create an amazing visual diary that you can enjoy for years, one that will bring you joy instead of frustration. Happy shooting!!

My "Looking for the Light: Photography & Life" online course will launch in 2021. Are you interested in learning more about photography? Click below to view more about the course.

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