What Do I Do with My Digital Photographs and Videos?

Published on: March 10, 2017

Now that every phone has a digital camera, capturing family photos and videos are at an all-time high. So, what should you do with it all? By Thomas Groves   Part of being a parent has always been about capturing those special moments in our children’s lives, from their first steps, first words or even when they take those hilarious tumbles. In the modern world of digital cameras and smartphones, though, we seem to have more images than we can sometimes handle. So what should you do with them?

First things first: Backup!

The big risk with family photographs/videos used to be that they might get lost in a move or be damaged by moisture or, even worse, by fire. The risks with digital data are not that much different, but we have also to worry about hardware- and software-failure damaging or corrupting our data. When it comes to backing up images, best follow the rule of three: make at least three backups of your photographs and videos. All my family pictures and videos are backed up on two separate hard drives and one online source of data backup. I personally use my Google Drive storage, but there are many options available for saving your pictures and videos online.
…your photographs will be looked at more when it is in a printed medium versus digital files…
Now, at this point, parents usually look at me like I am paranoid. But I am a photography and graphic design university teacher and my wife runs a successful photography studio. We have experienced many hard-drive failures ourselves, and have had clients and students contacting us up to a year later asking for copies of their photos. Luckily, we follow the rule of three and have been safe. For most people, having photographs backed up on a hard disk as well as an online storage site will be safe enough.

Keep them organized

Being organized is a key aspect of storing digital data. I file my images in their own folders. Both images and folders follow the same naming pattern of
So for example: ‘2017JAN01_Thailand_Thomas_01.jpg’. This allows me to easily understand and look for certain moments, even if it is years later.

Use social media with caution

I recommend the use of extreme caution with social media. Before posting anything, make sure you read and set up your privacy settings so that only the intended audience can see your content. There are many good online tutorials or help sections created on how to set your privacy settings.
When it comes to backing up images, best follow the rule of three: make at least three backups of your photographs and videos.
While social media is a great place to distribute your images for family and friends, it is not a great place for backing up your images and videos. When uploading your content these sites compress and make the final quality lower than the originals.

Print them!

I always suggest printing your images. For every family vacation, I make a photobook to leave on the table for people to read. I also use local printers to print special images on canvas and these images are mounted on our walls. For pictures I want on my desk, I just get a nice simple frame and print the pictures from my own printer.
Just think of telling the story in the order that the events happened…
There are many options for printing, like Blurb or Photo-Book which have their own tools to make these books. Research has shown that your photographs will be looked at more when it is in a printed medium versus digital files that are often forgotten on a hard drive over time. There is always something special when the family is sitting together and looking through a family photobook.

Edit those videos

If you are a little more of a tech-savvy parent, you can try your hand at editing together your family videos. The internet is filled with great, easy-to-follow tutorials on how to use video editing software; no need to be intimidated. Editing videos is very easy. Just think of telling the story in the order that the events happened and place some nice music to go with it. I use Adobe Premiere Pro but there are many other free options out there to start with, like iMovie (Mac) or Movie Maker (Windows). Check your phone’s apps store as you can even find good editing software to do it right on your phone. Once you are done, share on a site like YouTube or Vimeo. Do keep in mind that YouTube is very strict about music copyright. Make sure that you have the rights to use the music legally in your video edits. If you are not sure, YouTube has a great music library where you can download music directly to your computer for your edit. When it comes to your digital family images and videos, make sure that you select the right way to share it, do not forget to print your images and, most importantly, be organized and back up those precious moments for the future!  

Additional Video Tips

By Daisuke Naito

How long of a clip should I shoot?

It depends…but I usually try to capture the entirety of the event, whether it’s something short like a 50m sprint or a kid making a funny face, or something longer like a song recital or a kid’s soccer match. You can always edit away the extraneous stuff, but you can never recapture the moments you didn’t record in the first place. You can also decide not to capture an entire event, if you just want to get the general sense of what an event was like. If you’re planning on editing the videos, include a bit of time before and after the event. Give it a few seconds to stabilize and frame your shot at the beginning, and a few seconds at the end so you have a ‘handle’ for crossfading. For a spontaneous event, you might not be able to pre-roll, but try to hold the shot for a breath or two after the action is finished. And try to capture some ‘B-roll’. A wide shot of the place the event is taking place in, for example. These come in handy.

Any tips on managing all my videos?

Tag your clips. Many apps let you assign tags (color, keywords) or ratings (stars). Group clips into albums. For example, I throw all the pictures and videos from a particular vacation into an album so they’re easy to find. I might also duplicate the album and trim it down to just the really good stuff. Add markers. For this, you’ll need a video editing app. You can add markers within a video clip to indicate the good spots. You can also create “sub clips” which are cut outs from a longer clip.

If I edit my videos, what’s a good length for the finished product?

Try to make them nice and short, especially if you want to show them to people outside your immediate family. Think about how long most YouTube videos are. No matter how short or long the video, try to follow a dramatic structure (e.g., intro > rising action > climax > resolution)…or else the video ends up just dragging along.  

About the Authors

Thomas is a Media Communications lecturer, holding his BA, MA in Media Communications and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. He is an avid photographer who enjoys traveling around the world documenting the beautiful and strange. His wife Phamai Techaphan-Groves is a professional photographer and owner of Phamai Photography Studio, www.phamaiphotos.com. They are the proud parents of Thawiphum, a 14-year-old school student who loves the drums and taking pictures. Daisuke creates snazzy short videos for fun, capturing his families exploits and his two sons’ growth.
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