storing and printing your digital files

some non-photo informational goodness for you today!

digital photo storage

at portrait day this past weekend, i had a lot of conversations about how digital cameras have changed how we store photos.  gone are the days of picking up a sleeve of 24 or 36 4×6 prints from the one hour photo shop, tossing the ones you don’t want and keeping the ones you do.  (i still have shoeboxes full of prints in my basement, they’ve followed me through three cities and countless apartments!)

these days, everything sits on our hard drive or worse, on our camera.  the size of the memory cards makes it easy to keep hundreds of photos on the card without ever downloading them to our computers.  and so very often, just being able to flip through the camera or through the files on the computer is enough – we see them and enjoy them and marvel at how much our babies have grown and then we go about our days.

but what happens when we lose our camera on vacation?  or when our hard drive fails at home?  YEARS of memories – gone.  let’s talk about how to avoid that.  the obvious answer?  back it up!

if you are a mac person, the solution is simple:  apple’s time machine.  it’s a free software that comes with macs and it makes backing up your entire system incredibly easy.  just plug in an empty external harddrive and the software will take care of the rest.   if you’re not a mac person, get yourself to the apple store!  or just keep reading 🙂

a cheap and easy option is to buy a big stack of blank DVDs and start copying your photos and videos (and any other important documents).  make TWO copies of everything and keep one set at the office or a family member’s house.  this is essential because DVDs can fail AND in the case of disaster (fire, earthquake, etc), you have a copy offsite.   if you go this route, make sure to backup frequently and check the DVDs yearly to make sure they’re still working.

a similar method is investing in a high quality external hard drive (i like the western digital passports, available at and manually copying your files to the external for safekeeping.  this is far less putzy than keeping track of numerous dvds BUT external drives are just as susceptible to failure as our main drives.  plus, they’re small and can easily fall behind desks and crash, not that i know anything about that.  la la la.

a third method that has gained popularity in recent years is the online backup system.  websites like and will automatically upload your entire hard drive (or just the folders you want) to their servers.  the upside is that they’re WAY offsite! the down side is that the initial backup can take weeks, plus there’s the privacy factor – uploading your personal files to someone else’s server.

printing your photos

beyond backing up our photos, how about we start printing some out?  if the idea of having shoeboxes of 4x6s in your basement doesn’t appeal to you (but oh my gosh are they fun to flip through on a rainy afternoon!), then how about some photo albums?  i’m a big fan of for books – they’re good enough quality with a reasonable pricetag but what i LOVE is the software that comes with it – you download the software, point it to a folder of images, and voila, all of your photos auto-populate the book.  you can move things around, add captions, make some bigger, make some smaller, but the thing is, it’s EASY.  make one for each year  or if a yearly book would weigh 50 pounds, make one for each season, or each kid, or however you want to organize them.   the kids will LOVE looking through them, now and for years to come.

for other prints and gifts, i’ve always loved  the quality is great and the price is right, plus they have a lot of fun new products, including albums, accordions, magnets, stickers, etc.  great for gift giving!

i hope this has been helpful! just call or email with questions, i’m happy to help as best as i can.

to read about the aspects of photography that go beyond the technical skills, visit st. louis and dc photographer lauri baker!






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