Category Archives: photos

Re-visiting The Category Drawers

Re-visiting The Category Drawers

A big part of the Library of Memories system that Stacy Julian pioneered are the category drawers. (Not necessarily drawers. Mine are photo storage boxes.)

The purpose of category drawers is to organically find and source stories that are deeper and more insightful through the juxtaposition of photos that you wouldn’t normally find together. You can do this in a digital catalog by using keywords and metadata, but with physical photos, you need category drawers. Typically there’s a drawer for people you love, things you do, places you go, and one all about yourself and your immediate family. Within each drawer you add tabbed cards with related topics. For instance, in my category drawer “things we do,” there are sub-headings for reading, art, playtime, etc.

Last week I dug out a random drawer, and poked through what was already in there that could spark a story. The first thing that popped out at me ware a few pictures of my boys when they were younger, and getting along really well. Which made me think, “When did getting along become the exception rather than the rule?”

With that in mind I pulled a few pictures from the category drawer, and then poked through the more recent pictures I do have printed to find a similar, more current one.

when ||

Everything on the layout came from a kit put together last spring. It was a kit making frenzy around here for awhile. It’s going to take some time to use them all up, but it’s so handy to be able to pull out a kit and limit yourself to that, and the bins I have on the desk. (Currently on my desk: scraps bin, small jar of embellishments mostly intended for Project Life, and bin full of journaling cards and labels.)

This layout makes me happy, because it reminds me that my kids do like each other, underneath all the petty bickering and button pushing. Plus it’s a slice of real life, because it seems like the silly arguments are all they do right now.

Anyone else have some category drawer inspired pages they’d like to share? Anyone else want to create their own category drawers so they can find stories like this that are just waiting to be told?

Photo Failure

Photo Failure

I have a problem. I am failing at maintaining my photo organization. Stories are falling through the cracks!

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but not that much.

I’ve only printed one big batch of pictures once since we’ve moved. Three years. One printing.

I have printed new photos on a regular basis from the local Walgreens, but except for the ones that have ended up in my Project Life album most of my newer pictures are sitting on my hard drive, gathering proverbial dust.

My photo storage albums have gaping holes from photos being taken out and used on pages, and yet, I have no room to add the remainders of the last big printing I did do, or for new photos when and if I print a big batch.

I haven’t looked in a category drawer in ages.

My library of memories is getting rusty with dis-use.

photos to organize ||

It’s not that I haven’t been scrapbooking. You all see a lot of what I create on a regular basis. It’s that the things I’ve been scrapbooking are, for the most part, the leftovers of projects and Project Life.

It’s time to take back the photo storage.

Officially on the to-do list:

Consolidate my photo storage albums to make room for more photos.

Add the photos I have printed but not sorted into the storage albums.

Purge photos that are less inspiring or duplicates from my storage albums and get them into my category drawers or the circular file.

Print photos from the last three years that inspire stories. Be picky. I’ve told a lot of these stories already.

Now to figure out when I’m going to do these projects.

Anyone else falling down on the photo printing and organization follow thru? What are you going to do about it? I think I’m going to visit my category drawers and make a page next week. That’s a good place to start, don’t you think?


Go Visit Save Your Photos!

Go Visit Save Your Photos!

Want to learn about some of the many mistakes I’ve made when preserving and organizing photos? Go check out my guest post at Save Your Photos, where you can learn all about what not to do as far as digital photos goes.

And be sure to come back on Thursday, when I confess the rest of my poor photo organization sins.


The Perils of Poor Photo Organization at Save Your Photos (guest post!)

Photography Is Dead

Photography Is Dead

We live in a time when more and more pictures are being taken. People take pictures of the food they eat, the places they visit, and what they’re wearing. They snap adorable photos of their children, and ridiculous selfies as they have fun making faces. People are capturing more photos than ever, because they always have their phones easily available, and the picture quality on camera phones can be amazing.

People tell themselves that the best camera to use, is the one they have on them, and increasingly, that is their cell phone.

More people are sharing these photos too, through social sites like Instagram and Tumblr and Facebook, so more and more people are seeing the pictures that define and illustrate our lives.

It seems like photography has hit a giant upswing in popularity.

However, frequently, that’s where current photography stops.

Photographs are not backed up, and frequently just deleted when our phones run out of space for new photos.

Not only that, but we don’t go back at look at older photos. Once the initial love at first sight photo share is over, we don’t go back to revisit and remind ourselves of the photos we love. Out sight becomes out of mind, and then out of memory.

So, while we’re taking more photos than ever, we’re also doing nothing with them. No printing, no photo albums, and no memory keeping.

Photography is dying, from a surfeit of photos, and a lack of a plan on what to do with the glut of photos we all have.

We can save photography. It’s a simple process. Save the photos you love some place other than your phone. Try dropbox, or carbonite, or an external hard drive. And print! Put pictures up on your wall. Send hardcopies to your family and friends. Scrapbook.

Because while scarcity makes a thing more valuable, I’d rather there were too many photographs in the world, than none.

The photographs you take tell stories about who you are, and the world around you. Your story matters. The world you live in matters.

Save your photographs.


The virtues of the unposed shot

The virtues of the unposed shot

Did your family make you pose for pictures when you were young? Did it always feel like it took hours to get a good shot to you? Although some of my favorite photos are posed shots, so many more of them are candids that I rarely bother with trying to make my family pose anymore.

Maybe it’s the sneaky side of me, but snagging photos of my kids when they are engrossed in something and completely unaware of me has netted some of the best story telling photos.

sneaky shot 1 ||

Now this is not a perfect photo. It’s dark and grainy and the focus isn’t what it could be. But it tells a story, of a boy engrossed in toys he hasn’t played with in too long, because they’ve been packed away.

sneaky shot 2 ||

It can be hard getting a picture without them noticing, but when you manage it, you get photos that show more of your subject’s personality and idiosyncrasies — like the holey socks and the messy hair, and the improbable seating here.

Of course, sometimes they know you have the camera ready, but that doesn’t mean you need to make them stop and pose. Catch them in the act, and you may end up with some of your favorite pictures.

sneaky shot 3 ||

Sometimes a photo opportunity can be used to entertain while waiting in line, or you can sneak a picture by not obviously looking through your viewfinder/screen. Here, I had just used the camera to take a picture of our feet all together, and rather than turning it off right away, I snapped some pictures from waist high while the boys weren’t paying attention.

sneaky shot 4 ||

Of course if you feel you absolutely must make your family pose, rather than stiff photos of everyone grouped together, try taking some poses that help tell a story. Here, we’re crossing the international boundary line between the US and Canada. My son thought it was important and cool, so we stopped and posed on the bridge.

In short, while posed shots are wonderful, unposed shots are opportunities for visual storytelling. Don’t worry about getting a perfect shot, just aim for something that helps you tell a story. You’ll be glad you did.