One of my New Year's resolutions was to organize my children's baby photos. Since my eldest was born in 2010, I've amassed a ton of photos—some on my digital camera, some on my husband's phone, and some on my phone. Others exist in my inbox (emailed courtesy of Grandma), on social media, and random photo-sharing sites. Plus, I received old-school baby books and photo albums as gifts when both of my babies were born, which have gone unused. Clearly, I'm stuck in a photo organization rut.
So this will be the year that I will create my baby books—and that's a good thing, both practically and emotionally. "Not only do you want to preserve memory on your devices and your cloud accounts by deleting photos, which can eat up a lot of GB," says Liz Gumbinner, publisher and editor-in-chief of Cool Mom Tech, "but any clutter can get in the way of productivity and happiness for a lot of us. Organization keeps us from feeling overwhelmed—it's an amazing feeling when you realize that 'organize photos' has lost its permanent spot on that seemingly endless to-do list in your mind."
Here's how to get out of your baby picture blackhole:
The simplest solution to dealing with your current baby photo clutter is to utilize your existing photo apps and compatible cloud services, Gumbinner says. So for example, let iCloud automatically sync all your iPhone photos, or use Google Photos for Android devices. While there are myriad apps and websites available, there are also a ton of excellent tools built right into the photo apps that came with your phone—like iCloud Photo Library's facial recognition and "memory" sorting ability. Once you name the people you most often photograph, the app easily identifies them, kind of the way Facebook does with tags. This way you can combine that search function with dates or events, making it incredibly simple to find all photos of Grandma. Or even better, "Ella in February" or "Baby's First Trip to the Beach." Talk about a time-saver!
Every parent has trouble deleting photos—what if you'll actually want that sweet-but-blurry-facial expression in years to come? "I always remind myself that deleting photos is not deleting people," says Gumbinner. "It's as if I trash a photo I'll lose that memory—and I have to remember that's not true. You don't need 100 photos of your baby's first real food tasting, so hang on to the top three shots and ditch the rest. "Remember that digital photography and unlimited film forces us to make curation decisions after you've shot, not before," says Gumbinner. Also, be sure to stay on top of photo organization going forward. One tip: Set a calendar alert, say the second Saturday of every month, and commit to using that day for photo purging or sorting. And have a backup plan: "I also auto-sync all my photos to Dropbox to save my photos in more than one place," Gumbinner says.
All those pics of your babe tagged on Insta and FB are going to be forgotten—unless you save them to your collection. If you're an Instagram user, Mosaic will curate your top photos into a beautifully constructed album highlighting the top moments of your year without any input from you (scary, but also super helpful!). Another option: Chatbooks pulls photos from your Instagram, Facebook, or iPhone favorites. You can even set up a series ($8 per book), which will automatically send you a book for every 60 photos you upload to the platform you sync the book with.
If you're like me and prefer to print photos and then create old-school baby books, photo albums, scrapbooks, or simply frame a fave pic, try the Polaroid Print Store App, which lets you create packs of Polaroid Prints using photos from your camera roll, Instagram, or Facebook. They are delivered to you in a beautiful Polaroid keepsake box and are shipped within three to five days. Or if you want something a little more on-demand: Epson PictureMate is a compact wireless photo printer that allows you to print directly from tablet or smartphone over Wi-Fi. Amazingly, the unit can print 4" x 6" photos in as fast as 36 seconds, and the photo quality is incredible—images are smudge-, scratch-, water-, and fade-resistant, and last up to 200 years.
Now that you've organized your pics digitally, it's time to compile your baby book as well as create some gifts for grandparents, Mother's Day, and Father's Day. CoolMomTech has compiled some of the best printed book options under $30 if you want something beautiful but affordable, but here are a few apps that are specifically geared toward helping you create gorgeous baby books:
BabyPage is a unique baby book that allows easy tracking of milestones. Instead of compiling a baby book all at once, BabyPage tracks important dates as you go, and creates a unique and beautiful book.
TinyBeans is a private photo-sharing application that reminds moms to take (at least one) photo every day, and allows you to share them privately with family and friends instead of posting to typical social media outlets.
MemoryBox lets everyone contribute photos from the same event, using multiple devices, into one centralized Memory in the Cloud. Perfect for christenings, birthdays, and other milestone events where there will be lots of people taking tons of photos that you would love to have. No more, "I'll email those pics to you later..." or "I'll shoot you a thumb drive later..."