Thursday, February 28, 2019

What You're Really Signing Up For with Digital Photo Storage

A couple of years ago, a woman came to me wanting to know more about all this Heritage Makers stuff I've been talking about.  She said she had just learned that the online photobook company she'd been using for a couple of years reserves rights to all the photos uploaded to their site!  This means they could use pictures of this woman's baby in their advertising if they want.  Or sell them.  She was very concerned about photo privacy and dropped that company like a hot potato when she found out Heritage Makers does not reserve rights to your photos--they are completely private and solely yours.

The company this woman was dropping is, I believe, the most popular online photobook company out there.  Because of that (and probably because I'm a 14-year user of Heritage Makers and am quite accustomed to how they do things), I will admit that in the back of my mind I kind of didn't believe this gal.

I thought:  A company using your photos without your permission?!  How can that possibly be?!?

Guess what.  It's true.  

This scary article, {Those Cloud Photo Services... What's the Risk?} confirms it, along with several others linked there.  According to Darla at HeartWork Organizing, many public services take the rights to your photos when you upload them to their site.  This includes Google Photos, Facebook, iCloud, Flickr, and really any social media platform.  Once you upload your photos to their site, you are giving them your photosThey own them.

As just one example, Darla quotes the Google terms of use--what you are signing up for when you click "I accept."
"When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display, and distribute such content."
 "This license continues even if you stop using our service."
"Google may also stop providing Services to you, or add or create new limits to our services at any time." 
Okay, then.  Are your eyes as wide as mine are right now?

Darla's article also includes four links to stories of people's photos being used without their knowledge, including one where a family in Pennsylvania finds out that their picture had been used on a political ad flyer.

In talking with Caren Osborne, a {professional photo organizer at Memory Lane Photo Solutions}, I learned a few more things that I didn't know about Google and iCloud.  Many people sync their phones to one of these "photo storage" methods, so they think their photos are safe up there in the cloud.  However, what most people don't know is that once you delete a photo from your phone, it's deleted from Google or from iCloud, too.  That's what syncing with your phone does--it connects the two, so whatever happens on your phone happens in the cloud, too.  

And I can't even tell you how many people have told me that they can't ever find their photos when they use iPhoto.  But that's another story.

Let me give you a way to avoid this, a way to keep your photos private and secure!  This is what I personally use for online digital photo storage.  I would NEVER use anything else.

Since its inception in 2004, {Heritage Makers} provides PRIVATE full-resolution digital photo storage for FREE.  I can download *my own photos* back to my computer for free (some companies charge a fee for this).  If my computer crashes, I can get all my photos back (for free).  These are just some of the many reasons Heritage Makers is my top choice for digital photo storage.  Hands down.

A Basic Heritage Makers account allows you to store 2 GB of photos for free, but here's the great news!  {As you know, photos were never meant to be stored; they were meant to be seen.}  So Heritage Makers offers lots of options for not just storing but actually publishing your photos, such as hardbound books, digital scrap pages, calendars, canvases, softbound books, and much more.  The great news I alluded to earlier is this:  Every single photo you print through Heritage Makers publish in a Heritage Makers project (book, scrap page, etc.) doesn't count toward your photo storage limit.  That 2 GB limit is only for unused photos--photos you haven't yet put into a book, scrap page, etc.  That's essentially UNLIMITED, FREE DIGITAL PHOTO STORAGE.  Let me give you my personal experience, which is now going on 14 years!

(I will say, too, that you can buy extra digital photo storage in your Heritage Makers account if you want to--if, for example, you haven't published your photos in any projects yet--but since {photos are meant to be seen, not stored}, I always encourage people to just print their photos in a book or scrap page.  That way they get to SEE their pictures and they get free digital photo storage, too.)

Here's my story.  I have been using Heritage Makers since 2005.  What that means is that I have been uploading my photos to their site for 14 years.  All my photos.  Remember--my photos stay private in my private account; Heritage Makers claim no rights to my photos and I didn't sign away my rights when {I opened my free account} with them.  Anyway, I take a lot of photos and I have {an awesome, consistent system for preserving them with Heritage Makers digital scrap pages}, so I literally have thousands upon thousands of photos saved in my account since 2005.  Because every one of the pictures I store there is used in a Heritage Makers project, I have something like 20 GB of completely free, secure, private digital photo storage.  And did I mention that's for free?!   

And it gets better.

Heritage Makers actually goes a step further.  And it's a big step

If you do a web search for the best ways to store your digital photos, you'll find suggestions to store them two ways digitally and one way in print.  Have you ever thought of having your photos in a book or album as photo storage?  Well, it is!

Print continues to be a largely overlooked and much more useful and satisfying form of photo storage.  You're still storing (preserving, really) your photos when you print them in a book or scrap page, and it's better than digital storage because photos are usually easier to find and easier to enjoy.  A page provides a place to record memories that belong to those photos, too, which is what makes the photo worth anything at all!

Here's what Heritage Makers does better.  

They don't just preserve my photos at full resolution (for free) for me to download any time (for free), while reserving zero rights to them (my pictures remain mine), but they also store all of the projects I've used those pictures in, too.  Some companies save photo books or projects for 6 months or a year, but Heritage Makers saves them forever, privately in my personal Heritage Makers account.  That means I have a digital backup of not just my photos but also the beautiful, heirloom-quality project I created with them.  So if I want another copy of something next year to give away as Christmas gifts, that project is still there.  Or if my dog chews up my Heritage Makers photo storybook 5 years from now, I can reorder it (at {half price through Heirloom Assurance}!!)

All you have to do to get ALL OF THIS is use {your Heritage Makers account} once every 18 months--make a storybook, a simple {family yearbook}, create a {playing card deck} for your Mom's birthday, publish graduation or wedding announcements, make Christmas cards, etc.  Using your Heritage Makers account once every 18 months just keeps it active (open).  And you get free, private digital photo storage that way.  Pretty cool.

So if this isn't what you currently get with your digital photo storage, you may want to drop your current choice like a hot potato.  

If you want to join me using Heritage Makers for private photo storage, here's what else you'll get:
  • You'll get options for three ways to preserve your photos, just like experts suggest.  The three ways you can store your photos at {Heritage Makers} are:  1. digitally (the jpeg file), 2. in a printed version like a scrap page or digital book, and 3. on a Millenniata CD that will last 1,000 years!  (That's what I do.  I upload my favorite photos to my Heritage Makers account regularly, create scrap pages or books with them, then at the end of the year I order a CD right in my Heritage Makers account with all the pictures from the year on it.)
  • Free photo storage for all pictures published in a Heritage Makers product.  (I currently have 13 years' worth of pictures stored in my Heritage Makers account, and then some.  All for free.)
  • Free downloads of my pictures at full resolution any time.  Great back up in case of a hard drive crash.  This is also, surprisingly, an usual perk.  The company that the woman I mentioned at the beginning used to use actually charges people a fee to download THEIR OWN PHOTOS back at full resolution.  (I get free downloads of my own pictures at full resolution from my Heritage Makers account any time I want them.  I can save them to any computer.)
  • Heirloom-quality products for your published photos and memories, not bargain bin-type products often seen in popular online photobook companies.
  • Thousands of free templates to use.  Templates are fully editable, so you can even change templates.  Or, design your own from a blank page if you prefer.
  • Hundreds of thousands of pieces of FREE digital art--backgrounds, alphabets, embellishments, etc.  
  • You don't have to download anything to your computer--no software program, no digital art collections.  Everything you need to create a project, from a book to a canvas or a playing card deck, is right in the program.  All you need is a computer (any computer) and an internet connection.  The art and the software are already there. 
  • A Heritage Makers account is free.
  • Use of the Heritage Makers software program, Studio, is free.
  • All products created with Heritage Makers are saved in your account forever (as long as your account is active--used at least once a year).  You can reorder something special to give as gifts later on.  Storage of your projects in your account never expires.  
  • All your precious projects are protected by Heirloom Assurance.  If your project is ever damaged (water damage, fire, anything), you can get a replacement at half price.  (This means everything to me!)
Can you believe all these perks?

There is nothing like Heritage Makers!  I have asked around, and I have looked.  The longer I use it and the more I see what some other people use, the more I realize that there is truly nothing like Heritage Makers.

So forget the cloud.  Store your photos privately with Heritage Makers.  {Get started right here}.

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  1. Great article and to support what you shared..... my friend’s cousin was horrified to find her child’s picture on the side bar of her computer for some well known digital company’s advertising.. so all of this true story! Yep, HM is the best. :) -Denise

  2. Denise, photo security (or lack thereof) is indeed the real deal! Thank you for sharing that.
    Finding your picture like that would be horrifying. Thanks so much for reading my post and for the great comment. I'm SO glad we use Heritage Makers!

  3. I just discovered your site, because you commented on my blog. This is an eye-opener. I have wanted to do digital scrapbooking, but am so overwhelmed. However, we just took a trip and I'd like to put it in a book, so I will be looking into this further. It looks great, I just hope it is as easy as it appears! Thanks, Janine

  4. I'm so glad you found me, Janine! Yes, this information about digital photo storage was really eye-opening to me also. It's a big deal, and I don't think many people really realize it. Overwhelm is a very common reason for not doing anything with photos, but I hope that Heritage Makers will help you do it. The quality is a big deal to me, but the flexibility is, too (being able to put anything anywhere I want on a page, no limits on the amount of photos or text). If you don't find it as easy as it appears, let me know because I've made lots of tutorial videos that you can follow, showing you where the buttons are, how to do shortcuts, etc. :) Thanks so much for reading and for the comment. I'm happy to help you if you need it, so don't hesitate to ask. :)

  5. I don't like storing family photos online, I don't even use iCloud with my iPhone. Thanks so much for linking up at the #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 6. Shared.

    1. I'm so glad! It's not only a hassle but has so many risks. Thanks for reading and commenting and sharing, too. :)


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