Thursday, May 23, 2019

How to Preserve All Those Baby Pictures (plus some encouragement for moms, too)

Oh, baby pictures!  There's nothing like them.  Chubby cheeks and sleeping smiles.  First steps and first foods.  If there's a baby in your life, your phone is probably full of pictures of him/her.  Digital images are easy to share, from texting to social media, but if you want those precious pictures to last, they need to have more to them than a jpeg file name.


You probably already know about the risks of anything digital, such as {hard drive crashes and stolen phones}.  So what is important to know about digital photos and preserving them?  What's the best way to store these cherished photos for years and years to come?  Shiree and Michele from {Confessions of Parenting} asked me delve into these questions and give some advice on what to do with baby pictures to make sure they are preserved.

Here at my guest blogger post you'll find answers to those questions, solutions to photo concerns, and four fantastic ideas for making those photos last.  And some encouragement for moms (of all ages), too!  Click and read:


By the way, if you don't know how to get your pictures off your phone and onto your computer, this quick video walks you right through it in about 5 minutes.

This post at Confessions of Parenting went viral, so it's clearly something a lot of people need to know about.  

Sounds like something worth sharing, so Pin, Tweet, email, or share to Facebook. 

Then tell me in the comments below what your biggest takeaway was from my "What to Do With All the Baby Pictures You're Taking" post.

Last but not least, get started right here.  (Updated 2021 with more heirloom-quality options and private photo storage possibilities.)
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Thursday, May 9, 2019

How Heritage Makers Does Digital Scrapbooking Better (and how I know) [UPDATED]

I have always been what I call a {memory-keeper}, but I wasn't a digital scrapbooker until the Perfect Storm of 2009.  Here's what happened and why I'll never go back.  

2021 UPDATE:  It's been a little over 2 years since I wrote this post, and a handful of events have led me to learn that one size doesn't fit all.  What is written here is absolutely true about Heritage Makers, but I have since learned about another digital scrapbooking option which is also heirloom-quality.  The end product (private photo storage and top-quality printed products) is the same, but the approaches are different.  I have learned that some people may prefer one while some may prefer the other.  Photo & Story Treasures now recommends both companies, Forever and Heritage Makers, and you can read a basic overview of each here.  For a lot more details about the two companies to see what you prefer (web-based digital scrapbooking vs. computer-based/downloaded digital scrapbooking, for example), read this detailed comparison.  I'll update this post with Forever information in red, too, to help you determine which might be the best photo solution for you.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND and WHAT CHANGED

I've always been a picture-taker and a picture-preserver.  By that I mean that I took pictures and then put them in a book (not a box) and wrote a little memory next to it.  I didn't even really realize that "scrapbookING" had become a thing until long after it had.  I was quite late to the {scrapbooking} party.  When I learned about fancy papers and shaped scissors, I joined the bandwagon but was never one to spend hours and hours on one page.  I would say my scrapbook pages were fairly cute, but they were also practical.

I'm one of those people who enjoys scrapbooking because it brings back good memories, both while I'm creating pages and when I look back at them later (especially with my kiddos or husband).  I always prioritized keeping up on my scrapbooking because it's more fun to preserve photos when memories are fresh than it is when it feels like a chore.  In addition, I had a good friend who was also a scrapbooker.  We had kids the same age, so we would get together for Scrapbook Days.  The kids would play together and we would work.  It was both fun and productive.

That worked for me for about 12 years.  The Perfect Storm of 2009 was three-fold.  First, I moved 2,700 miles away from my scrapbooking friend.  Second, I spent a lot of time that year preparing to move, moving out, house hunting, house buying, moving in, unpacking, getting kids registered for school/doctors appointments/play dates/etc.  (I took a lot of pictures but didn't touch them for months, which was highly unusual for me.)  Third, Heritage Makers, previously just offering high-quality hardbound books, came out with individual digital scrap pages.  It was the perfect storm--a perfect time for a change.
By the way, I'll talk about individual scrapbook pages here, but all of this holds true for hardbound books as well.

NEVER LOOKING BACK

Because I'd been a traditional (paper) scrapbooker for years, I had a system.  I liked the loose-leaf system because I could add in my kids' schoolwork or class pictures, etc.  Although I'd been using Heritage Makers personal publishing for 4 years at that point for precious things like {family cookbooks} and {vacation books to give as gifts} to family members, I continued paper scrapbooking because it fit my system.

After the Perfect Storm, though, I was so excited to have the ease of working digitally and still being able to use my loose-leaf binder system.


Digital scrapbooking with Heritage Makers has been saving my bacon ever since.  It is very literally what is 100% responsible for me always being caught up on my scrapbooking.  I have 3 kids, so I always made 4 copies of the same page.  (Gosh, that sounds so onerous now, thinking back on making each paper page by hand, but I really did it.)  With digital scrapbooking, I now just click "copy" and then make adjustments for each kid.  That alone cuts my scrapbooking time--digital scrapbooking now takes me 1/4 of the time that paper scrapbooking used to take--not to mention the simplicity of just using the "copy" and "paste" functions instead of physically cutting out multiple borders and picture frames for multiple pages.  That makes it tons faster, too!

HOW I KNOW HERITAGE MAKERS DOES DIGITAL SCRAPBOOKING BETTER

A year ago now, the print partner Heritage Makers had been using went out of business without any warning!  The home office went searching for a new print partner, but since quality is a high priority for Heritage Makers, and because they have such a wide variety of products, it took longer to find a partner than expected.  During that time, I became a little impatient.  I had a couple of projects I really wanted to do, and I'm the type of person who can't get something off my mind until I just do it already.  So I did something I had NEVER done in 13+ years of being a Heritage Makers consultant.  I looked elsewhere.  (*gasp*)  I just wanted to find something temporary, but I wanted it to be just as good.  Quality matters!


I knew of several "digital photo book" companies that I did NOT want to use.  I've heard enough stories from my Heritage Makers clients about poor quality and {photo privacy issues} with certain popular digital photo book companies they used to use that I knew where not to look.  I wondered, though, if there was anything even similar to Heritage Makers out there.  I just wanted to print a few things until Heritage Makers got up and running again.  (It was only a matter of weeks, but I'll say again:  I was impatient.)  So I went looking.

In all my looking, I could not find anything as good as Heritage Makers.  Here's what I was used to in Heritage Makers that I didn't want to give up and couldn't find anywhere else.
  1. Quality.  I know I already mentioned that, but it's a big deal.  If I'm going to spend my precious time and my precious money on something, I want it to last.  I don't want something as important as my photos and my memories to fall apart a few years from now.  I couldn't find a lot of information on other websites about quality, but I knew there are a lot of bargain-bin type companies out there, so I was wary.   Both Heritage Makers and Forever offer heirloom-quality books with top-of-the-line book bindings and photo-safe pages and covers. 
  2. Flexibility.  The templates I saw out there were not change-able.  I would be stuck with whatever pre-designed items that company offered.  I am so used to being able to create EXACTLY what I want to create in a book or scrap page that I just couldn't handle the idea of not doing that.  There's a build-pages-from-scratch option with Heritage Makers, but even templates are completely edit-able!   If you want full creativity and flexibility, Heritage Makers' Studio program and Forever's Artisan program are amazing.  I have learned, though, that some people find all that flexibility a little overwhelming and like the ability to just follow a template.  Forever's Design & Print has beautiful templates where you can choose pre-designed pages one by one from a variety of options, then personalize with your photos and text.  Forever's AutoPrint is even quicker--push a button to auto-fill your photos into a book, then adjust photos as needed and add captions.  Videos showing all of these options are shown here.
  3. Private photo storage.  The majority of cloud photo storage companies these days don't offer private photo storage.  (I find that ludicrous.  The fine print is downright scary.)  Some don't save your photos in full resolution (so they aren't truly photo storage because if you ever need to download them back, they're now low-res images, meaning lower quality/fuzzy).  And some even make you pay to download your own photos back in full resolution.  (Ludicrous.)  Heritage Makers allows me to store every photo that I've published in a Heritage Makers book (or other project) FOR FREE in my account, and I can download them in full resolution for free.  Forever offers 2 GB free photo storage and allows you to purchase additional amounts.  In my haste to assume that free is better and preferred by everyone, I neglected to see that with Forever, you really get what you pay for.  Forever Storage includes photos, videos, audio files, and PDFS; is triple-backed-up; is guaranteed for your lifetime + 100 years; and is purchased (meaning you OWN it, with no maintenance fees).  You can even assign an administrator to your account upon your passing and can share photo folders with family and friends if desired.  Regarding Heritage Makers free photo storage, it is now important to note than in 2022, the Heritage Makers platform will be updated, and since digital photos are so much higher quality (and, therefore, bigger files) than they were when Heritage Makers began in 2004, the free photo storage policy is being re-evaluated.  Photo storage is increasing in price, and so far that price Heritage Makers incurs has not been passed on to customers, but no announcement has been made yet about the ability to continue free photo storage.   
  4. Heirloom Assurance.  I couldn't find another company that offers Heirloom Assurance like Heritage Makers does.  In fairness, Heirloom Assurance is not posted on the Heritage Makers website, so maybe it's not posted on other companies' websites, either.  Heirloom Assurance is the capability to order a replacement of my project at half price if those precious projects are ever damaged (fire, water, dog, toddler, etc.).  In both my Heritage Makers account and my Forever account, my completed photo-storybooks, digital scrapbooks, etc., are saved for future reordering. 
  5. Digital art.  I didn't realize how accustomed I was to (okay, spoiled by) the Heritage Makers digital art collection.  It is to die for.  There are over 200,000 pieces of digital art available in Heritage Makers creation program, Studio.  Many collections are free for everyone to use, and the Premier collections are free to everyone with a (free) Club accountBecause I love having a lot of options, it didn't occur to me that not everyone might.  I have learned that so much digital art can be overwhelming to some people, and some don't like sorting through so much to find what they want.  (I don't mind at all.)  Forever's digital scrapbooking software, Artisan, includes some free digital art, plus you can use digital art you've purchased elsewhere (Creative Memories digital art is popular to use with Artisan), and Forever has many art designers, too.  You can purchase Forever digital art (which is often on sale), and there are freebie collections as well.  Because you only purchase or download digital art that you like and will use, there isn't so much to sort through.  I have been as thrilled with Forever digital art as I have with Heritage Makers digital art.
Are you ready to start digital scrapbooking?  Whether you're upgrading from your current digital scrapbooking method or you're looking to transition from paper to digital, I think you'll love Heritage Makers.  To help you get started, I made you a video myself to show you exactly how to scrapbook digitally with Heritage Makers.  If you think Forever might be a better fit for you, I've recorded lots of Artisan Quick Tips at my YouTube channel, Photo and Story Treasures.  You can learn more about Artisan here, including the free 30-day trial.

If you'd like to learn more about digital scrapbooking, you can always host a class.  The way this is outlined, you also end up with a Tribe--a group of people to do your digital scrapbooking with. 

 
Don't miss the free online scrapbooking work times (digi-crops) I host, too!  Find more information hereI use both Heritage Makers and Forever now, so you're welcome to join me no matter which you use, but Forever also has their own digital scrapbooking groups (online) called Pixels2Pages run by Artisan experts called Pixies.    

Digital scrapbooking in general is faster and less expensive than traditional (paper) scrapbooking, so {get started by following the instructions here} or {contact me} to host a class and invite friends to gain a Tribe.  

You'll thank yourself!

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