The Future of Family Memories: From the Family Photo Album to the Digital Frame and Beyond
Less than a generation ago, parents would spend hours compiling physical photographs of their families into thick photo albums. Depending on how crafty a mom or dad was, the album might be painstakingly organized and annotated, with notes dating every image – or, at the other extreme, a collection of random images jumbled together that you needed a guide (like mom or dad) to explain.
But these albums are gradually becoming a thing of the past. Like so much of the rest of our lives nowadays, our photographs mainly live online or on our various devices.
This has led to an issue that’s become common among everyone from college kids to grandparents: an overabundance of pictures.
When you’ve got a smartphone with a camera on you from morning till night, taking a photo is almost too easy. Parents have literally thousands of pictures of their children; frequent travelers have endless strings of photos from their trips; and grandparents find themselves bombarded with photos of their grandkids via email, text, and social media.
How do we navigate this new digital landscape without drowning in our own pictures?
Digital tools to preserve digital photos
As digital photography has become better, easier, and more popular, all kinds of tools have popped up to help people organize their images.
Online photo hosting sites let you get your pictures off your camera or laptop and into the cloud, organized into virtual albums.
Digital wi-fi cloud frames like the Nixplay Iris and the Nixplay Seed let you organize and display your images in playlists. You can even send pictures to the frame from anywhere in the world.
But this could be just the beginning of how our own photographic preservation techniques are changing, according to the NPR article “In the Digital Age, the Family Photo Album Fades Away. While many of us may still feel nostalgic for physical family photo albums, it’s likely that our children won’t have that same association.
They will have lived their entire lives in the digital age, when taking a picture means snapping a photo on a smartphone and being able to see it or share it immediately afterward. They’re used to scrolling through virtual albums on hard drives, phones, and social media sites. For them, a “family album” is more likely to be a hard drive that gets pulled out at holiday gatherings, or passed down from grandparents.
The NPR article quotes Clifford Lynch of the Coalition for Networked Information on the way generational preferences and technology are changing the way we archive our pictures.
According to Lynch, children today will likely expect to be able to watch themselves grow up through digital albums and online. Physical photo books may document specific events, like a baby’s first year or a college graduation; however, the sheer volume of images that we all have now will make the kind of family albums that we held on to in the past impractical.
Becoming your own personal photo archivist
Admittedly, keeping track of your digital photos can be a lot harder than throwing all your hard copy photos into a shoebox.
This is because we split our pictures up onto so many devices, and so many platforms – you may have pictures on your phone, your Facebook and Instagram accounts, a cloud service like Google Drive, and a computer, just to name a few.
The first step, then, is to put all these photos together. The best way to do this is to use two external hard drives, one as an original and the other as a copy that you store with a family member or in another safe place away from your house. This way, you won’t lose all your pictures if disaster strikes your home.
Since you want to be able to actually see and enjoy your photos, too, a digital frame can be a perfect counterpart to your photo hard drive. With the Nixplay app, you can create photo playlists to serve as mini-albums.
There are all kinds of approaches you can take. If you have kids, consider creating a special playlist for each child, as a kind of digital baby book.
If you’re an avid traveler, divide your playlists up by trip, or by region of the world.
If you’re giving a digital frame as a gift, try creating playlists that document important moments you’ve spent together.
The family album may be slowly becoming a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean your photos are doomed to be hidden away on a hard drive forever. To find the Nixplay digital frame that fits your family, read our post “The Right Digital Frame for Every Type of Family.”