More and more of us are becoming independent and moving away from where we grew up, often not just to the next town, but to the other side of the world. We know how this feels – as we moved from Like from Switzerland to Australia with two toddlers in tow! 

So, how does one stay in touch with loved ones left behind? There are many ways of course, and thanks to modern technology, it’s a lot easier than it used to be a few decades ago. 

For us, photos play a central role in staying connected with family and friends, especially with my mum, who is also the only grandparent left for our kids. There are countless ways to share photos, and it can actually be quite overwhelming to choose just one. However, we stumbled over our absolute favorite way to share pictures with my mum when we decided to give her a wireless Nixplay frame for her birthday a few years ago. It has become a gift that simply keeps on giving – in expected and unexpected ways.

It lets others participate in our life

Sharing photos with others opens a window to our life and gives them the opportunity to become part of it. It gives them a little taste – not only of our exciting adventures – but sometimes simply of everyday moments and snapshots. 

Mum enjoys looking at photos on her Nixplay frame every day! It is standing at a prominent place in her living room where she can easily see it. I love how I can simply email a photo to her frame, knowing it will pop up in her living room and brighten her day. It makes it so much easier to stay connected and to forget the huge geographical distance between us.

And I’m not the only one who sends photos. Other family members do, too. Furthermore, mum loves to travel but she only takes very few photos with her. Sometimes, she travels in a small group and people then send her a few photos directly to the frame. So, when she comes home, she already has the best of her holiday memories showing up – how cool is this!?

It can serve as a trigger to share stories and memories

Only just recently, mum had her sister-in-law staying with her for a few days. Later, she told me that they were looking at the photos on the frame, almost like you’d leaf trough a photo album. The result was that they both exchanged stories, reminisced and had great conversations. 

Again, it’s all about the power of photos to connect people. With the digital frame, it was so easy to do. Think about other options: looking at photos together on a tiny mobile phone – not a great experience. Or sitting in front of a computer and clicking through tons of photos? Not great either. Looking at photobooks would be good but that requires somebody to actually make a book and have it printed. Maybe streaming the photos to a TV or creating slideshows? This requires a certain knowledge about technology and whereas it is not that hard, it feels like too much fuss and effort. For mum, this frame does all of this one fell swoop, and the ease of use makes it a perfect solution.

It lets us enjoy the temporary result of a digitizing project

A few years ago, I travelled home to help mum sort our entire physical family photo collection and to scan what we wanted to keep. Working together was a wonderful experience and our connection became even deeper and added a different layer to our relationship. Fascinating, funny and sad stories came to light that I’d never  heard of before (she is now in the process of writing them all down). I treasure this special time together so much and I recommend to all my clients who call me about physical photos to go through them with a loved one. If you’re interested to read more about how we approached this project, check out this post here.

Sorting our physical photo collection

Of course, the project wasn’t done once the photos were scanned and the prints were stored and archived. The risk with these projects is that the scanned photos will simply be added to the other thousands of digital photos we have and never look at.

I am still finalising the work on the scanned photos. We changed the dates, we added stories and meta data such as names of people etc. At the same time, we’ve been working on our family tree – and the research is far from done.

After a while, it really bugged me that mum couldn’t see the result of all our hard work. I’m not ready to upload these family scans to a cloud service before they’re finalized. This will happen eventually – very soon in fact – so we can share it with the wider family and give them the opportunity to download copies. Until then, Nixplay was – and is – the answer. As I keep ploughing through the digital processing, I keep sending the best ones to her frame so she, can enjoy the result of our work too. 

Mum as a baby with her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother

It’s not about living in the past though. It’s about making the connection to our past more visible and more present in our life. After all, without the people that were there before us, we wouldn’t be here. Sharing photos through a digital frame truly brings memories back into our lives in the easiest way possible, at least for our family. It was one of the very best gifts to mum and ourselves ever, and brings joy to our lives every day.

Chantal Imbach from Photos In Order is an Australian based professional photo manager and also the co-host of the popular podcast DIY Photo Organising. She is passionate about safeguarding photos and teaching people how to manage their photos so they can enjoy them and bring them back into their lives.