Tuesday, February 26, 2013

how to organize + back up your images!

Before you begin:  This is a wordy post.  Sheesh.  Apparently I decided to use twelve words every time four would do.  But, if you are looking for a way to organize your pictures, this is my tried and true method!

I take lots and lots of pictures.  I'm not talking about just professional pictures but our personal pictures.  Pictures of our family and our day-to-day life.  I have finally figured out my way of organizing them.

And I'm excited to share it with you!

I feel like lots of my friends and family have the same problem.  They take lots of pictures.  With their camera and their phone.  They never print any of them.  And they are always saving them here and there.  In different folders and on different computers.  I struggled with this forever.  And I would get so frustrated when I couldn't find the picture I was looking for!

Once I had finally had it with my completely unorganized lack-of-a-system, I started researching.   I spent months worrying over this because I wanted to find a plan that worked, consistently.  One that would work for years to come.  I spent months (this is not an exaggeration!) researching and figuring out what was going to work best for me in the long run. And now I am here, after using this same system for over a year, I still swear by it!  So, I figured, why not share it with you!

I mess with my pictures for probably thirty minutes on the first day of every month.  So it doesn't take a lot of time but it saves me a TON of time.  Here's how it works:


One of the problems I found was that I was saving pictures on my desktop computer and my laptop.  I was frustrated because I would have multiple copies of some (okay, lots of) pictures or I would sit down to write a blog post or edit pictures and realize that the pictures were actually saved on my other computer.  Super frustrating when you're all set up and you've got to switch computers.  Or when you're not at home and the pictures you thought were on your laptop are actually on your desktop.

The other problem?  That my blood pressure shot through the roof every time I thought about my computer potentially crashing.  I'm talking sweaty palms, knot-in-my-stomach kind of reaction.  I actually lost every picture from college.  My laptop crashed my senior year.  I never backed up my computer.  The only pictures I have are the ones I had uploaded to Facebook and Shutterfly.  Which means I don't even actually have the files.  I just know that I can go back and look at memories there.

So,  that led me to two pieces of equipment.  An external hard drive and a portable external hard drive.

What's the difference?

Well the first external hard drive I bought is big.  It sits on my desk and it must be plugged in to an outlet to use it.  I use it solely as a back up.  I back up all of my pictures there.  I try to do it once a month.

I bought one that is 500 GB and spent $100ish on it.  I can't remember exactly since it's been a few years.  Now there are 2-3 TB hard drives out there.  I am planning to probably stick with 500 GB.  Definitely nothing bigger than 1 TB.  Only because IF by chance that hard drive dies I don't want one that's so big that it's got twenty years worth of pictures on it.  500 gb is going to save several years as it is.  My plans is that as I fill each one up, I label it with the years of the pictures (i.e. 2008 - 2015) and then place it in our fireproof safe.  Then, I'll start filling another one!

The other hard drive is portable.  It has proven to be extremely useful in keeping all of my pictures in one place.  Regardless of which computer I am on, I can just pop it into a USB port and BAM - full access.  This way, I never have to worry about which computer I am using.  It is essentially a  glorified flash drive.  It's much bigger in terms of how many pictures it can hold (I bought the 500 GB) but size-wise it's much smaller in comparison to the big external hard drive.  It also doesn't require power.  So you don't have to plug this one into the wall, just to your computer.  You typically pay a little more for the portability but it's definitely worth it in my book.  It's about the size of a CD case (except it's rectangular) and it comes with a little padded case to protect it when you throw it in your bag along with your laptop.  It has also been helpful in freeing up a ton of space on my computers which means they run faster!


My next goal was to figure out a way to easily find my pictures.  I didn't want just a general "My Pictures" folder or "event" folders saved on iPhoto.  Even saving pictures by the date became a hassle because I was forced to look through folder after folder to find the random day in November that we visited my grandma or the day we went to the children's museum.  So, my system looks like this:

1.  Yearly Folders - The yearly folders are what I see when I open my portable hard drive.  I only use my portable hard drive for pictures so there is no need for me to have a "Pictures" folder first.  But if you are also saving other things on there you could always place your yearly folders within a picture folder to keep them all corralled into one area.

(note:  click on the pictures to zoom in!)

2.  Monthly Folders  - Within each year there are monthly folders.  I add "01, 02, etc" for each month so they stay in order instead of rearranging alphabetically)

3.  Event Specific Folders + General Pictures - Inside of each monthly folder I post all the pictures I took that month.  If I have a specific event that takes place during that month, I will add a folder within that month to keep all photos of that event together.  In my example of May 2012, you will see "Beach with..." and a "Crews + Tate's Baby Dedication/Mother's Day" folders.  But, after these two folders there are lots of "IMG_XXX" files.  These are all of the pictures from May that didn't fall under a specific event, just our day-to-day life (trips to the museum or park, playing outside, visiting with family, etc.).

And that's it (regarding the organization piece)!  It helps me with finding pictures because I can typically remember the month that we did something.  For example, the beach trip.  I know that we went in May of 2012.  But, ten years from now, even when I don't remember exactly which month, I will at least know to search the May-August folders to find the folder from that trip.  Typically if you use the software that comes with your camera to import your images, they are automatically placed in a folder by the date.  But, I can't even remember which dates we went to the beach last year.  And I know there is no way I will remember that in ten years!  So, I don't have to search through potentially 31 folders for the 31 days in May.  I just have to look in the May folder!

I create a folder for most birthdays, holidays and vacations.  For the holidays I will either do one big Christmas folder or I will divide it up (i.e. "Christmas Eve at Nanny's", "Christmas Breakfast at Papa's", etc).  It just depends on what seems to make the most sense that year.

The Process

I've finally gotten a grasp on the easiest way for me to the keep this system rolling.  I've realized it is easiest to work with my pictures from the previous month on the first day of each month.  So, on Friday, March 1st, I will sit down and work on all of my February pictures.

It's a fairly quick process but here's what works for me:

1.  Download your images

  • SD cards - I will take all of my SD cards and copy and paste all images from them straight to my "02- February" folder within my 2013 folder.  Then I clean off all my cards and start fresh for that month!  If I had an event, I will make a folder and move all the corresponding images to that folder (still within February).  If you have already taken images from your SD card before the end of the month to blog with or use for something, you should have already created your February folder and added those images there!
  • iPhone - I will also take all of my pictures from my phone.  I plug my phone into my computer and import all the pictures into an "event" on iPhoto.  Then, I copy and paste them into the February folder as well.  You can then go back to iPhoto and delete them so you don't have duplicates.    This is a great part of the process because it allows you to clean up your phone so it works faster and with as much as I use my iPhone to capture our lives, I want these pictures to be saved just as I want to keep the pictures from my DSLR.   
Note:  the one glitch that will occasionally occur is when your iPhone images and your camera images are saving with the same name (for example both your phone and your camera named an image IMG_1000).  This rarely occurs but because devices typically only save images with files names up to IMG_9999 and then start over at IMG_0001 you may run into this problem.  The couple of times this has happened, I just create a "iPhone photos" folder within the month to keep them separated.  You do not want to allow the iPhone images to replace the other images within your folder that are saved under the same name!  So, this has been the best solution I have found.  I don't want to have a separate "iPhone Photos" folder if it can be avoided because I like all of the pictures to be arranged by date.  My iPhone images and DSLR images can then intermingle based on the date and I can view the pictures within the month as the month happened.  Instead of looking through the iPhone images separate from the camera images (After typing this, I realized that when I copy the pictures from iPhoto over to my folder, all the dates are wiped out and the date for the image changes to the date that I'm actually moving them - it's totally not a huge deal and still worth it to have them in the same folder - but if you have a solution for how to keep the original dates on the iPhoto images when moving them from iPhoto to a new folder I would love to hear it!)

2.  Back up to your external hard drive -  It is best to back up your images as soon as you have them all into your monthly folder.  My external hard drive stays plugged into my desktop so I typically just plug my portable hard drive in and as soon as I get all of my February pictures added to my folder, I copy and paste the folder over onto the bigger hard drive (there are annual folders set up there as well and I just paste the February folder within my 2013 folder). 

3.  Upload your images to a photo storage site - I store all of my photos on  There are pros and cons to this site.  Yes, a back-up to your back-up.  You might think it's crazy but what if there is a fire (heaven forbid) and you lose both hard drives?  I started out using Shutterfly so it is much easier to continue using it rather than starting over with a new site.  And, it is beneficial because I use this site for any photo gifts I order.  My pictures are already uploaded so when I start a project, I don't have to spend time uploading photos.  I just choose my project and get right to work.  The con to this site is that you can't get your images back onto your computer (or hard drive) if you were to lose them.  You can have them printed but there is not a way to re-download them to your computer at a high resolution.  You can only save a copy from the "save image" option within the right-click feature.  It will provide you with a very low-res image that looks grainy and is essentially unusable.  I plan to eventually look into loading my pictures onto a different site to back them up.  I do think that most sites that offer this type of storage charge an annual fee to keep your images.  It's typically not a large amount (based on the number of pictures you are backing up) but I would love to find one that is free!

So, that's my system!  It may seem like a lot!  And it may seem overwhelming if you have no system as of now.  My recommendation would be that you start with the month you are in!  If you decide that you are only going to start when you have time to go back and reorganize the last five years worth of pictures, you'll never start.  So, start with this month!  Work on your February pictures and then move forward with your new system!  As you have extra time or energy, you can go back and work on a month here and there.  Work on it one night while you're watching The Bachelor or Parenthood!  It's pretty mindless work once you get your system set up and you'll be surprised by how quickly you can fix a couple of months!

I know this may seem like a lot of work.  But, I promise, it's worth it.  I have often thought about how much time my parents and even grandparents took to preserve memories.  They have photo album upon photo album of pictures.  It's such a sweet thing to look through them when we're all together.  And I want my kids to have that one day!  But if we never print or at least organize our photos, we'll never use them like we intend to.  I think we all have grand plans when we capture moments.  Plans to make photo gifts and frame pictures and make baby books.  But we rarely do.  And, I believe that the biggest reason for us not following through on our plans is that it is too much work to actually start the project.  Finding the images you want to use takes entirely too much time.  So, by the time you actually find your photos, you're tired or working on or even thinking about your project and you give up!  So, start here.  Find a system that works for you and then when you sit down to make a photo book you can spend that time actually making the photo book!

Happy Organizing!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

i spy.

For Christmas I asked for a remote for my camera.  I was thinking it would be awesome to use when I want to take pictures of me with the boys and when I take pictures of our entire extended family.  I did a photo shoot of my family and of Jordan's family before Christmas and sheesh, both times I got quite a workout.  I would set everyone up and then hit the button, run to my spot and get there just in time to smile.  With Jordan's family it even consisted of Poppy holding a baby out in the air for me to grab on my run through.  And, with multiple kids (and unwilling men...ahem...hello all Scott men) it took quite a few times to get a good picture.  So, I ran back and forth more times than I can count!

I did get the remote for Christmas and was so excited to try it out!  I finally spent some time messing with it a few weeks ago.  I actually was planning to take pictures of me with Tate.  I got everything set up and then he fell and was quite upset.  I figured I could still try it out.  So I started snapping away.  

I was really excited to see it work and it will definitely take some of the running of trying to take family pictures!

Now I've just gotta figure out how to hide the remote!

Friday, February 22, 2013

game on.

Y'all.  I am currently sitting in a coffee shop in Mount Airy on Main Street.  My mom has taken the boys.  Dropped me off at the coffee shop.  And told me she'd be back in a few hours.  Can I just tell you, I am in heaven. 

To know that my boys are going to have a blast.  My mom is going to have a blast.  And I...oh, I am going to have a ba.last.  I've gotten a coffee and I'm sitting at a small table.  It's quiet.  There is no one needing to have their nose wiped or their sippy cup refilled.  It's just so, so nice.  In fact, I think this might just need to become doctor's orders.  That I do this once a week or once every other week.  Sheesh.  I'm already feeling so refreshed and my coffee hasn't even cooled enough for me to drink it!  

I have big news.  Real big news.

I registered for Making Things Happen!  

(All of you who thought this might be an announcement that I am pregnant, I assure you, I am not.  But I also assure you that even though this announcement seems like a let down comparatively, it is not.  It is going to be life changing!)

Being a stay at home mom is my dream job.  I love it.  In fact, I sometimes take a step back and just stand in awe.  Realizing that lots of people, much older than I, have spent their life searching for their dream job.  To do what they love every single day.  And I, at the age of 26, have found that.  It's huge.  And I do not take that for granted.

For a lot of the last fifteen months I have had an internal battle taking place.  I recognize just how blessed I am.  I do.  But I also want so badly to start a business.  I get so excited just thinking about it that my mind feels like it could explode.  It's full of all these ideas of what life could (and potentially will) look like one day!  I have felt guilty for some time because I know that raising my children is my most important job on this Earth.  There are so many people who would kill to be in my position.  I understand that.  

Well, I came across Nancy Ray's blog and then Lara Casey's and both have led me to the Making Things Happen conference!  When I started learning more about this conference I became so, so encouraged by all of these women who own their own businesses.  And plenty of them also have children.  They are able to do both.  What a crazy idea!  I started thinking about this.  A lot.  It was on my mind when I went to sleep, when I took a shower, when I drove somewhere (because let's be honest, these are about the only times when I can actually think straight for more than two minutes).  I also started praying about it.  That God would give me clarity.  If I needed to step back from this idea and wait or if I should pursue something.  That I would start to understand what He has in store for me and that either way, I would be obedient to His will.  Finally, one night, I felt a peace.  I felt like God clearly said, "Jenny, I have created you.  Just as you are.  With the passions and desires that you have.  And it is good."  He created me to be a mom.  But he has also given me abilities that I can use.  And that it is okay to pursue both. 

Next, I had to talk to Jordan about it.  One afternoon when he got home from work, I sat down to tell him what was on my heart and I burst into tears.  I explained all that was on my heart (he has heard lots of it for many months) and I told him about the MTH conference.  I described what it was about.  And I told him how much it costs.  Expecting him to laugh or to at least want to look into other options, I was completely floored when he said, "okay sign up".   No reading more about it, no discussion about why.  Just yes.  And that yes essentially said to me, I believe in you.  You can do this.  You are worth the investment.  (Not sure why I was so floored?  He has proven his belief in me time and time again and yet I still am floored when he puts his money where his mouth is.  I'm a lucky girl.)  

He actually did tell me one condition. "If you are going to do this, when you come home you've gotta go balls to the wall".  

Game on.

So, that night I signed up.  Then proceeded to dance around in the living room floor.  Jumping up and down repeatedly.  Without a bra on.  And let's not forget I've been nursing twins for the last fifteen months.  How's that for an awful mental picture?  But I was just so excited.  I also texted my two best friends until midnight.  All of us just so thrilled.  They cried for me, y'all.  They know my heart.  They get it.  I am so thankful to be loved so well.

Needless to say, I am beyond excited.  I can't seem to get a grip.  Who knows what will come of this conference.  I just know it's going to be good.  I am going to come home motivated and ready to move forward.  To start this new chapter of my life.  

I promise to bring y'all along for the ride and update more than once a month  :)

Monday, February 11, 2013

maternity sneak peek - april + chris

I had the privilege of taking pictures of April and Chris last weekend.  April was my first friend when I got married and moved to Burlington.  She was such a blessing in my life then and over the last five years she has remained such a blessing.  She actually married Jordan's distant cousin so we were able to introduce Jordan and Chris and now April and I share a last name :)  It was freezing outside but April and Chris were troopers and we had so much fun shooting their maternity pictures!  April and Chris, Miss Carmen is going to be so lucky to have you two as her parents.  I'm so excited to watch you start this amazing journey!

Enjoy a few of my favorites from the afternoon.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

one of those days.

You know how you wake up some days and you are on it!  You wake up thirty minutes earlier than usual and get a head start on your day before the kids wake up, you tackle your entire to do list before lunch. Make time to read books and tickle your babies.  Your house stays clean (okay, semi-clean) and your laundry is all caught up.  You know the kinda day I'm talking about?  

Well, today has not been that kind of day.  In fact, it's been quite the opposite.  

I have dealt with more fluids today than I care to all week.  I'm sure you're thinking, "that's weird, what does she mean?"  Well, let me just tell you.

First off, Crews and Tate have crazy runny noses.  Like, nonstop.  So every time I turn around I am wiping snot.  Then, I happen to look in the pack-n-play which is full of everything from the remote to a tennis shoe to a sippy cup.  When I look in, I happen to notice a sippy cup.  That we used like three days ago.  For milk.  And the sippy cup is still half full.  Gag me.   

After breakfast Tate spit up twice.  Which doesn't really happen as much anymore.  So it has started grossing me out again.  Once he spit up in the middle of the kitchen floor and then the second time in a basket of clean clothes I had just gotten out of the dryer.  
Later while changing diapers I noticed that Tate's bum looked a little irritated so I just let him run around naked for a few minutes.  Which is like the best treat ever.  So of course, Crews wanted to be naked as well.  After getting them undressed I went to get their outfits for the day and throw their pjs in the laundry room.  I was out of the playroom for like two minutes.  

I came back and Crews had POOPED IN THE FLOOR.  
And, not only had he pooped but he was STEPPING in it!  

It's hard to turn the day around after that.

So, my house looks like this:

Like I said, today has not been one of those "I got this" kinda days.  

Oh yeah, and I stole a gallon of milk from Aldi.  On accident.  It was in the bottom of the stroller and I forgot about it.  Till I got out to the car and loaded the boys up.  I wasn't about to go back in.  

Don't worry Mom, I'll pay for it next time I'm there.  Promise.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

oh, hello little love month.

y'all.  i have to tell you, i have had such an interesting month.  i have been wanting to be all about productivity and accomplishing goals but i have also felt the Lord clearly trying to teach me to slow down and live life without being controlled by a to do list.  you wouldn't think this would be challenging, but when i don't have a strict to do list my time management is terrible.  so, i'm working hard to find a healthy balance.  so many blogs that i read encourage setting goals and starting the year out right.  and there is so much good to come from that.  but, i also read this post where jami talks about  motivation and goals needing to be God oriented.  so, i'm still trying to figure this out. 

i did make a few january goals.  and i didn't accomplish them all (whhhaaaatt??).  but, i feel okay about that.  it's me, giving up a little bit of my control-nature.  being willing to be a mess.  and figuring out how to understand that that is okay.  

my january goals were:
  • read grace for the good girl (i started this and LOVE it.  not finished yet!)
  • complete the next step of my quilt (that i started before i got preggers!) (still need to do this)
  • edit pictures for my 2012 albm (it has been so fun to go back through all our pictures from last year.  i'm only about half way through picking them out - then I'll get to start the actual album!)
  • order photo books of the boys first birthday party (yay!  finished this one - i LOVE these.  printed two so both boys will have one)
  • make two christmas gifts (i didn't do this - i have some ideas, just gotta make the time!)
so for february i'm hoping to:
  • finish grace for the good girl
  • read the most important place on earth
  • make two christmas gifts (maybe 4 to make up for january if i have time!)
  • finish going through my 2012 pictures and start on the actual album
  • use my time more wisely (this is huge.  i need to write a whole post on my iphone and google reader addictions.  it's ugly.  and i want to spend my time being more creative instead of watching others be creative and productive with their time.)
  • make my workspace a fun space for me to want to spend my time (right now, my desk stays cluttered with all kinds of stuff and the couch becomes my blogging/photo editing/office space.  which makes me less productive because i get too comfy and sleepy or too caught up in a tv show! i want my desk to be a happy place where i want to actually spend time!)

what about y'all?  how has january been?  what are you going to do this month?