Thanks to the proliferation of smartphones we’re able to take hundreds, or even thousands, of pictures annually. While most of our photographs are of trivial moments or belong on the cutting room floor, some of them capture memories we want to keep for years to come. But sorting through the slush pile and figuring out how to organize, label, and preserve the best is a huge task. It doesn’t have to be. The best way to save your photos every year and preserve your precious memories is to create an annual photo album. Make it part of your new year routine!
6 Simple steps to create an annual photo album
Select a cloud storage platform to save your photos
There are dozens of cloud storage platforms available including Amazon Photos, Dropbox, Smugmug and Google Photos. I use Smugmug because of it’s unlimited storage of full high resolution images. Each of these services offers different levels and options based on your needs. I recently learned that Amazon Photos also offers unlimited storage of full size high resolution images for Prime members. I am going to check it out.
Setup a folder at the beginning of each year to backup your smartphone photos automatically
The cloud storage you select should have an option to automatically backup your smartphone photos to a folder. Setup a folder at the beginning of each year and direct your backup to that folder. If your service won’t let you change the default folder, don’t fret. You can sort by date and move the photos into an annual folder at year end.
Some service such as Smugmug, are preconfigured to store your auto uploaded photos by month and year.
Test the backup to ensure it’s working.
Periodically clean out the photos you don’t want to keep
If you have unlimited storage you can technically skip this step but I recommend you do it anyway. You don’t need to keep six pictures of the perfect cosmo, a fuzzy image of your best friend, or dozens of pictures of your cat snuggling on her favorite pillow. These images will clutter up your storage and make sorting through them later a bit more time consuming but it’s up to you.
** Tip: Some cloud services have a safety feature that triggers a question to confirm that you want to delete from cloud storage AND your device. If your service has this feature, use it. It will help you avoid accidentally deleting large blocks of photos in both places.
Take lots of pictures!
Knowing the best way to save your photos won’t matter if you don’t take any pictures! Capture images all year long confidentially knowing they are backing up to your cloud storage. Get in the habit of pulling out your camera and documenting important times. Take extra pictures of events focusing on people, places, and things. Get candid photos and staged ones. Smartphones make it simple to take a bunch of crappy pictures. Spend a few minutes to make sure you’re capturing what matters.
Choose a company to print your album
Your cloud storage provider may also offer photo album printing. If they do, you can certainly use them. There are, however, many services that interface with cloud storage. If your provider doesn’t offer the service, or it’s too difficult to use, a quick search on the internet will give you plenty of options.
I find the Smugmug site is tough to use to create an album so I use a third party, Mixbook. Mixbook is very easy to use and can upload photos directly from Smugmug, Google Photos, Facebook and Instagram.
One of the problems with using a third party is remembering which company you use year to year. If you forget, just look at your last album. The company name will be printed somewhere in the pages.
When selecting a company, don’t just look at price. Options can vary. Some options to consider are organizing tools, automatic layouts, the ability to add captions and icons, and different size books and paper types.
Check out this guide to photo album services on Tom’s Guides.
Create an annual photo album – It’s the best way to save your photos every year!
I create my photo album in January of each year. I set a reminder in my phone so it doesn’t get away from me. Frankly, it’s a fantastic project to work on during cold winter nights, snuggled up on the couch. I go through the year’s worth of images and pull out the ones I want to keep – or may want to keep. Upload them all to the photo album site and begin organizing. You can put them in order by date, group similar photos, add and delete pictures as you go along, make a collage of an event, or lay it out in any other way you want. Save it as you work and come back as many times as needed until it’s finished.
Sort through your selected photos and make a list of events or themes you want to highlight in your album. Layout your pages for these ideas. Once you’ve finished these pages, review remaining photos to identify other groupings and create more pages.
You can move pages around, change layouts, and add and remove photos as you go. If you’re unsure where to start, find the option to automatically load the photos into your draft album by date then review the results. This is sure to trigger some ideas for you!
When you finally have it exactly the way you want it, give it a title with the year and send it to print!
However you store your hundreds, or thousands, of photos, you can easily and inexpensively create an album every year. Make it an annual tradition. It’s the best way to save your photos. You’ll be happy you did it!