By Denise Olson
This week a group of people from around the country came together to share loving memories of mothers past and present. No, it wasn't a family reunion but a blog carnival and most of the participants have never met face-to-face. Each individual either posted their photos and stories on their web/blog site or wrote them as an email and forwarded the message or link to our gracious hostess. The result was delightful.
This is just one example of the future of memories. There are many more.
Have you ever received a photo taken and sent from a mobile phone? Camera phones may not take the best photos, but they are usually within easy reach when something happens – a baby's first anything, a home run or a precious face covered with chocolate. It's always a treat when one of these photos shows up in our mailbox and sharing the moment far outweighs the quality of the image.
How do you carry your family photos today? Digital frames are popping up on desktops all over the building where I work. I keep my photos at Flickr and can pull them up from anywhere. I don't see many wallet-size photo albums anymore. They are being replaced with smart phones and thumb drives.
Paper isn't dead, but it sure has changed. Now there's any number of photo-sharing sites and photo organizer applications that also provide the tools and services to collect and embellish your photos, add captions and have them printed and bound into beautiful picture books.
Speaking of creations, my favorite application lets me create a photo postcard which I can then email – or even post on the Web. It's a simple program, but what makes each card special isn't the program's features, but the photo. This photo isn't the best quality, but it's one of only a few taken at this event so it's priceless to all involved.
I've created a mini-tradition of posting birthday and anniversary cards on Moultrie Creek as reminders to all the family. It only takes a minute (literally) to create these little cards, but finding the perfect photo for the event – and narrowing it down to only one – can be a challenge.
Another passion falls into the scrapbook category. I've tried most of the scrapbooking applications but have found presentation graphics software (Microsoft's PowerPoint, Apple's Keynote or OpenOffice.org's Impress) offers the most versatility. Yes, the learning curve is a bit steeper, but I'm more interested in combining story text with photos and using family ephemera rather than canned embellishments. I also have the flexibility to format the slides to fit the screen or paper and output the result to a PDF document, HTML or even a Flash movie like HouseStory.
How many PDF or HTML photo books can you put on one thumb drive? And, with HTML you can include video and sound. Every computer has a web browser and PDF reader these days. Think how irritating you can be at family events when there's a computer handy!
Digitize family heirlooms and create books – digital and print – so other family members can have copies of these treasures while the originals are safely protected. Many publishing services can help make this happen like Lulu did for Miss Kate's Autograph Album.
Do you just dump photos into your digital frame? Why not build a slide show that tells a story, convert it to images and load them on your frame? What a great ice-breaker something like that would be at a family reunion!
Take advantage of online services like Footnote to upload your family treasures. Footnote will archive your documents and provide Story Pages so you can include the stories associated with them. You can even connect your documents to historical documents within the Footnote system – and make it all available to your invited family and friends regardless of their membership status.
Software like iMovie and Windows Movie Maker combined with digital cameras that take video as well as still photos make it easy to add video clips, still shots and titles to create productions of special family traditions like our Holiday Regattas . These can be posted on family web sites or YouTube [I'm related to the guy with the Mad Dog] or distributed via CD and even DVD for viewing on your television.
All of these options are great when you start with quality originals. What happens when the original isn't in the best of shape. My first recommendation is to become good friends with George Geder and let him work his magic on them. My next suggestion is to make lemonade from those lemons. Get the best scan you can make and turn it into an object d'art. Experiment with your photo editing software. Just about every photo editor includes some kind of posterize effect which can turn a low resolution image into an interesting graphic. Try the pencil sketch feature/recipe (here's a good one from Scrappers Guide to create a gorgeous portrait.
One thing that has worked very well for me is to create a sepia version of my image (a one-step process with most photo editors) and print it on iron-on transfer paper. Now, iron it onto a canvas board. The canvas is rough enough that your image will look like it's supposed to be grainy. This example is the best of the three prints made from this photo – and the least interesting. Issues where the transfer lifted off the canvas in places gave the other images a grunge look that was very cool. Naturally, those are now in the possession of my sisters.
Like the snapshots of my childhood, the more copies that are shared with others, the better the chances they will survive for decades – maybe even centuries. Protect your original treasures, but create digital copies and share them with your family members. While they may find your fascination with dead relatives a bit strange, present a good story and bring it to life with photos and other ephemera and they will treasure the effort – and maybe even pass it on.
The future of memories looks quite rosy to me.
Photoshop Elements - $90 -Mac/$100 – Win
Paint Shop Pro - $80/Win
Pixelmator - $59/Mac
Picasa - free/Win & Lin
Picnik – free & $25/year/Win, Mac & Lin
Scrapbooking and Presentation Applications:
PowerPoint (MS Office Home) - $150/Win & Mac
Keynote (iWork) - $79/Mac
OpenOffice.org – no cost/Win, Mac & Lin
Memory Mixer Lite - $35/Win & Mac
Postcard - $5/Mac – works with iPhoto
Lemonade. Photograph 2008. Digital image. Privately held by Denise Olson [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], St. Augustine, Florida, United States. 2008.
Article and Photographs
Copyright © Denise Olson