There are so many things I want to say about this topic. I will admit that I’m very opinionated and I’m not apologetic about it! It was unfathomable to me when I first realized that photos aren’t necessarily a priority to everyone. To most of my close friends and family, photos are important, so it was a little shocking to finally get that not everyone valued photos as I do. Here’s something that has finally gotten into my head: whatever we value, we will be willing to spend time, money and resources on, and what we don’t, will basically slip by the wayside. I heard a sermon once where a pastor said, “take a look in your checkbook (this was quite a few years ago!) and whatever you spend your money on, will show what you value.” He was making a point about tithing or giving to the church. It hit me and has never left me. I say all this to just raise a question about your life and the images captured which document your life…do you truly value the life you’ve made and do you want tangible evidence of it? If so, I’m going to list some ways to invest in and protect these valuable images. I have been putting this post on the back burner for a while now and I’ll tell you what urged me to do it now. I had a friend on Facebook comment on a photo I posted, asking if I would please do a blog post about preserving and protecting digital images. Her in-laws home was recently hit by lightning and they lost many precious images. It can happen to any of us. Thank God her in-laws were not home and are fine, but they did lose valuable and cherished photos. *invest in a professional photographer at least once a year to photograph your family. Self promoting…yes, but also, just confirming that this is important. I have never once regretted money I spent on photos or a professional photographer. This is priority to me. We need new family photos and I know to make it happen, we have to plan well in advance. There are 19 of us now, so that’s a lot of people to get together and a lot of commitments and activities to work around, but there is nothing that I value more than having an image with all of us in it…and I don’t need perfect smiles with everyone looking at the camera…I just need all of my people in one frame. I document my life with my iPhone like everyone else does, and I believe those images are important, but they aren’t enough. One last thing in regard to this point. Yesterday, I decided I’d had enough of Scooter’s long shaggy hair that was full of mats, so I brushed her out the best I could, gave her a bath and started to trim her mats out with a scissors. Big mistake! Some jobs are just best left to the professionals! As I hacked away, it became more of a mess and I started to laugh at her new look. I was laughing so hard and apologizing to her for how silly she looked. It was quite comical, and yet, there was a good lesson learned: I’m a DIYer, but typically it’s best to leave skilled jobs to those who have the skills, the professionals! Okay, this isn’t the last thing, on a side note, if photos are the least bit important to you, your wedding day is not the day to experiment with a hobbyist photographer. There are no do overs, so make sure you hire a professional for your wedding day! Cutting costs on photography is not a good idea. At the end of the day, the photos are the one tangible thing that you have, so make sure they are well done! Okay, now I’m done on this point! *print your photos! If I could bold this point more, I would! This is vital. Remember the floppy discs? Everything we are currently using for photos will be obsolete, and I’m guessing it will be obsolete sooner than we can imagine. At the rate photography and technology are changing, this is so important. So please, please be smart and print your photos. I have become a big fan of press print books. I make one for my mom every year and I should be making them for our kids and us. I do print my family photos over and over. I am definitely practicing what I preach here. If you are interested in press print books, check out Artifact Uprising. Their products are affordable and well done. Not fussy at all and easy to put together. I print off all of our photos soon after I finish editing. I have a professional lab that I use that discounts if I order bulk, so I don’t even think twice about the money spent. We all spend so much money on eating dinner out and clothes for ourselves and our children, so why shouldn’t this be part of our budget? PRINT YOUR PHOTOS!!!! *protecting digital files. I’ve read so many online articles about what is recommended for backing up our digital files. One point I’ve read over and over, is that you should have at least three backups, or you are not adequately protecting your precious files. Here’s what I do: I immediately load digital files onto my computer when I finish shooting (family or clients), I don’t delete the data from my card until I’ve finished my backup steps. I cull through the images as soon as possible and delete whatever doesn’t make the cut. As soon as I’ve done my first stage of post processing, I burn a CD. Now, this may seem crazy, because I shoot a ton of images, but I still do this, because it’s a habit. I also have my iMac set up with Time Machine and use a 3 TB Time Capsule that automatically backs up what I have on my computer. The other way I back up is via crash plan. I used to use carbonite, but when I switched from PC to Mac quite a few years ago, carbonite didn’t work well with my Mac. They may have gotten that addressed by now, but at the time, I just got frustrated and switched over. Here’s a comparison that I thought was pretty spot-on and fair. *use your photos. I almost never give a gift without a tag that has a photo. It’s usually quite a hit. It shows that you took the time to do something personal and special. Photos are obviously a huge part of my life, I know that and not everyone is like me (whew! that would be scary!), but my point is, don’t “save” photos and put them away. If you have a decent printer, which most of us do, print those iPhone photos and cut them into a tag or stick them to a gift tag. Use your photos as artwork around your house, even really informally…just stuck to the wall collage style. Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope you find it helpful.