I still remember the days when snapping a picture felt like using up turns at an arcade game. Each snap cost me an exposure on my roll of film, and there was no telling whether a shot would hit the bullseye or miss by a mile (e.g. blurry, dark, cross-eyed, thumb over the lens). Today, we all snap pictures without a second thought, but also acquire pictures without end. And as my ability to take fine photos has increased, my motivation to organize them has frankly plummeted. There are some new solutions for organizing your digital photos— let’s give them a looksee.
We used to know exactly where all our family photos were (jumbled in a giant box on top of the hall closet, natch), but now, they’re scattered everywhere—including on friends’ and family’s devices. Bevy is a little box that allows everyone to upload their pics to it, via the Bevy app. Why bother with a dedicated device? Because it allows you to corral the pics you want in one central location, like a true digital album. This is so much more convenient than all the pictures being on one family member’s computer because everyone has access to it— it’s basically a little server inside your house. You can back it up via USB to another hard drive, but if you also want cloud backup, it’s coming soon, (to the tune of $59/year). The 1 TB Bevy can store about 400,000 average-sized photos—meaning the ones you take with your cell phone or point-and-shoot, not the ones your hobbyist uncle takes with his Nikon Pro. If you need yet more storage, the 2 TB Bevy can store about a million pictures and costs only $50 more than the original. That said, Bevy is not cheap, at $349 per device, but I’m so glad someone is trying to solve this problem for us.
Alert: A quick and fun way to get ready for Throwback Thursday! If you have hard copies of family photos, then I’m willing to bet that you’ve also got more than one envelope of those pictures waiting to be organized “someday.” That’s why Brothers Eric and Evan Owski came up with Heirloom, an app that lets you photograph your precious prints (the ones you’ve never gotten around to scanning) and archive them. How is it different from just using your cellphone to snap photos of your prints? Heirloom recognizes the photo’s edges, compensates for any distortion caused by tilting your camera, seems to remove some glare, and puts each pic on a black background. It also appeared to create a slight soft focus when we tested it. I wouldn’t compare it to a real scan, but it is definitely tuned to optimize photos of photos, and takes a lot less time than traditional scanning. You get unlimited storage, and your hi-res Heirloom “scans” will be saved in the cloud.
Wish your photo albums could build themselves, saving you hours of uploading and arranging? Recently is a subscription service for iOS that will create a monthly printed magazine featuring up to 100 of your photos from the past month. Just choose your favorite shots through Recently’s app and tap “publish” by the end of each month. You can move and edit your pics if you want to play with the layout, but you don’t have to. Possible drawbacks: though fans say it’s nicely bound and printed, the magazine is only 7”x10”, which has prompted some users to complain that it’s more like a small book (a disappointment if you were picturing your own version of Dwell). Reviewers also have posted that the app doesn’t play nicely with anything but iPhoto—it’s for iOS only—and that if you didn’t take a picture using your phone, it’s sometimes hard to get Recently to work (see alternate Groovebook below). Finally, if you forget or consciously decide not to publish one month, you’ll still have to pay for that month, so keep up!
A Shutterfly product that started out as a Shark Tank success story, Groovebook could be a good pick if you like Recently but don’t have an iPhone. Groovebook will mail you a monthly booklet of your photos (4.5 x 6.5”) for just $2.99 per month, but note that some users comment that the picture quality is “poor” and that “you get what you pay for.” That said, these cute little books are a nice way to get your pics out of digital purgatory, and come with perforated pages so you can hand out photos to anyone you like.
Another Shutterfly product, ThisLife promises to “intelligently” organize your digital photos. Indeed, it can auto-import all your shots, and not only from your devices but also from social sites like Facebook, Instagram and Flickr. With features like facial recognition, geo-tagging, and the ability to access your photos everywhere, it reminds me a bit of iPhoto (but it isn’t limited to Apple devices). It also recognizes duplicates, and it offers unlimited free storage for photos. It charges if you want to store videos, starting at $19.99 per year and going up to $139.99 per year to store unlimited videos. That said, videos must be no more than 2GB apiece, so budding filmmakers, this may not be not for you.
Turning digital photos into separate prints might seem counterintuitive for organizational purposes, but Timeshel has created a clever way to organize your pics: in “shels,” or little plastic boxes that open like drawers. For $14.95 per month (shipping is included), you’ll get 30 prints. The shel becomes an organizer by stacking atop other shels. Shels also transform into mini picture frames. Minuses: prints are small at 3.5” x 4.67” or 3.5” x 3.5”, depending on whether your originals are rectangular or square. The price is high at .50 per photo, but users praise the better-than-average print quality.
Which photo organization method is picture-perfect for you? Let me know in the comments!