How to Create a Mini Photo Album in an Instagram Story

How to Create a Mini Photo Album in an Instagram Story

After a season of family celebrations or a holiday vacation, many of us might want to tell the story in a photo album. We like to take them off our shelves, turn the pages, gaze at the memories, then share them with family and friends through the years.

Then the onset of social media gave us yet another outlet for sharing our stories with photos. 

If you’re using Instagram, you might post a few photos on your feed, but perhaps you haven’t considered the idea of creating a “social media scrapbook” using Instagram Stories.

You’ve probably seen Stories – they are the colorful circles at the top of your Instagram feed. You can tap on them to view someone’s photos or videos. 

My daughter-in-law Nicole recently posted a photo story celebrating the sixth-month anniversary of their wedding day. I loved the creative way she told the story of their day with photos.

In this post, I want to pass along the inspiration and the process for creating an electronic photo album using an Instagram Story.


Julie's Favorite Photo Projects - A Guest Post on the APPO Website

Julie’s Favorite Photo Projects (a Special Guest Post on the APPO Website)

Picture This Organized was recently featured on, the Association of Personal Photo Organizer’s (APPO) site.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is helping my clients pull their photos out of bins and boxes to put them on display. Groups of photos can tell a compelling story, whether they’re in simple photo displays or more complex albums. In this APPO guest post, I share my own favorite photo projects. Albums, slideshow videos, and creative displays around my home each tell a story in its own unique way.
How to Take Better Photos & Videos With Your iPhone

How to Take Better Photos and Videos with Your iPhone

Think you need an expensive DSLR camera to take great photos? Think again.

Most of us have our mobile phones with us at all times – which is a great thing when it comes to snapping a great photo! A professional photographer once told me, “The best camera is one you have with you all the time.”

Even expert photographers believe that iPhones may not be technically superior to fancy DSLR cameras – but they can still take fantastic photos!

In this post, I’d like to give you some quick tips for taking better photos and videos with your iPhone. (more…)

The 4-Step Process for Creating a Beautiful Travel Album

The 4-Step Process for Creating a Beautiful Travel Album

St. Augustine once said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”

Travel makes our lives better. When we see and experience other cultures and get to know people in other places, it deepens our worldview, teaches us flexibility, shows us the beauty of other cultures, and lets us rest and recharge.

Sharing our travel experiences through a photo album helps keep our memories vivid, provides a record of the people and places we’ve seen, documents the experiences we’ve had, and provides a legacy of stories to pass on to our family members.

The problem is that when we come back from our trips, our photos often get digitally buried with the rest of our day-to-day images. You may not know how to translate the images you’ve taken on your trip into an attractive album that documents your experience.

If you need some guidance on how create your own travel album, we’re here to help! This post will give you advice on how to take helpful notes during your trip, show you how to get organized before you create your album, and give you the technical tools and advice you’ll need to create your album.

Let’s dig in!  (more…)

How to Document Your Family Reunion This Summer

How to Document Your Family Reunion This Summer

Family reunions are one of the few times you can get your family members all in one place at one time – and that means it’s the perfect time to do some storytelling, and document those stories!

Since we talked about family reunion planning in our last post, I wanted to give you some tips on documenting your family reunions this summer, and that means taking photos, recording stories via audio, and creating videos.

All three can be quick and easy to do, and you’ll be so glad you took the time to document your family stories. You never know when you’ll get another chance!

Here are some tips for documenting your family reunions:

1. Get your family to help you think about the stories in advance.

Sometimes it’s hard for your relatives to come up with stories on the spot, especially if you’ve just stuck a microphone in their faces.

Do a little advance planning, and ask your family members (or all generations) to jot down the topics of their favorite stories, or send them to you via email or text. Include your own favorite stories, too!

If you want some ideas, I’d suggest a book called “To Our Children’s Children: Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come” by Bob Greene and D.G. Fulford. It’s a great book about putting together a personal history for your family.

2. Take photos from your reunion.

When you’re taking photos, include as many people and moments as you can (both posed and candid). For more tips on taking great storytelling photos, download our free report, 8 Ways to Tell Stories with Your Family Photos.

How to Document Your Family Reunion This Summer
We held a little family reunion after my daughter Molly’s wedding.

3. Record your relatives telling stories.

Once you’ve got a list of stories to include in your documentation process (see #1), you can ask someone in your family to tell a specific story, instead of just saying, “Tell me a story!” and putting that person on the spot.

Use the ideas from your list to get conversations started. You can also have folks bring photo albums, and document as folks reminisce over the photos. Family photo albums can be a great way to get memories (and good stories) flowing!

Here are a few ways to capture audio recordings as the storytelling happens:

  • For iPhones, you can use the Voice Memos application. Just make sure your phone is fully charged up before you go to the reunion!

You should already have Voice Memos on your phone, so you can simply open the app  and press record. When you’re finished, just tap “Save”. You can give your recording a name, and it will be saved within the app. Here’s a handy article on how to use the Voice Memos app to record stories. The Voice Memos application is exclusive to the iPhone right now, but there is mostly likely a voice recording app you can get if you have an Android phone.

You can share and send these voice recordings directly from your phone, the same way you share photos. From the app, select the voice recording to share, then choose the method you’d like to use to share the recording (Message, Mail, Add to Notes, or a third party app).

The recording is a .M4a file, which is like a ringtone file, so you can also convert a voice recording to a ringtone or text tone – but that’s a whole different conversation! If you’d like to know how to do that, let me know in the comments, and we’ll try to address it in an upcoming blog post.

Whatever tool you decide to use for audio recording, make sure you test it in advance to make sure you understand how it works. You need to know how to start, stop, and save recordings easily. There’s nothing worse than missing great stories because you’re fiddling around with your technology!

4. Videotape the reunion, if you can.

It’s so nice to have motion and voices in your recording – so if you’ve got the technology and the skill to create a video of your reunion, go for it!

When you’re recording, be mindful of getting the best perspective. While it’s possible to create vertical videos (by holding your phone the long way), keep in mind that for playback, this doesn’t work with all devices. Computer and TV screens are designed for horizontal video viewing, so things will be easier and more pleasant to watch if you shoot things horizontally. Here’s an article that offers some perspective on the horizontal/vertical debate.

5. Upload your photos on sharing sites.

Want a simple way for relatives to view (or give input on) your reunion photos? You can create a shareable album, so all your family members can enjoy your event images. Check out our previous posts for more information on creating easily shareable albums.

For slideshows or videos, you can upload them to Vimeo and share them with everyone in the family.

Reunions Are Great Storytelling Opportunities

Remember: Your family reunions are wonderful opportunities to sit down with your relatives and share family stories – so why not document that process?

Today’s modern tools make it relatively easy to document your reunions, so you should definitely take a few extra minutes to create some priceless photos and recordings from the event.

You’ll be so glad you did!

Top 10 Tips for Planning a Memorable Family Reunion

Top 10 Tips for Planning a Memorable Family Reunion

Family reunions are the perfect time to connect with extended family members we don’t get to see very often – and summertime is the best season to host one!

Whether you’ll be gathering with a dozen close family members, or several hundred relatives, planning a fun, memorable, and meaningful family reunion can be challenging. You’ll need to stay organized and keep your sense of humor throughout this experience!

I’ve helped plan a number of family reunions and larger family gatherings over the last few years, and I’ve learned a lot about how to plan a successful event. Here are my top 10 tips for planning your own family reunion:

1. Plan in advance. To get a lot of people to attend, you’ll need to give your family members lots of advance notice about the event. Allow plenty of time for folks to get the date on of their calendars, and make their travel plans. Some people may need to buy plane tickets, and they can save money if they buy in advance, so the more notice you can give, the better.

2. Think about how long you want the event to last. Are you gathering for just one meal, or will your get-together last an entire weekend? The longer your event lasts, the more activities you’ll need to plan and the more food you’ll need to provide – but longer events also mean you’ll get to (hopefully) spend more time together as one big happy family.

Whatever you decide, make sure to communicate about the length of your event clearly, so your relatives know what to expect.

3. Consider the purpose of the family gathering. If your relatives are already getting together because of another event (like a graduation ceremony, wedding, or even a funeral), it can be a great opportunity to plan a family reunion. Everyone will already be in one place, which can mean you’ll be more likely to get people to attend your reunion.

The day after our daughter’s wedding (which is now right around the corner!), we’re having a family picnic. Since both sides of the family are traveling to Seattle for the wedding, we thought this was a perfect chance to spend more time together to get better acquainted.

4. Create a planning committee. It helps to have input and assistance when you’re planning a reunion, so get some help! You can delegate the food, accommodations, activities, and/or communication about the event. The bigger the family, the more details there are to keep track of, and you don’t need to do everything yourself to have a successful event.

5. Set your budget. Reunion expenses can get out of hand quickly if you’re travelling for the event, or have a large group of attendees. With your planning committee, decide if you’ll ask folks to help pitch in to offset the cost of the venue, food, activities, or accomodations. If you ask people to pitch in, work with your committee to come up with a figure that’s affordable for your attendees.

6. Carefully come up with your guest list. How large do you want your reunion to be? You can go big, and host a giant event with your extended family (one side, or both sides), but you can also consciously decide to host a smaller event, with just couples and kids.

When you’re making the guest list decisions, remember that large events can be great, but they can also be expensive and time-consuming to plan…..make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew!

7. Decide if you’re going to send invitations. If you decide you want to send invitations, you can use Evite, which enables you to send free online invitations via email, share details on locations and activities, track RSVPs, and receive correspondence about the event. Keep in mind that if you use Evite, you’ll need an email address for each family or attendee.

8. Consider who’s attending when planning the activities. If your group is multi-generational, you may need to split up your activities a bit, and have different age groups doing separate activities. You can get as detailed as you want when you’re planning activities. You can provide ideas for your family members to consider, or even make reservations for activities and outings for the entire group.

More than likely, you’re going to have some people in your group who need a bit of downtime every day. Make sure you give people the choice to opt out of activities if they need time to recharge.

In my blog post on family traditions, I talked about a Memorial Day event I attended with my family a few years ago. In their enthusiasm to create a fun weekend, my relatives packed every moment of that weekend with games and activities. As one who’s not a big fan of games, competition, or extended time with people (yes, I’m an introvert), this was a tough weekend for me in some ways. It would have been nice if the event planners had factored some downtime into the schedule.

9. If you’re planning an outside event, have a backup plan. Make sure you know what to do if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Can you gather under a picnic pavilion, or go inside the house, if you’re meeting in someone’s backyard? Make sure you’ve got enough room to accommodate everyone in your backup space.

For my daughter’s wedding, the post-wedding picnic will be held at the house we’re renting. The house has a nice-sized yard we can comfortably entertain in, but should the weather change, we can bring everyone inside.

10. Plan on including some storytelling in the event. Reunions are the perfect time for storytelling! Take pictures at the reunion and bring pictures to reminisce over with your relatives.

And by all means, prompt the members of the older generations to share their stories. How often do you get the chance to just listen to them talk about their lives, with that type of audience? Don’t miss this opportunity to get your older relatives to chat!

Want to know how to take storytelling photos at your reunion? Pick up a copy of our free report, 8 Ways to Tell Stories with Your Family Photos.

How to Share Group Vacation Photos and Create a Keepsake Trip Album

How to Share Group Vacation Photos and Create a Keepsake Trip Album

Yay! You’ve decided to go on a group vacation! I’m excited for you….you’re going to have a great time, especially because you’ve done your homework, and you’re well prepared for the trip.

You can make your travel experience even better by documenting your group’s adventures with your photos, and setting up an easy way for group members to share photos once the trip is over.

In this post, I’d like to give you some tips on how to take great storytelling photos, share your pictures with one another, and create a memorable photo album that all the group members can enjoy.

How to Document the Experience on Your Group Trip

It’s a good idea to decide in advance whether you’d like to create a photo album about your trip, because that decision may influence the kinds of photos you take on during your travels.

If you’ll be leading this effort, talk to your group members in advance, and let them know you’ll be creating a group album, and that you’ll create a place online where people can share their photos for the album.

Then, when you’re taking photos during the trip, you’ll want to document:

  • Who you’re traveling with.
  • The stops you make.
  • When you get to your destination.
  • All the stories and memories along the way.

Memorabilia can be helpful to keep track of some of the details on your travels, so hang onto your airline tickets, maps, pamphlets, restaurant menus, and your itinerary (which will likely included with the group planning of the trip).

Use your camera to help you document everything you experience. Take photos of things like the people you meet, the food you eat, and the signs you see. In a previous blog post, we’ve offered some tips for documenting stories from a trip. You can also check out our previous post on keeping your photos organized (and backed up) while you’re traveling.

If you are changing time zones during your trip, make sure your camera clock is set for the correct time – and tell your fellow group members to do the same. This is particularly important when you’re sharing photos with one another and creating an album. If someone’s camera clock is set wrong, it will be tricky to place that person’s photos in the correct sequence when you’re compiling images.

Most Android and Mac smartphones have location settings that will automatically adjust when you switch time zones. If you’re using an SLR camera, check to see if it has a location setting that will automatically adjust – if not, you will need to remember to manually update the clock.

We do have clients who don’t bother to change their camera clocks when they travel. When we have that client’s itinerary while we’re organizing their photos and creating albums, we can adjust the dates and times to match their locations during the trip. That’s a service people really appreciate – but you don’t want to get stuck adjusting time settings for the other group members. A quick “Set your clocks!” reminder to people when you arrive in your new time zone should eliminate the problem.

How to Share Photos from Your Group Trip

You can set up a sharing site that folks can use to upload their photos while they’re still on vacation, or after they return.

It’s easy to set up, and your group members will love you for this!

In a previous post, I recommended some options for good photo sharing services, and you can use any of the sites I mentioned in that post. Dropbox is a my favorite service for a project like this – it’s easy to set up the folder system that I’ll be talking about next.

You probably don’t want the members of your group to upload every single photo they take on the trip, so it’s a good idea to suggest people review their photos and only upload their favorites.

It’s also best to share a paid account for the sharing service you choose, because the free services will probably compress the photos when you upload them, making them lower quality. Poor quality photos won’t work, because you’ll need full size, printable versions of the photos in your album.

I’ve done photo sharing during several group trips. Here are my top four tips for setting up your sharing system and getting great quality photos to share:

1. Set up a group shared project folder, and title that folder using the year, month, and trip location (i.e. “2017-07-China”). Then create subfolders with people’s names, so each person can upload images to his or her individual folder.

For example, you can title the folder “Smith-John.” Using this naming convention and organizational system will be easier to manage than having a huge group of everyone’s photos all in one folder. It will also make it more manageable to work in portions (by day or event), rather than all at once.

When we took a trip to France a few years ago, we traveled with a group of 20 people – which meant that people contributed photos from 20 different cameras!

2. As I mentioned earlier, have them upload just their favorites. When you have people self-select the best photos to upload, it helps pare down the quantity of photos you have to review for your album. For our trip to France, I had to sift through over 7000 photos, because I didn’t use individual folders and didn’t ask people to limit the photos they uploaded!

3. If you’re creating the album, download the shared photos to your computer. This gives a clean copy of the images to work from while you’re picking images for the album.

4. As you’re downloading the folders, rename the photos and add the name of the person who took them (for example, “2017-07-01-China-Smith-John-Canon”). By having the date taken to the photos, the images will fall in order – which will help when you’re creating your album. This is also helpful for tracking the sources of the images, which means it will be easier to deal with problems if they crop up.

My Recommendations for Creating a Group Album

Once you start creating the group album, you’re going to be grateful that you’ve been so meticulous and organized!

You’ll have only the very best photos of the trip, which will make it much easier to select the images you want to use. You’ll also have a simple way to refer back to the who, what, where, and when of your trip, which will be useful for storytelling.

Follow these steps to create your album:

Step 1: Create subfolders for each day of the trip. In most cases, people want the album to be in chronological order, so it’s a good idea to create subfolders by day – especially if you did a multi-day trip. Then you can look at all the photos for a particular day, and pick the best ones from that day for your album.

Step 2: Review the photos people have shared, and select the best ones. Keep in mind that each person on the trip will want to be represented, so you’ll need to make sure you have photos of each person. Some folks in the group will take fantastic photos, but not every person is a great photographer – so you may want to let people know in advance that you will get to choose which photos are used!

Step 3: Edit any images that need to be adjusted. You may need to flip or rotate some of the images, so now’s the time to do that. I actually have one travel buddy who managed to take all her photos upside down! You can also color correct your images through the “Photos” features on your computer.

Step 4: Copy the best images (post-edits) into a project folder. Keeping the final, edited versions of the images in separate folder – instead of saving over the originals – will be handy if you need to revert back to the originals.

Step 5: Create the album by page or spread, keeping events and/or locations together. Now you get to create your album pages!

When we design an album here at Picture This Organized, we typically leave space for text (for captions and stories), then add captions and stories after we know which pictures will be used. You can also wait to design the album until you have all the text.

You can utilize your photo sharing site (where people uploaded their photos) to clarify locations or get stories from the group members. Most photo sharing sites have comment fields, and you can copy and paste comment text directly into the album layout pages.

Unsure of the location of a particular photo? That’s okay! If you stopped at locations that had similar features (like cathedrals, ruins, etc.), you can refer back to your itinerary and use the Internet to search for locations and verify photos. We often use this trick when we’re working on client projects.

How to Share Group Vacation Photos and Create a Keepsake Trip Album

Step 6: Get your album printed. When you have finished choosing your photos and adding text, you’ll need a good company for album design and publishing. I recommend Mpix – you can share the login details your group members, so people can see your progress and help with the final proofing of your album.

Once your album is completed, you can have each person order their own copy, or you can collect money and handle the ordering for them.

Sharing the Highlights of Your Group Trip

Group trips are often terrific experiences, and when you take the lead on helping people capture and share their best photos, you’ll get the group to document all of their very best memories.

And once you’ve used these tips to design and print a beautiful photo album about your big adventure, all of you will have a wonderful keepsake that will remind you of the wonderful trip you all took together.