5 Tools for Digital Photo Albums

There are many great digital photo tools that go beyond the camera itself. See more cool camera stuff pictures.
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Traditional film cameras and the photographs they produce are fast becoming a thing of the past. It's rare to see someone sitting down to flip through a photo album. We're increasingly sending photos to each other through e-mail and sharing our memories online. And because digital cameras are so easy to use, we're taking more photos than ever before.

Yes, the number of photos is increasing but the importance of the memories they reflect hasn't diminished. In fact, it's as important as ever to make sure our photographs are well taken care of. Plus, we still want to show off the great images from our last trip in the easiest way possible. If we aren't hauling a leather-bound album to our friend's house to show her photos from our European vacation, then how are we sharing our photos? The answer is digitally. If you're unsure how to start your digital photo album, then read on to learn about great tools for your photo album of the future.

Uploading Software
The USB cable is the lifeline between your camera and computer.
The USB cable is the lifeline between your camera and computer.
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To start your digital photo album, you'll first need to get photos from your camera to your computer. Simply plug your camera into the USB port of your computer. Typically, the software will automatically upload photos from your camera to a folder you've set up on your computer. The upside of having them moved automatically is that your pictures are already organized.

Your best bet is to get digital album software that will help you upload your pictures in an organized and efficient manner. There are several options out there such as Pisca or Snapfish and they're free to download and use. Look for a program that allows you to label your photos, keep them in chronological order and makes it easy for you to access them later. In addition, most picture software will allow you to put keywords or labels on your photos so you can search for specific images by simply typing "France 2009," if you wish. Finally, with all your pictures organized in one place, you can quickly remove blurry shots or duplicates that would otherwise just be taking up space. Now you have the beginnings of a lean-and-mean digital photo album [source: Basic Digital Photography].

The External Hard Drive
An external hard drive can safely store thousands of your photos.
An external hard drive can safely store thousands of your photos.
Willard Von Doomenstein/Creative Commons

If you've ever worked on a computer, you know the horrible feeling of watching your work disappear before your eyes due to a malfunction of one kind or another. If you're writing a term paper or labeling your photos, losing that precious information is beyond frustrating and depressing. But, it's a feeling that can be avoided. That's where your external hard drive comes into play.

An external hard drive is an extra place to store important information from your computer. Since it is separate from your CPU, anything bad that happens to your computer will leave your external hard drive untouched [source: Digital Photos 101]. Typically, they'll be "plug and play," which means all you really have to do is plug the hard drive into your computer and the rest is taken care of. Best of all, the price of hard drives is falling while the amount of space you can get is on the rise. So, if you have a hard drive with 2 terabytes of space (more than 2,000 GB) you can store upwards of 400,000 photos on it.

DVD Player
Your high quality photos will look great when viewed on your TV.
Your high quality photos will look great when viewed on your TV.
Declan Jewell/Creative Commons

What's the point of having all those photos if you're not going to show them off? The problem with a digital photo album versus a physical one is that it's a lot harder to haul around your computer than an envelope of printed pictures. Never fear: There are some great ways to keep your photos digital and show them off whenever you like.

You can probably plug your camera directly into your TV, but you'll lose the album feel that you've created on your computer. A better idea is to use burning software and transfer your album to a DVD. There are numerous programs available that allow you to drag and drop your files and then burn them onto a disk. Once that's complete, you'll be able to pop the DVD in any standard DVD player, sit back and enjoy your photos on any TV [source: Basic Digital Photography].

The Online Album

If you're looking for an easy way to share your photos then you'd be well-served to check out the variety of online photo albums available. They're simple to use and they allow you to access your photos from anywhere you can get an Internet connection.

The first step is to register with the program of your choosing. It's an easy process that'll allow you to upload your photos. Depending on the site, you may have a limitation on how much space you can use. Typically, the free sites have more restrictions than the subscription-based ones.

After you've uploaded your photos and organized them by date, put them into folders and e-mail them to your friends and family. That way you can have your photos in a localized place without having to worry about searching your computer's hard drive for them. Plus, you can share your pictures with anyone you wish [source: Middleton Public Library].

Backup CDs
A CD can hold a lot of memories.
A CD can hold a lot of memories.
Tony Austin/Creative Commons

One of the most important things you can do with your digital album is to make sure you have it backed up in at least one place. The last thing you want to do is to try and find the pictures from your child's 5th birthday, only to discover that they've been inadvertently deleted somewhere along the way. Once lost, it's very difficult to recover digital photos.

Sure, the external hard drive we mentioned earlier is a good way to back up your photos, but it doesn't hurt to go a bit old-school and make a hard copy. That doesn't mean you have to print out each and every photo you own -- that would take a long time and would be very expensive. No, the best way to keep a hard copy of your photos is to burn them to a CD or DVD. Today, DVDs come in sizes of up to 8 GB, which means they can hold a lot of photos. Burning your albums to disk ensures that no matter what happens to your computer or hard drive, you'll have your photos in a place that electronic malfunctions can't touch them [source: Digital Photos 101].


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  • Basic Digital Photography. "Photo Software for Your Digital Images." 2009. (Dec. 16, 2010).http://www.basic-digital-photography.com/photo-software.html
  • Basic Digital Photography. "Share Your Digital Photos Using the TV." 2009. (Dec. 16, 2010.).http://www.basic-digital-photography.com/display-photos-on-tv.html
  • Digital Photos 101. "Tips for Organizing Your Digital Photos." 2010. (Dec. 16, 2010.).http://www.digitalphotos101.com/organizing-your-digital-photos.htm
  • Flickr. 2010. (Dec. 17, 2010).http://www.flickr.com/
  • Middleton Public Library. "Online Photo Albums." July, 2007. (Dec. 16, 2010).http://www.scls.info/program/software/OnlinePhotoAlbums-MID.pdf
  • Picasa. 2010. (Dec. 17, 2010).http://picasa.google.com/
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