How to Create a Digital Portfolio

A picture is worth a thousand words…so true, especially when you want to share your body of work on your website, social media sites, and/or social network sites.

If you have hard copies of photos or negatives then the best way to convert your photo’s hard copy to a digital copy is scanning. You could also get the negatives converted into digital format for you at a photo studio which offers the service. Alternatively, there’s a scanner available that converts film negatives and prints to digital format but it’s pricey (about $100) so only consider it if you have a ton of negatives and prints lying around that would cost about the same to convert at a shop.

If you want to make absolutely sure that you never lose any of your photographs, then use as many different systems as you can handle. This can include both internal and external hard drives, optical discs (CD-Rom, DVD, Blu-ray), Flash memory sticks or thumbdrives, and online storage. Ideally, at least one of these backups should be stored in a separate location, and online storage does that. Having “off-site storage” (cloud) protects your photos from fire, flood, and theft. Each type of storage has its own advantages, so you will need to work out a strategy that suits the size of your picture library and the rate at which it’s growing.

Start by organizing your photos into directories, if you have not already done so. Try not to keep more than 250 photos in a single folder, and subdivide large sets into separate folders. This makes it easier to back them up to CD-Roms or memory sticks.

Discs are well established as a backup medium, because they are cheap and don’t take up much room. However, a single CD-Rom will only hold about 700MB of photos; thus the larger the collection, the more discs you’ll need. Optical discs are therefore more suitable Photographs-007for making quick backups or for sharing recent photos.

USB memory sticks or thumb drives are also an option for some people. The 16GB versions are popular now, but 32GB USB Flash drives are widely available, and several companies have launched 64GB models. A 16GB stick would enable temporary backups (instead of using CD-Roms), and you could use it for transferring photos between your laptop and desktop PCs. That’s what I do.

Today, an external hard drive (EHD) is the quickest and most convenient way to backup your photos. A small, portable 500GB drive or larger 1TB drive would easily store all of your precious photos.

An alternative is to upload your photos to a site that enables you to display and share them, check privacy policies for complete disclosure. Examples include Yahoo’s Flickr, Google’s Picasa and Microsoft’s Windows Live Photo Gallery.

NameSizeCostNotes
Flickr200 photos freeUnlimited for $25/yearUpgrade to a Pro account with unlimited storage
Picasa1GB of free storage for photos bigger than 800 x 800 pixels.Google Drive Pricing:100GB- $1.99 per month1TB- $9.99 per monthYou can connect to your Picasa account to your Google Plus account to get a free limit of 15GB
Windows Live OneDrive25GB of free storageUnlimited: $6.99 per monthBest for Windows users.

A Flickr Pro account could therefore be your best bet, as long as you keep an eye on the privacy settings.

Some sites are designed to enable people to share photos, and they don’t provide a back up. If you upload photos to Facebook, for example, it reduces them to a width of 720 pixels for display purposes, which is OK for viewing on a computer screen. However, the originals, which might have been 4,288 pixels wide, have been dumped. The best you can hope for from Facebook is a version 2048 pixels wide, offered for download.

Online storage is attractive because most hard drives will eventually fail, while CDs and DVDs can be scratched through mishandling and ruined if they are not stored correctly in a cool dark place. However, you can also lose access to photos stored online. Online storage companies have been known to lose data, and many will either be taken over or go bust.

All in all, it’s a good idea to have at least three copies of everything, and for one of those copies to be “off site”, either online or at a relative’s house. You could store your photos on your desktop PC’s hard drive and an external hard drive, then use optical discs, thumb drives or online storage to provide a backup of your backup. Unfortunately, having a single copy of each photo on an external hard drive (prone to failure), optical disc (easily scratched), USB stick (easily lost) or online service is not really enough.

Digital backups are awesome, but computers tend to fail, they can be stolen, or they can even get lost! Here are some of the best ways to backup your digital photos.

Buy an external hard drive! They are extremely user friendly. Plug it into your computer and copy your folders full of photos onto it. You can store anything on a hard drive, not just photos. Also, you can take your files with you without lugging around your entire computer. The only downside to an external hard drive is cost. It will cost you around $50-$200 depending on storage size and quality, but when compared to the priceless memories saved in your pictures it really isn’t that much.

The best way (outside of removable storage devices) is actually printing your photographs onto paper! This might not be a solution for every single one of your photos, but it’s a nice way to keep copies of some of your faves. Services like Piccolo will print up your 20 best photos every month and mail them directly to you.


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