Written by:  Heidi Peters and Amy Tripple

Avoid getting bogged down by your hobby

Being organized is not glamorous. No one will compliment for your amazing organization skills. But did you know that being organized makes the creative process much more enjoyable and fulfilling?

There is nothing more heartbreaking than losing your precious images. Computers do crash — usually at the most inopportune moment. This is the least glamorous but the most important step of being organized, so do your backup FIRST. Decide on a location to store your images besides your computer hard drive and set up a way to automatically backup to this place. You can choose to use an external hard drive or an online service like Dropbox, Amazon Prime, Google, Flickr, iCloud, or the myriad of other services out there. Best practice is to use both and external hard drive and online service. If you haven’t already, back up everything NOW.

The next step is decide a way to keep your images in some kind of order. We use dates and keywords. Pictures are organized in folders by year and month. Within each month, pictures are organized by topic. Within each topic is a folder for all the shots right off the camera and another folder for pictures that have been chosen to be printed.

If you use Lightroom, iPhoto, Aperture or other organizational software you also have the option of tagging your images with keywords. This is an invaluable tool for finding your pictures quickly in the future. It’s pretty likely that your kids are going to need pictures for school projects at very short notice. (Like, 10 minutes before you are trying to head out the door to get to school on time. Perhaps you can relate?) The ability to locate and pull up pictures quickly really does have real-life benefits, its not just for pro photographers.

Every once is a while you make magic. You know right at the moment that you click the shutter that you’ve got a display-worthy shot. These are the pictures that shouldn’t wait until later to get printed. They deserve special treatment. Get those printed, framed and up on the wall right away!

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of images your photography hobby involves, but remember that family photography is just that, a hobby. You do it for fun. Do NOT get bogged down in perfection; instead, make it a point to get a system in place so that you can keep shooting and ultimately get your images into the hands of your kiddos. Be organized or you’ll soon find yourself under a pile of digital images that will feel more like a burden instead of the sweet memories that they are.

Amy Tripple and Heidi Peters are award-winning photographers. Their work has appeared in Parents Magazine, US Weekly, People, The Chicago Tribune and Professional Photographer Magazine. They created Shoot Along to give themselves structure and accountability to capture their own families and decided it would be a great concept to share with other parents.

What began as a personal project has grown into a friendly and rewarding passion, offering support and instruction to parents on six continents. The goal of Shoot Along is to give parents the tools they need to document their families through photography.

Over 3,500 parents have taken part in Shoot Along since it started in 2014.

For more exciting information about Shoot Along, visit www.ShootAlong.com