For my parent's generation, photo management was simple. Once you developed your 24 or 36 exposures, you got back paper photos you could place in an album, or more commonly, leave them in the envelope they came home in. Passing them down to the next generation often meant moving a box from one place to another.
Today, we find ourselves two generation into an experiment with digital photography were our photo flow from place to place more freely than ever before, and yet the process of passing them down to our children is filled with questions. How do we know today or tomorrow that the images we have taken will be in some consumable form 20 to 100 years from now? What are the rules for photo organization and will the choices we make with our data today impact our ancestor's ability peer into the most important moments of our lives? These are questions I asked myself 25 years ago when I went through my own father's box, and this got me thinking about how to leave generations of digital photos to my daughters.
Our photos are now data, and managing data is challenging. There is a clear inclination for most of us to let others manage this task for us. Storing photos in iCloud or other services is incredibly convenient for the moment but they leave questions about data longevity. In the short lifespan of cloud storage, many small and large service providers have frequently altered their terms of service, made dubious claims about 'lifetime storage', or have outright shut their services down. All of this has added friction to the notion of digital descendancy for our most important data. In my own life, I use multiple cloud services to share and access my photos from a variety of devices and yet all of this usage is purely disposable as far as I am concerned. If I ever get locked out of my Apple ID, or accidentally deleted the wrong folder on Dropbox, it's no skin off my nose. These services can fade away and it won't effect my ability to pass down generations of photos to my girls because I maintain a Master Folder of all of my photos in a single directory that is then backed up to many other places that I control. This notion of a Master Folder is a nod to the idea that my own personal data means more to my family than it ever could to a 'pay-per-bit' cloud provider.
At this point in my life, I have about 47,000 images in my photo library. They are filled with happy memories of the children we've raised, places I've been, and events that helped define my life. For years, I've been meticulous about keeping this library organized in a logical tree structure that would help me find whatever photos I was seeking quickly, as well as planning for the future. Having this structure based on time makes it immediately recognizable to whoever receives them, but it always took a little maintenance whenever I added new photos. Today, we have released a new Mac app that makes this process quick and easy.
In many ways, QromaDrop is an essential tool for taking control of your photo library. It can help you copy or move your photos to a single tree based folder structure based on the day your photos were taken, and optionally rename them based on that exact time, down to the millisecond. If some of your photos don't have embedded dates, which is common for scanned photos or images you download from the web, we can move them to an Undated folder where you can tag them using our sister app, QromaTag, and then they'll automatically be moved to the correct place in the tree. As you add new photos, use the handy menu bar app to just drag and drop your photos to the right place. In the end, you will end up with a single folder of well organized images that you can backup quickly and easily. In my case, I periodically push my photo library to inexpensive SD cards that I keep outside my home.
Is QromaDrop right for you? I invite you to take a look and download a free 7 day trial version to see how it can help you take control of your photo library. It will help you enjoy your photos today and make sure you can pass them forward to future generations down the road.