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How to Organize, Store, and Share All Those Photos

Parents like to take pictures of their babies sleeping. They also like to take pictures of them eating, laughing, sitting, crawling, or just staring into space. Three thousand pictures later, what on Earth are you supposed to do with all those images?

Make a montage, for starters. We recently discovered Creative Pictures, a super-friendly, personalized service that will take your images (and your raw video footage) and set them to music. No cheesy transitions or graphics-just a well-edited montage, at a reasonable price (a 7-10 minute video with 125 pictures and 5-10 video clips starts at around $450). Cool for birthday party backdrops, or as a gift for the grandparents.

But for those with strong DIY genes, we asked Photology co-creator Tim Lenz for some techie tips on organizing, storing, and sharing the endless influx of digital content.

USE THE RIGHT GEAR. The primary consideration when you’re dealing with small children is ease of use. I recommend two cameras: the iPhone and the Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS. The iPhone is a bit limited in terms of camera features, but has added advantages when it comes to moving your photos to your computer or the Web. Even though the PowerShot can take short videos, I recommend a dedicated camcorder as well: the Flip Video Ultra HD, or the RCA Small Wonder “Traveler” EZ210. To steady the footage, try the Joby Gorillapod, a small, non-traditional tripod that attaches to almost anything.

STREAMLINE THE UPLOADING PROCESS. The Eye-Fi is an SD card you can plug into your camera with built-in wireless capability—which means your photos and videos are automatically transferred from your camera to your computer (or onto the Web) whenever you’re near a wireless hotspot. If you’ve got an iPhone, there are a bunch of applications for uploading your photos to your favorite photo-sharing site.  My favorites are Phanfare’s Photon, SmugShot, and Tweetie (a TwitPic uploader for $2.99). If you’ve got the Flip, the Flipshare software makes it very easy to upload your videos to YouTube or other video-sharing sites.

SELECT A GOOD PHOTO-SHARING SITE. There are literally hundreds of websites that offer photo and video sharing. Each has its fans, but my two favorites are SmugMug and Phanfare. If you don’t need a truly organized online photo presence, but just want to share photos as they happen, Twitter and TwitPic are my favorites. The immediacy of these makes it more emotional, plus you don’t have to worry about moving tons of photos—just that cute one of the first haircut.

GET ORGANIZED. If you’re on a Mac, the best photo organizer is by far iPhoto, whose new Faces capability uses tagging and facial recognition to search by specific people. On the PC side of things, I’m a bit biased, but I recommend Photology. It automatically indexes the photos on your computer and enables you to search by time of day, by content (beach, plants, faces, sky, etc.), by photo characteristics (orientation, exposure, color vs. black and white, focus), etc. And the best thing about Photology is that it’s FREE.

    -Tim Lenz is the co-creator of Photology (http://www.getphotology.com).