Several years ago, I started a series of blog posts designed to help guide you, my fellow photo enthusiasts, on creating systems to print your photos. I called it "The Cobbler Series". How should you organize your photos? How should you print your photos? What are the best products? Companies? Strategies?

As the years have gone by, I still feel strongly about printing photos.

But ... while the feeling hasn't changed, some changes in the way I do things lately have prevented my systems from running like the well-oiled machines they had been. I somehow managed to fall waaaay behind.

So where am I now?

I'm sitting at my desk in the middle of February with an unfinished "2021 McLaughlin Family Adventures" book design in front of me. The book creation process for 2021 has been brutal because I have allowed many of my usual systems to fall by the wayside. The systems that keep me on track -- that keep the task from feeling overwhelming -- have needed tweaking and I've been late to tweak. I've got my nose to the grindstone on those systems now, but applying those tweaks retroactively is never as good as keeping good systems productively humming.

What has changed about how I take and print and share photos?

Let's look at this question first. These may or may not apply to you, but understanding how these changes have affected my systems might help you do your own tweaks.

  • My kids are bigger. Every year, I encounter more resistance to my constant urge to document the moments that make me happy. I mean, the moments I love best almost always involve my kids. If they give me that 'annoyed' face as I perform the knee-jerk action of documenting the moment, ... let's just say the moment's not authentically captured. Respecting their wishes by either taking a quick iPhone shot or not taking the photo at all means fewer photos overall.

  • The cameras I use have changed. Hello, iPhone 12 Pro. I love my pro Sony cameras and there is absolutely, positively no doubt that the images I get from my pro cameras are much, much better than the ones I get from my iPhone. But. My photography has always been driven by a need/desire to document moments - to remember - and if the phone makes more sense because of convenience and inobtrusiveness, then the photos are taken on the phone. In 2021, too many of my "moments" are in a jumbled pile in my phone's camera roll instead of in the organized folders I have set up through my "Cobbler Series" systems. And honestly? While they do the job of capturing the moment, most of them are not the kinds of photos I'm excited to print large in a book. Sigh.
I did get a GoPro this summer ...
  • I've stopped sharing personal photos regularly. See "my kids are getting bigger", above. My older kids have actually started coming back around on this issue (and they all acknowledge that there are perks to having a photographer mom), but the teenage years for each of the four them has involved some level of resistance to my sharing photos publicly. I respect that, of course. Many of the photos that once appeared in my instagram and in monthly "Moments of the Month" blog posts now only appear on our family chat. No biggie, except that creating and sharing those posts was an integral part of my systems. Gulp. When it was time to sit down and make the annual McLaughlin Family Adventures book, so much of the sifting, culling and editing that would have been done monthly for those posts was just not done. For months and months and months. Enter overwhelm. Yikes.

What changes am I making to my systems for printing photos?

I'm glad you asked. I've already implemented a few changes that I hope will make creation of the 2022 McLaughlin Family Adventures book easier.

  • I'm carrying my camera more. Seriously - as good as the iPhone cameras have gotten, iPhone photos simply do not hold a candle to the photos I can create with my pro cameras.

  • At the same time, I'm embracing the place my iPhone holds in my process and taking steps to integrate those photos into my systems. Alongside each monthly folder, I've now got a folder for the moments I've selected from my iPhone camera roll. " 2022-1-January", meet "2022-1-January iPhone"!

  • I'm trying to be more intentional when I do use the iPhone -- I'm trying to treat it like the camera that it is, and giving the same attention to light, composition and moment that I give when I'm peering through my camera's viewfinder.

  • I'm committing to creating monthly posts again. You heard it here first, folks. Before the end of February, I'll post a "Moments of the Month" for January. It will not contain as many photos as my monthly posts once did, but having this as part of my workflow will definitely help me keep on top of the systems here behind the scenes.

So. I hope you've enjoyed this peek into the angst-ridden reconciliation of my family documentation values. I probably think more about these things than your average person, but hey - it matters to me. If you've read this far, maybe it matters to you - and if so, I hope you'll be able to get something out of this!

It all started, by the way, with The Cobbler Series - I've been sharing the systems I use to ensure that my "cobbler's children" have shoes for several years now. Their shoes may be looking a little threadbare right now, but this little talk has made me feel secure that the situation is temporary.

How about you?

Thanks for looking!


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