Tara Bone, contributing writer 



Have you laid awake at night “thinking” about all the trapped photos on your phone or computer bursting to get out?! First days of school, birthdays, vacations, and simple day-to-day moments you swear you’ll never forget, until you do.

Families take photos to cherish all the big and small moments that make life meaningful. But as technology has changed over the years, many haven’t adapted. The result is families are drowning in thousands of unprinted photos. Local photographer Heather Palmer always encourages clients to print family photos and shares a sobering thought: “This is the most photographed generation without physical proof.”

Maybe you’re one of the lucky few who has a system of printing and documenting special moments, but, according to a study by FujiFilm, of 2,000 adults surveyed an estimated 10 billion photos were stuck on their smartphones. There’s even a term for it: image hoarding. Researchers say it’s affecting mental, emotional, and even financial health negatively. Other studies show that printed photos in the hands of children boost their self-esteem and can even help them moderate stress.

About a year ago I was tired of feeling overwhelmed with our family photos, so I asked dozens of parents how they documented memories and it started an unexpected, hopeful journey. You can do this — no more guilt! Below is information and inspiration straight from the experts to help you make it happen.

Becky Higgins is the owner/CEO of Becky Higgins LLC and creator of the Project Life App (she also happens to live in northern Utah!). Becky has been working in the documenting arena since 1996 and started her company in 2007 to offer solution-based documenting products and services. Her expert advice to Cache Valley Family Magazine readers who feel overwhelmed is straightforward: start small and start specific.

“Feelings of overwhelm often come from thinking of the BIG picture — I have thousands of pictures, countless memories, and I have to somehow get it all preserved? No! The answer is … no, you don’t,” Becky said. “The goal isn’t to do it all … Choose ONE topic/trip/theme/area of life/loved one that you want to create a book about. Choose to stick with that one thing and put on the blinders to everything else.”

Becky says one of the biggest roadblocks for those starting out or trying to get back into memory keeping is feeling overwhelmed by choices. There are a TON of options out there. When I was gathering information about different methods to document memories, I felt discouraged at times. I wondered which was right for me? Becky’s advice is to trust your gut. She says you will feel drawn to a certain service or approach, so just go with it.

Let’s dive in to some options. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these are services and products that kept popping up over and over again when I asked real people what worked for them:

Products offered in three ways for different preferences. The app on your phone, digital software on the computer, or physical products such as photo pocket pages and binders.

Becky Higgins Project Life App:
• Free, includes free tutorials in app.
• Helpful and inspiration classes on Instagram @beckyhigginsllc or beckyhiggins.com
• Great quality.
• Pros: Flexible options to do bound memory books or individual pages for binders.
• Easy to use ANYWHERE. I even prefer it over social media scrolling! It was like Christmas morning when my pages arrived.
• Tip: Remember to adjust brightness of photos for best color.

Online service that offers free, unlimited photo
storage and tools to create photo books, cards,
home décor, and photo gifts.
• Can access photos from any device anytime
(comes in handy with app).
• Unique, for beach towels with your family’s
faces, this is the place.
• Reasonable price for quality.
• Pros: Dependable. I have had photos on my
account since 2000.
• Tips: Improvements have been made to
uploading photos, but plan on the process
taking time.

Shutterfly App:
• Free, same products as online.
• Free 4×6 photo deal currently running; pay shipping. Ask, are you really going to put all those 4×6 photos in an album or is selecting a few best? Becky says “avoid doing it all. Don’t try to preserve every picture or tell every story – it might burn you out!” Remember, sometimes less is more. Think of yourself as a “curator” preserving select memories.
• Access all the photos you’ve uploaded over the years.
• Tips: Memory book tools feel clunky and tough to see on small screen.

Subscription photo book service that automatically prints photo books each month after 60 pictures are posted on your linked Instagram or Facebook account OR when you’ve manually chosen photos through the app.
• Inexpensive, softcover monthly photo book is $10.
• You’re committed to getting books every month.
• Pros: EASY with social media link. An alert email lets you know when you’ve reached 60 photos and upon your approval they’re printed and magically arrive at your door
• Tip: Some don’t like the pressure of a monthly subscription service — do you?

Chatbooks App:
• Free app, photos can be added or changed through app; social media NOT necessary
• EASY, can be done anywhere.
• Tip: Quality questions: multiple moms said the photo quality is grainy. Ask, do you want multiple smaller books around the house or more traditional albums? Or do you just want photos in your hand now.

Upload software and photos to home computer and create pages on a big computer screen, and print at local printer or blurb.com (hard bound books can be created at blurb.com; excellent quality but more expensive than other services.)
• Tips: Unlike bound memory books that can’t be added to, multiple copies can be printed for each child. A local mom of four does pages for each child’s book and the family book. She adds to the books each year during Christmas break and summer. She uses My Memories Suite and sends prints via email to local print shop.
• Tips: Think about initial software cost, embellishment packages costs, step to upload photos.
• This may seem archaic to some, but those who use this method have done it for years.

1. Decide on a topic/trip theme.
2. Choose the service/method that works for you based on your preferences. (See Product Reviews on this page)
3. Download/upload and learn tools.
4. Get focused and just do it! Keep those blinders on and complete the task.
5. Bask in the joy of seeing a completed project

Shutterfly memory book

Project Life App individual pages


More information and tips as you document family memories!


Digital photo organization is an in-depth topic that’s overwhelming for many. For more information and classes, visit Miss Freddy, a professional photo organizer at missfreddy.com.

Tips from local photographer Heather Palmer: 

-Delete duplicates on your phone.  See Clean My Photos: Phone Cleaner app

-If on a budget or time pinch, print a few 4×6 pics and display in a dollar store photo book

-During professional photo sessions, ask your photographer for printing recommendations. Mpix.com is a high-end photo print service, but local print shops do quality work too.