The Author’s History with Photos

Lifetime of Memories

During my lifetime, I’ve evolved with the times when it comes to photographs. There are very few pictures that have survived the many years since my childhood and they are in a 3-ring binder photo album. Then came the days of getting photos developed and you would get 2 or 3 copies. I would put one copy of the best photos into an album and the rest would go in a shoebox, or even a suitcase.

Then came digital photos! I got my first digital camera in 1999. You had to copy the photos to a computer if you wanted to see them, and they had to be stored in folders. Sometimes I made folders for special events, sometimes I made folders for pictures from a given location or person. When I got a new computer, I copied all those folders off to an external hard drive so I could use them with my new computer. At least I hope I did that with every new computer, otherwise there are some photos I will never see again on some old computer!

In 2003, my husband Jim and I bought an RV, sold our house, and started living on the road. I needed a better system to store and organize the hundreds of photos I now took in all the beautiful places we visited. It was taking me at least an hour every day to copy the photos to my computer, decide what folders to use, edit them, and make more folders just for copies of my best.


Then I discovered Picasa, a computer photo management program by Google. What a time saver that was. Instead of using several programs for the copying, organizing, editing, and making albums, Picasa could do it all.

I became a Picasa expert. My profession, since 1983 was in computer training. I owned a computer training center called Computer Savvy from 1983-96 and I taught everything from Visicalc, to WordPerfect, to Microsoft Access. I love technology, and I love photos, so Picasa became my passion. I wrote a book, Beginner’s Guide to Picasa, and I built a website, In 2009, I was even invited to Google Headquarters and presented a joint webinar on Picasa. It’s still available on YouTube, just search for Picasa Basics Webinar. It’s on the PicasaCommunity YouTube channel.

Smartphones and DropBox

When we got our first smartphones in 2009, it didn’t take long before they became our primary cameras. Now what? I still had to get them from the phone to the computer in order to use Picasa. I could attach a cable between the two, but I found it so much easier to use DropBox to automatically sync my photos to the computer, then I would move them to the folders that I used with Picasa.

The DropBox/Picasa (computer-based) system went like this: (see video)

1.      Take pictures with phone

2.      DropBox automatically uploads them to the cloud, and then syncs to my computer

3.      Using Picasa on my computer to edit and organize my best photos into monthly albums

4.      Upload that album to Picasa Web Albums so I can see them on other devices besides my one computer. I can also share them from the Web Albums.

That worked great, until mobile devices started to take over. Sometimes we would even travel without our computers. I didn’t like waiting until I was back at my computer before I could do my editing and album-making. Also, the sheer volume of photos we took would overwhelm my computer.

Chris takes photos all the time

2015 – Enter Google Photos

So, when Google announced Google Photos – and free unlimited cloud storage for all my photos – I jumped right on board. After all, it was Google who was creating our cloud-centric future. Who better to give us tools for managing our photos in the cloud?

And, guess what? All the photos I had previously uploaded to Picasa Web Albums were already there in Google Photos. That’s because the actual server storage space was the same – my Google account. Only the interface was changing from Picasa Web Albums to Google Photos.

My Google Photos (cloud-based) system

1.      Take pictures with phone

2.      Google Photos automatically uploads them to the cloud

3.      Using Google Photos on any device that is handy (phone, iPad, computer) I edit and organize my best photos into a monthly album

4.      Download that album to my computer for backup.  

What about my old prints?

Whenever I’m in the mood, I’ll peruse my old photo albums and shoe boxes. When I see a particularly memorable photo, I’ll get out my smartphone and snap a picture of the picture. I’ll even snap a picture of the back of the print if there is some description written on it. Post cards, and the back of post cards are also fair game.

I’ve never set about to complete a project of digitizing my old memories, I just catch as catch can. There are plenty of undigitized memories in my house, but I have a good sampling of photos from every phase of my life, and they’re all in one place – Google Photos.

The power of One

You might be saying, “I see where it would be nice to have all photos in one place, but is it really that big a deal?” Let me give you just a few examples of this big deal.

1.      Because all my photos are in one giant stream by date, I can just scroll back to July 4, 1998 to see photos of my wedding day.

2.      Because all my photos are in Google Photos, I can search for “the white house” and it will show me pictures from both 2009 and 2015 when we were in Washington D.C. and took pictures of The White House. This is done without any tagging on my part, or writing of any kind. Google knows what The White House looks like and can find it in my photos.

3.      Because all my photos are in one place, I can make one album of our best pictures from RVing in New Zealand, and another album which includes some of the same pictures, about “All the RVs we’ve driven.”

4.      Because Google Photos includes “Lens” with the power of Artificial Intelligence, I can take a picture of a billboard in France and see the translation to English in Google Photos. I can also take a photo of a bird and have Lens identify that bird.

5.      Because all my photos are in the cloud, I can choose to have specific albums display on my Chromecast-enabled TV, or other smart display, just like a digital photo frame.

6.      Because Google automatically groups photos together by the faces that are in the photo, there will be no work for me to make a slideshow of my grandson growing up.

I Love Google Photos! 

I have collected more than 100,000 digital pictures, and videos, during my lifetime, and they are all stored in my Google Photos account – for free. With my phone, a tablet, or a computer, I can view my entire library of photos in one timeline automatically sorted by date. In an instant, I can swipe down the screen from today’s photos to those from 10 years ago, using the timeline indicators to guide me.  

It’s amazingly quick, even though none of the photos are stored on the device in my hand. I can also find any photo in my library by searching. No tagging required, Google can search by the content of the photos.

It’s not just me!

Google Photos™ is the internet’s undisputed leader in private photo and video storage and organizing. Since its initial unveiling in 2015, the service’s popularity has skyrocketed to more than 1 billion monthly active users who upload more than 1.2 billion pictures every single day. I take my hat off to the Photos development team at Google. They are brilliantly creating the future of photo management. Before Google Photos, I never would have dreamt that it could be so effortless to collect my lifetime of photos in one place, keep them safe, and have so much fun with them.

I’m an Expert

At least that’s what Google says. They have a program called Google Product Experts and I am classified as a Platinum Level Google Photos product expert. 

One of the perks of the program is an annual conference where Google flies me out to their headquarters and I join all the other experts to update our knowledge of Google products.

Chris and fellow Google Photos experts at Google’s Product Expert Summit, 2019

Then I share my knowledge by teaching others in several ways:

  • This blog –
  • My book – Mrs. Geek’s Guide to Learn Google Photos
  • Tutorials for members on my website –
  • Online Courses –
  • Facebook group – Learn Google Photos
  • Live seminars at RV rallies, Computer clubs, and Senior Centers all over the country