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When I was a freshman in high school, I told my dad I wanted to be a photojournalist. He took me to Ritz and bought me a very expensive camera outfit.

It's been all downhill since then ... well, at least for the people around me, anyway.

I'm the annoying person at every family event and holiday carrying around a battery of cameras -- digital, video, disposable, camera phone -- you name it, I'm carrying it.

However, the very people who complain about me filming them in their bathing suit or asking them to get with so-and-so for a picture are the ones who ask me to e-mail them the images a week after the event.

I had a lot of pictures stuffed in boxes when I got married from my high school and college years, but nothing compared to the number I've taken since becoming a parent.

The ease of going digital hasn't helped. I now take hundreds of pictures without worrying about paying to get film developed.

So now I have hundreds of pictures in boxes and storage cases, thousands of digital pictures on my computer and close to 30 tapes from my video camera. What can I do to organize all of this stuff and make it accessible?

I've gotten into the habit of uploading digital images to an online site. This allows me to use the photos to make photo books, facilitates ordering of prints and enlargements and ensures that I don't lose the pictures if something happens to my computer.

There are lots of choices for these services, but two that come to mind are snapfish.com and shutterfly.com.

I also try to make photo books for special occasions, events or milestones. I made a book of my husband and the kids for Father's Day and I try to make a book of our beach trip to North Carolina each summer. The books make nice pieces for coffee tables or for our shelves and are awesome gifts.

My kids love to look at books of themselves! I made them each a keepsake baby book for their first birthday, something they'll (hopefully) be able to pass down to future generations.

The online Web sites are also nice because they allow me to share photos with other people, saving me from having to send e-mails with large attachments.

Then there are those video tapes. With new video cameras, the footage can be recorded directly onto a DVD or onto a hard drive that can be uploaded to a computer with a cable like a USB or flash.

My current video camera is a few years old, so it records to mini-DV tapes (they look like small VCR tapes). Sometimes I upload the tapes to my computer hard drive so that I can make a video, edit footage together or add music. However, it takes a lot of time to upload the videos and uses a lot of space on my hard drive.

I was recently trying to organize all of my footage and decided that I have to do something about those little tapes. I know some camera shops will transfer video tapes to DVD, but it isn't cheap.

With a little research online, I was able to find several services that will transfer the tapes to DVD for $8 to $10 per tape. All you have to do is label the tapes, send them to the company and they will send you back your original tape and a DVD.

I remember watching grainy, black and white video of my dad's childhood. It was always amazing to see my grandparents as young adults and my dad and uncle as children. When I was organizing the videos, my children were watching them with me, and I was thinking how glad I am that I have so many of their "firsts" on video.

It will be nice to have the videos organized at least to the extent that they will be on DVD and labeled. There are plenty of other options for organizing and indexing photos and video files. Everyone will have something that works best for them. For me, the best means someone else doing the work!

Say Cheese

Here are some, but certainly not all, online photo sharing and image storage services:

* AOL Pictures

* Flickr

* Imageshack

* Kodak EasyShare Gallery

* Photobucket

* Picasa

* Shutterfly

* SmugMug

* Snapfish

* Webshots

* Zooomr

Kym Byrnes writes from Finksburg. Please e-mail her at kymbyrnes@gmail.com.


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