Create a family video montage with all your annual photos in four easy steps. Everyone will treasure these memories for years to come.
Is your computer hard drive cluttered with photo and video files you never look at? We noticed ours was. We live in a time where almost every aspect of our lives is documented. Birthdays, holidays, travels, funny moments, selfies, and school programs. How often do we really enjoy all those family photos and videos we take every year? There are more photos than time to sit and enjoy them all and it can seem very overwhelming.
A few years ago we discovered a great way to honor our memories and celebrate wonderful moments by creating a year in review photo and video montage. Now, every year around Christmas and the New Year, we start sorting through our photo and video files to put together a “slideshow” of our yearly highlights. It includes photos and videos and has our favorite songs from the year playing in the background.
Here is how you can begin this tradition in four easy steps. (Okay, maybe it isn’t that easy because it can take a long time to go through all those photos, but it is fun and totally worth it!)
Step 1 – Organize your files (optional but recommended)
Whatever system you use, you should spend some time getting all your photos in one place. This may sound very intimidating, but it is well worth the effort and ensures all photos are organized for easy viewing and located in one place for easy back up. We organize our photos in folders by year and month. There are many other software programs to help you organize all your photos with keywords and tags or by date, but I have no problem finding my child’s birthday photos from 2010 by opening the year and month folder from her birthday.
Once you have an organization system of your own, make sure to include photos from all your devices. You probably have multiple family member cameras and camera phones. Ours automatically upload photos to Dropbox so I simply go into my Dropbox folder and copy or move files to the year and month photos to make sure they are included. (Use this link for an extra 500GB storage if you want to open a free Dropbox account.) There are lots of other programs like Dropbox where you may already store your photos. Take some time at least once a year to move them all to one place and back them up.
Step 2 – Choose your favorite memories
If you know where all your (hopefully organized) photos are, let your family members look through them and pick their very favorite moments from each month. We copy the photos to a temporary folder we call “Video Montage”. We have the older kids attack this task on their own, but younger children appreciate the one on one time of looking through these photos together.
We learned to limit each family member to only 4 photos from each month. With this method, three seconds a photo for six people immediately makes a 15 minute long video, but we add a few video clips as well. Going through these photos can be like Pandora’s Box and takes a long time, but it is a very good opportunity to remember accomplishments and activities to include in our Christmas letter.
When everyone is done, Mom and Dad do one last look through the folders to make sure all special achievements, best friends, and family visits are included.
Step 3 – Make a video
Now that you’ve picked out all your photos, and they are all in one place, all you have left to do is make the video. There are several free solutions to make a video and this can be intimidating to some people. We usually use Kodak Arcsoft Media Impression because it came with the video camera we use and works well. You can also simply make a slide show with your preferred presentation software, like Microsoft Powerpoint. You can use iMovie on your Apple computer or Windows Movie Maker on your Windows computer. You can also look on CNET.com for other video making software recommendations and check out this article from TechRadar if you need more advice.
Follow the instructions in your software. Make the video as simple or complex as you want. We like to add a few of our favorite songs from the year as background music, but we don’t spend a lot of time worrying about transitions or adding text.
Step 4 – Cherish your memories
Now that all the hard work is done, sit down and have a fun family night. We like to watch our video montage a few times over the holiday season. We are able to see the many blessings Heavenly Father provided throughout the year and relive amazing experiences. Plus, everyone loves seeing themselves on TV! Make the event even more fun by including treats and popcorn while you watch.
Now that we have done this for a few years, we end up watching previous years videos as well. It is the perfect way to spend the Christmas season by focusing on family and friends. If you are not into making videos, consider making an annual photo book from places like Shutterfly.
We also keep a digital picture frame on the wall and update it once a year with all the photos we pick out for the annual video montage. It keeps our slide show fresh and we get to see all our favorite memories daily instead of leaving them buried in our computer hard drives.