learn something new every day:


A $5000 hamburger? The opportunity to be in control of the Bellagio Fountains? Here are 10 Ways to Experience the Luxurious Side of Las Vegas.

Read All Entries

get the latest from Lois

Stay connected to the Oasis!

tackling the family photos

Photo of photos!

When we had to evacuate our house during the San Diego wildfires a few years ago, I unhesitatingly left behind all our material possessions except for our photos and home videos. Because they were so important to me, I started packing cartons of them into the car days before we actually had to leave. I made sure my parents, who live just a few miles away, did the same.

This whole process was a major pain in the neck and I swore to myself I would figure out a way to get the photos organized and keep them safe so we’d never again have to worry about them getting lost. That was apparently easier said than done so, since then, I’ve pretty much done nothing – other than take hundreds more pictures.

Thankfully, a friend of mine recently introduced me to Gen-Ark™, a “cloud-based Digital Estate Asset Management system” that basically acts like an online safe deposit box. It’s a brilliant idea.

What makes Gen-Ark™ different from plain old back-up services is that it provides a permanently-guaranteed place to store, organize and share your precious memories. They’re saved on multiple platforms so if there’s any kind of failure on one system, they’re still protected on another. And just like a safe deposit box, it keeps your photos in the same condition in which they started. This seems like an obvious feature but, while researching Gen-Ark™, I was shocked to learn that photo storage services often reduce the quality of your pictures in order to save space.

I was also horrified to discover that, if you read the fine print, most storage sites will delete your account when you die. That means your family no longer has access to the photos you tried to protect, and a lifetime of irreplaceable memories is simply wiped out. The whole point of Gen-Ark™ is to keep your precious photos always accessible to the people you love.

Because I wasn’t born yesterday – or during this century, for that matter – I have at least as many physical pictures as I do digital ones. Although I have an entire room of scrapbooking supplies and have managed to put together a few albums, most of my photos are thrown into boxes of various sizes and shapes, and are scattered throughout different rooms and closets. Gen-Ark™ recently acquired Scangaroo, which offers mobile scanning in specific areas of the country, but since I don’t live in those regions (Denver, Greater Puget Sound), I will be looking into local scanning services once I edit my collection.

Unfortunately, most of my photos aren’t labeled or dated, and, although I remember dramatically insisting 20 years ago that I could never forget the names of my kids’ preschool friends, well, somehow I have.

Unlabeled photo

The cute little boy smiling in the first row is mine. The rest …???

I was hoping my parents’ photos were better organized and labeled but when my mom recently pulled out a box of her own to find something, we turned them over and just sighed.

Although I doubt the nice people at Gen-Ark™ can figure out names and dates for us, they can help us organize all our pictures and come up with a system that makes it easy for us to keep them organized. Otherwise I’m afraid all our photos will eventually become as generic as the ones you buy at vintage shops.

My husband and I have spent a lot of time and energy on estate planning, so it’s been a huge wake-up call to realize that we’ve never even considered our digital assets. How will our kids ever find the photos in our laptops when we can’t remember the passwords ourselves? How will we get to all those great photos that are in our parents’ computers?

And what happens when our technology becomes obsolete? Gen-Ark™ makes it easy for family members to access each other’s pictures in whatever format is current at the time, and that’s a big deal I hadn’t even thought of before. It would be like having all my VHS tapes and 8-tracks automatically transferred to DVDs and CDs! (Although Gen-Ark™ knows that those will be obsolete at some point, too, and will save all your audio and video files so they can be transferred to an external hard drive, giving you so many more options for your home movies.)

Take a look at Gen-Ark™ and see what you think. I’m thinking it just may be the oasis for my photos.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions, as always, are mine.


  1. Love the idea! I just spent ALL DAY yesterday sorting pictures. Decades and decades of them were removed from shabby old boxes and placed into plastic containers. The problem with this is, they still take up the entire room! I’m going to make it a point to check out the GEN-ARK service in the coming days. Thanks for the planning tip. Happy Scanning!

  2. This sounds fabulous. I have a new scanner, but the thought of scanning my thousands, millions of pics (including my parents pics) is too overwhelming.

    I wonder what the cost of this is?

    Great post. Thanks….

  3. Pamela Lear says:

    In the past few years, I’ve digitized about 80% of my old photos and have been taking a little time here & there to organize them into files on my computer. I have back-ups of everything. It’s time-consuming, but now I can find almost any picture by the file/category I would have put it in – – it’s been awesome to have that ability.

  4. I think this will interest my blog followers, so I posted a link to this on my FB org page. Wow. Another thing to think about for end-of-life preparation. Gah!

  5. I am so glad to read this. I have boxes and boxes (and boxes!) of photos. So, the first step is to find a service that will scan them? I am definitely going to check out this GEN-ARK service. But I think I’ll need to set aside an entire week to get this all done – THAT’S the challenge!

  6. Beverly says:

    When we downsized from our large family home, many boxes of family photos came with us. All are stored in any available space. For the four years of living downtown in a condo, I have intended to organize and digitally store our visual record. The act of simply giving 30 years of our photos and videos to a digitizing service has been daunting. I would be trusting a 3rd party to scan them into a memory stick and then I still would need to organize for easy.

    Your message today is getting me motivated to store all in a secure cloud. Our girls put their current photos for all to see on FB and Instagram. They already have scapbooks of their childhood highlights. There is so much to do in my life making new memories that this chore gets put into the category of a future task.

  7. I definitely appreciate the information, but I agree with Beverly in that there is so much to do in my life creating new memories that this chore gets put into a category of a future task. I don’t what to spend the remaining few years I have left organizing all my stuff. A couple of years ago, an Apple Store employee told me that some people come into the store and really are just so overwhelmed with maintaining tens of thousands of photos, and really whose kids will want to look at 10,000+ photos? My new photos are digital and easily organized, but the old photos might end up being someone else’s chore.

  8. You’re right. It IS a brilliant idea

  9. Hello Ladies!
    I am an APPO-certified photo organizer in the DC Metro area and am in business solely to assist families with organizing, protecting and sharing their precious family photos. If you feel overwhelmed, check out my web site and let me know how I can help! http://picturethisps.com
    This kind of work often gets pushed aside in our busy lives, but is usually the first thing people look for when their houses have been destroyed by fire, tornadoes or floods. Take a few minutes to think how you’d feel if you lost all those prints and digital photos, then make a plan to protect them today!

  10. Lois what did you wind up doing> Thanks for the information. I will look into Gen-Ark. I’ve got tons of photos in proper books but you’re right time to get them into the cloud.

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Still recovering from BlogHer! Hope to get to photos in next couple of weeks, and would love to hear what you do with yours.

Speak Your Mind