Photographs tossed in a box. Pretty much where many of us family storytellers begin. Cleaning out a relative’s closet, discover a treasure chest of old family photographs, then what? (Unfortunately for me, I threw so many old photographs out that I still lose sleep about it… oh the stories lost!)
Go searching for how to bring the photographs and the stories behind them into some sort of album of course. A dreamy deluxe family album that you can share.
My first hard covered family album was created online, using one of the many “all singing- all dancing” photo book platforms. Very one dimensional though. One author only, me.
After printing my two initial copies I discovered, much to my horror, a few embarrassingly unfortunate typos. Seriously bad, don’t show to grandma kind of bad. The expense of printing additional edited copies removed most of the joy out of creating them.
To add insult to the injury, if I unearthed more vital information and stories that I’d want to inject into the hardcover album it wouldn’t be possible without printing more books. And oh, the trees! The bark covered kind.
The cost blowout was going to be the end of my storytelling journey.
The search was on for an alternative way to share my research and source more stories. I wanted to engage other members of my family and grow the stories still hidden in the research.
Facebook, Instagram are not what I am about or what I was after. I wanted private, intimate interactions with family and friends.
Ponga appeared like a beacon of light on my radar, and my obsession became… an infatuation. And then I became… a “Pongaporter.”
Imagine sitting at your computer in your house and privately sharing those special family moments or ancestral stories in real time? Using platforms like Zoom or Skype, your parents, grandchildren, and children can enjoy the Ponga deluxe family albums with you, at the same time. Amazing to me that we can do this. But we can.
The original Storyboard idea blossomed in my imagination by seeds planted by Ponga.
Expanding from that original Storyboard idea… Pongaporting was an absolute blue ribbon winner. The concept and design behind Pongaporting is basically the same as my first post on the Storyboard, just bigger, more interactive, and “Ponga-liscious.”
Here’s the rough flow to get started Pongaporting:
Pongaporting requires you to create two individual Ponga albums. One is the Main Pongaporting album that contains as many individual Storyboard slides as you have created and any future additions, the other will be a Slide Image folder for all the images that are in your individual Storyboard slides.
Let’s get started:
Ponga is built around the concept of uploaded images. Keep in mind though that an image can be anything — including a scan of an old album leaf, a scrapbook page, or something created new in a graphics program or even a presentation application. Here’s what I do:
a. Open PowerPoint (or whatever program you like to use. Paint works too)
b. Start a new Presentation.
c. Choose a design, add a background image or even a coloured or textured background.
d. Add all the images that you want to include in your Storyboard Album Slides, including the images of the people. (you’re creating a new image for Ponga to work its facial recognition magic on)
e. Go wild with it, have fun, play with it.
f. Once you have it exactly right… save the entire presentation as a jpg. Now you’ve got your Storyboard pages. Simple.
Now you’ve got new pages and the source images to upload to Ponga. You’re going to upload them all, but the easiest thing to do is to do it in two batches, one for the Storyboard pages (the slides) and another for the source images. Each batch upload creates its own Ponga album. Just rename the date/time stamped album to distinguish your Storyboard album from your Source image album.
While Ponga will convert your file names to Title Case as it imports them, you may want to tweak the titles so you get a mapping from slides to source images. This is a good point to pause and do that.
🗝 A note about naming the Storyboard slides and images: I found it extremely helpful to name the Storyboard slides… slide 1 — brief description, slide 2 — brief description, etc. This allowed me to keep track of the order in the Album folder. Also, when you hover over the slide image, the alt tag appears, which is also helpful.
For the images, I also named them slide 1 — description, slide 2 — description, etc. This approach allowed me to map Storyboard Album Slide each image referenced. Again, helpful for organization.
Ponga’s uploading is so fast… you’ll be ready to get to the next step in the process very quickly.
This step is really the core of adding content into Ponga pictures. Depending on your use case, you might just be setting up the structure for others to contribute stories, OR you might have stories of your own to tell.
You can read more about my approach in my first post about Storyboards here.
The trick to this approach is understanding how Ponga albums work. Every time you (or someone you’ve shared a picture with) adds a comment or selection, the picture will move to the top left-hand corner of your library or any album its in. That’s a great way to know when updates have been added, but it can wreck havoc on telling a linear story the way a book or album reads.
Storyboard album: “View Only” | Source image album: “Can Edit:” This is why you build your interactive Pongaport of the physical album as two Ponga albums. One mimics the physical pages of the album and will be shared as “view only” so that no updates change your order. The second one is where all the comments can be added and this one is shared with “can edit” so that your contributors can actually add content. You do this by toggling the drop-down item in the share panel.
🗝 NOTE: As the owner of the album, you always have the privilege of deleting unwanted or inappropriate comments.
With your Pongaport album contributors’ perspective in mind, link the Storyboard Album Slides to the relevant content in the Image Slides. As your contributors explore the Storyboard pages, they can easily click to get to the Source images and add their own comments and details. Soon your stories grow your former one-dimensional family album into a Ponga-rrific deluxe family album.
Your head won’t hurt, trust me…it’s super easy and I find it kind of fun.
I’m not a techie person either… but was able to quickly understand how best to do this. Here we go…
a. Start by having two Ponga tabs open. One for each of your folders. Storyboard slides and images.
b. Remember that the last slide edited will always move to the front of the queue, numbering them will not change that, so start with the last in the series. Open the last Storyboard in the Storyboard slide album.
c. Using the select icon and highlight an image on the slide. Doesn’t need to be a huge square, choose the right place.
d. Move to the other tab… and open the photo album and find the corresponding image…right click on the image and “copy link”.
e. Go back to the Storyboard Album Slide tab and paste the copied link into the comment box. In Windows ctrl-v, and MAC command-v, both work a treat. The link will look like something like this…
www.ponga.com/12345abcdef (So, leave off the “https://…” and include the “www”)
🗝 NOTE: If you haven’t named your Storyboard Album Slides yet, this is a time and place to do it. It’s also a good time to create your backlink to the main slide album. See below… Linking back and between Storyboard Album Slides and Image Slides.
f. In the same comment box, you can add some teaser text to get your guest to click that link. Maybe… “Click on the link and let me know if you have any ideas where this was taken”. Maybe even add a thumbnail of the image. Click the little image icon and locate the photo on your computer. You can even drag and drop if that’s easier and quicker for you.
Now, continue for all the Storyboard Album Slides, giving links to the Image Slides that you’ve shared. Once you get going, and have done a few slides, you’ll see that it’s quite easy and find your own rhythm as you go.
A few things that are super helpful… at least I found them to be useful.
Ponga-linking back from individual Storyboard slides to Main Album This is important because it really will affect all guests’ overall experience. And you DO want them to engage and most importantly you want them to come back whenever there’s something new to comment on. It’s helpful to add these links across all slides and images at once so you’re consistent.
I’ve done it this way…
a. While in Library view, click once on the Slide Album to highlight to black. Then right click and copy the link.
b. Then open the last slide (remember the queue order issue from above) and next to the Title of your slide, in the smaller greyed area… drop the link in the description and a bit of text…
Example… Click here to return to the main album: www.ponga.com/sets#12345VVVVV Note that you must include the “www” in the link for pictures and sets but when entering this into the description you can remove the noisy “https://.”
If you hadn’t done this at the start… it’s a pretty fast to do.
Bit more work here… but super important.
🗝 NOTE: If you’d named each of your Image Slides to preface with the Storyboard Album Slide number, this will be quick and painless… depending of course on the number of Image Slides you have in the Image Slide folder that is. When I used an Image Slide in more than one Storyboard Album Slide, I leave off the Storyboard Album Slide number on that particular Image Slide.
Step 1: Have two tabs opened to the following folders…
a. Storyboard Album Slides
b. Image Slides
Step 2: Right click on the Slide 1 and copy link.
Step 3: Open (one at a time) all Slide 1 Image Slides and in the smaller grey area next to the Title… type…
To go back to the previous slide, click here…PASTE THE LINK
Step 4: Repeat with all Storyboard Album Slides and Image Slides)
🗝 NOTE: In all future Storyboard Albums, I plan to include a rectangular button graphic on all Storybook Album Slides when I am at the building stage in PowerPoint prior to saving them as JPGs. That way, it will be easy to just add a selection on top of the button graphic to Ponga-link back from either Storyboard Slides or Image Slides.
All done? Double checked the links, order, and photos? Now you’re good to start sharing!
You can include as many email addresses as you like in one share, all you do is string the addresses together with a comma separating them then add your note of introduction. Since you’re going to add the same list of people to both albums, it can be useful to list them out first on a separte document then copy and paste them into the share panel. Your note of introduction is really important since your guests will need that to understand what this is.
Don’t worry, you only have to do this once for each album then all pictures are shared and all comments are shared with everyone.
🗝 KEEP IN MIND: that when you hit “Send Invite” the default is “Can Edit,” so you will need to go in and toggle the setting for each of your guests to “View Only” for the Storyboard album.
One of my favourite things about Pongaporting, is that at any time you can completely change up any slide or delete one completely. Do a little internal re-linking and you’ve updated an entire album without having to reprint a book!
Oh… and there’s another… you can add additional Image Slides, Storyboard Album Slides, or give “Can Edit” to the Slide Album to someone you trust or are collaborating with whenever you want.
You can also take shared invites away if you feel so inclined. And all this happens away from the prying eyes of the internet and social media at large. This is a closed, personal community of your choosing. Behind the high private Ponga-gates.
My first Ponga Storyboard Album is a goliath. A 28-slide, 90-plus embedded image monster. I jumped in way above my head. But Ponga was my lifesaver, and Audie is always at the ready to throw me a life line, so I had all the confidence in the world needed to do this. I’m in… 100%.
Now… the Pongaporting marathon begins. A stack of hardcover family albums await.
Bringing families together with historical storytelling in photo filled digital presentations, safely, securely and away from the prying eyes of social media. To learn more, visit her at VictoriasPress.com
The sharing of an old photograph, and a memory, isn’t a popularity contest, or a “what-ya think” moment. It’s not about the number of hearts or likes it collects. Leave that to social media and random current event images. Sharing an old photograph, can and should be the starting point for a walk down memory lane. Or perhaps the discrete reveal of stories shared with one relative but not to another.
As we share the details we find in pictures, clues lead from one story to the next. Connecting the dots with context and memories we soon reconnect as a family. Having reached out to my tier-one and tier-two relatives, siblings, cousins, nieces, and nephews, I experienced pure unadulterated joy. Their comments, remembrances, and reconnections have been beyond amazing. I invited my family to the storyboard albums I’d created, …Then… I remembered Myrna. The game was afoot!
Following these steps will help you get your photos in order. Once you have the physical artifacts organized, you can digitize your collection and will be ready to get your digital collection into Ponga where you automatically organize them by person and start sharing your photos and the stories that go with them.
How does identifying the individual(s) in one photograph benefit my research? It’s more than curiosity. I want to be able to tell those individuals’ stories! I want to know the family stories contained within those old family photographs.