At Bring Your Own Laptop, we run fun and of course highly informative workshops. You should definitely check them out. But once you start getting good at your photography, you cross over from ‘recording’ images to ‘creating’ images.
It’s right around this point that you start feeling like other people might like to see your photos. It’s great to share your images for getting some encouragement – and that’s a part of what we will discuss today. But I really want to give you some practical ideas of what to do with all your photos.
How and where to share, and some tips on how to make the most of your best shots. And that leads me to my first suggestion.
Don’t overshare. And by that I mean choose your best ones. Get those 200 photos of your last trip down to 20. There’s plenty of research to show that after 20, all the images start to become a blur. It’s too much to take in. Always leave them wanting more.
I bet if you get rid of all the out of focus and poorly framed shots, you’ve got it down to 150. Now get rid of all the photos that have to be explained. You know, ‘this is right after we…’ or ‘so that person was…’ Good pictures tell their own story. It takes time to learn that, but editing your own work to weed out the ones that don’t stand up on their own is the fastest way to learn. Now you are probably down to 50.
Remove all the duplicates, or similar shots. Choose one. I don’t care if you flip a coin or keep revisiting a few choices. If you have two great photos of the same person, place or thing, choose one. This will teach you to shoot different shots of each subject from different perspectives. You will be down to about 25. Now pick the ones you would pay $10 each to make a print of and hang on your wall. Bet your way under 20 now.
Now that you have 20, go online and find one of those photo album making websites. Mpix or Blurb are a great place to start, but do your own search. Now make a book of those 20 images from your last trip or last couple of months of photography. Upload and order.
You now have permanent copy that will look great on your coffee table, until you order the next book and it sits safely on the shelf. Prints are the only reliable way to back up your images. Now you’ve got them. You might also consider making a digital backup of your files on a thumb drive and keeping that somewhere safe (ie. not near your computer where the kids will erase it for more space to download Minecraft videos.)
If you have a ton of family photos, most album printing sites have software that makes it easy to lay out several pictures to a page. Every year, make a new album with as many photos as you like. Print a couple of books if you have a couple of kids. Someone will be wanting that book in 10 or 20 years.
Will you be able to find and use your files in 10 or 20 years?
You might also consider starting a social media profile with Flickr, Instagram or plain old Facebook to share your pictures.
If you only show them your good ones, people will tell you repeatedly what a great photographer you are. If you share all of them, only the crickets will chirp for you. No one wants a deluge of photos. Especially photos that have to be explained.
I get a large print made every few months. I like to frame them and hang them about the place. By the time I had 20 great prints framed, I took them down to the local café and had my own gallery showing.
I had purchased a bunch of matching frames from The Warehouse (the same as Walmart) that were nicely affordable. Upon closer examination, the glass was terribly uneven and it affected the print resolution. The hanging hardware was useless and had to be replaced before I could hang them, and the paint scratched off the frames if you looked too hard at them.
Regardless of using the frames at home, or if you might want to set up a display somewhere (cafes, community centres, libraries, be creative) invest in good quality frames. Once you realise you bought a cheap frame, it’s going to affect your feelings for the print.
I regularly take old picture out of the frames for storage and put new ones in the same frames.
I keep my large prints in acid free tissue paper in a large artist portfolio bag. Check the art supply section of an office supply place or buy online. Don’t buy it from an art shop unless you are donating the extra cash you have lying around.
I recommend printing 4x6 cheap prints of everything worth keeping from a real print company. Those minilab or computer print kiosks in stores make prints that fade very quickly – Kodak or Fuji. Remember, you want archival prints that will still be around after you. Go online and find a company that talks about how long their prints last. Pay a little more for quality.
And finally, I suggest you join a local photo club and show off your prints. Enter some competitions. Get some real criticism. No one will tell you the truth online. They’re too afraid of being flamed to death.
I’ve found that every year I shoot, the worse my old stuff looks. I’m getting better. It will never end. A real critique from someone who actually knows will get you there faster. And help you see what you don’t know to look for.
And of course, if you want help, come to one of our photography training opportunities – we’ll show you how to create great photographs.
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