In my previous article “Shooting With a Purpose”  I discussed the concept of thinking about what you are going to do with a shot before you take it.  To take that a bit further you also need to think about actually doing something with your photographs.

 

What to do with photographs has been an age old question. Those who used (or maybe even still use) film faced a very daunting task or organizing and sharing their photos. All the time spent organizing, binders or shoe boxes of negatives and the dreaded process of getting crops, reprints and enlargements.

 

What to do with photographs has been an age old question. Those who used (or maybe even still use) film faced a very daunting task or organizing and sharing their photos. All the time spent organizing, binders or shoe boxes of negatives and the dreaded process of getting crops, reprints and enlargements.

Digital simplified that to some degree. Your photo lab is now on your computer, cropping, processing and ordering multiple copies is now easier than it has ever been. But at the same time the number of pictures you can take has exploded. Software exists for organizing and cataloging pictures but it still takes time.

 

Inevitably a few choice pictures will see the light of day (or your homepage on Facebook). The rest will quietly collect on your hard drive sitting there, lost in the clutter of bits waiting on the inevitable computer disaster to wipe them out of existence. Many of these pictures might be good, but you never go back and look at them, if they never get used then what good are they?

 

Inevitably a few choice pictures will see the light of day (or your homepage on Facebook). The rest will quietly collect on your hard drive sitting there, lost in the clutter of bits waiting on the inevitable computer disaster to wipe them out of existence. Many of these pictures might be good, but you never go back and look at them, if they never get used then what good are they?

Borrowing from western philosophy this time

“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates

You might say the un-looked at, un-used picture is not worth taking. Once you have taken a picture, do something with it.

What should you do with it? You should use it to answer the question of “Why did I take this?”

Starting out many of us shoot to learn. In the days before EXIF this usually meant tediously logging frames and settings in our journal and all the fun that was. Now just about every technical aspect of the shot is logged for us. The only thing we have to remember is “Why did I take this?”. A big step in doing that is to go and review/process your pictures as soon as possible (preferably the same day). Otherwise when you “get around to it” next week you won’t remember why you have 8 shots of the same flower and what you were trying to achieve with each.

Beyond immediate review and learning you should think about what to do with your pictures (or at least a portion of them) so that they get some use and appreciation.

 

Starting out many of us shoot to learn. In the days before EXIF this usually meant tediously logging frames and settings in our journal and all the fun that was. Now just about every technical aspect of the shot is logged for us. The only thing we have to remember is “Why did I take this?”. A big step in doing that is to go and review/process your pictures as soon as possible (preferably the same day). Otherwise when you “get around to it” next week you won’t remember why you have 8 shots of the same flower and what you were trying to achieve with each.

 

Organization

Coming up with a good way to organize your photos becomes more important as your collection grows. Sorting photo’s by date and location folders works pretty well but if you start hitting the same place several times that breaks down. At that point you need to incorporate some type of searchable index and start tagging photos with keywords. Lightroom has organizing features for this built in as do other photo management apps.

 

The Web

At the very least get them up on the web one way or another. I’ve discovered through extensive personal experience that picture you get up on the web get shared, used, appreciated and occasionally printed. Pictures that don’t go on the web seldom if ever get revisited. Having it out on the web in a fashion you can access and share really makes a huge difference in the value of a picture, especially with the increasing ubiquity of smart phones.

There are many ways to get them up on the web.

Many people use the photo sharing abilities in Facebook or other social media apps. These are often limited in one scope or another, especially in the organizational aspect.

Other options include a variety of “Free” photo sharing services, usually in conjunction with ordering prints (Walgreens for example). Just watch the fine print, you might discover your photos are wiped out after a certain amount of time or have annoying registration requirements as they make their money through data mining or add delivery.

A step up from that would be to invest in a subscription to a photo sharing site. Flickr, Smugmug, PBase and others all charge you a fee to host your photos and you usually get what you pay for in terms of features, templates and control.

The ultimate of course would be to get your own domain and set up your own website. That gives you complete control, though none of the work is done for you.

Regardless of what web solution you pick there are two important things to do to get the most out of it:

First is to caption your photos. Even it if it is a short sentence it puts the photo into context. Something as simple as “Johny plays with his friend Bill at the city park over spring break” and usually answers the who/what/when/where/why question a person seeing the photo for the first time might have. It also helps you out 10 years from now when you can’t remember who that person was.

Second is that if you are starting to accumulate a large number of photo’s you need to come up with a good organizational and/or key wording strategy. If the photos you want are scattered over 35 random galleries and it takes you 10 minutes to find one it’s almost useless. Take the time to learn about what organizational and search options your online sharing site has and use them.

 

Second is that if you are starting to accumulate a large number of photo’s you need to come up with a good organizational and/or keywording strategy. If the photos you want are scattered over 35 random galleries and it takes you 10 minutes to find one it’s almost useless. Take the time to learn about what organizational and search options your online sharing site has and use them.

 

Email

Emailing your photos is an excellent way to share them but its so 20th century. There are some real logistical issues with file size, firewalls and spam filters. While the size has gotten larger most email services still have an upper limit on the maximum file size of the attachments. Plus you can clog a poorly configured mail server with too many photos and end up annoying the recipient or their IT department. Resizing your photos like I discussed in this article to screen resolution (1024x768 is safe these days) is a good idea.

 

Emailing your photos is an excellent way to share them but its so 20th century. There are some real logistical issues with file size, firewalls and spam filters. While the size has gotten larger most email services still have an upper limit on the maximum file size of the attachments. Plus you can clog a poorly configured mail server with too many photos and end up annoying the recipient or their IT department. Resizing your photos like I discussed in this article to screen resolution (1024x768 is safe these days) is a good idea.

 

Digital Photo Frames

Digital photo frames which I discussed in this article are also another excellent way to “use” your pictures. If you spend a lot of time in one location (like your desk or a certain room in the house) putting a digital picture frame there is an excellent way to “snack” on your photos when you have some unused brain cycles. Using the frames as gifts is another excellent way to share your work.

 

Digital photo frames which I discussed in this article are also another excellent way to “use” your pictures. If you spend a lot of time in one location (like your desk or a certain room in the house) putting a digital picture frame there is an excellent way to “snack” on your photos when you have some unused brain cycles. Using the frames as gifts is another excellent way to share your work.

 

Media Players

A rapidly evolving cousin of the Photo Frame is the media player which would cover the I-Pad and related devices. Having a couple of hundred pictures on tap and ready to swish through is a great way to share them, at least as long as it is fashionable to lug these devices around. I foresee these become more useful as they get tighter net connectivity and faster internet performance. Many photo sharing websites already have version of their service optimized for smart phones and media players. Expect more of that in the future.

 

A rapidly evolving cousin of the Photo Frame is the media player which would cover the I-Pad and related devices. Having a couple of hundred pictures on tap and ready to swish through is a great way to share them, at least as long as it is fashionable to lug these devices around. I foresee these become more useful as they get tighter net connectivity and faster internet performance. Many photo sharing websites already have version of their service optimized for smart phones and media players. Expect more of that in the future.

 

Photobooks

Photobooks are excellent tools to show your work, though they tend to be more expensive and in practice are usually limited to photos around a certain time or event. But having all of your good photos together, in one place, attractively displayed for a minimal amount of effort is a nice thing to have. Many photo sharing websites have templates that you can use to automatically lay out your book from the photos you have uploaded.

 

Photobooks are excellent tools to show your work, though they tend to be more expensive and in practice are usually limited to photos around a certain time or event. But having all of your good photos together, in one place, attractively displayed for a minimal amount of effort is a nice thing to have. Many photo sharing websites have templates that you can use to automatically lay out your book from the photos you have uploaded.

 

Prints

Does anyone actually print pictures anymore? Sometimes I wonder. But prints are the original and still timeless way to share your photos. Of course there is time and expense involved in doing something with the prints. If you’re not going to invest the effort to do something with the print don’t waste the money ordering it, otherwise you’re back to the shoebox full of unused photos. But the right print in the right frame with the right mounting in the right location will have an impact like no other way of showing your files. People will stop and study it versus just clicking next.

There are a lot of options out there, the point is do SOMETHING. Once you start appreciating your photos beyond the LCD screen on the back of your camera you’ll discover that your thinking will change. When you sit down and really think about the “cost” in terms of time and effort (and maybe money) of using your work you’ll start to think more before taking the shot and you’ll come full circle into shooting with a purpose.

 

Does anyone actually print pictures anymore? Sometimes I wonder. But prints are the original and still timeless way to share your photos. Of course there is time and expense involved in doing something with the prints. If you’re not going to invest the effort to do something with the print don’t waste the money ordering it, otherwise you’re back to the shoebox full of unused photos. But the right print in the right frame with the right mounting in the right location will have an impact like no other way of showing your files. People will stop and study it versus just clicking next.