Digital photography has changed the way we take pictures. We care able to shoot, and shoot, and never run out of storage space. But at the other hand, it did not change the way we treat all those photos. So I wonder: what are you doing with all the photos you took over the last year?It used to be so simple. We bought a negative film, or slide film, for 12, 24, or 36 images. After you shot that number of images, you needed to develop the film and print the photos you liked. For slide film it was a bit easier; after developing the film you could project the slides on a large screen with a slide projector.
After a first evening showing the slides to your family, and maybe some friends, the slides were stored in a closet and almost never looked at again. It wasn’t that different for printed photos. You had to buy a photo album and glue the photos inside. This happened for a few albums, and then slowly, gradually, the photos were stored temporarily in a shoe box. After all those years, the photos are probably still inside that same shoe box.
The digital world has made some changes. Now we have our photos directly available. We can see the result on the back of our camera, on our computer screen, or on a big screen television just a few minutes after we get home. Perhaps it takes a little longer if you need to post-process the photos first. We also have a lot of photos. After a day in the field you can easily end up with thousands of photos. You need to import these, make a selection, post-process that selection, and perhaps you will place a few on social media.
But what happens next? A lot of times nothing much. You go out shooting some more and almost forget about the previous photos. If we look at it that way, nothing has changed from the old days. We still end up with a digital closed full of slides, or a digital shoe box full of printed photos we never glued into an album.
We all know how nice it is when people look at your work. We love the likes on Facebook or Instagram, but the photos are also forgotten before you blink an eye. Perhaps you make a few large size prints from your best work, for in your living room or diner. You can organize an exhibition if you have the opportunity, and invite the world to visit. I had a few exhibition in the Netherlands and Poland, and I found really satisfying to see people look at my work and enjoying it.
An exhibition is not always possible, and often it takes an investment. Not everyone has the means to it. A large size print for your living is also nice, but there is only a limited amount of space available. But it is a waste if your wonderful work ends up somewhere on a hard drive, forgotten among tens of thousands of photos. There is a simple solution that a lot of photographers tend to forget. Make a photo album.
The digital world gives us a lot of possibilities. We no longer need to glue photos onto a sheet of paper. We can make a professional looking photo album with just a few clicks of a mouse button. I started to make the vacation albums some ten years ago, and albums of our weekend trips. I made sure all albums have the same size, so it looks great on a book shelf. The only thing that is more difficult than in the pre-digital age, is the selection of photos you want to use in an album. Today we don't shoot three films of 36 images in one vacation, but hundreds of photos per day. It is maybe the downside of the digital photography.
Don’t limit yourself to vacation albums. Make an album of your best photos of the previous year. If you do model photography, make an album from those photos. If you shoot birds, make an album containing the best bird photos you took. You can do this every year, and you will end up with a wonderful series of albums that are very easy to take with you, to show on events, or to share with family and friends. And the best thing is; you will look into an album more often than to the photos on your computer.
My advice for every photographer that hasn’t done anything with his or her photos; make an album of your best work. It is so easy to take that album from your book shelf and browse through it. This way you will enjoy photography even more.
One last tip for making an album exactly to your liking: most shops have their own album software, which may be limiting your designer skills. You can also make a spread in Photoshop with the exact page dimensions, adding text, photos, effects, layers, and masks. These spreads can be placed easily into the album software, as one image over facing pages.
What do you do with your photos? Do you make albums, or are you enjoying your work in another way? Please share it with me in a comment down below.