Everyone gets a little snap-happy on vacation, some people more than others. On our recent Alaska Inside Passage cruise with InnerSea Discoveries, my husband and I took nearly 2,000 photos with three cameras and an iPhone -- not an unusual number for a weeklong trip.
No one wants to see all those pictures, of course. Sitting down and whittling down your photos into a manageable set is one of the more tedious post-vacation tasks, yet it must be done -- ideally before the next trip. Your goal should be to compress your shots into a collection that's worth sharing with friends and family, either through e-mail, a photobook, a photo-sharing website such as Flickr (www.flickr.com) or through Facebook (www.facebook.com) and other social media.
Wine expert Austin Beeman, who blogs about wine tourism and travel at www.understandingwine.tv, sticks to the advice he received early on: No one will judge you by the pictures you take -- only by the pictures you show them.
"Only show an audience the pictures you think are perfect," Beeman says.
But how do you get to that point? If your photo cards are overloaded with vacation images that you've put off viewing, here are a few photo editing tips to make the process seem easier.
Decide who will see them. Are you looking for a few awesome family shots to use on this year's holiday card? A quirky picture that will make your friends laugh on Facebook? Or enough images to create an entire photobook? Before you sit down at the computer, have a mission and determine who your audience is -- it'll speed up the process.
Get rid of the filler. Be ruthless, advises photographer Peter West Carey (http://peterwestcarey.com). "Take one pass and delete all the blurry and horrible shots," he says. "Don't look back. You'll never use them, really."
Next, Carey suggests going through and picking your favorites. Keep in mind that a good slideshow shouldn't be longer than 50 photos and a photobook uses, at most, about 200 shots, he says. This could take several passes. Your guiding philosophy? "What the heck am I going to do with each of these photos?" Carey says.
Make your favorites even better. Any pro will tell you that a picture right out of the camera is just the starting point; a little bit of cropping and editing can make an average photo sing. And you don't need to be a Photoshop whiz to get started, as photo editing programs have become very intuitive.
Adobe Lightroom, part of the Photoshop family, has quickly become a photographers' favorite for digital photo editing. The program not only helps you enhance your images, it aids with workflow and organization.
If you're not ready to buy an editing program, you can use free digital photo software to make minor fixes and crops to your family vacation photos. Some of the most well-known photo programs, such as Picasa, iPhoto, and Windows Live Photo Gallery, will make corrections with just a few clicks (although you might want to do a little extra tweaking of your own).
Share them effectively. Once you've made your photos the best they can be, it's time to share them with the world. Sites like Shutterfly (www.shutterfly.com) and Kodak Gallery (www.kodakgallery.com) can help you make souvenir photobooks with customizable templates. Most photo editing software allows you to create albums that you can import to Facebook directly -- but remember to respect the privacy concerns of any friends or family in your photos -- or a photo-sharing service such as Picasa or Flickr. Because you'd never blow up a friend's inbox with a huge e-mail attachment, right?
Travel journalist Chris Gray Faust dishes up travel tips on her award-winning blog, Chris Around The World. She's also the author of the Philadelphia Essential Guide, an app for iPhone and iPad. Follow her at @CAroundTheWorld.