What to do with all of your holiday digital photos

Did you take a lot of digital photos over this past holiday season? I did, and if you are like me, it’s easy to dump the pictures to your hard drive and then not do anything with them. I have hundreds of digital photos spanning birthdays to graduations to family vacations that sit untouched on my computer. Well, I’m going to change that this year and I want to pass on a few ways to handle your growing digital picture library.

● Organize your photos. I hate spending 30 minutes looking through folders of unnamed pictures to find the picture I took last year at Aunt Betty’s birthday. If I had only spent a few minutes organizing my photos!

-Dump pictures from your camera often so that you don’t end up with hundreds of pictures each dump.

-Rename your pictures from the default after you dump them. Each camera names pictures with a default prefix and some numbers. For example, my Nikon camera names pictures like this: DSCN0412. Renaming from the default makes finding specific pictures later a much easier task.

-Use a picture organizer program. Your digital camera may have come with a picture organizer program. Even Windows XP has the option to view pictures in thumbnail or filmstrip views (use the view menu or right click in the folder, select view, and choose your view). I like the program Picasa, now released by Google (yes the search engine company). Picasa allows you to easily organize your photos by name, date, folder, and picture size. The program also includes basic editing features (redeye reduction, cropping, contrast adjust, color adjust, etc.) as well as options to make picture slideshows, screensavers, and collages. Picasa is a relatively small download and can be found here.

● Picture slideshow. You can put some of your pictures in a simple slideshow with music for playback on your computer or home DVD player. Two of the programs I use are the free Photo Story 3 by Microsoft and ProShow Gold by Photodex. If you are willing to spend some money, I recommend ProShow Gold as one of the best slideshow makers on market. Both programs allow you to organize your photos in a timeline with transitions and background music. You can use a microphone to record your comments about the slideshow, similar to a director’s commentary on many Hollywood DVDs. Both programs allow for the pan and zoom effect used in many historical documentaries (think Ken Burns). Adding titles and credits help your slideshow seem like a professional production. ProShow Gold is also available in a less expensive version with about the same features as Photo Story. If you want to easily put your slideshow on DVD, I recommend opting for the Gold version. If you decide not to purchase ProShow Gold, I recommend just using Photo Story. Photo Story 3 for Windows XP is a bit more limited than ProShow Gold, but for a free program it does an excellent job that will satisfy the needs of most users. You can download Photo Story 3 here and a free trial of ProShow Gold here.

● Print hard copies. Printing hard copies of some of your digital photos may be a way to ensure your photos are viewed more than once in a blue moon. One options is to print at home using your inkjet or photo printer. Pay attention to how much ink and paper you go through to see if this is a cost-efficient option for you.

Another option is to take your digital photos on disk or memory card to a store with a photo lab. Many stores including pharmacies (Walgreens, CVS), membership clubs (Sam’s Club, Costco), and big-box stores (Wal-mart, Target) offer digital picture printing. I like the membership clubs as they offer a slightly lower price per picture than other stores (if you already have a membership).

A popular option for some is to print digital photos through an online photo printing service. Usually, you upload your photos via your Internet browser, edit your pictures online, and order prints to be sent to your door. You often can customize your order to include postcards, greeting cards, and posters. The convenience of having pictures sent to your door for a minimal shipping charge may be the best option for some. Also, many services offer online photo albums that you can share with family and friends. The cost per picture is often quite competitive for online printing services. Some of the more popular services include Winkflash, Kodak Gallery, and Shutterfly.

● Scrapbooking. You can put your pictures into a scrapbook. After printing hard copies of your photos, it’s nice to have an album to put them in. Scrapbooks can be excellent ways to present your photos with a little pizzazz. I’ll refer you to our Scrapbooking Blog for suggestions and tips with your own scrapbooks. You can also purchase digital scrapbooking software that allows you to import your photos into pre-made or custom designed pages. For a good review of current scrapbook software, check out Top 10 Reviews.

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About Adam West

Adam is avid computer and electronics hobbyist. He and his young family call central Texas home. His love of the application of multimedia and electronics has lead him to Families.com, where he writes for the Computers, Internet, and Electronics blog. He understands the importance of providing understandable, relevant information about computers and electronics to Familes.com readers.On another front, Adam holds a Master of Science in Social Work degree and researches reasons for commitment and commitment-related decisions in dating and romantic relationships. He and his colleagues have developed an online educational tool for educating individuals about commitment-related decisions.