How to Organize Your Vacation Photos

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Did you ever have to write that “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essay? I don’t know if it’s still required, but historically, it’s one of the first assignments given to students upon their return to school. It’s a great exercise to develop writing and communication skills, foster creativity around storytelling, and help kids organize their thoughts and ideas into something both structured and comprehensible.

The same can apply to photos you’ve taken during any time off. Whether you traveled around the world or enjoyed a staycation with family and friends, you’ll want to organize your photos for ease and accessibility.

Here are some tips to help you create a compelling photo album that is fun, creative, and answers the question, “What I did on my vacation”:

Use Folders, Tags, and Keywords — Why organize? So you can have easy access to your pictures, right? Well that’s where creating descriptive folders, relevant tags, and custom keywords come in. Make sure that what you are categorizing will be easy to find and accurate. A folder called “My Pictures From June” forces you to open it to see what’s inside versus a folder called “Mike’s 25th Birthday.” Then you can use keywords like “events” or “celebration” and tags like “Mike” to make your photos easier to access whether you store them on your laptop, tablet, phone, or an external drive like a Backup Plus Fast Portable.

Make a Photo Book — Select the best of your photos, and create a photo book with the help of a site like Blurb. Make a wedding album or a coffee-table book about your trip to Disneyland.

Pick a Theme — “Girls Night Out,” “Good Eatin’,” or “Fun With Friends” are all common themes for collecting photos about a particular event or experience. This makes pictures easy to find and can tell a great story about how you spent a particular day.

Create a Timeline — No, not the Facebook timeline, but still the same concept. Use your photos to tell an event from beginning to end, whether it was going to a sporting event, music festival, or kid’s birthday. This is an opportunity to let the viewer experience what you experienced. Share the memory.

Develop a Map — Use a site like uEncounter or Pinmaps to highlight where you’ve been (or even where you want to go). Virtual maps are a great way to share experiences with people who’ve been to a similar location and make new friends.

Plan an Excursion — Plan a trip based on what you’d like to take photos of. If you want beautiful landscapes, sunsets, and beaches, plan a trip to a campgrounds or beach, either nearby or in another country. Want to showcase thrills and excitement? Plan a trip to an amazing amusement park. The purpose is to already have a sense of what you will shoot before you shoot it, making the idea of organizing it that much easier.

Learn From a Pro — Let’s see what Florida-based photographer, Melissa Alicia, has to say about how she handles photo organization:

Obviously when photography is your full-time job, you develop processes and techniques that will help you select the highest quality photos and keep your sets both organized and accessible. I like to leverage Lightroom — a software program that provides tools for photography production and organization. For me, the beauty of using Lightroom is that is has plugins to export to various different photo-sharing websites. You can upload a whole collection as an album to Flickr, SmugMug, Facebook, Picasa, Zenfolio, Shutterfly, and more.

Here’s a quick breakdown of my process while in Lightroom:

  • Create a New Catalog: You can name it Summer 2014, and use this subsequently for every year (e.g., Summer 2015, Sumer 2016, etc.).
  • Import Photos in Date-Named Folders Within That Catalog: This way if you ever need to move your Summer catalog, everything is together.
  • Enter Keywords: With every import, enter keywords for your photographs. This way you can easily search within the library for specific photographs.
  • Use Collections: Make collections of photos you want to group together (like Anne’s 10th Birthday party or Cross-Country Adventure!).

Photos help capture an experience or relive a memory. Memories should be shared. Can you think of a better way to share a memory, to tell a story, to personalize an experience than by sharing your vacation photos?

—By Jonathan Long

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