How to Better Photograph Your Family- Tip Seven
This is the seventh in an eight-part series created by me, Kristin Prelipp Oguntoyinbo, for the amateur family photographer. These tips are simple, quick things you can do to vastly improve the photos you take.
TIP 7: HAVE A PLAN.
If you are the self-designated family photographer you work hard at faithfully recording all the family events. But what good are all of these photographs if you don’t have a plan for them? Do they just sit lonely and unattended on your camera? Or on your hard drive? First, I will give you a solid, easy plan for archiving them so they won’t be lost. Secondly, I will give you some great ideas for creating beautiful pieces for your home with these images.
ARCHIVE FIRST OR BE SORRY LATER
Let’s say, for example, that you have just returned from a family vacation. You can either connect your camera to your computer via a cable, or, if you have a card reader, you can pull your CF card out of the camera and put it in the card reader. Once your images have been exported to your computer safely, locate the folder in which they have been placed. DO NOT ERASE THE CARD YET! I recommend that you have a simple naming system in place. For instance, all of my family photo folders are called:
So if I were archiving something today the folder would be called ogun10252011. I use all lower case letters with no spaces, and include a full four-digit year. Y2K taught us all that lesson the hard way!
Then, you need to rename all the images. The original file names will be just a random image number assigned by the camera. So the files in my ogun10252011 folder would be called ogun10252011_001.jpg and so on. I use an underscore, not a dash, to separate the date and the image number. Some people choose to use descriptive file names, such as beach_vacation001.jpg. That could work, too. I just prefer to see all of my images as one large project, so it is more helpful for me to know the date at first glance. You can learn on-line how to batch rename for Windows or for Mac.
Now it is time to archive. I like to keep all my images in two locations just in case, God forbid, one place burns down or gets robbed. So I keep one folder on my hard drive or external drive at home and burn an archival DVD which I store at my office. When I say archival DVD, I just mean don’t skimp on buying cheap DVD’s and use an archival pen on the DVD, not a sharpie. You can also store them on-line at Shutterfly, Photo Bucket, Flickr, Smugmug and a whole host of other sites.
Now it is safe to erase your CF card. Now for the fun part! Let’s create some awesome stuff with these images.
I am one of those people who sees the big picture. I cannot help myself. When I am beginning a project I tend to not be able to take the first step until I have spent time envisioning the whole project. So, when I started having kids and taking all of these photos of them I asked myself, “When I am an old lady, what will I want to look at?” I realized I would love to see the progression of my family from baby to adult. That is something I could look at all day! So I started taking a really nice portrait of my three cherubs each year. I only enlarge every third year, though, as I don’t have a wall large enough! So in the first row you see my children as 6, 3 and 0. Next we have 9, 6 and 3. I will add another row the year after next. I think it will be really dramatic! I have them printed onto canvas and mounted on a .75 inch wood frame. The size is 15 x 22 inches. There is a great company in Raleigh called Canvas on Demand that does this.
Some of my favorite clients, Craig Pohlman and Jen Neitzel, have displayed their photos another way, which I just love. Each year for their shoot they wear neutral outfits. Actually Craig is proud of the fact that he has worn the exact same black t-shirt for every year. Go, Craig! They order a variety of sizes from 4 x 6 to 8 x 10 and put them in black, wood frames. The first image is from when they lived in Carrboro. They moved to Charlotte recently and were able to transfer the same design to their new house. It is so fun to walk around their home and see their transition from one little baby to three handsome boys displayed on their walls!
Technology now allows any regular person with a computer to publish beautiful photo books. I have been so impressed with their quality! They are very close to matching up to those used by professionals. Some of my favorite self-publishing sites are lulu, blurb, shutterfly and iPhoto books. All have relatively easy to use interfaces and great prices. This time of year they are usually sending out coupons left and right so look for those. To save yourself some work, select your favorite images first before you upload. Again, I like to go with a theme, ie. the book below I did for my clients, Priti and Tyler Elkins-Williams. I must admit this was all Priti’s idea. I created the book with Shutterfly to display at their wedding reception. This one was 12 x 12 inch with a padded cover. We included images of their engagement, where they grew up, and where they would be married. We left a lot of white space so guests could actually sign the photo book with an archival pen. What a great idea! You could create a book about anything. Your imagination is the only limit.
Since the holidays are coming I am thinking about gifts for family, friends and work colleagues. You can use the images of your family to create anything from playing cards, mouse pads, blankets, calendars, even jewelry. I showed you examples of the playing cards and the calendar. The same sites I have mentioned in this post offer these.
GO OLD SCHOOL
Back in the old days of film everyone had a ton of 4 x 6 prints lying around. Now, images often get abandoned on hard drives and are never seen. Try to get in the habit of printing up your folders of images. Even if you do not want them all for yourself it is so nice to give people prints. I used to have them done at Costco and could not believe how inexpensive it was.
Good luck with your images and please be sure to let me know if you have ANY questions about any of this! And, as always, I am open to suggestions for photo stories that take place here in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.