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How To Choose Your Best Vacation Photos

Big Pinwheels
Hi, again!

How many photos did you shoot on your last vacation? I asked this on Twitter and answers ranged from 93 to 500, and all the way up to 1,800!

With all those photos as options, what is the maximum amount of pictures you’ll feel comfortable using in one scrapbook project for that vacation?

Will you do one scrapbook page? A vacation album? A mini book? Basic photo pocket pages?

Here are a few things you can do right now to help you with that often overwhelming decision:

  • Pick out your favorite must-use photos before you decide on your scrapbooking format. Count the number of photos.
  • Of those favorites, identify the photos that would make great focal point photos and need to stand alone on their own page
  • Decide which ones you would feel comfortable cropping into smaller sizes. How small could they be and still look good?

You should now have a solid idea of which of those format options will work best for your needs (scrapbook page, mini book, etc). Of those remaining options, you can just choose the one that sounds like the most fun! The hard part is that first step of whittling a large group of photos down to a manageable, usable amount. Instead of asking, “Which ones can I do without,” I usually ask . . .

Which are the ones that best tell the story?

There is something about that question that helps me identify photos I most want to work with, and still feel okay about not including the others in my scrapbooks. Of the 114 photos I took on our recent trip to San Diego, I chose fourteen pictures in one quick sitting, thirteen of which I shared on my personal blog here and here.

What makes one photo stand out over another? Here are some of the characteristics you can look for when choosing which to print for your next scrapbook project:

Makes you pause

It doesn’t matter if the picture is technically great or not — if it catches my attention in a different way from the others, if I get a little feeling in my heart, if I catch my breath when I see it, even for just a second, or find myself wanting to gaze at the picture longer than the others, then it’s usually going to land on my scrapbook project.
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Shows emotion

You might say that any picture of someone smiling is showing an emotion. But a posed smile is not the same as a genuine belly-laugh smile — genuine emotion prompted, not by a camera, but by life itself.
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Captures a quirk or demonstrates a personality

Aiden’s shorts kept falling down and he spent most of the beach time with his hand trying to hold them up. I love having this subtle but humorous capture . . .
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Has energy and movement

There’s just something about those legs, mid-walk to the water, along with the excited faces, that made me love this photo.
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Makes a statement

Posed shots are not my favorite but there’s no denying, my daughter Trinity is photogenic. Her confidence, the boogie board, plus the lines of her body intersecting with the ocean line all add up to one strong, confident statement. It makes you stop and look. And that just feels good.
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Shows a relationship

In this picture, Izzy is showing the kids how to catch a wave with their boards. I love pictures of two people doing something together.
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Gives a different perspective

It makes for great variety when you have one good shot that either comes in close or zooms way out to show the setting.
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Captures the action that is happening

Again, these types of shots are great for genuine, un-posed story-telling. They’re also more interesting because of their energy.
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Tells the missing parts

Let’s face it: if we only use our favorite photos, much of the story will be missing. Sometimes the only shot I have of a person that was present at the event is not a great one. Once I’ve chosen the photos I love, I sometimes add one or two that are lower on my love-list, because I need them to complete the story. I don’t have an example of that kind from this particular trip, but you know what I’m talking about, right?

Putting Your Finger On It

While you’re getting used to assessing WHY certain photos grab your heart, another more general guideline is to pay attention when you find yourself saying, “There’s something about the way she . . .” or “There’s just something about his . . . “ In other words, learn to notice the feeling that signals a photo is better than most, and with some analysis and learned skills, you may eventually learn to identify the reasons and get those great shots more often!

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  • http://twitter.com/PomMommy PomMommy

    Loved it Noell! I love concise check lists that I can use to quickly make decisions. I'll be putting this one in my stash. Perfect timing too. I've just printed over 700 pictures from a trip my family and I took to Virginia. This will help me pair down my choices even more!

    Another idea I've been pondering is to break down the trip into smaller projects. I was initially going to do one huge album but I've come to realize there are several aspects of the trip that don't have to be lumped together in one style.
    * The trip was for my grandfathers 100th birthday. So the big party is one mini album.
    * We stayed at his old home, so I was able to go around an take pictures of the rooms and all the little baubles I was so fascinated with as a child. That sounds like an Altered Book calling my name.
    * I was able to enjoy the “family reunion” aspect as each of the 64 out of 65 family members arrived over a few days.
    *Oh, yeah. and his birthday is the day after Christmas so we had the holiday there too. I know those will be pages in a Christmas album as well as part of a chronological albums I still maintain.

    So, after 5 years of being intimidated by this daunting project, I have finally started printing the photos and am re-excited about it. By breaking that big trip down into many smaller projects, I'm feeling this is more do-able.

    Thanks so much for the spark!
    Claudia

  • http://jillslifeadventure.blogspot.com jill in Frisco, Tx

    I love that you refer to, “telling the story”, as much as I love all the beautiful layouts that are posted all over the WWW so many of them tell the story of how many embellishments a person has purchased. Making a layout or multiple layouts to tell the story of an event or vacation not only captures it for years to come but it's also a wonderful time in which to relive it yourself. Thanks for the outlined thought process, no matter how you get to the end result, remember that creating the memories for the future is also a journey. Enjoy it!
    http://jillslifeadventure.blogspot.com/2010/09/some-layouts.html#comments
    ~Jill

  • http://www.karenscorneroftheweb.blogspot.com Kpoirier-brode (ladydoc)

    My last big vacation I took over 6000 pictures. I like architectural details. Hard to know how to scrap them but fun to shoot pictures. My interest was so apparent that towards the end of my tour folks in my tour group were pointing out interesting doors, windows and tile patterns to me! LOL! I love going through the pictures. All those details make me happy. Not so sure others want to look at all of these though; so, have not printed them out. Good tips for picking the photos that I would want to scrap though.

  • http://www.paperclipping.com Noell

    That's awesome, Karen!

  • 1jannette

    Love this article Noel! Write now an overwhelming feeling of working with my photos is one of my identified obstacles for scrapbooking. And not having them ready to work on a page. Your article is great and I will put it in practice this week. One question that I have for you is do you print your photos as soon as you finish choosing them? Do you have them ready and organized in a place for when you sit down to scrapbook? Or do you print them later? Thanks!

  • Jessytramontana

    Sounds like all of your projects from this trip (to my home State) are going to be absolutely priceless!

  • http://www.paperclipping.com Noell

    I like to do tasks in batches so I can get into a flow. That means I sit down and play with my photos on my computer during a free time one day, and then when I need photos again, I have my best photos ready for me to print. So I’ll order a group (small batches, enough for me to scrapbook over a few weeks) from my one-hour photo service at Costco and then go pick them up. Lately they’ve been landing on my desk but I’m working on finding a tray or cleaning out a drawer for them to sit until I’m ready to scrapbook.

    When I want to scrapbook I like to have photos ready. I don’t want to get on my computer for photos when what I really want to do is start playing with paper.

  • http://www.paperclipping.com Noell

    I like to do tasks in batches so I can get into a flow. That means I sit down and play with my photos on my computer during a free time one day, and then when I need photos again, I have my best photos ready for me to print. So I’ll order a group (small batches, enough for me to scrapbook over a few weeks) from my one-hour photo service at Costco and then go pick them up. Lately they’ve been landing on my desk but I’m working on finding a tray or cleaning out a drawer for them to sit until I’m ready to scrapbook.

    When I want to scrapbook I like to have photos ready. I don’t want to get on my computer for photos when what I really want to do is start playing with paper.

  • http://www.paperclipping.com Noell

    BTW, Janette — I just realized you asked this back in March and it just showed up in my in-box today, in July! Sorry about that!

  • http://www.paperclipping.com Noell

    BTW, Janette — I just realized you asked this back in March and it just showed up in my in-box today, in July! Sorry about that!