This life in pictures.

Digital Gridlock and the Lost Art of Printing Snapshots

I love my camera phone. I know I’ve talked about it recently, but It’s worth mentioning again because I just love it. I love being  able to carry a single device in my pocket which covers so many wants and needs… and which happens to have an 8mp camera. I love being able to quickly edit photos while watching my kid run around the playground, then upload them instantly with the push of a button. It’s convenient… almost too convenient.

It occurred to me recently, though,  that I had nearly 1500 photos sitting on my phone. 1500 photos eating up nearly half of the camera’s memory! I felt the sudden, desperate urge to do something about it, but I stayed cool. I had posted many of the more artistic, non-portrait photos across the internet, so people have been able to see them. Those photos made up only a small fraction of the 1500, however, the rest being primarily of my (almost) 4 year old daughter. The troubling part was that, while I had been keeping up a nearly daily photo project on the Effbook since I first got the phone about a year ago, more than half of those photos have never been seen by anyone.

How could this have happened? It seems absurd to most folk that someone would take that many photos on a phone. What’s wrong with me?!? Well, I can put it in perspective pretty easily. I always get asked how I get such great photos of my daughter, despite her being a toddler and me shooting mostly with the phone. The answer is ridiculously simple: I shoot an average of a dozen photos for every one I show. While many of them get deleted immediately for being horrible, I often find myself with one standout and 3 or 4 runners-up. This can lead to some great shots, but also stacks of snaps that just sit there… piling up and begging to be shown.

So I started over-thinking the issue of what to do. I knew I wanted to get some prints made, but the thought of having dozens of print shop photo envelopes just tucked away in a box somewhere didn’t seem like much of a solution. Then I came across a submission on Pinterest that gave me all the inspiration I could have asked for. The pin took me here, and the 5 ideas the post lays out were just what I was looking for.

Sometimes, it takes someone saying something to realize how stupid you’ve been, and that was the case with me when the author said she had printed everything out so they were 4×4. “4×4?”, I pondered… “Ugh, cut out of a 4×6… F’idiot”. Then I remembered that I get discount codes all the time from my nearby mega-pharmacy for some absurd amount of 4×6 prints for some absurdly low amount of money. I loved the idea of just having these prints laying around the place where anyone could see them, and I had those 5 great ideas of how to do it, so I got straight to work.

Issue one was figuring out the best way to get the images from my phone to the computer for editing and export. At least, it was an issue before I remembered I had signed up for the beta build of the newest Dropbox, which specifically added support for instant backup of photos from the phone (it’s kind of exactly like what Google+ does). I just had to manually add the edited images that had gotten missed and I was all set.

By the time I had imported everything into lightroom, gotten rid of duplicates and rejects, I was left with about 1000 images left to deal with. So far I’ve only bothered to edit a few just for putting this post together, but I’m finding that the editing apps on the phone have done a pretty good job, because when I’ve attempted even minimal adjustments, it’s made the images worse. So I’m really only going to have to worry about cropping, which is awesome.

I’m not really looking forward to uploading everything to the pharmacy, though, as I remember that being rather tedious. With a little diligence in the future, however, I’ll be able to avoid much of the hassle by simply keeping up with it. Who knows, the next step might be just printing at home. All I know for sure is I’m really looking forward to having our home flooded with these photos and the clutter cleared from my phone.

One final thought: In case anyone is wondering, I choose not to post unfiltered images of my daughter very freely on the internet. While I do share them among a trusted circle of friends on certain sites, she’s really only appeared to the general public as I’ve presented her here. I have a post on my first (and now long neglected) blog that pretty clearly states my stance on privacy settings, but everyone is free to come to their own conclusions about what they are comfortable with. Anyway, just in case anyone was wondering if what I’ve shown here is the best I’ve got of her, the answer is a resounding “no”.


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