Friday, 4 July 2014

photo books part two // how Instagram helps me

Welcome to the second installment in my series on photo books. If you would like to read or refer back to my first post, you can find it here. In this post, I am going to be sharing the main reasons why I find it helpful to use Instagram as a tool for storing and sharing the photos that I take on my phone and intend to print in my photo books. If you are unfamiliar with what Instagram is, it is a Smart Phone app where you can edit your photos, then share them with an online community of friends and fellow phone photographers.

I want to preface this post by saying that although I will talk a lot about Instagram in this post, it is by no means necessary to use this in the process of making your photo books, it is just a tool that I have found to be very useful in creating my books with a consistent theme and format. Perhaps one of the most useful things to note at the outset is how much quicker it is for me to make photo books using my photos from Instagram. I will go into more detail on this later on in the post.
 
Ever since my daughter was born, capturing the moments in our days has become even more important to me than it was before. In twenty years time, I am certain that I will not be able to remember what our days looked like, or how Ruby looked while she was sleeping, and so I love that photographs will help me to remember. If I just leave them on my phone, they are not in a format where they can be enjoyed by others. I love the idea of Ruby thumbing through photo books and albums when she is older, and being able to catch a glimpse of what life looked like when she was a baby, in the years before she can remember how things were. 
However, with the volume of photos that I take, both with my camera and my phone, I easily become overwhelmed at the prospect of sifting and sorting through all of them and deciding which ones to print and which to delete. I have spoken to a few other parents who have said they find it hard to delete photos of their babies - even if they have five very similar shots - and I know exactly what they mean. 
 
So, one of the simple and easy ways that I combat this is by using Instagram. It is so easy to share photos through this medium, and provides an immediate form of editing for me, in that if I have a series of photos of the same thing, I am only ever going to post one of these to Instagram, because I know that no one else but me has an interest in seeing multiple pictures of the same thing. Once I have shared a photo on Instagram, I then delete all other similar photos from the batch, to try and reduce the clutter in the photo albums on my phone. This is something that I have only started to do recently, but so far, it's working. Where I initially found it hard to delete photos, especially of Ruby, I can honestly say that I don't miss or regret deleting those photos that didn't make the cut, when choosing which ones to share on Instagram. 
I realise that on most smart phones, it is possible to create folders to organise your photos, so if you didn't want to use an app like Instagram as an organisational tool, this would be another effective way of selecting your favourite photos that you would eventually like to print. However, I find it useful to post some of my favourites on my Instagram feed, and I think the reasons are twofold:

1) It helps me to have photos in two different locations. I realise that to some people, this might sound a little crazy, but the way my mind works visually, means that I can mentally picture the photos that I have edited and added to Instagram, and see the story that they tell, whereas if I had simply moved them from one folder to another, I would not have the same mental record of the photos. For me, there is an element of curating the photos that I share on Instagram, which I really enjoy. I also love being inspired by photos that other people have shared on Instagram, so it's not just another place for me to store photos, it's a place to connect with friends around the world, and see the beauty that their eyes see, and I love that.

2) I don't edit every photo I post on Instagram, but, I probably edit about 80% of them. Again, this is something that is not necessary, but I enjoy the process. Smartphone editing apps provide me with a happy middle ground - I have Photoshop Elements on my laptop, but the reality is that if I am ever going to edit any number of photos, I either need a lot of spare hours, or I need to do it almost immediately. The latter of these is far more realistic, and so taking photos on my iPhone is made that much more enjoyable for me, by the fact that I can enhance the images to get them to a print-ready state. If I were to just store favourite photos in a folder within the camera roll on my phone, I would never bother editing them, because being faced with a whole batch of photos to edit is so much more overwhelming than doing just one at a time for Instagram.
The photo book publishers I use are called Blurb, as I mentioned in my first post. As part of their book making tools, they have the option of uploading photos from Instagram. This greatly speeds up the process of making my photo books, because I have organised the photos during the course of the three months, rather than waiting until I decide to print a book before sifting through hundreds of photos. Each time I share a photo on social media, part of my decision to share that particular photo includes me thinking, 'is this a photo that I would like to print and view time and time again in the future?' (I am going to write more on this topic of how I decide which photos to print later on in the series.) For me, this is crucial in making the difference between thinking about all of the photo books I would love to make, and actually doing it.

I would love to hear from you, dear readers. Do you have any tips for making photo books in a manageable way that doesn't feel too daunting? 

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