The hardest part of creating a photo album may be deciding which of your hundreds of photos should be printed in it. It’s hard to feel like you’re leaving good images behind. As a photographer and as a mother, I totally understand feeling attached to each photo you take. But sometimes less is more, especially if you have limited space for physical prints. I have some tips here to help you through the process of deciding which of your pictures get printed.
Take fewer photos.
I know this sounds like the opposite of what I should be telling you, but let me show you how and when this piece of advice comes in handy:
You see a cute moment happening with your kids, so naturally you want to document it. And as the moment keeps unfolding, you keep taking pictures. Next thing you know, you have 23 nearly identical pictures of your kids playing with Legos. Then, when it comes time to print an album (or share pictures to Facebook), you’re faced with the challenge of selecting only a few.
Instead, when you see that cute moment unfolding, take two or three pictures, then put your phone down. As the moment evolves, you can take one or two more pictures, but remember that your goal is to have just enough to look back on to spark a memory. This does takes practice, and as a photographer, naturally I understand the urge to take just one more picture in case it ends up being better or cuter than the others. Resist that urge. It’s much easier to select photos to print when you only have 5 or 6 to choose from.
Don’t think; just delete.
This probably sounds a bit harsh, but I mean it. Don’t keep all 23 pictures of your kids playing with Legos. You don’t need them. Go back through your phone and delete all but the best few. The fancy photographer term for this process is “culling,” and it gets easier with practice. Here’s how to do it:
First, delete any picture that is out of focus, too bright or too dark, or blurry. Get rid of photos that show someone blinking or making a weird face, or where something important is cut off or hidden.
Then go back through and get rid of duplicates. If there are 3 photos that basically capture the same thing, delete 2 of them. Don’t spend a lot of time on this. Scroll quickly through the set of duplicates, compare them briefly, and go with your first instinct to decide which one stays and which ones go.
Won’t I miss the photos I delete?
Short answer: Nope.
Long answer: My sister is pursuing a PhD in Psychology at Ball State right now, so I have an inside source for cool psychology facts. Our brains are wired to protect us from “deleter’s remorse.” This goes along with the idea that we prefer things that are familiar, and with the concept of cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance occurs when we make a decision or hold a belief that goes against who we are and what we value, and our brains try to avoid this.
When you keep one picture and delete another, you (and your brain) wouldn’t like it if you deleted the best one. So, your brain will subconsciously decide that the photo you kept must have been your favorite all along.
You won’t miss the ones you delete. You won’t even think about them. When you look back on the leftover photos that didn’t make it into an album, you’ll feel even more confident that you made the right selections.
Remember that your goal is to represent the important moments.
When taking photos, choosing which ones to keep, and selecting which ones to print, your goal isn’t to have every possible cute photo of your kids that could potentially exist. It’s to have enough to look back on so the important parts of your life are documented. Look for pictures that capture the story. Sometimes even just one picture will be enough to bring back memories later.
There’s nothing wrong with taking, keeping, or printing extra pictures just because they’re cute or because you like them! I definitely want to encourage you to keep taking pictures of anything that is important to you. But don’t feel bad about leaving a few behind if the others are already telling the story.
I hope this post gave you some helpful and practical advice for dealing with the overload of cute pictures on your phone or computer. The final post in this series is coming next week. That one will offer a few more ways to print your photos, other than photo albums, so you can see them and enjoy them regularly.