Digital cameras and mobile phones with camera capabilities have transformed photography over the past 15 years – both how we take photos and what we do with those images. We generally take more photos than ever before, but they often tend to permanently reside stored on our phones, SD cards and hard drives.
I brought a basic 35 millimeter camera when studying abroad in England for six months 20 years ago. I traveled in nine countries over my Spring break and came home with about five rolls of film and some doubles from photos that my traveling companions had taken. But, each click of the shutter was made with careful planning and deliberating. My pictures captured certain images that I really wanted to keep with me, and while few were stunning, some were really very beautiful.
Even if years go by without looking at the album I created using self-adhesive clear corners to affix those pictures along with postcards, ticket stubs and other memorabilia, I clearly remember the images in those photographs. However, the moments not recorded on film are hazy. For example, a notation in my 1997 Let’s Go Europe guidebook confirms the actual date that I visited the Musee D’Orsay in Paris, but I have no pictures and absolutely no memory of either the building or of any of the paintings inside. While my study of art history and love of impressionist work came after this trip, even one photo would likely help me remember the visit.
After developing film from a two-week trip to England in 1999, I discovered that an unknown camera issue meant that almost none of my pictures from the trip developed. I did get doubles from my companion on that trip and incorporated them into empty pages at the end of my study abroad album. (Doubles were a big thing with film photography. I seem to remember it cost about $1 per roll of film to get doubles, and it was always an essential add on.) However, I was sad to lose the images that I wanted to capture and truly remember less about that trip than any other vacation of my adult life.
I traveled for two weeks in the Netherlands and Scandinavia and then spent a month driving across the country after taking the bar exam in 2002. I probably took about five or six rolls of film on these two trips combined with a similar point and shoot 35 millimeter that accompanied me on my previous trips. As always, I also acquired some doubles from pictures taken by my companions and again compiled those pictures into a binder with plastic sleeves that each held three photos on each side.
My husband bought his first SLR camera in 2004 before we traveled to Costa Rica. The photo quality of the pictures taken with his camera far surpassed anything that I had captured on previous trips with my point and shoot cameras. Although friends and family were starting to get digital cameras, we thought this would be our new go-to camera. That all changed when I received my first digital camera as a Christmas present a few months later. All of a sudden, there was no longer a need to be so careful and deliberate when taking pictures and also no need to wait until developing to see what how the pictures turned out. That little thumbnail screen on the back provided instant gratification. A bad shot could be retaken immediately and even deleted on the spot if you wished. Photos could also be cropped or enhanced. The possibilities were endless. Our SLR had a short window of usefulness.
I was pretty good at first about uploading pictures and even using newly developed online sites to print images. Winkflash and Kodak Gallery were two sites that I used regularly at the time. However, the quantity of pictures we took increased when we bought our first Nikon DSLR, and it became more time consuming to wade through the images to select the ones we wanted to upload and print. And now, it’s extremely rare that we print photos.
Our Nikon D7100 gets heavy use when we are on the road. Our middle child also carries his child-friendly, waterproof Nikon Coolpix that really takes great pictures. We also shoot lots of photos with our phones. We brought back over 2,700 images combined after ten days in Iceland this summer. On our trip recent weekend trip to New Orleans, I probably doubled the number of pictures I shot during my six months studying and traveling in Europe.
While we have thousands of pictures from the past 13 years stored on various computers and external hard drives, I am very grateful that the history major in me continued my habit of creating vacation photo books after we moved to digital photography. I ordered the first vacation photo book from York Photo to record a 2009 trip to Orlando. The following year, I took advantage of a Shutterfly promotion for a free 20-page 8×8 photo book when creating a book memorializing our trip to Mexico.
Shutterfly photo books became my go-to choice because of their frequent promotions offering a free book (not including $7.99 shipping charge) and my desire for consistency. We have one for every major trip we have taken during the past eight years, and our kids often look back at the albums from prior vacations to reminisce and also pull them out of their storage spot in our coffee table when we have guests over. Albums are also a much easier way for friends and family to get of glimpse of our trip rather than scanning through disorganized pictures on a phone screen. (I am convinced that no one wants to look at more than three photos on a phone screen.) Our family’s favorite book is our Iceland album. We took advantage of Shutterfly’s first unlimited free pages offer and ordered a 111 page book (the largest available) for $27.99 with shipping.
Although there are innumerable options for background themes, I always opt for basic black. I generally arrange photos chronologically with general labels but not much text. The hardest part about creating a photo album for me is sorting through all the pictures and selecting the best ones to include. It is ideal to choose and upload approximately 100-200 photos to create a 20 page album, knowing that not all photos will actually make it into the book. I enjoy selecting layouts and placing the selected photos into the book. But, if that part is not for you, try Shutterfly’s Make My Book Service for an additional $9.99 after culling your photos to your absolute favorites. If you are new to Shutterfly, you will receive a free photo book when you create an account using this link (and I get one, too, after you order your book).
Most people take a lot of photos when traveling. If you can get them off of your phones, SD cards and hard drives and organize your favorites into some kind of photo book, you will enjoy going back to quickly re-live the experience.
Check out our other Travel Tips for advice about traveling with kids.