September 12, 2011

Photo Decisions for a Blogger

A long-time internet friend of mine, Jackie, sent me an e-mail recently that gave me pause. She’s excited to be taking some really good pictures lately. Yeah, Jackie! But she had a million dollar question for me. Jackie wanted know how I figure out which few of my photos to share on my blog. It is quite a dilemma. Just on the Alaska trip, I took over 7000 photos. So she hit on a great inquiry about the thought process I use to whittle them down for sharing purposes. 

Let me begin to explain by wandering around the question for a minute. I’m going to talk about writing first. Now, I wish I had one tenth of the eloquence that my friend, Jenny, possesses. She is a wordsmith of considerable talent, cut from the cloth of legendary southern writers with natural born ability. I’ve already told her that I will be busting my buttons when (not if) she is a celebrated, published author. That’s not to say that I can’t turn a phrase and hold my own with thoughtful prose. I surely can. But all those decades I spent in the technical and corporate worlds have stunted my vocabulary and routine sentence structure. I readily admit that my writing style is very direct. You don’t mince words in business. You say what needs to be said, without fanfare and descriptive adjectives. 

So writing in this blogging venue the past (almost) four years has been a bit of a marathon training session for me. It doesn’t come easy to get stories out of my head and share my experiences. I’m still learning. I will probably never graduate beyond the novice class. But I know that I can tell a story or two with my photographs! And it is easier to describe my experiences with a few pictures to help prop me up. 

Photography, thank goodness, is a language that everyone understands. Most of the photos I take may never see the light of day. That’s okay because they mean sometime to me.  At this point in my life, I know how to take a good photo from a technical standpoint. And my digital editing has improved greatly since starting this blog. Presently, I am trying to stretch my compositions and search for scenes that are a bit different and/or have some whimsy. I am searching for moments in time that I can encapsulate for retelling or memory safekeeping.

Little did Jackie know that I am currently wrestling with decisions on which Katmai bear photographs to share with you. I have about 2000 of them! I will only visit the famous Alaskan Brooks River and cavort with grizzly bears once in this lifetime. So I filled up my digital cards with abandonment. But the ones with personalities will get top billing here on my blog. For example, there was a juvenile bear that proceeded to jump on a rock in the middle of the Brooks River and patiently waited there for well over an hour. I have dozens of images of her that are just precious - at least they are to me! I could bore you silly if I shared all the photos of the same bear sitting on the same rock. So I’ll restrain myself and narrow it down to perhaps two. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. In the art of sharing on a blog post, less is actually more.

As another example, I spent over an hour taking photos of puffins at the Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward. Yes, I can be a tad focused to the point of going overboard. I confess! But I had always wanted to see a puffin in real life and there was one in particular that practically flirted with me, coming so close that I could have reached out and petted it while he floated by. I cooed. He primped. We became friends. I have about two hundred photos of him, with all different kinds of expressions and poses. You have already seen a previous photo of him. I can’t resist sharing one more with you today. The rest in my digital library will comprise my personal travel memories, frozen in time, reminding me of when I got to spend a magical morning with a puffin. One doesn’t get to do such a thing very often. This wild creature was giving me a gift, by posing and allowing me to appreciate its beauty. I am confident that Mister Puffin would be exceedingly proud to be immortalized on the worldwide web. Hopefully, that message is clear when you gaze at his image.

So that’s the answer, dear Jackie and blogging friends. I select which photos to share by first deciding what I am trying to communicate. Images are a universal form of communication. You don’t need to consult a dictionary or thesaurus to understand a photograph. No translator is required! If my photographs entertain you, give you a sense of wonderment, teach you something new, tickle your funny bone, or move you in some way, then I successfully wove the tale (or tail) and shared my experience. We are both richer as a result.


  1. Here's a two part question for you Donna. I must admit first to never having taken a trip in which I would have the opportunity to take that many pictures but if I ever did go to Alaska, I'm sure I would as well. Having been on closer, shorter trips and taken hundreds of pictures in a single day, I've found myself faced with the same dilemma regarding what to share on my blog and facebook. My questions, first do you print a good amount of your pictures and if so how do you decide which to print and second, do you ever feel guilty about many pictures 'never seeing the light of day' so to speak?

  2. Although the pictures I take aren't even close to the quality of yours, I too can go overboard when finding a subject I find interesting.
    When I am at a loss for a post subject I tend to peruse the archives and go from there. The pictures usually spark the imagination.

  3. shoot, I go overboard taking pictures of my grandkids!..Bob always says he could run them all together and make a movie.the other night at Jer's party I must had taken at least 40 around the cake and presents..picked out two or three...nice thing about my sony it is grandma friendly! LOL
    Regarding your photos Donna..I am always in awe of your talent..this fella is certainly one of your best!

  4. Great questions, Jeanne! Are you ready for a shock? I haven't printed any of my photos in quite a while. At least not wall-size. Since we moved last year, I have been on the lookout for shelves to put gallery frames up. I haven't found what I want yet. When I do, I'll be putting up a rotating gallery of photos. I will use standard size black frames & mats. My husband already does this and has dozens lining his office walls. I just don't want to put up several dozen picture hangers for mine, LOL. With a rotating gallery (and frames that can easily be taken apart), you can change out your photos regularly. Another solution is to use digital photo frames. I plan to get a couple before the end of the year and load them up with my cherished photos. And feeling guilty about those never seeing the light of day? No. Never! I get to see them anytime I have access to my computer! That's the beauty of digital. Photography, first and foremost, is for my enjoyment. And I refuse to feel guilty if I don't share all of them with the world, LOL. I see my photos and that's all that matters to me. Besides, more than half the fun is in the doing, not the end result!

  5. I think the puffin photo is incredible and I might begin to believe in reincarnation (no, not really) as he looks just like Einstein to me. What incredible clarity!

    This post was very intriguing...your friend asks such good questions. Thank goodness I've never had 7000 photos to sift through. Sometimes I find that I have 200 and then it becomes a bit of a struggle to see which ones will make it. I'll never be the photographer you are, but I can steadily improve if the camera will just cooperate.

  6. THANK YOU, Donna. Of course I knew that you were the person to ask, as I knew you'd explain it very well. I'm so pleased that you chose to explain it in a blog post that helps a lot of people with this subject.

    Okay, I'm off to see which of the zillion photos I've taken lately give me a stories to tell. :)

    Hugs, Jackie

  7. Well, that was interesting Donna. SO good to hear that someone else takes so many photos.
    Gosh, I never go anywhere remotely interesting really, but gosh, I do take many photos. Since I am not a very good photographer, I am always hoping for a half decent one to happen. To put on my blog. But yes, the rest are for my own enjoyment, well, when I have deleted quite a few of the ones that didn't work! Was going to ask, do you end up deleting many?
    And I love the puffin. Fantastic photo. Isn't it just marvelous when we get such an opportunity. This morning I was sitting outside on the patio (editing photos) and a magpie walked right up to me. Have never had anything come so close!

  8. Another terrific question, Annie! I can see the potential for more blog posts in the future about photography. But right now I am really pressed for time with the consulting work going on. The short answer is yes, I delete. And it depends upon the circumstances how much I delete. The hugely bumpy boat ride yielded a much greater percentage of deletes than average. With perfect conditions, I delete very few. When I go back to retirement life, I'll be culling my old photos even more. I find I am getting pickier as time goes on. What I thought was good 5 years ago doesn't necessarily make the cut now. Remember this, though - digital storage is cheap. So store those photos that you think have potential because you might be able to do something with them when you editing skills improve.

  9. I have about 2000 that are sitting in the cabinet from before they became digital that need to be dealt with somehow.

    Being below novice here...I can't even come up with a comment LOL

    I don't even PhotoShop and probably won't, so my photos will always just be the way they look.
    And I'm happy with that...

    Old fashioned I guess. I think the puffin looks like many humans. Wanting to come close, but hampered in their own way.

  10. Well, however you decide, the pictures you do share with us are beautiful!

  11. 7000 pictures that would be a life time of processing for me! Thank you for sharing the beauty you capture for all fo us to enjoy.

  12. Thanks for the answer Donna. Yes, the enjoyment first if for us behind the camera. I don't keep all my photo files on my computer, I burn them to disc often, but I do keep favorites that I can look at whenever I want, as you do. Not printing any of them? Oh my! hehe


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