Organize Your Photos With Computer Software
You can't share what you can't find
Sharing your photos at home is pretty easy. All that you need is a software program that will display individual photos, or put them together as a slideshow presentation. The good news is that there are plenty of these programs to choose from. The hard part is weeding through them all.
The programs on the following pages do not represent a comprehensive list. I don't have the time or the patience to try them all. I can say that I have used each one extensively, and am aware of their limitations.
Let's start with the most common features available in programs that help you sort, store and share your digital photographs.
Most computer software for organizing photos today should have this basic set of features. If you are using something that doesn't, it might be time for a switch.
Collections of Photographs
A collection is basically one large bin that stores all of your photos, with no regard for when they were taken or what the subject matter is. A collection is a lot like a shoebox.
Having all of your photos in a huge bin is not going to help you find them in the future. To make things easier, most programs will provide you with a way to sort your photos into subcategories (typically called Albums). You can also caption your photos (so that you can search for words in the captions later) and you can flag your favorites to keep them all together.
Once you've added a photo to a collection, you can view a small version of the photo: this is called a thumbnail. Some programs will let you modify the size of the thumbnails, so that you can see anywhere from 1 to 50 thumbnails on your screen at one time (the larger the thumbnail, the less display).
Every thumbnail in a collection can be viewed at full-screen size. Sometimes you can't tell by a thumbnail whether or not a digital photograph is completely in focus. At full-screen, you can see every little detail.
Most of these programs will let you do some mild image editing. You can rotate photos (since you can take them vertically and horizontally), crop them (to cut out unwanted elements) and adjust the quality (if the original is too dark or too light).
When you transfer photographs from your camera to your computer, this feature is a huge time-saver. It deletes each photo from the camera's memory card as it transfers it to your hard drive. When you don't use a program that does this, you have to use the camera to re-format the memory card each time before you use it again.
If you eventually want to upload your photos to a web site, some of the software programs will make this easy for you. Others require a bit more manipulation.
Some digital photo programs are set up to help you when you want to print your photographs at home. They will show you the number of photos per page, and how they will be arranged before you print a single page. This is a lot better than guessing about it.
So you want to e-mail a photo to a friend. Some programs let you do this without even opening your e-mail program. All you have to do is select the photo you want to send, enter an e-mail address, and click send. The program automatically reduces the size of the photo so something manageable by e-mail and sends it on its way.
Let's say that you have a digital photograph of your brother, aunt and young cousin. A year from now, you'd like to be able to find this photo if you do a search for all the photographs you have of your brother. Some of the more complex programs will let you do this, others will not.
What Program Should I Use?
This is entirely up to you. I am just here to tell you more about 2 different programs that are available: Kodak EasyShare and Adobe Album.