4 Steps to Quicker Photo Sharing

4 Steps to Quicker Photo Sharing

By Tara Swords

Like most people on vacation, you run amok with your digital camera knowing that you can delete the photos you don’t like later. You know what happens next: You don’t delete anything. You come home, download the photos from your camera to your computer, and then publish every last one of them to Shutterfly. Now everybody on your friend list is slogging through the blurry outtakes of you with your eyes closed.

The alternative isn’t to waste hours editing your photos down to a more manageable, audience-worthy bunch. Try these tips to get it done in a few minutes. (Your friends and family will thank you.)

Step No. 1: Tag the good photos.
After you download your pics to your computer, scan them quickly and mark the good ones. If you use Windows Vista or a more recent version of Windows, you can assign keywords -- which are called tags -- to files. Tag the good ones with “Good” or “Share” or anything you want. If you have a Mac, you can label files by doing a two-finger tap on the file name and selecting a color (or get a third-party app like Tags). Then, just drag the good photos to a subfolder.

If you have five shots of yourself holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, pick just one. Don’t agonize over this part. Nobody will be as enamored with your vacation photos as you are.

Step No. 2: Batch-edit your photos.
If you have local photo-editing software -- such as Lightroom, Photoshop Elements or Aperture -- you can apply edits to all of your photos with a single command. This is called batch editing, and it’s ideal for functions such as removing red-eye, converting to black-and-white or bumping up your exposure when your images are too dark. You just tell the program where your photos are, select an action and sit back. In a few minutes, the software does the work for you. You can take advantage of batch editing with some online photo services too, such as Google’s Picasa.

Step No. 3: Reduce photo file size.
I set my camera to take big photos because I want the option to make large prints of the good ones, so each file is at least 2 MB. That’s great for posterity -- but not so great for sharing. Fortunately, batch editing can step in here too. I can tell my editing software to reduce photo sizes by 50 percent, and it will do the heavy lifting for me in a matter of minutes. At the same time, I can tell it whether to overwrite the existing photos or create copies (copies, please), adjust the levels and sharpen. When it’s done, I have manageably sized photos that I can upload quickly or email without eating up precious bandwidth on friends’ devices.

Step No. 4: Upload all photos at once.
Wherever your files are headed, don’t send them there one at a time. Pretty much every major photo site now offers batch uploading, which means you can select as many photos as you want and click “Upload” just once. If you’re using Flickr, you can download a third-party desktop tool that will send files to the site with all the data -- title, description, tags, sets -- that you’ve already designated.

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Photo: @iStockphoto.com/nicolas_

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Tara Swords is a consumer and technology writer whose articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post and other national publications.

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