How to Curate Your Family Holiday Photos

During the holidays, everything is a little bit more beautiful. From decorations to delicate sweets, to parties, and visits with faraway family and friends, ‘tis the season with a hundred reasons to snap a photo. But beyond expanding your camera roll, what can you do with the holiday memories you capture? Here’s how to make the most of your seasonal photos.

1. Take Lots of Good Shots

Keep your camera (or phone) handy, and take intentional shots. It’s second nature now to lift your phone and snap, but spend 15 seconds to get the best possible shot. Move someone or something to window light, quickly arrange the scene or the people to make the best possible photo. The better the photo, the more likely you are to use it. The more holiday photos you have, the more likely you are to have your memories on record, as well as prepped and ready to make a photo book. Take as many quality photos as you can.

2. Use a Variety of Photos to Tell the Story 

It takes several kinds of shots to tell a story. When you’re photographing, keep an eye out for certain types of holiday photos to help you remember every detail. When you’re done taking photos, look for these basic shots to keep in your event collection:

  • Portraits & group shots
  • Setting the scene—decorations, table-scapes, gifts, ornaments, favorite objects, etc.
  • Interactions & candid shots between people
  • Biographical objects—slippers, clothes, favorite mugs, scarves. Objects that work as “portraits” of people, without actually showing people themselves.
  • Personality & emotion shots—images that capture people in their element, or with expressions that reveal who they are or how they were feeling
  • The cover shot—look for that one picture that says it all. That one image that shows a key moment of action, or all the special elements of a scene.
  • Closing shots—loaded cars, packed suitcases, piles of leftover wrapping, confetti everywhere, something that shows the end of the celebration

If you don’t have everything on the list for your holiday collection, don’t worry. Use the list to help you consider which images to keep this year, and also what pictures you’ll be trying for next year.

3. Gather All the Photos

Take a moment to put all the holiday photos from all your devices into one folder. You may also want to gather the photos taken by other people, and set up a shared folder for an exchange. Gathering your photos will help you take inventory and track down the images that may be on someone else’s phone.

4. Sort and Delete

This is the hardest task of them all, but a few tips make it easier. First, take advantage of the date-stamping on your photos, and sort them by date or event, or even by time. Then work through one small pile at a time. Do each little collection when you’re feeling fresh. Mark your favorite shots in each small pile, and ruthlessly delete the rest. Bad shots, eyes closed, poor lighting, the first 8 you took of a scene before you finally got the one that you wanted—don’t keep them. You don’t need them. The more you have to wade through shots you can’t post or won’t print, the less likely you are to do either of those things.

5. Create a Permanent Archive

As a curator of these holiday memories, your job is to keep it safe. Back up your photos at least twice—to a hard drive and to a cloud. If you haven’t been doing this all along, start with this holiday season. Establish a pattern of folders and naming. Once you’ve done the setup with a recent batch of photos, working on the backlog will be that much easier.

6. Print the Highlights

Choose 10-20 favorite images from the whole season. Print them, and place them in inexpensive frames. Pack this year’s highlights away with this year’s decorations. Next year, when you pull the decorations out of storage, this year’s photos become part of the display. Next year, you can either swap those photos into the frames or grow your collection and create a holiday gallery wall.

7. Present the Curated Collection

There are two ways to do this. Create printed books and online holiday collections to share. Create a print archive in a photo book, which will also become part of next year’s decorations on your shelf or coffee table. Then, create a Readymag photo story to share your project with your family and reminisce.

Ready to make a photo book with all your pictures from the holidays?

Choose from six book sizes, three cover types, and six paper options, including Layflat. Get started today.



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