Pondering on Travel Photos

Note: Yes, it’s another post that was written ages ago and never published! Now revel in the glory of it and the questionable quality within!

We’ve all done it: gone on a trip somewhere and then spit out a few hundred snapshots to post online. Except you’ll never look at these again, and nobody else will either.

After years of experimenting and tweaking my editing of vacation photos, I’ve eventually settled on the idea that you should take around 100 photos a day, and aim to publish up to 10 of these. Of these 10/day, perhaps 3 or four should be “you” shots: pictures of yourself or other people you know. This keeps the photo album size manageable, the people shots add a much-needed personal touch, and forces you to only pick photos that add something unique to the album while helping document your trip for (let’s be real here) your own future use.

When I spent a month in Italy, the resulting Flickr album clocked in at a hefty 646 photos. That’s not too bad, as the average is only 20 pictures a day. But remember that most of this time was spent in Rome, so when you factor in these days had much less photos taken, every day spent travelling away from Rome was actually getting much higher shot rates.

The next two European trips saw published photo rates of around 40/day: atrocious! After those episodes I started realizing that you need to make a decision about what photos you take when travelling: are you going to document the entire experience, or instead try to pick the highlights that others may have missed? I realized I actually fell into the latter camp. If a photo wasn’t outstanding, it wasn’t published. After that, I saw my publish rates fall to 15 or 16 photos a day. It wasn’t perfect, but I was starting to like the results: the album was useful and enjoyable (I think) for anyone viewing it who may be interested.

The 10/day formula isn’t set in stone, and open to lots of interpretation. It’s an average overall, and includes travel days between locations. If you’re moving around every day or two, this average may go up a bit to 15/day, and that’s okay! If you’re settling in and relaxing, this number may dip into single digits. 10/day isn’t a hard and fast rule, and I use it as a general guideline when editing photos. If I can say “yes” when I ask myself that it’s one of the top 10% photos I took that day, and if I can say “yes” that I’d be okay with hanging this photo on my wall, then it’s probably worth publishing.

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