Thursday, January 6, 2011

In Defense of Blogging Personal Photos

5K Update

Some time shortly before Christmas I happened across a thread on Two Peas (I'm still kicking myself for not bookmarking it because I can't find it now) (ETA: A very helpful Pea found the original thread for me!) where the posting of personal photos and stories on scrapbooking blogs was being discussed. I was a bit shocked at some of the responses- it seemed that the majority of commenters didn't care for personal photos and information on scrapbooking blogs at all, and one or two went so far as to say that they just didn't care at all to know about the people behind the blogs, they were only there for the projects and if the blogger wants to post personal stuff, they should have a separate blog for that entirely

Wow. Really? I mean, I totally understand not wanting or not having time for personal entries, but it's not all that hard to just skip a post and not read it if it doesn't interest you. The vehemency behind some of the reactions really startled me. When I'm blog-surfing, I always try to keep in mind that most bloggers don't profit from their blogs- they share projects and ideas freely out of a pure love for the hobby. Their blog is their little space on the web, and as a guest there I have no right to tell them what I think they should or should not be posting.

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Cocoa Beach

If you've been visiting here for a while, you've obviously seen that I post tons of personal photos and blog fairly regularly about my life. I mix it all in with the projects, and I never once thought about having a separate blog for those things (if you don't want to see my vacation photos, then by all means feel free to skip those posts!). In fact, I rather like having it all together in one place- when I scroll back through the pages of my blog (and, yes, I do that on occasion), I love seeing all the photos and crafts and geeking out that are so much a part of who I am.

Besides the fact that your blog is your blog and you should darn well be able to write and post whatever you want, I came up with a list of five compelling reasons to blog your personal photos and stories.

It's a Great Way to Share with Family and Friends

This is the main reason I first started my blog, actually. I was traveling a lot for work and taking lots of photos, and I needed an easy way to post and describe those photos to share with my parents, my brother, and my husband back at home. Sure, I could have just attached those photos to an email and sent them, but a blog format lets you put those photos in order and add narrative to each one- basically to tell a story with your pictures. There's also no messing with big attachments and no having to re-send the photos to other family members you may have missed the first time the email went out- with a blog, a link to your post can easily be sent around to anyone who's interested in seeing it.

When I first started my blog, I never dreamed that anyone outside my immediate family would really be interested in reading it. My main audience was my parents, and I posted things mostly for them to see. I've been blessed to have an audience that continues to grow over the years, and I'm grateful for each and every one of you who takes the time to stop by, read my ramblings, and occasionally leave a comment or two. I find, though, that my main motivation for posting items is the same as it was when I started blogging in 2008- so Mom and Dad can see what I've been up to lately. :)

Star Wars Celebration V

It Forces You to Edit Your Photos

I came back from my last vacation with nearly 1,000 photos. 1,000!!! Before blogging, I was so guilty of just letting those photos languish on the hard drive and doing nothing with them. Now that I blog, it forces me to go through those photos, choose my favorites, and edit and upload them. Photos get processed so much more quickly now, and the great thing is that those edits are available when I decide I want to scrapbook them later- I'm basically getting that step done way ahead of time!

A couple of notes on my editing...

First, I don't believe in deleting or culling photos. Just because I've chosen favorites for a blog doesn't mean those are the only pictures I want to keep. When I go back to scrapbook I may find that I need a portrait orientation instead of landscape for a particular photo, or I may need an extra detail shot, or a different get the picture. But those edited photos- the ones that I loved one the first run-through? Those are the ones that tell most of the story of the event, and they're a great starting place for scrapbooking. It's only hard drive space (which is cheap), and it takes time and effort to actually choose which photos to delete- I'm here to enable you and tell you it's totally okay to keep them all if you want to.

Second, I make my edits in a non-destructive environment (I use Adobe Lightroom) that keeps those edits in memory for me. The beauty of this is that once I make an edit, it's always available to me, but so is the original. Everyone wins. :)

Tennessee State Fair

It Forces You to Get the Story Out

While it's certainly not required to provide any narrative when you blog your photos, I often find that little snippets of this and that just automatically come to me while I'm editing photos and formatting a post. The writing doesn't have to be long, and it doesn't have to be in complete sentences (Karen Russell is a master at this). The simple act of associating words with your photos turns them into a story- your story. And isn't that what scrapbooking is about at its heart?

Second Degree Black Belt Test

It Provides a Reference for Future Projects

It was more than a year after my family's cruise to the Bahamas before I started prepping to scrapbook an album about it. It may be that long before I get to the majority of my Star Wars Celebration V photos, or the pictures from our trip to DC in October, or my Christmas photos (which I hope to have blogged very soon). In the intervening time, though, all of those memories are cataloged and waiting for me to get to them (with the exception of the cruise, which I really wish I'd blogged more about). There are photos of 5K runs, weekends with my parents, and assorted other adventures that I've experienced also floating around on my little site, narrated and just waiting to be put on a page.

A blog provides a relatively easy (when compared to making layouts) forum for getting stories told very quickly after an event. When used as a reference for journaling, it's a powerful tool for your scrapbooking.

DC October 2010

Because You Can't Scrap It All

As much as I would love to scrapbook every little story, the honest truth is I just don't have enough hours to get it all in. I have to pick and choose from photos and stories that inspire me at the time and be content with knowing that even if I never scrapbook a photo, if I've blogged it that story has still been told. I'm actually considering printing my blog as a book (Blurb has some great tools for this) just so those things that haven't been scrapbooked still have a home in print on my bookshelf.

The Nassau Before Christmas

I hope I've provided some validation, or at least encouragement, to anyone who has been wondering if there's value in blogging your photos, even if you just do it for yourself (and maybe I've finally talked Mom into starting her own blog :)- Dad would be pretty good at it, too). I'd also like to take a moment to say that if you choose not to blog your personal life, that's totally okay, too- just please let it be by your own choice and not because you're trying to please an audience. Just be yourself!