Turning a huge collection of digital photos into prints
April 29, 2012 9:23 PM   Subscribe

What is an easy solution for someone who takes a lot of photos and would like to print all of them--or create a printed photo book--WITHOUT putting a lot of effort into it?

I take loads of digital photos. For example, on a trip I may take 800 photos, which I then weed down to 500. Is there any easy way order prints of such a large number of photos in a small amount of space (or a book) with minimal effort? Almost like creating printed contact sheets or the like, but maybe a little better quality or larger size than that?

I wish to create printed albums. But the options I’ve already identified have some problems:

1. I can print ALL of the photos, and spend a large amount of time putting them all into albums. This takes time and money, and the finished product would be several large albums taking up a lot of space.

2. I can sort through all the photos and just select the best ones, and then print only these (either putting them into albums or designing a book). This would cost less but take a lot of sorting time, and then I might not have enough photos to document all of the events/locations/people I see during a trip.

3. I can take fewer photos. I don't really like this option because it gives me fewer chances to practice photography, which I enjoy.

Ideally, I'd like to use some software which would automatically load a large number of pictures in order to print a book which would have many photos per page, perhaps in a small size. However, I have not been able to find any software that would allow for this with minimal effort on my part while still accommodating so many photos. (For example, Snapfish allows you to automate a book, but on some pages there will only be one or two photos, so the finished book would be both large and expensive. It seems like any software that allows you to put a lot of photos on each page requires that you also add all of the photos manually…and with this number of photos this would take FOREVER.)

I guess my problem is how to best manage a large number of photos. Usually each photo is important to me, so it is hard to drastically weed down each collection. But this also makes it hard to create a photo book or order prints.

What do YOU all do with your huge photo collections that you'd also like to be able to flip through offline? Or am I simply the last person who still wants hard copy photo albums these days?
posted by mintchip to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Picasa has options to print 2 or more photos on a single 8x11 sheet - I believe you can print 9 or more, contact sheet style. I don't recall if you can arrange them, or whether you just get a grid. But you can label them with captions and/or file names.
posted by jb at 9:48 PM on April 29, 2012

Oh - and the function is quick. You highlight the photos, choose "print these 9 per page" and go.
posted by jb at 9:49 PM on April 29, 2012

I guess my problem is how to best manage a large number of photos.

The eternal question and certainly a matter of taste when you get beyond a certain level. For snapshot-type photography, Picasa worked for me just fine. It has enough metadata, tagging, location stuff that it's pretty easy to manage a large number of pictures categorized logically (or not, depending on your style). I don't know how its photo-album printing features are, but as long as you still have the originals, you don't have to worry about leaving any out or whatever. Just print out what you want the album to comprise and know that you can always print out more.

I do still like the idea of cling-page photo albums, so whatever photo software you use will be able to print only whatever you want to use. As well you can get photo printers that use rolls of paper (4", 13"), which enable you to use the same paper for multiple image widths.
posted by rhizome at 9:53 PM on April 29, 2012

Picasa can print contact sheets from a slection of photos, and you are not stuck with postage stamp sized photos. Reduce the count to 6-12 per page.

Aperture and Lightroom 4 have "proof book" layouts which might work for you. I believe iPhoto has an elementary proof book layout.

I use Aperture for my books as the layouts are editable much more than Lightroom. It also allows me to "flow" unused images into new pages with a designated master page layout only.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:52 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Walgreens.com is awesome for photobooks - it's the easiest interface I've seen online for loading and formatting pages, inexpensive (especially if you get a coupon - they come out every couple weeks it seems, and can give insane discounts), and you get them within a couple days (often overnight). For 800 photos you're looking at a lot of pages, though, and I don't know if a printed book is your best bet moneywise, over putting some amount of effort transferring printed photos into a book yourself.
posted by Mchelly at 6:52 AM on April 30, 2012

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