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Group Vacations: Gathering the Best Photos

Now that July 4th is here you may be planning a summer getaway with friends and family. What better way to commemorate and share the fun memories than with a printed book with photos from the whole crew? But what's the best way to gather photos from everyone? I recently created a photo book for a trip I took last year with 18 friends. Here are a few tips based on my own experience to manage this seemingly overwhelming process.

First, have everyone upload their BEST photos to one place. Your crew should not share every photo they took. It is pretty likely you all have similar, or even the exact same, picture of the entire group, castle, or stein of beer (we were in Germany after all!) You only need one for the book!

If most of your vacation crew follows instructions (inevitably some won’t), everyone can enjoy each other’s photos in an online collection that’s not too overwhelming, AND choosing the best pictures for the album will be more manageable as well.

Once your vacation crew is combing through their camera rolls, let them know where to upload their favorite photos.

There are a lot of photo sharing options these days. Here are the three I would recommend:

1- Apple Shared Photo Album If everyone in the group uses an iPhone, a Shared Album in iCloud will be the most user friendly option. Most iPhone users are familiar with Shared Albums and can upload and view the photos easily. The potential downside of this option is that photos may not download in full resolution. For smaller photos in a printed book, this is not a problem. However, for larger photos, the quality of the printed image may be comprised. The way around that is to send the book designer an iCloud link to the file(s).

2- SmugMug

If at least one person in the group uses SmugMug, they have a very cool feature called ‘Guest Upload’. This enables the account owner to create a unique link to allow photo uploads to a specific gallery. Everyone should be able to view the photos in the gallery using the link, even if they do not have a SmugMug account. Unlike an Apple Shared Photos Album, the photos can be downloaded in full resolution, as long as the account user 'allows' downloads in settings.

3- DropBox

If at least one person in the group uses DropBox, they can request photos from the rest of your vacation crew. A unique link can be shared through email or copied and texted. The photo viewing experience is not as elegant as on Apple or Smug Mug, but all photos can be downloaded by Dropbox account holders in full resolution.

Once you decide which service will work best for your crew, send out links and instructions, including a deadline. This will not be top priority for most folks, and you don’t want to have to nag.

Now that the photos are gathered, you can get to work. Download the entire collection and begin reviewing the photos to select winners that will be featured in the printed book. This could take awhile, but on the plus side, with so many photographers, the chance of getting the perfect photo of a moment or place on the trip increases.

For the Danube River Cruise I selected over 400 images that best represented all the people, places and special moments throughout the week. The book wound up being 140 pages! (Most photo books are not this long!!) All 18 friends received a book and they were blown away by the photos. Here’s what some friends said …

“I saw pictures of things I never saw.”

“A wonderful collection of the best memories!”


Enjoy your own travels this summer!


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