CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- I am the stereotypical trigger-happy first-time parent. I've taken more than 10,000 pictures of my son, and he's barely a year old.
While I love the fact that I've been able to capture so many precious moments, there can be too much of a good thing. These photos are plopped in a giant folder on my computer. I don't envision him browsing through these thousands and thousands of digital shots the way I flip through my baby albums stuffed with printed photographs. And that's a shame.
Linda Murray, editor-in-chief of BabyCenter.com, assures me I'm not alone in this dilemma. Many moms on the popular website say they have replaced the traditional photo album, and presumably more than a few of them are fellow shutterbugs.
"We keep going and going and going because there's no expense to it," says Murray, describing the mixed blessing of preserving memories in the digital age. "We're all out there taking all these photos ... so now we have the back-end problem."
Turns out, there are countless options for storing and sharing digital photos. You can upload them onto web-based albums on specialized sites such as Shutterfly or social networking sites such as Facebook and BabyCenter Community. You can download software such as Picasa that will organize photos on your desktop, or use a program such as iPhoto on Macs. You can make an online scrapbook of sorts by keeping a photo blog -- mostly pictures, some captions and occasional anecdotes.
(It's wise to make backups of your photos on an external hard drive or CDs in case something happens to your computer or a host website.)
For a purely digital experience in displaying the images, you can get an electronic frame that rotates through all the photos on a memory card. For a foot in both worlds, you can use one of the photo websites or software to place an order for a printed album.
Whatever you do with the photos, Murray says, the key lies in winnowing them down to a manageable handful of favorites -- professionals call these "hero shots" -- and using a labeling system that's easy to remember.
Sure enough, photographer-mom Amy Beth Bennett of Oakland Park, Fla., approaches her 2-year-old daughter's photo blog the way she does an assignment. Out of a couple of hundred photographs, she'll pick only a few to post for family and friends, ones that have the most telling moments. No one wants to slog through the equivalent of a vacation slideshow, Bennett says. "You just want them to see how your girl's doing."
Then, like she does at the office, Bennett gives each of those photos a filename consisting of the date and event (sandbox, train ride, etc.) so she can search for and find them easily.
After that, they go into a folder named after the year -- 2010, say -- and at year's end, Bennett chooses among them to create a printed album for relatives.
As for the subject of all those photos, toddler Sophia Claire Cavaretta prefers to look at the images on her mom's laptop. Or her dad's iPod.
So much for my Luddite nostalgia.