Digital and old-fashioned ways of storing holiday snapshots

One of the most attractive digital displays is Steller (above), a free storytelling app and website which allows users to produce digital booklets.
One of the most attractive digital displays is Steller (above), a free storytelling app and website which allows users to produce digital booklets.
But if the time and skill required to put a short film together is intimidating, try Cameo (above).
But if the time and skill required to put a short film together is intimidating, try Cameo (above).
Fadzly Amir, 27 and Ruby Tan, 26, record their travels using a GoPro and then turn the footage into video clips. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Fadzly Amir, 27 and Ruby Tan, 26, record their travels using a GoPro and then turn the footage into video clips. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Ms Vicky Chen kept a scrapbook with sketches and photos of her eight months in Europe. -- ST PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH
Ms Vicky Chen kept a scrapbook with sketches and photos of her eight months in Europe. -- ST PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH

There are many ways to preserve your holiday memories, from physical scrapbooks to mobile apps

When travellers return from the year-end holiday season, their digital archives will have expanded like their waistlines, and the question soon arises: What will happen to all the snapshots of sumptuous meals and laugh-out-loud moments captured on vacation?

These days, most pictures never make it off the memory card, let alone to the printer. They do not have to lie dormant in the digital abyss, however.

Some Singaporeans are taking the time to compile their holiday memories for posterity.

To keep his memories alive, engineer Fadzly Amir, 27, started making videos of the trips he shared with his fiancee Ruby Tan, 26, two years ago.

Using a GoPro camera strapped to his chest or to a selfie stick, he recorded their trips to places such as Cambodia and South Korea.

He prefers video to photo albums because he feels video is a way to quickly encapsulate the full experience and mood of each trip.

"Many friends upload hundreds of photos to Facebook, but I scroll through only about 10 before I get bored.

"With a video, it takes only two minutes to see the whole trip and there's more action," he says.

But making the video is much more time-consuming than uploading photos to a digital album.

It takes about two weeks of editing to turn five to eight hours of footage into a three-minute film with a mood-matching soundtrack.

Still, he feels the time spent is worth it when everyone gets to see and enjoy his work, which he posts on YouTube and shares on Facebook and WhatsApp.

"The video reminds us of the trip, what we did, how we felt, and it is something we can keep for a long time and view over and over again," he says.

But spending hours putting together a video, scrapbook or photo album after a trip is not for everyone.

Singapore Management University marketing graduate Vicky Chen, 23, admits she is "pretty lazy" about getting pictures printed and putting them in a book at the end of a trip.

So when she spent eight months travelling to 15 countries around Europe last year, she used a scrapbook to save important notes, addresses of her AirBnB lodgings, pictures, postcards and bus passes.

She stuck the memorabilia in her notebook using scotch tape as she travelled.

On empty pages, she sketched moments she wanted to remember, such as a day spent lazing at the beach with friends.

"My style is to get the experience into the scrapbook as soon as possible, as you experience it.

"If you wait, by the time you get home you are a bit lazy, or have lost or thrown away half the stuff you wanted to keep.

"Also, it is easy to get caught up in getting back to normal life. You are already experiencing something else," she says.

She kept one notebook for her five months based in France for a university exchange programme, and another notebook for her three-month internship at a digital advertising agency in Britain.

"When I'm older I would like to view them again, to remind me of what it was like to be this age and have these experiences," says Ms Chen.

Wanting to recollect one's past is also why Mr Hairol Salim, 30, who works in a publishing company, visited a printer in Bras Basah Complex a few months ago.

Armed with 60 of his favourite photographs snapped on trips to New York, London, Tokyo, Sydney and Reykjavik last year, he had a photobook printed for $60.

"It struck me that I probably needed a physical copy of the photos I had taken on my trips.

"When keeping them in digital format on Facebook or on my phone, I worry that they might all be forgotten some day or vanish into digital space," he says.

Happy with the results, he plans on making another photobook, taking more time to concentrate on the book's layout and visual narrative, later this year.

"A hard copy is something I can keep for a long time, something I might chance upon two to three years down the road and reminisce about my experiences and where I've been.

"Nothing beats being able to have those memories in your hands," he says.

As American philosopher Susan Sontag said in her influential essay On Photography: "The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own."

vlydia@sph.com.sg


STORE YOUR HOLIDAY KEEPSAKES

PHYSICAL ARCHIVE

When it comes to saving boarding passes, museum tickets and special keepsakes, it is hard to beat the old-fashioned scrapbook. But scrapbooks have fallen by the wayside.

American company Artifact Uprising hopes to change this by turning digital archives into physical heirlooms.

The printing company has online templates for products such as coffeetable books, wall calendars, thank-you notes and postcards.

Users select a product and upload photos from their phone, digital camera and even their Instagram account, which are then laid out according to their desired design. When crafting a coffeetable book, for example, users choose the framing, layout and order of each photo. They can add captions and titles, and even choose the fabric of the cover.

The process is straightforward, and the sleek product will be delivered to you within three weeks.

Production takes from two to eight business days, plus five to eight business days for shipping with Fedex.

Prices range from US$22 (S$29) for a set of prints to US$139 (S$187) for a 150-page hardcover coffeetable book, excluding shipping. For more information, go to www.artifactuprising.com.

DIGITAL JOURNALS

It is no secret that data companies and apps can track a person's location via his mobile device as he moves around the world.

Some apps such as Journi, Traveler and the Google+ photos programme use this to the traveller's advantage.

Journi is an iPhone app which helps users create daily journals of their trips. When embarking on a holiday, simply enter the destination into the app's digital passport. Once the app registers the phone's global positioning system in the destination, it starts logging the trip.

Vacationers take photos, make notes and add captions to their journal as they go about their day, tagging their posts with labels such as "activity", "nightlife" and "worth seeing", so they and others can easily search the entries.

The posts are geotagged and displayed on a map beside the entries, so travellers can find their way back to their favourite spots. The app works offline so this saves on data bills. All posts are uploaded once you are in a WiFi zone. However, this app is not available for Android phones.

Like Journi, Traveler lets you post photos and notes, and place geotags at spots you want to remember.

The Android-friendly app also allows one to add audio notes and, for Samsung Galaxy Note devices, it includes a digital sketchbook component for use with the S pen. Both apps are great for logging trips on the go, rather than at the end of an exhausting day.

But for a really hands-off approach to digital memory-keeping, try Google+ stories, an extension of Google+ photos programme.

First, you have to select to have the photos on your mobile device or computer automatically backed up to Google Drive.

Using algorithms, Google+ photos will select your best photos and videos and arrange them in a timeline to show the highlights of a trip or special event.

The programme will also auto- enhance pictures and, when there is a burst of photos of one subject, turn them into a photo animation, all of which will be displayed on the timeline, which is organised chronologically by day and by location.

The stories are created automatically when Google+ notices heightened activity or that you have travelled overseas. Users are notified of new stories via e-mail and they can then edit the stories by adding titles and captions, while photos can be added or deleted, before sharing the story publicly or emailing it to contact lists.

The programme works for Android, iOS and computers, but has trouble creating stories for photos without a geotag.

VIDEO

To capture the sights, sounds and mood of your trip, try making a short video.

Clips of your adventures can be recorded on smartphones, digital cameras, hand-held video cameras and compact, durable GoPro cameras ideal for capturing sporty activities.

Edit the clips on your computer using programmes such as Pinnacle Studio, Adobe Premier or iMovie, then upload your film to video-sharing websites such as YouTube or Vimeo.

But if the time and skill required to put a short film together is intimidating, try Cameo. Think of this free film- sharing app as the video version of Instagram.

Cameo allows users to record video using the phone's camera from within the app itself, or to upload pre-recorded clips.

Users record or upload six-second videos, and with a few swipes of their fingers, arrange and trim the clips.

They can also choose from more than 30 themes and dozens of songs for a fitting soundtrack to their film.

Cameo then splices all the pieces together, leaving users with a fun, colourful and unique short film with professional polish and a maximum length of two minutes.

As with Instagram, users can like and comment on their videos - and share them with the public or with friends via e-mail and other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

The notable downside to Cameo is that it is only available for iPhones. While Android users can watch user videos on Cameo's website, they cannot create their own videos.

DIGITAL ALBUM

With so much of our lives and social interactions occurring online, social media is a prime way to compile and share holiday memories.

One of the most attractive digital displays is Steller, a free storytelling app and website which allows users to produce digital booklets.

You select, arrange and lay out videos, photos and text with the help of artful templates. The booklet is then published via the app to the user's Steller account.

The result is often a polished, coffeetable-type booklet used to compile photos and thoughts on recent trips, festivals and even recipes which can be shared on social media. Steller is for iPhones only, though Android users are able to relish Steller booklets via the Steller website steller.co.

Alternatively, Android users can use Flipagram, a free app which takes a selection of user-uploaded photos and turns them into a flipbook, a rapid slideshow of photos which can be shared via e-mail or other social media.

Add, edit and filter the photos, insert captions, titles, destinations and dates, determine the slideshow's speed, sync a soundtrack all within the app and, within minutes, publish a digital fast-tracked photo album for all the world to see.

While the picture quality and production value are not as crisp as Steller, it does, happily, work across all operating systems.