Photo Editing – Bag of Tricks

I do a bit of photo editing for websites and I have used a program called GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) for almost 20 years. GIMP is powerful, but complicated. It is like PhotoShop, but free and open source. I tend to use GIMP most often because I have almost two decades of experience with it and have gotten pretty quick at using it the way I like. However, I have recently found myself looking for a simpler, more intuitive photo editing program to recommend to folks who don’t have overly complicated tasks they want to do. My seventy-year-old neighbor doesn’t need to learn how to use GIMP in order to make a collage of her collie dogs.

There are several perfectly good and free photo editing programs out there. Honestly, taking the time to get  used to one of them, any one of them, is probably more important than which one you use. One I found that has a good interface, a free version, and does the basics well, is BeFunky. BeFunky has 3 places to start – a photo editor, a collage maker, and a graphic design interface. If you just want to make a collage, there’s really no need to look at the graphic design interface.

Fotor is pretty good too. While it is less comprehensive than GIMP, tends to hog some bandwidth, and has a lot of ads, it does a lot. Pixlr is another one of my go-to photo editing favorites. It does requires a flash player though, so make sure you are up to date on your Flash and ready to allow flash to run on your browser tab. If you don’t have permissions to change things on your library computers, this might be one to skip, but if you can, do give it a try.

PicMonkey is also worth a mention, even though it isn’t free. (It used to be free… I used to use it… sigh.) It works on mobile, though unless your eyes are a lot better than mine and your phone a lot bigger than most, photo editing on a phone is never going to be easy. PicMonkey also has templates for graphic design that are useful if you are doing more than just making grandma’s eyes not glowing red, resizing the family photo, or cropping out the weird neighbor. It also has overlays that can change the mood of a photo.

What photo editing program do you like? Do you keep it in your Bag of Tricks? A Bag of Tricks is a virtual toolkit that you create to help familiarize yourself with new technology and websites that you or your patrons might find handy. Here’s an example of a Bag of Tricks that you can use as a jumping-off point for creating your own:

As we talked about in other parts of this Bag of Tricks series, having resources at your fingertips and a basic familiarity with up-and-coming technology can come in very handy for better serving patrons and can also give you a bit more confidence.

Kieran Hixon