First up is iMovie, which lets you make photo slideshows that you can publish for web streaming, Quicktime download or burn to a DVD. Windows has a similar program called Movie Maker, but it's not quite as user-friendly as iMovie. With Movie Maker, you have to upload every photo and then individually set all of the titles and transitions. iMovie gives you this really neat set of templates for you to use throughout the process of building your movie, and they're pretty top notch. You can open your movie with a template that looks like scrolling through scrapbook pages, or several travel templates that show things like passport stamps on the background behind your photos, and you can set the whole thing to music, which is fabulous. It's a snap to use and I love it.
Here's an example of the video I made with iMovie for our first anniversary. (It might be slightly distorted since it had to be compressed for web streaming)
Next up is iPhoto, which ties directly to the iMovie and the next thing on my list of favorite things. iPhoto lets you organize your photos in one convenient and easy to use location. It offers very basic editing tools, but if you're really looking to edit you might want to download another program. It's nice to be able to store and organize your photos in one spot and it's such a breeze to download your new photos because the program automatically detects your camera and starts the upload process on its own. It's like a lazy person's dream! Plus, any programs you use that may use photos (i.e. iMovie) read your iPhoto library and automatically make those images available. In Windows, you usually have to upload each individual photo to the program you're using. This is such a time saver.
And last on my current list of amazing programs is the internet based program called Blurb. This program allows you to make beautiful hardcover bound books of photos. Imagine a National Geographic style coffee table book full of your own pictures printed on high quality glossy paper. That's what you get. After using this, I will never scrapbook again. These are so much more durable and turn out so nicely that there's no reason to deal with the hassle of time consuming scrapbooking, or investing in expensive scrapbooking materials. I've made these books for my friend Kara's new baby, for the parents of my godchildren with photos of the girls growing up, and for my friend Sara's wedding. You have free reign with the layout of the book, for the most part. You have to work within their templates, but it's really easy to adjust. You can add quotes, photos, stories or whatever you feel like adding to make the book personal to you. I will caution that you get much better results when you use digital images as opposed to scanned ones, but aside from that, I swear by this program. The books are so much cheaper than making them with Apple's software (Blurb charges by page groupings, so you'll pay about $40 for 40 to 80 pages, and you can cram as many photos into those pages as you want) and they're pretty good quality so they're something you could really be proud of. Plus, if you use a Mac, the program automatically uploads your photos from iPhoto and marks which ones you've already used so you don't duplicate photos. I can't say enough great stuff about this site. If you're interested, check them out at www.blurb.com