Photo Books + Wasteful Living Update

I’m going to cover creating photo books in today’s post.  As I’ve mentioned in past blog posts, I am a resolution maker.  For years one of my top resolutions was to organize my photos.  Early on in my marriage (and even before), I’d been pretty faithful in placing all my pictures in albums.  Then we had children.  That meant more pictures and less time.  In rare good moments, I labeled the backs of the pictures and placed them in albums.  More often than not, I just crammed the envelope of newly processed photos into an already overstuffed shoe box.  Eventually we moved into the digital age.  Our photography life still mainly consisted of vacation pictures (day to day life isn’t all that exciting), but we had an abundance of other pictures too.  Having a camera on my phone at the ready made spontaneous pictures more possible.  Hence, more to organize.

One year, after making a fresh ‘organize my pictures’ resolution, I proceeded to the store to buy a number of new photo albums.  I quickly became frustrated with each kind.  When I was younger, I used a lot of the sticky-style pages.  At that time I loved the fact that I could put different sized pictures on one page.  When I started my resolution project, I found out that the pages I had so carefully organized a decade or two before were no longer sticky.  Each one I picked up scattered a trail of precious photos that had loosened through the years. The next style I tried had the clear pouch pages.  These had the disadvantage of only accommodating certain picture sizes, but at least the pictures didn’t come out as easily.  Or so I thought.  With frustration I learned that after a period of years, the plastic would become brittle and the pictures would again be able to slide out at inconvenient moments.  It may take me a long time to start a project, but when I do, I want it to have lasting results.  Over time, I gave up on this resolution altogether and just collected more shoe boxes for my pictures.

One day when I was again stewing over my haphazard way of storing pictures, I decided to look to the internet for answers.  There must be something I just hadn’t discovered.  Amazingly, I found that there was a solution to my dilemma – photo books!  At this point, some of you may be wondering why I didn’t just scrapbook my pictures.  I had seen others do just that, and the books came out lovely, but I neither had the creative genius nor the added time to try to create multiple pages from scratch.  I easily become a perfectionist and I knew myself well enough to realize that I could spend a lot of time and money attempting to make the perfect scrapbook, only to be disappointed in the outcome.  Photo books can have a look similar to scrapbooks, but someone else sets up the layouts to choose from.

I chose to start with my family’s most recent vacation, which happened to be Alaska.  It was a perfect medium to begin with – clear digital pictures and beautiful scenery.  I admit that it took me some time to adjust to the technology of transferring the pictures and then setting them up correctly, but as I worked on page after page, the process became easier.  When I was finished and submitted the creation to the company to be made into a book, I felt like I’d finally accomplished a step of the goal I’d planned so many years before.  Then when the book was delivered in the mail, I was so excited by the outcome.  I’ve seen examples of books that others have created since then.  These books were masterpieces, but I was satisfied with what I had in my hands and ready to work on more.  Every time I saw a deal pop up for a new photo book, I’d work on another vacation.  As of this time, I have twenty-two books made.  Besides vacations, I’ve made one for each of my children.  They fit so nicely in my cabinet (so much better than shoe boxes) and they are much easier to flip through.

If you’d like to try making a photo book to showcase your pictures, here are some tips:

  • Look for deals.  I’ve used Snapfish, Shutterfly, Picaboo, and some lesser known companies.  I found the first three to be pretty similar.  Just know going in what is important to you so you can compare.  For instance, I want all my books be the same size.  I also prefer lay-flat pages.  The good deal may not include all features.
  • It is easier to start with recent pictures first.  I started my book making with our most recent vacation.  The pictures were clear, unlike older photos.  Also, I’ve found that I have a terrible time recalling where pictures were taken that were from a vacation we went on a decade ago.  If I’d only labeled, I’d know which mountain or statue was in the shot.  My best recommendation is to never write an uncertain caption.  I’ve solved a lot of mysteries through internet searches.
  • Don’t feel like you need to use every picture you have.  Only put the best in your books.  You may have felt like it was important to take a picture of every animal in the zoo, but only put a sampling in.  Believe me, no one needs or wants to see them all!
  • When using old pictures that are not digital, it is best to take them somewhere where they can be scanned onto a disc.  From there, the disc can be downloaded onto your computer and transferred to the books.
  • I make a CD/DVD of each vacation we take, even when they are already on the computer.  This burned copy can then be labeled and placed in a sleeve that adheres to the inside of the book’s back cover.  The disc contains all pictures (not just the best) and can be referenced, if needed, in the future.
  • It’s helpful to have a spine label for each book.  Unless you are just making them for gifts, the spine can help you instantaneously pick the correct book off the shelf.
  • At this time, I have chosen to keep my old photos in hard copy.  Guess what?  They are in a shoe box, although this time I have dividers that label each group.  The only real value I can think of for these is if one of my children needs a single one for a project or, sadly, individual pictures are needed for a memorial display board.

So, that is my preferred system in dealing with overflowing photos from years gone by.  I’d love to know about how you deal with yours.  Are you a shoe boxer?  A scrapbooker?  Have you found an album that has held up throughout the years?  Have you tried making a photo book?

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Now, I’m going to change directions and update you on my Wasteful Living plan.  I’ve tried something different in recording a You-Tube video (below).  I won’t win any awards with it.  If I ever create another one, I’ll try to remember to talk a little faster.  I’d also smile a little more.  In the end, I’ll never get used to looking at my own face, but at least this goes down as a new experience.  Let me know if you have any difficulties viewing it.


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