I remember being so excited to take photos and get them back from the drugstore to put them in the album as a kid. I always enjoyed looking back at them every time we put a new set of photos in. I really wanted my children to have something to have and hold and reflect upon with their little hands over the years. I have been doing comprehensive photo books for about 6 years. We look at them probably two to three times a year. My kids seem like they remember the places we have been, and the things we have done, because we look at those pictures every year. The photos help seal that memory for them, and for me. And after all, I learned my craft to take never-ending images of their life.
I probably take about 3000-4000 images of my kids, our family, our life and travels etc throughout the year. I do try to delete at least the eyes closed, missed focus, and very bad photos right after import. That still leaves me around 2000 photos a year. I don’t even come close to editing all of them. I usually get excited about the import and edit a few gems each time I upload. Often I will go back and edit a few more here and there. The edited images do often find their way to Facebook to share with family and friends. The sad thing is that with over 2000 images actually taken over the year, and maybe 500 or less edited, how many do you think I print? Less than 15…often I print them to give to family, or to swap out into a frame, but often they even sit in the envelope they came in. I do feel a bit guilty about this, but I do feel like my annual photo book at least makes it sort of “ok”. At least they do live somewhere other than just the digital world. And, having them in a book let’s them be accessible to my kids who are not allowed on my computer.
Photo Book Resources
I am sure there are many companies, at many price points, that you can help build great books. I have used My Publisher and Blurb for my books and am very happy with the quality of both. I tend to use Blurb more often because I like to use lots of photos and Blurb allows you to have more than a 100-page book (mine are always 100-150 pages). Both use quality papers, and let you put photos on the covers etc. The each have their own software that you download onto your computer that let you build your book at your pace and then print when you are ready. This is great because you can finish your book, and if you have patience, you can wait until there is a sale to actually order it.
Finding a System
When I first started putting the photo books together, it did feel overwhelming. Now, I have a system down and it works for me, and it comes together pretty easily. For starters, I only do writing on the first page of the book and it’s a couple paragraphs highlighting any major changes, trips, etc that has happened in our family. This means I don’t have to research where and when we went somewhere, or worry about captions or spelling errors and punctuation, except in that one spot.
I organize my photos in Lightroom by month. I also upload my iPhone photos into LR and sort by date. I then create a Collection for each month, and then I check my LR folder and the iPhoto folder that fit the date, and choose the ones that I want to include for the book. I export them out of LR in a monthly folder, and then just open the book software, and import the folders one month at a time and put it together as time permits. Both programs have preset page designs, or, you can design your own layouts/page order. Making it a chunk at a time, over several days, or weeks, really makes it a manageable project.
My books are a combination of fine art portraits (that I spent time and thought taking the photo and editing) and iPhone images which I don’t even touch after import. I am ok with that combination. I cherish these books and am extremely proud of them. It’s a culmination of the art I strive to excel at, snaps of our life, and the people I love… the books are an extension of me.
I do print two of these books. One that is out to view, and another that is away for safekeeping. I hope to give a copy to each of my sons when they are older so they can actually have a tangible item reflecting their childhood.
I would encourage you to give it a try, photo books are a perfect way to preserve your memories for others to share and appreciate!