My husband and I constantly lament that we have thousands upon thousands of digital images just sitting around gathering dust in our cloud. While there's comfort in knowing that they should be safe from disasters like floods or fires, and I'm sorry to get morbid, but how will my kids know how to get those files if something were to happen to me? So I've started creating family yearbooks to preserve our memories. I'm so proud of them, and can't express how happy it makes me when my son asks to look at the "baby Jacob book" or the "big boy Jacob book." I'm finishing up my daughter's baby book now, and with her about to turn 2, I can't wait to see her reaction!
Having created a few family yearbooks of my own doesn't make me an expert by any means, but I have learned from my mistakes, and picked up a few tips and tricks along the way that I hope might help someone else starting this undertaking!
Know Your End Goal
If Jason and I have done our job, one day our children will leave the nest. I want each of them to have a set of photo books, or what I'm referring to as family yearbooks, that represents each year of their upbringing in our family. Not only that, but if I'm really on top of it, I hope to document not only the little things in our day to day life, but also what's happening in the world around us.
Work on it Gradually
Making a family yearbook is completely daunting at first. Especially when you dive in without having planned for it ahead of time. The first time I made a photo book, which was my son's baby book, it was a Herculean undertaking. I didn't have images edited or saved in any particular place. It took months of gathering images, editing them, and then compiling them into a cohesive story.
After that experience, I decided that I needed to be more organized. And if we're being honest, I'm not THAT organized, my method is kind of lame, but it does the job.
As a photographer I take a lot of photos. And for some reason, editing photos is intensely relaxing to me. I really enjoy snuggling up on the couch after the kids have gone to bed, with my husband in the armchair next to me, a glass of wine, and my laptop. I try not to let my personal images go more than a week without editing, so as the weeks and months pass by, I edit my personal pictures here and there, and save them with an addition to the file name showing the date. So "IMG904.jpg" becomes "Mar 5 2018_IMG904.jpg", then I drop them in a folder on my desktop called "2018". Once the time comes to make a photobook, I've got the images organized by month, so it's pretty painless to upload a month at a time. You could also do this on your phone, or wherever you keep photos.
At the same time, I write little notes on the notes app on my phone about each month. Funny things the kids said, little stories, etc. This helps jog my memory when it comes time to write certain entries. Of course a more organized person would probably have a better system, but like I said, it works for me.
Pick Your Photos Carefully
We take a lot of photos in our family. And I know it's tempting to include every single photo ever. In most cases however, multiple images of the same thing will end up taking away from what those photos signify. Try your hardest to edit down where possible.
Make it Beautiful
Use different layouts for variety! Keep it simple on some pages, then maybe include a crazy photo collage on another. Pick a theme, be it a color or font, and carry it throughout the book. Also think about the spine design and how the books will look on your book shelf. Do you want a cohesive look? Or varying colors? Little things like this make all of the difference!
Don't Forget the Details
I consider myself a visual storyteller, but it took a loooooooong time, and a lot of practice to get there. I've finally gotten to a point where it's second nature to ask my husband or kids to indulge me in a detail shot. For example, one rainy Monday morning while on a worm rescue mission, I asked my son to hold out his handful of worms for a detail shot. Images like this help tell your story without having to use words. Think of your favorite wedding blogs and the visual stories that they tell. It's not just an image of the bride and groom kissing, end of post. It's their rings, the invitation suite, the name cards, the tablescape, the cake topper, the cigar bar, the drinks named especially for the bride and groom. Those images, along with those of the actual subjects, tell the story of the evening and truly make you feel like you're there.
Something is Better Than Nothing!
Sure, it's a glass half full mentality, but it's true. If it seems overwhelming, maybe start with a small photo book about a vacation, or a holiday season. Some preservation or memories is exponentially better than none!
Here are some of my favorite printers, and my personal opinions on them:
- This is what I've been using for my children's baby books, and family yearbooks, so it's safe to say that it's my favorite so far.
- The way it works is that you download their program, BookWright to your computer to design your layout and upload images. I like that they keep all of your projects in their cloud, so that you can go back and print a backup if necessary.
- Blurb lets you take complete control of layout design if you're a control freak like me, or will populate your book on it's own for those of you who are more hands-off.
- Blurb gives you the ability to make very large books...up to 450 pages.
- They are constantly running 40% off sales
- Artifact Uprising
- Artifact Uprising works best with photo heavy material. As an example, I used this when designing our honeymoon book, and found it really difficult to get text into the design. On top of that, you had to go into it with a good idea of what you wanted, as it wasn't easy to move this page to that page. This may have changed since I designed our book in 2013.
- I love their 6x6/8x8 "little black book" - you can't beat 24 lay flat pages for $14.00/$21.00
- They are always running sales, wait for one!