CREATING A YEARLY FAMILY ALBUM: PART 1 7 years into life with kids....I finally made one!

February 1, 2019

I shared bout this on Instagram last week, and got so many questions and so much feedback that I knew I had to blog about it right away!

Ever since we had our first baby (and in the same year, bought a “fancy” camera and learned to use it!”, I have been excited about finding a way to save those memories in print.  While I LOVE the digital world, include digital files as a part of the investment for all photography I do, and only invest in photographers for our family who provide these files, to me they aren’t worth much if you never print them in some way! We have frames and canvas all over our walls and house (more than I have seen in any friends houses), though admittedly they don’t get changed out super frequently because I think so carefully about what is in them- and then it’s hard for me to want to change!  But in terms of finding a way to actually preserve our yearly memories, I have tried multiple things throughout our time as parents, none that have really stuck.

Back in college, I thought I was going to be a scrapbooker, and tried for a couple of years to make really creative beautiful scrapbooks with all the things in them.  Around that time, I also was learning, as I have shared before, that while I would lOVE to be a crafty person, I just am not that great at it…so that stage was short lived.  Once we had E1, I knew I could design albums online so I was going to make scrapbook-y albums online that had some of the scrapbook elements (text, cute embellishments, etc)…but that too proved very difficult for me when I realized, as my photography passion grew, how many photos we were talking each year would have to be organized in such a way…and I didn’t even get E1’s first year finished.  Then I moved on to project life- I loved the idea of actual prints of all our images (that could be taken out of a big album and passed around a room among grandchildren in 50 years) with just a few sweet details from Project Life added in.  I bought a kit, and while I have 2 years of photo prints in albums…I never got this off the ground either.  There were just too many issues I had visually with the prints not all going the same way or the Project Life cards not fitting on the right pages.

Finally, this year, after hearing from a couple of friends who print yearly family photo books, I decided it was time to get my life together….and I’m SO glad I did!  I received our 2018 “Gum Family Adventures” album yesterday and I am obsessed with it.  After researching MANY options, I knew I wanted the following things:

1). MANY pages.  It wasn’t enough for there to be a 50 or 60 page limit.

2). Flat lay pages that were thicker than a regular piece of printer paper.  I LOVE flat lay because it means I can print anything over the binding and it will still be visible (vs a book with a “gutter” like a typical magazine where you cant see the full binding).  I use flatlay for my client albums and I love it!

3). An included design feature.  For clients, I use a program with an included album design feature, so I didn’t want to buy one just for personal albums.  That being said…

4). I wanted a LOT of design options. I LOVE album designing, it is very fun for me to find the perfect images to go together, the perfect layouts, and the perfect mix of light in photos.  So I needed something that gave me a lot of flexibility.

5). Obviously- I wanted a great product!

In the end, I choose Shutterfly.  I have printed yearly family calendars as gifts for our families from Shutterfly for years, and always liked the designer, and found the product good enough in terms of how it all prints.  But I was a little nervous about a larger more expensive product.  However, I have a photographer friend who orders her family albums there and was very happy with the product, so I went with it…and I am VERY happy with the outcome!

I ordered the 10X10 deluxe layflat album style, with 111 (the max!) pages.  I printed photos on the front and back, included text on the front and the binding, and a couple of other little extras to make it perfect.  I felt like it was Christmas when I saw it on my doorstep, and have looked through every page about 10 times in the last 12 hours…I love it so much.  There is just NOTHING like seeing your family memories printed, and I can’t wait to look at it for years to come!  Here are just a few photos of it.

There are a LOT of details to making this process smooth and how I chose to design that I am going to share in a Part II post in a couple of weeks because this is super long- but if you are interested in making your own (which I HIGHLY recommend– just start with 2018, and you can work on previous years when you have time!), now you know what I did to make this beautiful book that we LOVE!

Because it is sort of tricky to find these options in Shutterfly, I recorded a short video of me navigating to the exact album I ordered so that you can find it if you want to make this same album.  I shared a couple little extra details in this video too, and mentioned at the end that I would love to do a video walking through the whole Shutterfly album design process– let me know if the comments below if that would be helpful for you (or if you have any other questions!).

If you are a parent who wants to learn how to photograph YOUR family and kids better, please take a minute and click HERE— I have you totally covered!

To learn how we organize (and keep favorites) of our kids schoolwork/artwork, click here!

Hey, mom with a camera!!

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Do you want to learn to take better pictures of your kids?!! Do you have a "fancy" camera but it isn't giving you the results you want (or even collecting dust on a shelf)? Click here for a quick E-Book with my top tips for parents!

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