I've been getting a lot of questions lately about how I capture my families memories and put them into books. I thought I would take some time to write it all down so people can see pictures of what I do as well as the details of how I make my books.
But first a disclaimer. Some of you are going to read this and feel discouraged because you don't take a lot of photos of your family or you are years behind in getting them into albums. Please don't let this post do that to you. Here is the thing....we all do things for our families and children that other don't. For example, I don't plan big themed birthday parties for my kids, I don't have a garden, heck I hardly can keep any plant alive. I don't do amazing crafts with my kids, or make cards, or any crafts like that. This is pretty much my thing. The thing I've decided that I'm going to try to prioritize. Partly because it is life giving to me and I really enjoy it, and partly because it is something I really value and want to make a priority. So as you read this keep in mind that there are a lot of things I don't do in order to make this a priority. Some of the things I don't do are probably some of the things you do. So are we agreed, no feeling discouraged reading this post. Grace abounds my dear friends and we are all just doing the best we can to love our families and live in this crazy world!
Ok, so now that that is agreed upon here is how I make my albums. It didn't take me long in motherhood to figure out that I need to find a simple system for capturing our memories and putting them into some sort of album. Now, after having 3 babies in 4 years I'm even more aware of needing to simplify as I go. This is by no means a the "right" or only way to do this but it is what I've decided works for me.
I've decided that each of my kids will get a an album of their first year of life. After that everything will go into our family albums. I may decide later to do something for each kid but for now I'm just making a family album for each year. I use Blurb for both kinds of albums.
For their baby books I keep things pretty simple. The first part of the book has a few maternity pictures, pictures of their birth and their birth stories. I then do pages of their first few weeks of life. You will see that most of my layouts have just one or two pictures on them, except for the month pages I do. Then for each month I try to have a picture of Adam and I with the baby and then I try to take 8 pictures each month or pick my favorite 8 pictures. You can see an example below. I also write a few highlights for each month. I keep track of those using the Day One app on my iPhone. More on that in a few minutes.
So, I have this layout for each month of their first year and then I also pick my two favorite photos and do full size layouts of those. See Below. Isn't he so precious?
I will also do a layout for special events like their first haircut, 6 month pictures, their dedication, first birthday party etc.
When I was doing Lyla's album a few years ago, I wasn't sure what to do with all of the pictures I had of her with our extended family so I decided at the back of the book to just randomly place all of the photos of her with our family in the back of the book.
And then I always end their album with a letter from both Adam and I telling them about their first year and how much we love them.
Now that I have this system I have the layouts saved in Blurb (I'll share more about Blurb at the bottom of this post) and now with Lucy I try at the end of each month to just put the pictures write into her album. So I already have the first three months of her album done. It usually only takes a few minutes if I already have the pictures edited.
And that is how I do our baby albums.
Now onto family albums. At first the thought of doing a whole year album completely overwhelmed me but now I again have a simple system and it has made doing each year much easier.
I'm trying to get in the habit at the end of the month doing 4 things.
1. Upload all my photos from that month and ideally edit them
2. Upload both Adam and my pictures of of our phone and back up to Thislife
3. Write our happenings for the month in my DayOne app
4. Back up my computer
If I do these things making my albums is really easy. Here is how I do it.
For each month I have a title page with the Month. I will then go to my DayOne app and look up everything that happened for the month. I'll include funny things the kids did, milestones, and just an over view of our month.
Then I just add our photos. I do not journal anything besides the title page for each month. I know that probably makes some of you cringe but if I'm going to do this every month for every year, I have to keep it simple. I do write my kids letters on each of their birthdays I write down other things in my DayOne app that I can look at later for memories, but for albums this is it. I will also do one page for each kids birthday that recaps them at each age. I will include funny things they say or do, their favorite things to do or favorite books etc. This way I have one page for each kid each year that is a little more personal.
Otherwise, I again only put a few pictures on each page. I like my layouts very simple. White background and only a few pictures. I try to take pictures that tell the story of our family. I should have taken pictures of a few examples of that but I oh well. Maybe a different post for a different day.
I'm not sure if I will do this every year but in 2012 I added a page of our instagram pictures at the end of each month.
And that is it. I know it is looks very involved but now that I have a system it really doesn't take me long.
Questions and Information:
I use Blurb for my albums and have been so impressed with everything about them. Some people have asked why Blurb over Shutterfly or something similiar? I started seeing several professional photographers mentioning Blurb so I checked it out. I thought it would be really expensive but it really isn't. Here is what I like:
- I can download the program onto my computer and don't have to be on the internet to work on my albums.
- I can save my templates and even import former templates of whole books so I don't have to reinvent the wheel every time.
- The quality is so good. For my baby albums I upgrade to their proline paper. I like the uncoated one but you can order a swatch kit of their different papers to be sure you get what you like. Our family albums are too long to use a thicker paper but even their standard paper is great.
- For the quality the price is really good. Our 2012 family album was just over 300 pages and with a 20% off coupon the book was $80. If you sign up for their emails they send out coupon codes often.
- Their customer support is amazing. For Lyla's one year album I didn't like the paper and wrote them and they printed me a new one for free. For Lucas' one year album somehow I got the dust jacket format instead of the image wrap and they again printed me a new one. Amazing!
- I like to use the standard landscape book with the hardcover image wrap.
I have mentioned the iPhone app DayOne and it has been the easiest way for me to keep track of our family memories. Since it is on my phone I just try to write things in their often. Funny things the kids say or do, something that happened that I don't want to forget. I mentioned above I write a recap of the month and then use that when I make my albums. I also have the app on my iPad and have used it for my own personal journaling.
We also use the app ThisLife. It was just bought by Shutterfly and it is a place you can backup your photos from all of your devices so your pictures are always safe. You can also have your Instagram photos automatically backed up there. It has been a great way to make sure all of the photos and videos on our phones get backed up.
Ok, I think that is it. Let me know in the comments if you have more specific questions and I'll try to answer them. Remember the best place to start is right where you are. If you have no system yet or have years of photos you want to put in albums don't start 10 years ago. Start right now with this summer. I am pretty behind right now but when I had some time I started with Lucy's album because it was motivating to be up to date on something. Now go make some memories.