Photo books

Photo books - because kids are narcissists!

We are still building our family’s Christmas traditions. One that is entrenched, though — three years and going strong, ha — is publishing a photo book.

I’m not Suzie Homemaker by any stretch of the imagination, and we’re pretty lacking in sentimental materials around here. No baby books or cute handprint impressions, very few printed photos (the ones we have are mainly courtesy of daycare), and though we’ve kept some keepsakes for both kids they’re all just stuffed in a couple of bags somewhere. I decided that I can justify being negligent on all these other things (and many more I haven’t told you about) if I sit down once a year and put together a little story with some of the year’s top photos.

Personalised photo books
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Summary

Photo books are a lovely way of using the screeds of photos you took on your phone to capture memories and thrill your children. The only drawback is the time it takes to make them, but you can choose how simple or complex your book is, and the time scales accordingly.

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Making a photo book each year is an all-around win for us. We get to look back on all our photos and reminisce; we charm the grandparents and great grandparents with a lovely, personal Christmas gift (spoiler alert, Mum); and best of all the kids themselves love reading and re-reading the stories.

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It takes me, I’d estimate, around 30 hours to make each book, so it’s not a speedy endeavour, but once-a-year I can handle that. I’m pretty particular, too, and trawl through every photo from the year, sort them into themes and weave a (plotless) story around them. Most of the time in is the photo sorting, and you could please your kids just as much by picking your top 20 pictures and bunging one on each page. I choose to be pedantic about it all, and to me it’s worth it — but you can choose your level and scale it back to a couple of hours or maybe even less if you prefer.

As well as looking at photos of themselves, these books are great for photos of extended family. Since our wider family all live in a different city from us, looking at photos helps our kids remember what their cousins and aunties and uncles look like.

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I try to finish my books in the time-honoured bedtime story fashion, with a page encouraging sleep. Because somehow I always end up with heaps of sleeping baby photos.  Maybe because I need to remind myself of those magical moments of calm?

I’ve used Snapfish for our books, and their software is reasonable. It lacks fine-tuning but if, like me, you’re not skilled at graphic design, the templates can help achieve a sophisticated(ish) result without intense effort. If you do have talents in that area and would rather use Photoshop to design the pages, you can do that and pop your file on the page in one piece. But if you’re a graphic designer you already know way more than me about this stuff. 😉

I find — because I use over 100 photos in each book — that it’s easiest to sort the photos first, then upload them in batches for the page(s) I’m working on. Because the editor doesn’t have a file structure, if you upload lots at once it can be hard to find the ones you want otherwise. I sort the photos into folders on my computer, write a story that incorporates the themes, and then stick them into the book in order. All of this is much easier if you stick to fewer photos.

 

Snapfish regularly have generous discounts (in fact I’m not sure if they ever charge full price — if they are you should probably wait a day or so before ordering!) but they do charge shipping per item and only occasionally discount extra pages. I find we need to add a few pages to the default to get our year’s worth of photos in, so the price creeps up. This year, on an only moderately good deal, I paid $16.70 per book (13cm x 18cm softcover books, with 10 extra pages each). They are super quick on shipping — insanely quick, even. It took less than 72 hours for this years’ books to arrive, which is pretty impressive since that includes printing time.

Snapfish isn’t the only option so go ahead and shop around — I’m really rating the concept rather than the specific provider here. But a lovely concept it is. My stories might be a bit lame, but looking at pictures of my babies makes all of us happy. And makes me feel much better about all the other sentimental stuff I ignore.

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