Archive for the ‘photobook’ Category

I love memory-keeping.

This is not a surprise to anyone who knows me even a little bit.  I like to say that photos are my love-language!  I take so many photos, and I have a detailed system in place to make sure that all of my photos have some sort of caption attached to them.

The form of memory-keeping I like best is paper scrapbooking.  “Traditional” scrapbook pages are at the top of that list: I love adding pretty paper and embellishments to my photos and stories to enhance them and turn them into creative works.  I love the layers, the colors, the feel of the paper and chipboard and veneer and…and…


Recently, though, I have had to prioritize other things, and so I have been doing very little actual scrapbooking with paper.  Add to that the fact that my craft room had to be involved in some plumbing replacement during our bathroom renovation, and you find a girl who is desperate for a creative outlet without a place to make stuff.

And so, I decided to take advantage of the forced time away from my physical supplies to do some digital work.  I had photos to catch up with, and I also had some photo books that I’ve wanted to make.


monorail and Dry Gulch Railroad, 2013


Ladybugs and Sack Slide, 2013


I have mixed feelings about photo books.  Anyone else?  Sometimes I feel like it’s cheating.  It feels like instead of actually making a scrapbook, I’m just throwing some photos onto pages and printing them into a book, and calling it good.  I choose and edit my photos, I upload them to Shutterfly and make the books right in their software.  For these most recent photo books, I just used the standard styles (not even the premium ones) to construct my books.  I didn’t even use my own digital supplies in PSE to make my own pages!  Cheating?


Starship and Ladybugs, 2016


Flying Falcons, 2016

When I really stop to think about it though, I realize that it’s not cheating.  Yes, I used the website’s software and basic templates and supplies.  But I spent hours on them– adding embellishments in just the right places, tweaking the photo placements so that they were just right, and adding text to tell the stories of our annual trips to Hersheypark.  These are scrapbooks, too.  They might not have the tactile end result of layers of paper and embellishments, shadows and textures, but they are lovingly made– and they are completely personalized to our family’s story.  And best of all: they are done!  They are available on our bookshelf — the kids browse through these photo books, reminiscing from the photos, and asking their Daddy and me to read the words to them.  I am so glad that I have taken the time to write so much about each photo.  The metadata in the photo files helped me to construct the narrative that runs through each book.  It’s not cheating: it’s another form of memory-keeping.


Cocoa Cruiser and Livery Stables, 2017


Trailblazer and Convoy, 2017


Ladybugs and Swing Thing, 2017

I still love paper scrapbooks, and I hope that I am always able to keep making them.  But I will also be making more photo books, too.  Sometimes those books will be done on the Shutterfly website, and sometimes I will completely design them myself in PSE.  I’m making my peace with photo books, and I’m glad.


photo with Mr. Hershey, 2013


photo with Mr. Hershey, 2016


photo with Mr. Hershey, 2017

In this post, I’ve shared photos of the three most recent photo books I made in June and July of this year.  I am trying to keep a series of photo books of our annual day trips to Hersheypark.  We went for the first time in 2013, and we’ve gone every year since– I’d like to have a book for each year.  I have not yet made my book for 2015 (there are so many photos from that year!), but I have made all of the others so far!  (I made the book for 2014 way back in that same year, so I’m not showing it in this blog post.)  It’s so fun to see our kids grow up– which rides are new for them each year, and which ones are perennial favorites.  



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At the end of February, my husband and I took our kids to a Great Wolf Lodge located a few hours from our house.  We realized that it was the first “vacation” we’d taken as just our nuclear family!  The kids had a blast (so did we!) and ever since we returned, they’ve been playing an imaginary game of Great Wolf Lodge all through the house (think sliding around on the floor pretending to be on water slides–ha!)

One day at the end of March, I was working through organizing and editing my photos from the month of February.  As I worked, I received an email with a free photobook offer from Shutterfly–that expired that night!  Thanks to some recent posts on the Lightroom Killer Tips blog, I had the idea of creating photo collages for photobooks on my mind.  I told my husband, “I’m dropping everything to do this today.  I think I can do it!”  And I did!  Woo!  It was probably the very fastest turnaround on a project for me, period.  I chose favorites from our trip, edited them, organized them into pages, made collages, added text, created a title page, covers, and spine and uploaded it to order– all in about 8 hours.  Whoa.

I’ve done a photobook this way before, but this time, it was even faster- I think because there were a lot fewer photos!  Last time, I just put the collages onto Shutterfly pages and printed, but this time, I wanted to have text along with the photos, so I kept that in mind while I constructed my photo collages.  I made the collages in LR, then imported the “printed-to-file” images into PSE and added text boxes.  The text is a slightly modified version of the captions I’d added to the metadata of my photos, so it went very quickly.


I wanted the title page and final page to be a bit more fancy than just a white background, so I made those pages in PSE (they are still super simple!) and used Audrey Neal’s digital paper from the Whiteout collection to add a whimsical woodgrain.  I also did a quick internet search to find an image of the Great Wolf Lodge logo to use on the title page.

I used the Shutterfly templates to make my cover images and spine, then uploaded everything to print!  It was so satisfying to get it done so quickly.



It was even more satisfying to get the book so soon after our trip, so that my kids could enjoy it.



I even took the time to go through the many video clips I took while we were there and grab some screenshots of us going down the slides!

My kids were immediately drawn to the new photobook.  I loved seeing them sitting close on the couch to look at the book together!



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Yet again this year, a looming expiration date of a free-photobook offer gave me the push I needed to complete my 2015 Day-in-the-Life photobook/mini album back in July.  An upcoming trip helped me, as well– I wanted to get it finished before we left (it was also one of my July 2016 goals)!  Now that we are just a few days from this year’s day-in-the-life date (October 4), I thought I’d post about my 2015 book.

I kept my design the same as the previous two years’ (2014, 2013), which made it much easier to complete!  The basic layout is white backgrounds with grid-like arrangements of photos and blocks of text.  I add digital papers into the mix of photos to make it a bit fancier.  😉  For the digital papers this year, I pulled out a collaboration kit called “This Moment is Your Life” that I downloaded as a freebie from Sweet Shoppe Designs a while (read: years) ago.

I had almost twice the photos as last year’s book, which meant that more photos ended up on each page. I was also pleased that I finally remembered to get a posed family photo!


As per tradition (does doing it for two years make it a tradition?), I made a photo-and-digital-paper collage cover design.  I plan to use this template every year.  Since I had over 100 photos in the book this year, I picked the best half(ish) to add to the cover rather than use them all as in previous years.



Every time I finish one of these photo books, I am so glad to have the day documented.  Each year it gets easier, too, now that I have a plan of attack– as long as I make sure to write good notes during the day!  Let’s see if I can finish my 2016 book sooner! 😉


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As you recall from my first “Scrapbooking Disney” post about my photo organization, one of my major goals for my photos was to create a no-frills photo book containing all of our favorite photos from the trip.  I didn’t want any text, just photos!

I had about 250 photos in our “favorites” category, and I knew I was going to try to stick as close to 20 pages as possible.  It turned out that I earned a free 12″x12″ hardcover photo book through Pampers Rewards.  I decided to add 6 pages (the equivalent of the shipping I’d have paid–because the reward included shipping!  Awesome!), and 26 was the perfect number of pages.

Husband and I sat down together yet again to decide on page breaks.  I know that one of my flaws is my indecisiveness!  But there’s nothing like sitting down with someone you love (like your husband) to get their advice/help on a project to make you realize that you have very specific ideas on how to do it, after all! ::wink:: But really, he was very helpful and his suggestions really got me going in the right direction.  Thank you, Husband.

I waffled for a bit about whether I should use Shutterfly’s web templates, whether I should use my own in PSE, or if I should attempt something in Lightroom.  I’ve known for a while that the Print module in LR is extremely powerful for batch-printing, and that you can make your own templates, but I’d never attempted the truly custom templates before.  I finally chose to devote a bit of time to learn how to use custom templates in the Print module of Lightroom.  I am so glad that I did!  Let me tell you, it is like MAGIC.  Even though I had to overcome a bit of a learning curve (THIS post at the Daily Digi helped me get started!), by the end, I was practically dancing in my seat as I put together layouts.  It still took some time, since the group of photos for each page/spread was different, but I was thrilled with the control I had over placement, inter-photo borders, and the ability to quickly switch back and edit/crop a photo in place.  WOW.  I’ve fallen in love with LR all over again.

Disney photobook pages

Disney photobook pages

The photos are not in strict chronological order in the book, but they are pretty close.  Where they stray from chronology, they are grouped to tell a particular story.

The front and back cover, spine, and title page are all designed in PSE using the page templates provided on the Shutterfly website (and yes, I messed up a bit with the blue at the top of the cover.  I just didn’t want to cut off the tip of the castle spire!).  The blue is color-matched with the eyedropper tool from the turrets of the castle.  The font is “Waltograph.”










An awesome bonus that resulted from doing my pages in LR was that I can re-print the book in any (square) size and not have to redo all of the work.  I imported the high-res borderless square collages back into LR to add the necessary borders to account for the book gutter and bleed margins.  If I decide to print additional copies of the book in a different size (say at 8″x8″), it is a piece of cake to change those borders).

I am SO, SO delighted with how this book turned out.  I ordered it on February 29, one month and three days after we returned from our trip.  I am pretty proud of that turnaround!

I couldn’t contain my excitement when the book arrived in the mail.  I opened it right away, and my kids were drawn like moths to the flame to look at the photos with me!  This is essentially the first time that they saw the photos from our trip (besides an occasional glimpse as I worked with them on my computer), and their reactions were priceless.

2016-03-07 13.13.29-Edit

2016-03-07 13.17.05-Edit

The photo book continues to be a favorite book around here.  I love seeing my kids pull it off of the book shelf to page through it.




Seeing my kids look through this photo book (and then get interested all over again in the other photo books that I’ve made…) makes me want to buckle down and make more!

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A free photo book offer earlier this year was the motivating factor for me finally completing this book!


Remember last year, I did something similar and declared my intention to document “A Day in the Life” annually, each October 4.

It is absolutely amazing to see how different our lives are after just a year!!  And also to see how much daily life has changed in the time between October 4 and when I made it, and now, when I’m finally posting about it.

I followed the same basic premise for assembling the book: I used the same templates (of course, adjusting them slightly if necessary), and I included spots for digital papers.  The digital supplies are from a blog hop sponsored by The Lilypad; the resulting collaboration kit is called “Currently.”  I filled in the text with words that I wrote that day (or maybe the day afterward).  I tried to be really honest in my account about how things went, but at the same time trying to focus on the positive.  We were still very much in the adjustment stages to having a new baby, who was nursing for hours every couple of hours, so it was not an easy day.





Since I really loved the “photo summary” style of last year’s cover, I did the same thing again, but I changed the colors and papers to coordinate with the rest of the book (which is probably pretty obvious, haha!).



I again made an 8″x8″ book through Shutterfly, and it turned out beautifully.  The first one that I got had some ink blotching from the printing process, and unfortunately it was right on my daughter’s face on one of the pages.  I contacted Shutterfly’s customer service, and they immediately replaced the book.  Thanks, Shutterfly!







Oh my, I can hardly believe that it’s just over a month until my next annual day-in-the-life is to documented!  How time flies…

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Last fall, a bunch of influences came together to compel me to document a “day in my life.”

I think I do a pretty good job of documenting my “everyday” life, if the number of photos in my Lightroom catalog has anything to say about it.  However, I’ve never formally participated in Day/Week-in-the-Life or other scrapbooking “events” like that.  In 2012, when I was doing my Project 366, I did take an enormous number of photos one day in February and add them as an insert in a coin-pocket page, along with a sheet of detailed hand-written notes on one of Ali’s worksheets.  I love the result, even if it didn’t turn into any larger type of project.  It’s amazing to see how I spent a day back then, when my daughter was only a few months old!

Sometime at the end of September or beginning of October 2013, I listened to a Paperclipping Roundtable podcast episode while running (just thinking about it makes me see my route in my mind… it’s actually quite nice!), and even though the basic topic was outside my personal experience, there was a part of the discussion at the end of the episode that focused on taking note of your current life circumstances/situations and documenting them.  Shortly after I listened to the episode, I saw Christine’s awesome layout documenting a day in her life.  It was another reminder that documenting my everyday routine at a more in-depth level didn’t have to be a huge project (although of course I turned it into one, because, you know, that’s the way I roll ;-))  In 2013, Ali Edwards was doing a monthly day-in-the-life insert in her albums, and so I was seeing those pop up in my blog reader, too.  Somewhere in there, I heard an offhand mention by (I think) Katrina Kennedy in her Capture Your 365 podcast (I wish I could remember which episode, sorry) about a day-in-the-life photobook she made.  Suddenly, I knew that if I was to do this day-in-the-life thing, I was going to do it in photobook/digital scrapbook form.

After so many things inspired me, I finally decided I should just DO it! In the Paperclipping Roundtable podcast, Marie-Pierre suggested doing a day-in-the-life documentation once a year, so I thought that I should pick a date and start a tradition!  What was I waiting for?  I picked a date (a day or two later: October 4), set hourly alarms on my phone to take photos (thanks for the idea, Christine!), and made the commitment.

I took a LOT of photos that day.  I also ended up taking a lot of video clips, which don’t figure into this project, but they make me happy, so that’s why I mention them. 🙂  It took me longer to get to it than I wanted (about a month), but I sat down eventually and typed up some journaling to accompany the photos and “narrate” the day.  I narrowed my photos down to 56 images.  In December, I made a big push on the project and digitally scrapbooked a 20-page photobook, plus a collage front cover.  I was waiting on the “perfect” digital papers until now, and I finally realized I had the perfect set in the Sweet Shoppe Designs collaboration kit, “Enjoy the Little Things”– it’s like the color scheme was made for my photos!!

For most of the pages of the photobook, I modified templates that I’d made for my (epic) Corsica photobook project.  Even though I intended to make an 8″x8″ book at the end, I started out with the canvases at 12″x12,” and after getting all the photo placement and placeholder spots ready for the patterned paper, I resized the canvases within the 8″x8″ photobook templates provided by Shutterfly, added the text, and finally clipped pattern paper into the placeholder spots.


I am especially proud of the title page.  Because I didn’t have any one image that I felt was a good summary of the day (and somehow I didn’t take ANY family photos the whole day!!  I’ll have to remember to do that in the future…), I thought it might be fun to do a collage! I started with one of Katie the Scrapbook Lady’s “Sixteens” templates, and rotated it three times to make a 2-by-2 grid of 16 spots.  I filled my pictures into most of the spots, and clipped patterned paper into the remaining spots.  Finally, I added a banner title (the text is made from Ali Edwards’ .png image; I used the 4×6 aspect ratio .png on the title page inside the book).  I LOVE how it turned out!


This project is a treasure to me.  It is my intention to continue the “tradition” (is it a tradition if it’s happened only once so far?  probably not, haha) each year on October 4.  In a few years, I’ll have a stack of day-in-the-life photobooks– how cool will that be?!

A few days after I uploaded all of my pages to Shutterfly (NOTE: you must de-select the option for Shutterfly to auto-correct your photos or else the colors might come out funkily super-bright or weird.  I wish so much that there was a quick way to do this, but you actually have to do it for each photo individually.  Bleh.), I received my book in the mail!  It’s gorgeous! (if I do say so myself!) 🙂  Here are some “beauty shots:”








I am already looking forward to documenting October 4, 2014! 🙂

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So waaaaay back in October, I mentioned that I’d made a photo book in September for my daughter with photos from our beach vacation this past summer.  I have to say, this project changed the way I’ve been thinking about photobooks.

Previously, I thought photo books were a prohibitive amount of work– my experience (a LONG time ago) with the online book-making software from the different developers was hard to work with (and I didn’t get exactly what I envisioned because of the software limitations)… and then there was that Corsica photobook, which merited a mini-series on my blog because I did the entire thing from scratch, starting with making my own digital templates.

My other experience with photobooks was to use them as a way to display a small subset of favorite photobooks from photo-shoots:  in those books it was basically one photo per page, and no text.  That makes it pretty easy, but less of a memory-keeping/scrapbook and more of a display book.   Which I love, but they don’t tell much of a story on their own.

So, I keep getting those free photo book offers (I know I’m not the only one), and I hated letting them expire without using them, but I had built up photobooks in my head as this big, enormous, difficult project!  Finally, in September, I got an offer I just couldn’t let pass.  And I had the perfect set of photos (namely, a defined event with a beginning and an end): our beach vacation last summer.

This time, I was so pleasantly surprised by my experience with Shutterfly’s book-making software!  Not only have the background/layout options expanded enormously from my past experience (which was in like, 2007!), but the software has so many more capabilities than in the past.  They have a feature that allows you to change virtually anything about the layout of the page: the number of photos, their sizes and placement, text boxes, even adding coordinating embellishments!

In short, it was basically digital scrapbooking!!  I was impressed.  And for me, who knows enough about PSE to be dangerous, but not enough to be efficient/quick, it was the best of both worlds.

I managed to make a 20-page book containing 117 photos plus text in less than a week of “free” time.  I LOVE paper scrapbooking, but I cannot pretend that I would have been able to do a comparable project in that short amount of time with traditional supplies.  I LOVE how it turned out, too!  Granted, I couldn’t add shadows under the digital stickers, etc. the way I perhaps would have done with PSE, but I was very impressed with the selection and quality of digital supplies provided.

And the best part is, my little girl, who loves books, can page through it to her heart’s content– and if it ever gets severely damaged, we can reprint the book.  Just the other morning, when she woke up, she started telling her daddy about what she remembered from the beach.  He was able to read to her from this photobook and they relived happy memories together with it.  You can’t beat that.  Paper scrapbooking is still my first “love,” but I definitely hope to make more photobooks in the near future.

Looking at the beach photobook for the very first time.

Looking at the beach photobook for the very first time.


P.S. This post was in no way sponsored or solicited by Shutterfly.  It’s just my own opinions about my recent experience. 

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