How to create your own digital family photo books
Unless you are new to my blog, you probably already know how passionate I am about printing your photos and not leaving them on a hard drive. I create a digital book of my family photos each year…. I get asked a lot of questions about how I create them, so I thought it was worth writing a blog post for you all with some tips!
Let me start with giving you some tips on getting your photos ready to put in a photo book. I know it’s a daunting thought when you are faced with years worth of photos. Even if you’ve never organised them before, the best time to start is now! Rather than starting to organise photos from years ago, start with the last full year and create an album of them. Then you will be motivated to do more and can gradually work your way backwards as and when you find the time.
I tend to go through my family photos at least once a month, and I’m pretty brutal about culling them! I delete any photos with blinks etc and get rid of any that are similar. It’s so easy with digital cameras to shoot too much (we’re all guilty of that!) and that’s fine as long as you are strict with your culling.
Then if you want to you can edit your selected images. I tend to do very minimal editing to my family photos; a bit of cropping, boosting contrast and brightening if necessary. Many of my family photos I don’t edit at all, I always try to make sure I get things as correct in camera as possible. It’s much better to learn how to take great photos in camera, than to spend all of your time in front of your computer trying to improve them afterwards!
Then once I have chosen my photos, I like to make up my montages during the year. I save these in 12×12″ square format so all I have to do at the end of the year is upload them as individual images. I use Lightroom to do this, but I really only recommend using Lightroom if you are a professional. For everyone else, Picmonkey is great and free and you can easily create montages using the software.
The design software that you can use on most digital photo book websites is really intuitive, and some of the parents that have been on my workshops tell me they save their designs in the software during the year. Then it is all saved in the cloud and all you have to do at the end of the year is press ‘publish’!
Before having children, my photo albums were always the traditional prints stuck into an album, then I ordered my first digital photo book in 2009 and got the bug! That was for my eldest son’s 1st year. Then I did another one for my youngest’s first year, and since then I’ve been doing annual books.
Annoyingly, the boys’ 1st year books are both different sizes and colours and I didn’t put text on the spine of the first one I created. Ideally all of the albums would be the same size and colour so they look lovely together on the shelf, but I’m just being fussy! I decided to order start ordering 30×30″ (12×12″) square books in 2011 so now they all look the same. It will look even better in 10 years time when I’ve got a whole shelf-full of them!
The last 2 books I’ve ordered have been through Blurb books and I’ve been delighted with the quality and colour reproduction. I always order an image wrap cover, normally with a different image on the front and back.
With regards to the design, I like to keep things as simple as possible and let the photos do the talking. I always plan my books in chronological order and try to let each spread tell a story. If I tried to over-complicate it by adding text, backgrounds etc I would never get round to creating them. I do have a tendency to add too many images to each spread, but I just find it easier to tell a story that way. But as they say, done is better than perfect!
I know some people don’t like black & white photos on the same spread as colour images, but it doesn’t bother me. I just try to design it so that the black & white images are on one page and the colour ones opposite, or at least symmetrical.
I don’t normally add any text at all, as I try to let the images speak for themselves. But occasionally when the images don’t explain very well, I add in some simple white text. Like on this page below. I did this little shoot with my eldest after school on his 5th birthday, but it wasn’t clear from the photos so I added a simple line of text.
I take a LOT of photos with my iPhone so it’s really important that I include them as well. If I tried to incorporate them chronologically along with my DSLR photos, I would put off doing the albums forever! So instead, I just put all of the year’s iPhone photos together at the end of the album. Some of them are edited, some aren’t, so it doesn’t look great but I don’t worry about it. I just put 25 square photos on each page to make the design really quick and easy.
The boys love the albums nearly as much as I do. When the last album arrived this summer, they spent ages pouring over it, and laughing at all the antics they got up to the year before. I think it’s a really positive thing that they get to see the results of mummy taking their photo so much, and I’m sure it makes them more relaxed in front of the camera.
I always order 2 copies of each album. One is for the boys to look through and one is hidden! Then I don’t get too anxious about pages getting torn or wrinkled when the boys are looking through them, safe in the knowledge that I have another one tucked away.
I know creating family albums is just another thing to go on our already full ‘to-do’ lists, but I really do think it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give your children. Otherwise we would forget all about that Christmas that S had scabs all over his chin and the boys wrestling in front of the tree dressed as a shepherd and a sheep….
I do hope this has given you some inspiration and motivation to create your own photo book. If you can’t quite face putting together an album of a whole year, why not just do a small album of your latest holiday? I bet you’ll get the bug too then! If you’ve found this post useful, I would be really grateful if you shared it with a friend or two…and please sign up for my free video training below. Thank you!
Vicki Knights is one of the leading family photographers in the UK and started running her popular 'Photography for Parents' workshops in 2010 (the first of its kind in the UK!)