Photo books are a beautiful way of getting those photographs off of your phone or computer and preserving them for years to come. I have always loved documenting and after Aria arrived I knew I wanted to create digital photo books or yearbooks as I call them of our family. I've used shutterfly in the past for smaller more event specific photo books, but I never loved the usability or customization options. Then I found Blurb. And then I finally had the tools I needed to turn my idea of family yearbooks into a reality.
To start I thought I'd touch on picture organization.
First of all, I organize my photos by year > month > week. For example, all the pictures I take this week (August 9th through August 15th) go into a '9-15' marked folder inside my 'August 2015' folder. At the end of each month I put that whole 'month' folder onto our external. That makes it extremely easy to find any pictures I may want at a later date.
I also happen to be an excessive picture taker. So far this month I have just under 1000 in my 'month' folder. That is a lot of pictures to look through at the end of the year when I go to make a photo book. That is how I had to do it for my first two yearbooks. It was tedious work. It took me a couple of weeks to gather up all the pictures I wanted to use in my most recent yearbook. It also made me realize I needed a new system.
My new sorting method involves a separate folder marked 'year three - 2015'. Inside are folders for each of the months plus my milestone folders, aka the month-day photos I take of Aria and our photo challenge photos. Now as I go through my pictures I copy and paste the best into my 'year three' folder. I said I had just under 1000 in my August 2015 folder, but I only have 40 in my 'year three' August folder. And because I just toss those pictures into the 'year three' folder as I get to them (usually while I sort them for blog purposes) it only takes an extra 3 seconds of work as opposed to a few weeks of work later on.
Now that I've been using this separate photo book folder I have everything I want to include in our next yearbook at my fingertips. Instead of wasting a lot of my time hunting for my favorite memories, I can just dive right into the fun part of making a photo book.
That brings me to Blurb. I love using their software and I love love love the final product that arrives on my front porch. I highly recommend this company if you want to make your own photo book, and not only really be able to make it your own but afford it in the end. (I am not affiliated with Blurb by the way, my love just runs deep)
I recently made a shutterfly book of our Disney trips we took last year. It was 57 pages at the 8x8 size for a total of 78 dollars before shipping. Knock me over with a feather. I ended up splitting it into two 8x8 books and using my pampers points for two free books. I still had to pay around 17 but that is better than 78 plus shipping. Now compare to blurb...my first yearbook was 70 pages at the 12x12 size (hardcover with an upgraded paper) for 78 dollars including shipping. However, my second yearbook was 104 pages with everything else being the same size and quality for 72 bucks including shipping. The second time around I knew to wait for one of their e-mailed discount codes, this particular one was 35% off no minimum.
Now I'm not completely knocking shutterfly because they have so many free 20 page 8x8 books that you can really use that to your advantage. And, I'll probably use them again for this year's Disney trips - I also still have pampers points that I can use. I've also made calendars and photo mugs with shutterfly. But, if a large gorgeous quality photo book is what you have in mind I would hands down go with Blurb.
So, let me show you how to get started.
You'll need to head over to www.blurb.com, sign up, and download their 'free easy-to-use software'.
Once you have that taken care of, you are ready to create your photo book. Open up the software and click on 'start a new book'.
Then choose which size book you'd like. You can check out each of the sizes plus pricing as well as paper options and cover options on the blurb website. Note that you can also change the size at a later point, but if you've started working on the photo book the conversion might turn the images wonky.
Now you can get help and use a starter layout, or you can wing it and click 'start book now'. I didn't even bother to glance at the starter layouts because the customization was what I was after.
Let me show you how to make your very own layouts.
Here is how your book will look brand new.
Click on page 5 at the bottom, and then 'edit layout' at the top.
Click on 'header' and 'footer' to remove those boxes, and then delete anything else you see. You want to have a clean slate. Make sure that 'display trim guidelines' is also checked.
Next I like to change the units from inches to pixels. I find the numbers are easier to work with when I create boxes. And then go ahead and add an 'image box'. From here you can create whatever layout your heart desires. I fancy the Project Life style for photo books so that is where I find layout inspiration.
I start by measuring the width of the entire layout. The red dotted lines mean keep content away this is the trim line and the purple area shows the possibility of distortion so keep important content away like words. So, stay mostly within the purple boundaries. After I stretch an image box out to the width of the page, I take a look at the pixel width or height. For this layout I wanted 4 squares running horizontally along the middle, so I divided the width by 4 and subtracted 2 pixels or so (for space between images). That number was 266 for me so I made four 266x266 boxes. Note that you can make a single 266x266 box and duplicate it three times.
I spaced them out evenly and made sure they were level with the aligning tools at the top.
Next I wanted three vertical images above and below my four squares. Using the same width measuring technique I got 355 pixels.
I created one 355 pixel wide box and duplicated it to make six total.
When I spaced everything out and moved the vertical boxes to their place I realized that it was a little too far into the purple zone. So I adjusted the height of the vertical boxes down a few pixels until they fit within the safe zone. Here is the result.
I make sure that each duplicate box has the same 'container size'. When you hover over the box it will list the 'container size'. For example the four squares running along the middle all have a 'container size' of 830x830 pixels. That means when I decide on the pictures for the squares on this layout I will take them through picmonkey and edit them to 830x830 pixels. That way they fit precisely in those squares.
Editing every single picture that you put into your photo book isn't technically necessary. When you drop a picture (unedited) into an image box blurb will shrink or center it for you. It will also pop up a warning if the picture's dimensions just don't work well with that particular box. But for me I want to know when I put in a picture it is going to look exactly how I want it, so I take the time to edit each and every one.
So the reason you want the 'container sizes' to be the same - all six of the vertical boxes should be the same and all four of the square boxes should be the same - is that when you go to edit 4 pictures for those 4 boxes you won't have to edit each a different pixel ratio. It goes much quicker that way. I learned that lesson the hard way with yearbook number one. Now I double check at the layout stage.
Now that you have your perfect layout, click 'apply & save to my layouts' at the bottom right. Name it whatever you'd like - customlayout001 works just fine.
You can now click on 'my page layouts' and use your custom layout on any page and as many times as you'd like. Not to mention you can use it on any subsequent photo books you may make with blurb.
Finally, it is as easy as a couple of clicks to add your pictures to your book. Click 'get photos', select your photos from your computer or wherever else, and then drag and drop into your image boxes.
Now that you know how to make your own layouts the sky is the limit. I have around 40 saved at the moment. I never even look at the layout options blurb includes because I have too much fun creating my own.
Here are a few from last year's photo book.
When you eventually finish your photo book and have triple checked that sucker, you simply upload it to blurb for ordering. Click preview > order > continue > sign in. Don't forget to wait for that email offering a discount code - I got 20% off the first book and 35% off the second.
I can't count the amount of times I got the sniffles making these yearbooks. The memories are already so precious even if they aren't all that old yet. But, one day they will be and I will have all of my favorites within perusing reach at any time.
Not only do I enjoy them but it is a wonderful visual for Aria. Since I am a holiday loving kind of girl, Aria and I talk about holidays past pretty often and I've been pulling over our yearbooks to illustrate the conversation.
I hope that this has given you the itch to keep organizing your photographs in a convenient and useful manner, and to make your very own family photo books.
I'll just leave you with a few resources and inspiration:
free digital & printable photo journaling cards
project life freebies
my pinterest board for yearbook inspiration