Are all your precious memories hidden from sight on your laptop or phone? I love scrolling through photos on my phone when I’m stuck at work or traveling and miss my kids. But call me old fashioned – I love a real photo album with actual pages that I can turn. My kids love to took through family photo albums too – and it’s a great way for them to remember family members and friends who they don’t see often. They can’t believe those babies staring back at them from the pages are really them!
At one point my son would “read” our photo albums every day. He would narrate the story of his short life – the pumpkin patch, visiting Santa, his old bedroom and snuggling with Grandma. These are my kid’s memories too – not just mine – and I want them to be able to enjoy them.
There are tons of options out there but Shutterfly is the photo platform I use. When my oldest was born I printed ALL the photos and placed them in traditional albums (which are surprisingly difficult to find). When I realized how many albums I was filling and how much space it was taking on my shelves I knew I needed a new solution.
Shutterfly Photo Albums
There are so many different ways to approach this problem – and I was quickly overwhelmed. Ultimately, I decided to make custom photo books from Shutterfly. I still didn’t know how I wanted to organize the photos though – by child, by event, by month? I wasn’t sure. Should I make a lot of small individual books or one large one. I spent months thinking about how to organize the photos and finally decided to create an annual family album – like a yearbook!
So, even though I had already printed over 1000 photos of our first couple years as a family I decided to backtrack and start the first album the year my oldest was born. It worked out perfectly – he was born in February so I included all the baby showers and maternity photos in that first album. I am so happy I decided to include those photos as they are such sweet memories of a very special time.
It is a daunting task to choose photos, organize and edit these albums – but as far as I am concerned it is 100% worth it! I normally start working on the current year’s album in the fall – and don’t finish until about March!
How I organize my Photo Book
I organize my photos chronologically starting in January, working my way all the way to the end of December. Over the years Shutterfly has improved the process greatly. The first couple albums I painstakingly chose a template for each page and added each photo individually. Thank goodness for the addition of Storyboard.
I love Storyboard – it has been life changing and saved me hundred of hours. I add a month’s worth of photos to Storyboard and then group them onto the pages. For example, I might put 5 photos of my daughter in her Halloween costume on one page. Then Shutterfly magically chooses a template and inserts the photos. It’s not perfect so I do have to go back and edit each page, crop photos and move things around a little – but it is much better and quicker than choosing each template myself.
There are millions of design options at Shutterfly
Shutterfly has made the process very simple – other than adding and arranging the photos all you have to do is choose a background and make a cover. I have made most of my books the same with a simple black background. But if you are more creative you could add labels and fancy themes to customize the album more. My goal for these books was a family photo album, not a scrapbook so I kept it clean and simple.
I can only handle working on this project for a couple hours at a time – if you could power through you could finish an album much more quickly than me. These days with three kids, a million activities, birthday parties and vacations I actually need to make 2 albums. Each Shutterfly album has a limit of 1000 photos or 110 pages. That’s one of the reasons I like to wait until fall to start the album – it is easier to anticipate where the halfway point will be.
Once all my hard work is done, I not so patiently wait for Shutterfly to have a good sale – because 12×12 photo albums with 100 pages are not cheap! Once I submit my order I can’t wait for that orange box to arrive in the mail. The kids get excited too and that first night that they arrive we all sit down and “read” the photo album together. I love hearing “I remember that”, “that was so funny” and seeing their little faces as they share memories of another year passed.