Sunday, October 11, 2015

Family Yearbooks: Tips, Suggestions and Ideas

Since having my daughter, I've started getting serious about documenting our life a little bit more. My brothers and I loved digging out the photo albums and looking through them when we were kids, and I wanted to create something similar for my family.

After obsessively searching the internet for the perfect way to go about this, I discovered that what was perfect for me was little nuggets combined from several other people. I thought I'd share my approach in the event that it has a nugget or two that others might find helpful.

Book details
  • 8.5"x11" book from Mixbook
  • Organized by month
  • Have ranged from 175-350 pages
Work Month-by-Month
I currently organize my books by month. This allows me to work on my book throughout the year instead of being overwhelmed at the end of the year.

Collect photos at the end of each month
Shortly after the end of a month, I download all of the photos from my phone, my husband's phone and my SLR camera. I also go out to an app our daycare uses to share photos, Facebook and a photo sharing site I use with my sister-in-laws to download photos. I put them in a folder labeled by month.

Organize and edit photos by month
After I have everything collected, I open the folder with all of the photos in Bridge, an Adobe program used for sorting and selecting photos. You could easily do this with iPhoto or another similar program. I just use Bridge because it was I'm most familiar with. The first thing I do it go through all of the photos and label the photos I want to include in my book. I then sort my label so only the ones I want to use appear. At that point I take on editing the photos.

Create book by month
After the photos are edited and converted to .jpgs, I upload them to my photo site. I've found Mixbook works best for me. I then work on creating my pages for that month. For now, organizing the book by month works best for our family. However, I think that as Grace gets older, this may change. I don't want to do a soccer layout every single month :) So, I may split the book and do average, everyday stuff by month and then have a section for things like activities, hobbies, etc. that expand multiple months.

Take notes throughout the year
I often find that there are many things I want to remember throughout the year that I don't have photos, so I try to keep notes in addition to photos. I have a draft email I keep in Gmail account where I keep my notes. I try to take a few minutes on Sunday night or Monday morning to spend some time writing down things that happened over the past week that I want to remember. Sunday or Monday work best for me because the weekend is usually the most interesting part of our week, and I want to record them while they are fresh in my mind. I usually only takes me 5-10 minutes each work and I often work them into my layouts.


Include artwork, cards and other special items
In addition to photos, I also try to scan in artwork, cards, text messages and other special items to include in the book. I don't do every single one, but I try to do ones that we especially want to remember. Other special items might include event tickets, programs, certificates, etc.



Figure out your priorities
When I started creating my first book, I nearly drove myself crazy trying to create a book that included everything I wanted while still looking like an artistic masterpiece. I quickly realized that I had to decide what was most important to me. I think this varies for everyone but is important to making sure you don't get frustrated and quit. I love doing my books and consider it a hobby. For someone who doesn't enjoy it, you'd probably want to scale back on what you include. A scaled down finished book is better than a comprehensive book you never start.

Bad photos are better than no photos
My priority was documenting our life and not creating an artistic masterpiece. Therefore, I'd prefer to have a bad photo that reminds me of a moment instead of only including perfect photos.


Don't restrict it to the highlights
Most of my book focuses on our day-to-day lives and less on special events. Don't get me wrong, there were multiple spreads devoted to my youngest brother's wedding and the day Grace was born. However, most of my book is photos and stories of Grace playing in the living room, visiting the local park and meeting Blake for lunch when he works nights. We're pretty boring, so the highlights only account for about 2% of our lives, and I wanted the other 98% to be represented and remembered.



One family book vs. individual books
I know that some people prefer to do one book for each child. I'm planning to just do one book for the entire family instead. I do this simply because I find doing one book is plenty of work for me. Just the thought of doing more than one makes me stressed.

Make it interactive
I'm just starting to experiment with this in my current book. As an example, I took a photo of our living room one afternoon, completely torn apart by Grace. I wanted to remember these days, but it was an incredibly boring photo on its own. So, I turned it into a little game and put a list of items on the layout to find in the photo of the messy living room.


Blank pages at the endWithout fail, when I get every book and am looking through it, I remember a few things I forgot to include. To make sure these memories aren't forgotten, I've started putting a few blank pages at the back of every book. I use them to jot down stories and tape in photos I forgot to include in the book.



Things I include in my book
  • Our house - I try to take a photo of the front and back of our house as well as document any major construction work (remodels, landscaping, etc.). I think it is fun to look back and see how your house has evolved.
  • Our daily life - This includes things like the previously mentioned messy living room, trips to the grocery store, funny things that happened when we all got sick, the first time Grace tried out her new inflatable pool, etc.
  • Hobbies - This includes things like my husband's gardening and my new obsession with adult coloring books.
  • Developmental milestones - This is for Grace. I try to at least note when she gets a new tooth, started walking or started rolling over.
  • Artwork - I try to scan in a couple of special pieces of artwork Grace has created each month to include.
  • Special outings - This includes concerts, museum trips, days at the pumpkin patch, etc.
  • Holidays and birthdays.
  • Career - I try to note where we are working and if there are any significant career milestones, such as new job or a fun contract project.
  • School/daycare - I note special activities Grace did or funny stories her teachers tell us.
  • Vacations

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