Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Ideas: How to make a professional looking photo book by yourself.

Almost seven years ago, I began one of my favorite traditions.  I created a photo book that highlighted our year together as a family.  That book has been gifted to my husband for Christmas every year since.

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The first time around, the book was small, with limited pages, and not well planned.  As the years progressed, the book got bigger, fancier, thicker, and reflective of my OCD.  At one point I even switched companies for what I thought to be higher quality prints.  We're on year seven, and I can finally say that I have perfected the art of "the book".  Our annual photo book went from look like an amateur created it to looking like a professional did!

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How to make a professional photo book.

What company do you use to make the photo book?

About five years ago, I made the conscious decision to switch to SnapFish.  I made the switch because I find SnapFish to have a better quality finished product.  They have a large variety of options to customize the photo book.  I've been doing it for 7 years and haven't had to duplicate any designs.  You can choose from designs that have been made for you by professionals or create your own from scratch.

SnapFish is convenient because it allows the user to create a project and then work on it all year long.  They also have way less glitches than other websites I've used in the past.  Not to mention, they have really good coupons including 100 free prints a month when using the app.  

What is the first step to make your annual photo book?

I always begin my book after the holidays that way I have a foundation to work with.  ...and the bandwidth to work on it...  

The first step is to outline your photo book.  This can be tedious, but has been effective.  The first few years I didn't do this and the result was lots of rework.  I start off easy by outlining the holidays, reoccurring events like birthdays, and pages for seasonal highlights.  Then I start to fill in gaps with planned vacations or one off events that are expected to occur that year.  While the outline is really helpful, it's not set in stone.  You can always add or eliminate as you go.  Once I have a rough outline in hand, I use the tools provided on the company's website to design pages.  I'll use the text fields to label the intended purpose of each page, add elements, and so on.  Once this more official outline is drafted, it's all creativity and fun from there and the end result will be a professional looking photo book!

How do you track all of your pictures for your photo book?

One of the most difficult things is to keep track of all of your pictures.  This includes storing them and keeping them in somewhat chronological order.  Have you ever tried to find a specific picture a year later?  Yea, good luck with that!  I used to keep albums on Facebook with privacy settings so that only I could access them.  While I thought this was clever, it was a huge fail that resulted in at least one ruined photo book.  The upload to Facebook and then the re-upload to Snapfish resulted in blurry pictures.  

After my original epic fail, I decided to download the SnapFish app.  Through the application, I can upload pictures directly to the source without any effect on quality.  What's even better, is that through the app you can save pictures in separate albums labeled by year.  It's great photo storage, phone backup, and I never lose a picture!  

Idea:  I still save pictures to private albums in Facebook and on Google Photos just in case all my uploads disappear one day.  It's never a waste of time to back your stuff up plus it makes creating a professional looking photo book even easier!

What's your favorite part about annual photo book?

First and foremost, are the memories!  It's crazy to look back through the photo books and see how life changed.  ...and how much we all aged...  Secondly, the photo book encouraged me to take lots of pictures which is something I never did.  I have very few pictures of my daughter as a baby and this is one of my greatest regrets.  That first, very bare photo book inspired me to snap lots of pictures going forward.  Finally, it's an easy gift that only grows in sentimental value each year.

Have you made a photo book yet?


  1. That's a lovely remembrance. You are such a sweetheart.


    1. Aw, thank you. We love going through these books!

  2. My year is always so boring the book would've had one page - me sitting in front of the computer and translating books 24/7.

    1. It can be anything, just a simple stroll around the town. From what I see on Facebook, your hometown is gorgeous!

    2. It is currently in ruins as they're making a new fountain in the city square, dust and holes everywhere.

    3. Hopefully it will be worth it and even more beautiful after the work is complete.

  3. I rarely print photos anymore.

  4. Great way to look back indeed and with your ocd you'll have em all nice and neat. Haven't printed a photo in years. Mine would consist of cat, kid, alien pics lol

    1. LMAO Please tell me that you have a framed photo of Hank somewhere... lol

    2. Why frame him when he's here for all to see lol

  5. I made ONE book, for my oldest daughter's wedding shower. It was photos of their dating and engagement. It was SO much work and so many choices to make with all the fonts, colors and backgrounds. I usually print photos twice a year, just favorites, and put them in an album. I often take them out seasonally for frames I have around the house (like my kids in costumes at Halloween).

  6. I made one for my mom a few years ago. My sister saw it on her table and started crying (touched, happy tears). They really are a lovely way to organize and display your photos.

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