February 19, 2014

Making Family Photo Albums–Getting it Done!

2013 family album

It’s no secret that I’m pretty passionate about getting my personal pictures printed and sprinkled through-out everyday life so that they don’t just sit all sad and lonely on my hard drive. Albums are an important part of this practice of mine. I’ve written previously about my album process (here and here), and I’m back today with some of my best tips to encourage YOU to make albums, too.

In album-making, it’s super important to minimize the number of decisions you have to make. Having to make too many decisions can be crippling and defeat projects (in this case: albums) before they even begin. I make an Annual Family Album. There are already about a million decisions that go into this album (ok, I’m exaggerating; it’s only about 10-12k decisions) just considering which pictures to include and which NOT to include. So it’s very important to me that I minimize the rest of the decisions.

Minimize the Number of Decisions You Have to Make!!

These are some of my (for me) no-brainer don’t-even-think-about-it organizational decisions:

1. My Annual Family Album runs from Jan1 to Dec31 inclusive.
2. I arrange my pictures chronologically, month by month.
3. I use my Instagrams (phone pics) as a “title page/summary-grid” of sorts for each month.
4. I do NOT mix phone pics and dslr pics on the same page. (mixing makes the phone pics look … sad).
5. My background page color is always white (clean, non-cluttered design is my preferred aesthetic).
6. The album maker I use has a maximum page count of 100. So I know I have about 8 pages per month. I choose pictures with that 8 page limit in mind. I brutally cut back my number of chosen photos. I know months when we travel will likely use more pages, so on non-travel months, I try to use fewer pages.

My #1 Tip to help both your blogging AND your album making:

Only work your pictures once for both applications! Cull your favorite images. Edit them. Export them once, sized for blog. Export them a second time as full-res, print-ready images, saved to an album folder for use when you’re ready to dig into album design. To keep the chronological order obvious, I set up my folder structure like this:

Parent Folder: 2013 Keller Family Album
Sub-folders: Jan, Feb, Mar, etc.

folder structure
This way I’m only drowning in picture-choice dilemmas one time. You can narrow down further at album time, if necessary; but you’ll only be negotiating with a couple dozen pictures, not hundreds. If I can actually work/design the album pages around the same time I’m blogging – bonus points. Super time saver.

More tips …
If you’ve already made albums, look through them and take note of which lay-outs you like best (be they the album maker’s templates or your own). And also take note of which lay-outs you don’t like. I save copies of the lay-outs I like best from year to year and just drag and drop current pictures into them. And I avoid re-using designs I didn’t like.

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: eliminate the stuff that keeps you from doing or completing your album. If you don’t like designing lay-outs, then find an album maker that gives you simple drag & drop design. If you don’t like journaling, then don’t. (Words are my personal hang-up. I have very few of them in my albums.) If you like cutesy, colorful page design, then find a software that allows you to do that simply & quickly. If an annual album is too big a project, start small and consider just printing a family vacation album. You get the picture. Get rid of the stuff that bogs you down.

Here’s an example of how I use Instagrams (instead of a bunch of words!) to show what we did each month:

instagrams as month pages600px

And when I got my album back from the publisher, I noticed I didn’t make my center margin large enough so that the pictures don’t get gobbled up in the middle. I’m taking note for my next album: increase center margin!!

leave bigger center margin

Sometimes I get totally hung up trying to narrow down my roadtrip/vacation pics and so I decide not to focus on a few and instead make a page with a bunch. And then when I get the book back, I usually tell myself that I won’t do that again. And I don’t. Until the next vacation when I can’t narrow down my selections (wry grin). Sometimes I’ll compromise and do a many-vacay-pics page next to a single-photo-page, and that assuages my design aesthetic desires a little bit. Here’s the real thing, the key to pushing through mental roadblocks: I often let go of the pursuit of “perfection” to just get it done.

lotsa vacay pics
lotsa vacay pics2 600px

And, in the end, I’m really happy I’ve got my album.

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