Recently I shared on Instagram that I ordered my annual photo book, and I started getting lots of questions from you guys about it. I’ll admit that I 100% copied my sister, who started doing this years before I ever did. She’s not a blogger thought, so today I’ll share with you how I get a Year’s Worth of Memories in One Big Photo Book!
Ordering the Book
I order my annual photo books from Shutterfly. I select the 11×14 option because it can hold 1000 photos and 111 pages! When I’m gathering photos for the book, I try to be really intentional about paring each year’s photos down to 1000 photos in one folder on my computer, then I upload that entire folder. One exception to this was in 2018 we took an epic road trip and I took over 400 photos on that road trip. In the annual book I included three spreads with about 50 photos from the trip, but then I made an additional 8″x8″ photo book highlighting ALL the photos from that trip. I don’t really want to be in the habit of having extra books, but that year I didn’t want 400 of our 1000 photos to be from one trip.
I love the look of the “Modern White” book, and it keeps my books uniform from year to year as trends come and go.
You can see that I haven’t been consistent about the font size on the binding, but going forward I’m just going to go as big as it allows so that I don’t have to remember a font size from year to year.
One really goofy thing in the “modern white” book is that the binding is tan by default. Thankfully they let you correct this by clicking on the binding, clicking on backgrounds, and switching to white.
Creating Photo Layouts for your Book
When I am making the photo books, I stick to a few of my favorite layouts. This “spread” is probably my most utilized, but I am always toggling back and forth between having “advanced editing” on and off. The images below show this spread tweaked. Almost always I drag the middle images to all four be the same size. This way a photo isn’t obscured by the binding. Often I also tweak the bottom right four horizontal images. If you see in the examples below in one of them I just eliminated three of the spaces and put one larger photo there. In the other I eliminated two and put two vertical photos there. I feel like using four landscape photos is too small and cluttered.
If you look closely at the layout below you can see how all four center images have been edited to be the same size.
I like to showcase lots of square photos that I’ve shared on instagram, but they don’t have a great layout for that either. So what I do is I use the layout that you see selected on the left, and eliminate the text box and enlarge it to look like the layout on the right. When you’re editing the layout it shows grid lines for you to know if you’re centered vertically and horizontally as well.
Below is a finished example of the square grid from above, duplicated onto two pages. Beware that you do lose some of the image to the center fold. They offer a “lay flat” option for the books, but it costs quite a bit more. Instead I try to just use photos in the center that can be partially obscured.
Another “upsell” they offer is that you can pay to not have the shutterfly logo in your book. For me it’s not worth the money. This is how it looks:
Cost of the Photo Book
Pictured below is a coupon code that they mailed me for 50% off photo books. Here’s what you need to be aware of: You need to order your book when it’s 50% off EVERYTHING including additional pages. The book only comes with like 20 pages, so when you’re adding 91 more pages you need to be able to get 50% off those as well. My best advice is to make your book, save it in projects, and wait to order until they offer 50% off everything (plus free shipping). Often you can stack coupon codes. For my smaller books I’ve paid closer to $80, up to the largest books costing me $150.
It’s also a valuable memory. Another thing I really appreciate is that the projects are saved forever, so if we ever had a flood or fire or catastrophe, I could easily reorder and replace these books.
Additional Annual Photo Book Tips
Ok, let’s talk about a few more tips I have after years of making these book:
- I don’t use much text at all, but I always use text on the “first day of school pictures” with the grades and school name.
- I take photos or scan the “School Pictures” so that they’re included in the book.
- This year I purchased a Mall “Santa Photo” and scanned it to include in the book
- I’ve taken screen shots of memorable facebook and instagram captions, then uploaded them as photos to remember.
- I take photos of school work that I want to remember, and of our “Summer Bucket List” to remember.
- I scan photo booth “photo strips”, rather than having to hold onto the actual strip.
- Most years I include a full page photo of our home at the time. Just to remember where we lived and how it looked each year.
- I always am sure to take New Years Eve photos for the last page, because I love how it creates a great last page to culminate the year.
Displaying Your Annual Photo Books
We have Ikea “Billy Bookcases” and I should mention that the books are a bit deeper than the shelves. If you plan to keep them on a bookshelf, this is one thing to keep in mind. Because we have the cabinet doors below our books it doesn’t bother me too much.
Here’s a photo of how I have our photo books styled on the bookshelves. My kids look at these books a TON and I love having them somewhere easily accessible.
Encouragement for Making an Annual Photo Book
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about this whole process here’s a few tips:
- Just start with last year. Those photos are likely the most accessible and you’ll feel accomplished to have knocked out one year. Then you can work backwards from there. I only started doing this in 2015, but at this point I’ve worked back to 2011. I’d love to get all the way back to 2007 when we got married. Those were pre-smartphone days so thankfully I don’t have nearly as many photos to go through!
- Throughout the year, try to stay on top of the photos on your phone. Edit the extras and think “would I keep this for my annual photo book”. I use the icloud for automatic backup, but monthly I try to save around 100 photos to the folder on my computer for that year. This means at the end of the year I’ll only have about 1200 photos to cull down to 1000.
- When making the book I start with the layouts that I can use lots of photos on. It isn’t until I’ve completed all of these that I go back and take up full pages with single photos. This is how I don’t run out of pages before using all photos.
- Make sure you “save” often! I’ve had times where I’ve lost internet, or my battery died and I’ve lost lots of progress. Nothing is more frustrating. It seems like now Shutterfly auto-saves more often for you, but don’t take any chances.
- Over time you’ll get faster and more efficient. This year I did my entire book in about 8 hours. I just had the photos upload overnight, and spent the next day working on the layout.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope this post on How to Capture a Year’s Worth of Memories in One Big Photo Book encouraged you!
**This is NOT a sponsored post Shutterfly is just the company I use and love!**