10 Tips for Family Photo Book Projects

15 August 2012

I've mentioned in a couple of posts that I am doing a Photo Project 52 this year. Since the twins' first birthday, I've been taking weekly photos that will be part of their 2nd year photobook. It's been so much fun to look at the photos and literally watch the girls growing up. I'm already planning my photobook project for next year. This year's project has had some hits and a few misses and I would love to share them here. My learnings and tips on family photo book projects.
  1. Frequency: How frequently will the photos be taken? Daily, weekly or monthly? Weekly has really worked for me. I suggest starting with a goal of frequency in mind because sometimes life can be hectic and photography takes a backstage
  2. Reminder: Because the girls were born on Tuesday, I choose Tuesday as the week starter. After missing some weeks, I now have a reminder on my phone for Monday mornings. If I haven't taken a picture all week, then I know I have the rest of the day to get something done
  3. Backup: For the weeks I missed, I've been able to find some photos in TwinDad's phone. Thank goodness for that backup
  4. Camera Tricks: I have a very simple point and shoot camera but it still has a few tricks up its sleeves. The experts advocate reading your camera manual - I have a bad habit of not reading manuals unless I've broken something. I suggest pushing all the buttons on the camera to see what each one does. That's how I found out my camera has a special setting for taking photos of kids and pets
  5. Resolution and Image Size: This deserves a line by itself. To get more photos onto the SD card of my camera, I set the photo size to small and ended up with low resolution photos that look good on a computer screen but not so great in a photobook. It's definitely better to have huge photo files and resize them later on. This is a big mistake I made and it affected the quality of last year's photo book
  6. Software Editing Tricks: A mediocre picture can become nice with a little software manipulation - cropping, adjusting colors, contrast, even changing to black and white. No fancy skills needed. And there's no need to spend money on the software. I already have Microsoft Picture Manager on my laptop and use it for all my photo editing. Google's Picasa is also free to download and gives editing options.
  7. Phone apps: One word: Instagram. Glam up some of those phone photos with an Instagram filter. Even if the pictures are not shared, Instagram still saves them on the phone's photo gallery and they can be imported onto the computer later
  8. Words for life: I was half-way through when I realised I would like to have some words to go with the pictures. Too late for this year but I'll try it next year. Some ideas I have are including a monthly letter with each month's photos or writing a short note on each photo like Jennifer did in her 365 love letters project (please click that link and see the daily photos she took of her baby for a whole year, she was AWESOME and actually inspired me to start my own project 52)
  9. Theme: If not words, how about themes? Maybe a monthly theme. This will be good for older kids that have more structured routines and weekly photos can quickly get boring with the same background. I may incorporate this into next year's project as well; monthly themes like adventure for the summer months, love for February, thanksgiving for November, joy for December etc
  10. Photo Book Publisher: I STRONGLY recommend this post for evaluating all the photo book publishers. Last year I used myPublisher; rated Excellent to Superb in terms of photobook quality. This year, I plan on using either myPublisher of Photobook Canada. Since they both got the highest rating in that post, my choice will be decided by ease of use and cost
It's never too late to start a photo project. And one extra tip that I got from my friend Samantha, you can't  have too many photos. Those books and memories are for a lifetime. I was really stingy with the first photobook because I didn't want to exceed 27 pages and have to pay more. Yes, I tried to squeeze my first year with twin girls into 27 pages of maybe 50 photos. With benefit of hindsight, that was such a dumb mom decision!

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