If you’ve had a big adventure in your life and haven’t yet made a photo book or photo album to remember it by, start making a plan to get it done now. Here’s how I managed to (finally) complete a book to document my family’s three months in London. The impetus was somewhat counterintuitive… Life is always busy, but in the past few weeks some external factors arose that suddenly added another layer of complexity and stress to our family. Nothing unmanageable, but still – yet another thing. I thought to myself: wow, if I couldn’t get my photo book project done before, how am I going to do it now?
Well, it turns out, that added life element made me realize that there will never be an absolutely ideal time to sit down and hammer out a project like this one, so I might as well attack it now.
And while I don’t wish insomnia on anyone, I did get a nice jump-start one morning when I inexplicably and irrevocably awoke at 4am. By 6 am when my kids woke up, I had sifted through thousands of pictures in iPhoto and selected a little over a thousand that I actually wanted to use in my book.
Since I was creating a book about a specific block of time, I started by selecting all the photos within that timeframe and creating a folder labeled as that event. I then simply had to delete photos from that folder that I didn’t want to remember forever. There were also a handful of photos that sneaked into my iPhoto library sent to me by others while we were abroad, so those were deleted too.
My goal for this book was to have it forever as a way to transport myself (ourselves) back to that time in our lives. While I was definitely interested in a book that looked beautiful, I wasn’t worried if a few photos were slightly blurry or if my kid had his finger up his nose in one of them. I simply wanted to document the days there, flaws and all. Because I included lots of less-than-perfect photos in a series, I chose to use a really simple template – White Portfolio – to avoid adding to the clutter of my enormous number of pictures.
Once I narrowed my photos down, I began the process of uploading them to the Mixbook editor. Now, the Mixbook editor is typically amazingly fast, but when you’re uploading that many pictures – and each one is between 4 and 6 MBs – it’s going to take some time. I learned the hard way that when my computer went to sleep, it stalled the upload process. So I went into my System Preferences and temporarily changed the Energy Saver settings so that my machine would never go into sleep mode. Bingo! When I woke up the next morning, all my photos were in place and ready to populate my book.
I started by using the AutoMix feature, which automatically places your photographs into appropriate templates. The results were impressive, but I ultimately felt quite controlling about how I illustrated our many adventures. I ended up going through page by page, checking each photograph’s placement to make sure it was displayed the way I wanted it to be. I also learned something about my personal aesthetic: apparently I like photos displayed only at right angles! Funny thing, but I did find that I went with those layouts. Had I not used the AutoMix feature, however, I think I may have stuck to the same layouts over and over again, so the auto-selected layouts gave me lots of ideas for alternative ways to showcase my photos, which was great!
Once I had all my photos placed, I went back and put really simple captions in. Where there were text boxes included in the layout, I used those. And where there weren’t text boxes, I added them. I started writing little stories about the events, but ultimately decided I wanted it to be a bit more minimalist – to let the images speak for themselves. I chose to include place names, plus a word or two that would be sure to jog a memory.
I just received the email in my in-box today saying my project has shipped! I can’t tell you how gratifying that feels. I ordered one copy to start so I can make an adjustment to future copies if I need to. I can’t wait to see the looks on my children’s faces when they flip through and see themselves featured in a book so large (over 100 pages!) They are going to be over the moon now – and thrilled to have a copy of the book for the rest of their lives. And I can honestly say that the project took me less than four hours total. A small investment in a lifetime of happy memories.
Your turn! Go sift through your photos and choose a Mixbook template. Once you do those two things, you’ll be able to chip away at the process – and it really will be done before you know it.