At the end of January our 2014 family photo yearbook arrived in the mail. Hooray!! At the beginning of January I set to work on getting my album completed, my photos were well organized and edited (thanks to the accountability I receive from blogging). At the beginning of last year I had the grand plan to complete each month at the start of the next, well that lasted until March and then I totally fell of the wagon. Perhaps I’ll be better this year. After all, it doesn’t need to be the end of the year to start putting together the images from the beginning of the year. If you haven’t read my Blurb album review from last year, you can read it here. I write these posts to simply share my passion for printing photos and seeing the beauty in your everyday. There are so many different ways to record memories and photos (no right or wrong), this is just my favourite way of doing so. Interestingly, my post about photo books from last year is the most frequently visited post on my blog, being visited at least a few times daily. It is also the post that I receive the most questions/ comments about from people all over North America. We are a generation with a ton of digital photos, many of us trying to figure out what to do with them.
Oh how I love these albums! I love the ability to look back at the previous year and relive the big and little moments of our life. When I look at the images on the pages, I remember all the good stuff. I am reminded of God’s blessings, through the challenges and unexpected moments in life as well the details of what makes life beautiful (whether it’s hard or easy). I can see how our children have grown as well as the relationships and friendships that we’re so grateful for. While I am passionate about documenting our life stories with my camera, I am just as passionate about preserving these memories in accessible albums and framed images on our walls. This year’s book was my biggest yet, containing 360 pages and nearly 2000 photos. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to have the paper upgraded due to the size (past 240 pages), thankfully the stock paper option is very good, just not quite as thick.
Last year I set out to get myself caught up on the previous six years, I am still in disbelief that I actually did it. Every so often I would plug away at putting an album together. When it comes to getting caught up on past projects, I would always recommend working on current projects so that you don’t get further behind. Try working backwards, 2014, 2013, 2012, etc. I am including these images and info NOT to make anyone feel stressed out but rather encouraged that getting caught up on past photo albums can be done. Like most things, it really wasn’t that bad or terribly time consuming, it was the thought of the project that was more stressful than actually getting caught up. Once I had a plan, a set of good templates and a system, it was all actually fairly fast (I could complete an album in about 2-4 days working in my “spare” time).
I always begin my books with a really brief overview of our year, a few facts combined with my feelings about the year. I also include a photo of myself to go with the “authors” note,. I’ve come to think that this is an important part of the album, after all I am the one that has taken 99% of the photos and put the album together. I hope that these albums give my family a sense of my heart just by looking through them.
-Ability to create a book with a maximum of 450 pages. Many of the other companies have page limits. Since this album was going to have photos from an entire year, I needed to be sure that it was able to be huge, I take A LOT of photos. (My Publisher has a 100 page limit). The page limit for upgraded paper is 240.
-Large 12×12 size available. Love this for a good size coffee table book!
-Blurb gives your the option to download their Book Smart software directly onto your computer. This makes photo uploads super fast and easy. This is super important when you’re creating a photo book with over 1000 images.
-Ability to upgrade papers. I like choices and quality. I upgraded from standard paper to the premium lustre paper on all of my books except this year just due to size.
-Blurb has “Book Smart” software, allowing me to easily create several of my own templates. The best part of the Book Smart software is that is allows you to upload your photos directly from your computer, saving you a ton of time! This is a must when you’re uploading over 1000 photos for an album!!
-Beautiful print quality (not pixelated at all), love how the colours are correct and vibrant and the blacks are dark and true!
-Great quality binding and paper. I feel confident that these books will last a very long time and will hold up well to all the little hands that hold them. I have had no issues with my albums.
-Fast printing/ shipping and great customer service (was emailed back within 20 minutes on a Friday evening when I made a mistake ordering last year).
The Details/ Text:
-When I used to scrapbook I would try to always write photo explanations and back stories for the images I displayed. I would love to be able to do this with our photo books. However, I’ve realized that I would never finished any of them if I tried to add text to everything. Therefore I kept it simple and only added simple headings or short paragraphs occasionally. There is very little text in the books. Occasionaly I have added a paragraph about what’s happening in the images, especially if I feel it enhances the story of the images.
-I included the months in text throughout my books. Some months there are a lot of pages and others just a handful. It is what it is. I love how these headings create more context to my images.
-You can design your album however you wish, however I wanted to keep mine nice and simple. Since my photos are from a whole year and obviously had lot of different colours and themes, I kept the backgrounds white. I love how the simplicity really features my photos and no little stickers or graphics. I really wanted the simplicity of the design to make my photos be the feature rather than distracting elements.
-Love the ability to have a combination of a variety of images in a variety of sizes for a spread. I love big photos, so there are also a lot of enlargements in my books, as well as a lot of collages. Even the smaller photos are a good size.
-Like most other photo book companies, Blurb’s 20 page book has a base price and then adds on pages. For their 20 page, 7×7 soft cover book the cost is $12.99 (without discounts).
-Discounts are offered regularly. I waited until there was a 25-35% off sale for ordering most of my albums. For my 2014 album I went for the 20% discount since I didn’t want to wait several months for a better code. Just sign up to Blurb and they’ll send you discount codes regularly. I created my books and waited for a sale. Even though this album cost me $180, it would have been much more to get prints made (at 10 cents each) and buy an album. Not to mention the whole task of putting it together.
Why create a Photo Book:
-When looking at photos, there is nothing better than a lovely printed album. If I’m having a downer kind of day, just a couple minutes of looking at this album seems to lift my spirits.
-Photo books provide an awesome form of back up for your images. Once you order your album, Blurb backs up your book so that you can order additional copies anytime you wish. Love this peace of mind.
-As someone that loves photography, it is incredibly satisfying to see my images in print. This is really the best part of it all.
-We don’t sit at the computer and look through files, but we will sit on the couch and look through albums. My kids LOVE looking at past photos, talking about past trips, toys, their clothes and things they remember.
-They are cost effective.
-I used to scrapbook before having kids. Now, there is just no way that I have the time. I love how much faster I can create photo book and how much more cost effective they are. Also, love how much smaller and lightweight they are. My scrapbooks are so big and heavy. There would be no way that I could make one album with 1800 printed 4×6 photos.
I have also printed several travel photo books in the past through Shutterfly and Picaboo. I have found that Shutterfly is better quality than Picaboo. I try to always take advantage of Shutterfly’s free 8×8 square album that they offer 1-2 times per year. I also print out yearly calendars through Shutterfly which I have been very happy with . They usually have a free calendar offer each November as well.
I have zero regrets about going with Blurb for my yearbook albums, seriously, so happy! If you don’t print photos but have thought about it in the past, I would really encourage you to give this option a try. You won’t be disappointed. You can sign up with Blurb to receive their regular emails and discount codes.