Resolve to make a photo album or photo book this year! Now that you have organized those pictures and captured the stories behind them, it’s time to share them. My favorite way is in an album or photo book. It can be as simple as the 10 best photos from each month that you slide into an album and enjoy as it grows throughout the year, or it can chronicle a family member over several years. Take a look at your pictures and stories and pick a theme, a place, an event, or a person that you want to celebrate. I recently did a photo book about my boys and their Lego creations over the years. They were so excited to see their creations and pictures of themselves at various ages. It was an easy way to say, “I love you. The things you do and create matter to me.”
There are three basic options for you once you’ve got your photos and their stories selected. Which one you chose depends on how you like to work and how the person receiving or looking at the album will use it.
First is the traditional photo album. It has pages and you can place the photos anywhere on the page using photo corners or double sided tape. These are also your more typical scrapbook style photo albums. They can be as simple or decorative as you would like. You can easily add memorabilia to this style of album as well. I love these albums for capturing even my bad handwriting. There is something about having the story captured in your loved one’s own hand. I have clients who cherish this style of album because they have parents’, grandparents’, and in some cases great-grandparents’ handwriting in them.
For the traditional photo album you want to look for acid-free, lignin-free, and buffered pages and papers. Acid will harm your photos. Lignin is found in wood pulp and is what turns paper yellow and brown with age. Papers that are lignin-free will stay nice and won’t get so brittle. Buffered paper has a balanced ph so that if there is acid in memorabilia that you place on a page it won’t leach out and damage nearby photos.
This style of album is great for your printed photos and memorabilia that you want to display in specific ways to tell the story. If you like to be creative and work with paper and scissors, this is a great style for you.
Second is the slide in photo album. These have plastic pockets that you slide your printed photos into. For a fast, easy way to get your photos out and seen, this is one lets you enjoy your photos quickly and simply. You don’t have as much flexibility in where you place the photos. There are anywhere from 3 to 6 slots per page that you can slide your pictures in. To add the story, you just write on a card and slide it into one of the slots. You do want to add some text so you remember who is in the pictures and fill in the rest of the story that you don’t see just from the photos in the pockets. This is the style album where making notes on the backs of your photos makes sense as you can slide them out and look at the backs. You can’t do that with the traditional scrapbook style albums as easily. Make sure to use a photo safe pencil. Regular graphite pencils are not photo safe and pens can leave indentations and/or bleed through.
You will want to check for acid free on the slip in albums as well. You also need to check the plastic used. Some plastics are harmful to photos. Only uncoated pure polyethylene, polypropylene and Mylar D or Mellinex 516 are photo safe plastics. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics can generate acids which can damage photographs and can actually stick to photographic surfaces ruining your prints. The easiest way to tell is if it smells like plastic, don’t use it!
This style is great for a growing collection of photos. You can add to it as you take more photos. It’s simple, easy, and mostly just the photos.
Third is the photo book. If your photos are all digital and you are at least somewhat computer literate, then doing a photo book is a great option. This is also the way to go if you will need more than one copy! Designing the book once and ordering multiple copies for family, club, team or group members saves you time and money.
You have two options for creating a photo book. Working online, or software you install on your computer. I like working with files on my computer, not online, since I can work regardless of internet connection and I have access to all my photos, not just what I have uploaded to the specific site I’m using for this book. You do need a computer that has the horsepower to handle graphics if you work off-line.
Another aspect to consider before you start creating the book is the printing. You want to look for stitch binding and 100 + pound paper when printing. You can get lesser weight for cheaper, but think about what you want. If this is just a quick, let’s see the pictures book, go with a cheap printer with lesser weight paper and glued binding. If you want a nice, coffee table style book that will last, expect to pay more for it and get the better paper and stitched binding. This will partly determine the program or software you use to create the book.
The main thing is to get your photos into an album or book so people can see and share them. Start small and get it done. What person or event or theme will you start with? Even if it’s the photos you took last month, start today so you can share and enjoy your photos with family and friends. It really will draw you together in powerful ways.
If you feel you need help, we are here for you. We can do it for you, or I teach StoryBook Creator 4.0 software classes for making books periodically throughout the year. The next class starts March 20, 2013 at Minuteman Community Ed.