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Year-end Project Complete: Family Photo Album

2014 January 19
by Becky

I shared Ethan’s Three Year video, the first of my two big “year-end projects” last Wednesday, so next up is the Family Photo Album!

Family Photo Album - Cover Layout

When beginning our 2012 family album, I quickly noticed the number of photos to sort through is growing exponentially each year. This was such a quick task before Ethan arrived! I always start by going through my monthly folder sets, dragging images, in order, into the My Publisher software, and then doing a rough outline of the book, being generous with the full page photos and whole-page events. It was during this process that I discovered MyPublisher’s page limit of 100.

Words were said. Bad words.

I just wasn’t prepared to be so limited. Once I simma’d down a bit, it was clear this restriction was a good thing. Being limited makes us choose the BEST photos and memories, making the book more succinct and fun to look through without being overwhelmed by pictures I may not even feel especially sentimental about ten years down the road.

Making sure the important stuff is front and center.

Family Photo Album - Large and Small Image Layouts

 Grandparents, family, and friends were featured prominently.

Family Photo Album - Large and Small Image Layouts 2

Very rarely do I used the layout templates provided in the software. Not wanting to be limited in how I display our photos, I create my own album page layouts to highlight each event, picture, and trip perfectly.

Pair full pages of small photos with one or two large photo pages is a layout I used every four pages or so. Full page photos are priceless…overlooking them to squeeze more pics in the book would be a huge mistake.

MyPublisher’s software doesn’t make it all that easy to customize layouts while ensuring even spacing and line ups, but over the years I’ve figured out a few tricks. I wish the software made it easier to save and reuse custom templates…sure would make things faster.

Family Photo Album - Event Layouts

Family Photo Album - Event Layouts2

Living in the DC area, we went to a lot of museums, so I grouped the “museum” pages together so we never forget all the amazing sights we explored. Some of these shots aren’t necessarily book-worthy, but together they tell the story of how we spent our days. Hopefully Ethan will look back at these pages and remember how special these experiences were—not every kid gets to kick around the Smithsonian museums on a weekly basis!

Family Photo Album - Event Small Layouts

For some events I didn’t have tons of pictures…I know, shocker. Me, the person who always has a camera stuck to my face. Yes, I DO sometimes leave the camera at home! So I created a few of these “mini” features of four photos each that share a page. Both get a caption and both get attention without taking up a whole page of the book.

Family Photo Album - Instagram Layout

I took a break on several spreads to showcase all the Instragram photos we’ve taken in the last year. Not all made the cut, as we don’t really need to remember the cheesy fries we snapped before devouring or the screen shot of the weather channel app on that really cold day in December. But believe me, there were PLENTY shots left to fill a few pages. To be sure I had everything, I used to quickly download the pics from my Instagram account.

Family Photo Album - Mixed Size Photo Layout

Overall I’m really pleased with the result. That is, after I had to call customer service for an alternate route of upload after getting at least four upload errors, and another call to complain about the cover images arriving completely pixilated. MyPublisher customer service is actually amazing, they were extremely helpful with an alternative upload option and quickly sent me a coupon for a new print.

And the cost? I googled around and found a coupon that took my book price from $124 to $55. That’s WITH shipping. I actually laughed out loud at the adjustment. The printing is beautiful and shipping fast, how does this company make money??

Family Photo Album - Large and Small  Photo Layout

Since MyPublisher was bought by Shutterfly last year, I don’t know what their future holds. But I’ve been a happy customer for six books and hope I’ll be able to continue using their service.

Book-making time is also a time to go through folders and start axing shots. It’s a great way to organize digital files, “editing” my folders (and folders and folders) of images, knocking out duplicates or out-of-focus test shots that I just never got around to deleting. I also edit anything I forgot to do right away (the blog helps me keep up with photo editing) so I can transfer the whole year’s worth of images to our external hard drive, confident it’s clean and safe.

Guess I better get started on 2013…

What photo album service do you use? Anyone tried Artifact Uprising? I’m in love with their stuff but hate the software. See previous family photo albums here


8 Responses
  1. January 20, 2014

    Can’t wait to see it.

  2. January 21, 2014

    You have not mentioned the name of this beautiful book. I will suggest you to name it “Portraying Life”. Thank you again for sharing such excellent family photo album, have a great day.

  3. January 21, 2014

    The book looks great.

    I love artifact uprising, but haven’t done a book, just the calendar and the wood block with 12 prints. The software is awful though. I got an email from them this week, that I haven’t read yet, that implied that maybe the process of uploading from instagram was getting better?

    I use as well. Blurb for publishing.

  4. January 24, 2014

    You make me feel very, very lazy.

  5. Heather S. permalink
    June 18, 2014

    Hi! Found your page when I googled “custom layout MyPublisher.” I’m trying to figure out those “tricks” you mentioned on getting pictures to be the same size and evenly spaced on the custom layout feature. I have NOT figured it out (and would appreciate any suggestions!) Your book looks great, by the way!

    • Becky permalink*
      June 20, 2014

      I’ve been meaning to write a post about these tricks but…well…it’s tricky. Explaining is tough. In a nutshell, I use “dummy” image boxes to help me line up the custom ones I want. The main problem with MyPublisher software is that it makes boxes “snap” to other boxes, to line them up. You can also hold the Command key (on a mac) to drag your blog toggles so they won’t snap to other lines. This probably doesn’t make ANY sense. They basically just need to update the software with a few custom template options and I’d be happy as a clam. Maybe I’ll make a video about it someday…a vlog. Yikes.

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