We live in an age in which families are further apart and closer together than ever before. Digital cameras and smartphones make it possible for us to take innumerable pictures and share them instantly through social media or by email. Our lives are not spent in front of a computer screen, however, and there is something very special about paging through a photo album. It's easy and enjoyable to create family photo books from the digital images stored on your computer.
Family Life and Yearbooks
If you have young children and a camera, you probably have enough material for a new book every year, and the most difficult step of the process will be selecting the pictures you want to use. This type of photo book is usually arranged chronologically. Choose your photos before you start designing your album. Make a new folder in your library for each photo book, with subfolders for each month or season. Don't worry about selecting the same number of photos for each month; birthdays and holidays naturally generate extensive picture-taking, but try to have an even representation of all family members throughout the book. Remember to take pictures of the photographer!
Family reunions, weddings, vacations and other special events sometimes deserve a book of their own. Ask friends and relatives if they have pictures to share, to get a well-rounded picture of the event. In addition to snapshots, scan or photograph any invitations, programs, signs, tickets or other memorabilia associated with the event. For the sake of family unity, make sure you are including pictures of everyone who participated!
Commemorative, Heirloom and Gift Books
Retrospective photo albums for display at wedding receptions, golden anniversary parties, milestone birthday parties and funerals will evoke memories and spark conversations. For these books, you will want to collect photos and stories from other family members. When you ask others for pictures, give them a vision for the project by showing them examples of the kind of book you are making. Pinterest is an endless source of inspiration. You will likely have to scan old pre-digital photos and do more journaling than you do with general, contemporary books.
Extended families separated by distance and busy lives will appreciate photo books that link them together. Genealogy enthusiasts, especially, enjoy seeing family trees accompanied by old and current pictures. If you have a family historian, enlist their assistance in collecting accurate data about your living and deceased ancestors. These books are made even more interesting if you include family recipes and traditions, maps and stories. Print copies for everyone!
You can also create special photo books for individual people. Babies and young children will enjoy books featuring grandparents and other family members. Select clear, happy, individual headshots, having the subject facing the camera. Mother's and Father's Days are good opportunities for gift books, especially for older parents. Bigger photo books that open flat and have large print text will be appreciated by elderly family members who might otherwise have trouble seeing and handling pages. Group a few pictures of individual families on two-page spreads, labeling them simply to be understood by someone who might have trouble remembering names and relationships.
After you have identified the "genre" of your book and collected the images and other elements, crop or edit the pictures if necessary, saving them in the highest possible resolution. Experiment with scanning and photographing non-digital items to get the best quality reproduction. Use a word processing program now to write the text to accompany each picture. Later, you might copy and paste it directly into the page layout software or create and or use photo editing software to edit and save it as a digital image, but you should prepare it now.
Selecting a Publisher and Finishing Your Book
You are ready to assemble your book! For immediate success with your first book, try using a template. All the publishers offer simple templates, allow you to design original pages within their software, and let you upload complete digital scrapbook pages created in a graphics editor.
Your publishing options vary in price and quality, so research your options before you start. Consider using companies and products to suit the project. You might use a discount company for small gift books, but for heirloom quality family books, you will want to use a trusted company. Making photobooks is an addicting hobby. The hardest part is stopping!
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