Each year, I make a family album (you can see previous posts here, here, and here). I feel like I may be being made fun of in that Chatbooks video about *those moms* who actually have time to make a yearly album. I'm so glad to know there are simple options out there for preserving and printing memories (like Chatbooks!). But I do love the whole process. It's one of my favorite ways to exercise creativity and then feel like I accomplished something when I receive the finished product. Oh, and I love reading about and seeing other people's family albums (seriously, I eat those posts up, so feel free to share with me!).
On organizing the book:
Each year, I put my word of the year on the book (this past year, it was "joy"). Within the book, I always divide by month. I did something a little different this year as far as text goes. Previously, I've just written and added captions throughout. This year, the majority of the text goes at the beginning of the month in a page like this:
Usually when I'm going through iPhoto picking my favorite photos from each month, the text starts to write itself. I also look through the year's Instagram for ideas and more information. For longer events (like Liam's third birthday or Christmas), I might add text within the month, too.
I've also started including a spread at the end with pictures of our home. I love looking at how much each room changes from year to year.
The biggest change this year was having more portrait-oriented photos due to my first year with a Smartphone. It forced me to change a lot of my layouts, which was more work at the time but will be easier next year since the templates will already be there.
On perfectionism and where to start:
I'm far from a perfectionist (as you can see in the shot below), because when it comes down to it, I just love having a book of our year. I love going back through each month and seeing how we have grown and changed. I also love how it helps me categorize my memories.
I do the book in little spurts when I am motivated. I start by making an iPhoto album, and then I alternate between adding photos and then incorporating them into spreads (depending on my mood).
Usually I finish the book in January of the following year. For some reason, I really get into it in December (maybe as a way to process through the past year). My main goal is just to have all our favorite pictures together, so I don't worry about making it look too perfect or too artsy.
We refer to these books so frequently during the year when we have a question about something, whether it's a haircut or our son's favorite toys. I love talking through the pictures with Liam, and I flip through them myself all the time.
On sites and services:
For the past three years, I've used Blurb, and I love their software and site. I make the large landscape book for us, but I made the small square books for family members last year, and they were awesome! Blurb has frequent sales, so I generally wait until a 40% off sale to buy our book. The best part is that you can save templates, so when you find some layouts you like, you can just reuse them over and over. And you're not working online until you have to upload, which I think is really nice.
I still make a yearly album for my mom that's a bit smaller, and I always use Shutterfly for that one. Shutterfly is so simple and has great sales. I also loved the look and feel of our Artifact Uprising book, but Blurb works better for us because of how many pictures and pages we have.
If you're curious about why it's called "Our Adventure Book" and how it relates to our proposal, you can read that story here.
Feel free to ask any questions, and please share posts of your album with me. I love seeing what other people are doing!