Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Joy of Photobooks

I’d never put together a photobook before so when I found myself suddenly overcome with inspiration to create a bumper book of lifetime photos for my dad’s 70th birthday, it became a new personal challenge.

First, I had to find photos of his childhood. No easy job, given than most old pictures are either lost in in attics or in different countries – not to mention 60 years old.

Second, I had to work out how to scan in all the old photos I’d collected together, which takes a lot longer than you expect.

Third, I spent ages going through every laptop, hard drive, camera used in the past 10 years to find more recent suitable digital images.

Fourth, upload them to a photobooks website. In bulk.

I chose Photobox and I uploaded about 150 photos which took about half an hour. I had to use my brand new laptop for this as the old one couldn’t handle the request.

Lastly, I had to reorganise them into a Life Story with the earliest pics at the beginning; this involved rejigging the set templates to squeeze more pics on to a page; adding a few funny captions; and getting someone to proof read it.

In reality, it’s not really that easy.

It took 3 weeks and most of my available spare woman hours.

The thing that slowed me down was being such a silly perfectionist. I wanted to fill all the gaps in my dad’s life; to find photos of him from all walks of his long and happy life. So I kept going back, checking albums and finding new pics that needed scanning and uploading and more reorganising.

Luckily, Photobox has a quick uploaded where you can effectively upload all pics from a file location on your desktop.

You can add these pics to your existing photobook album with a neat function that lets you see exactly which pics have already been used in the album, so that you’re not using the same pic twice.

I liked that there was an ability to change the size of the pictures and the shapes, as well as the number of pics on each page. I didn’t want just 1 massive A4 pic to a page – I wanted 5 or 6. I figured this was better value for money and because the pics I was using weren’t the best quality (grainy and faded, if old), it didn’t overstretch the quality.

Similarly, if I had a brilliant panoramic picture to use, I could have stretch it across two pages, effectively creating a centre spread.

It took 2 full weeks between buying the album/sending it to print and it being printed and delivered to me in Ireland. I only just made the birthday party, so in future, I must give myself more time so as not to stress about missing the deadline the day before.

I was a bit nervous opening the large cardboard envelope when Mr Postie delivered it just in time, but when I did, I was delighted.

It was a beautiful thing. A rare keepsake in a world of fast digital photos that are viewed online and never printed out.

A beautiful treasure of a lifetime of photos of all the significant people in a person’s life.

My dad was thrilled to bits. And all the family poured over it, taking it in turns to leaf through it and talk about people long-gone and their memories of yesteryear.

It’s a gift that just keeps giving – and has sat on my parents sofa/coffee table ever since. I think it will be one of the first things they might try to save if the house was on fire.

So all in all, my big efforts paid off. It was a big success for my first photobook. 

And hopefully it’s the first of many, particularly now that I know how.

If you want to make your own visit

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  1. How beautiful! What a wonderful gift for your Dad - and it'll become a family heirloom in years to come too! I've made a few for us, but never such a broad scope - that must have been a ton of work.

  2. I am already a Photobox customer and think it's a great site. I got a present of a photobook at Christmas, my cousin put togehter photos of our grandparents. It is certainly one of the things I would try to save if there was a fire. What a fabulous gift for your dad...worth all the effort.


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