Right in the middle of the witching hour last week, between begging Dash to “Please stop erasing!” while he attempted to finish his homework and scraping burnt potatoes I neglected to turn, the doorbell rang.
“Just a package!” Brett hollered as he opened the door and brought the package inside. “Something from Pinhole.”
Which could only mean one thing. The Annual Family Album had arrived. Screw the potatoes. Forget about the homework. Everything can wait. The family Christmas present we give ourselves every year had arrived–a year’s worth of memories and moments preserved in a book to save forever–and we were pausing everything to enjoy it.
Our annual family albums (we do the 8×8 hardcover albums from Pinhole Press) have become one of the most cherished things in our home, left out on the coffee table for us to look back on our memories all throughout the year–and we do…a lot. The kids pick up those albums and look through them at least once a week; remembering vacations and beach days, birthday parties and quiet weekends; noting people they love; laughing at story recollections triggered by photos.
The thought of creating a family album can be daunting for many though, especially if your photos are all stuck on your phone. If creating an album has been on your bucket list but you don’t know where to begin, here are some album creating tips to help you make it happen in 2020.
Set Manageable SUSTAINABLE Expectations
For me, this is it–the number one commandment for all creative projects, and the sole reason ideas either become checked off accomplishments or eternally loom in the Creative Purgatory of talked about dreams. If the expectation is too big and elaborate to fit with my current responsibilities, my creative project will likely either never get started or will start with an impressive bang and then fizzle into the graveyard of Fun Ideas I Once Had. When Lainey and Nella were babies, I fell down the rabbit hole of elaborate digital scrapbooking which sucked up what I’m guessing was a good 700 hours of my life–which is why after two years and four albums of novelesque documentation and artistic design, that hobby crashed hard. With three kids, work and our growing list of responsibilities and interests, I know if I am going to keep the tradition of designing and printing family albums of our memories every year, I’m going to need to keep it simple. I don’t add text or stories (would take too long and make me get behind), and I don’t design the pages myself anymore. I drag and drop our photos into Pinhole Press’s album templates (clean, minimal and classic!), and I follow an easy chronological design layout (album starts in January and ends with December). There’s very little thought or decision involved which has allowed me to stay productive and keep up on our albums for three years now.
Gradually Create Your Album Throughout the Year
Most album websites allow you to start creating a project, save it and edit it for as long as you like. I start our album project on the Pinhole Press website in January and drop photos into layouts, adding pages as the year progresses–birthday parties, vacations, everyday loveliness in our home, etc.–and then save it. By the time December rolls around, the album is practically finished. It’s never a big looming project because I complete it little by little throughout the year.
Set Yourself Up for Success with a Photo Organization System
Creating an album is a lot more challenging if you’re trying to choose pictures from a giant mess of random photos. The end of the year is a great time to set up a system for storing photos for 2020. I have folders saved on my computer in chronological order. Within each year photo (2017, 2018, 2019), there are subfolders titled by their dates first (arranged in chronological order) and a descriptions of the photos in that folder such as “Mother’s Day Isle of Capri”, “Key West,” “Lainey’s Birthday,” “Weekend at Home,” etc. If nothing else, create a folder for 2020 and in it, create subfolders for each month. Then, when you pull photos off your camera or phone, you can drag them to where they belong.
Create a Monthly Routine for Transferring your Photos from Phone/Camera to Saved Folders on your Computer
The more your photos build up, the more likely you are to abandon plans for doing something with them. Try and transfer at least your favorite photos you’ve taken once a month into organized folders. If you edit your photos, try and maintain a simple monthly editing process (I do this every week, but that’s because I take a lot of photos). Set a number goal so it doesn’t become too overwhelming such as aiming to edit 15 favorite photos every month. And BACK THEM UP! I back up all my edited photos to Amazon Photo storage.
Set Monthly Goals for Photos You Want to Take
Want to create an album of family photos but haven’t taken enough photos to fill it? Or don’t know what photos to take? It’s easy to have great intentions for photos we want to capture and even easier to forget. I recently went into my photo folder to pull some photos of my kids with Brett’s mom for a gift idea and was appalled that I hardly took any this year. If you struggle to remember to capture photos, set some goals for this year. Join a photo challenge group online for some inspiration or subscribe to one of my favorite photography inspirations magazines, Click. Take a look at the photos you’ve taken this year and make note of who’s not showing up in the photos (Is it you? GET IN THERE, GIRL!). Write a list of photos you want to capture this year or create a fun monthly challenge. For 2020, I’m setting an alarm to go off on my phone on the first of every month with a reminder to capture a candid family selfie with all of us in it so we have a fun progression at the end of the year. Capture photos of your children doing what they love–playing basketball, video games, reading, whatever!–so you can remember who they are outside of posed smiling-at-the-camera shots. Capture what happens in your kitchen, meals at the table, afternoon walks. These are the moments you want to fill your album with.
Have thousands of photos from the past ten years that you want to put into albums but don’t know where to start? Work backwards. Start with 2019–ten photos from each month, and work them into an album. Then tackle 2018, 2017, working backwards. Or leave everything the way it is, start fresh with a 2020 challenge, move forward and be happy that you at least started somewhere!
Done is Better than Perfect
Don’t stress over having to have the most beautiful photos, or page layouts being cohesive, or whether or not your photos came from a camera or a phone. Just make an album with what you have–photos that you love–because done is better than perfect.
To making more new memories in the new year and capturing the love we want to remember!