“When things are taking their ordinary course, it is hard to remember what matters.
There are so many things you would never think to tell anyone.
And I believe they may be the things that mean most to you.”
— marilynne robinson, gilead
When I was a little girl, one of my very favorite things to do was sort through the stacks and stacks of family photos from over the years. My mom went through various stages of organization : The sticky page album, the slip-in “book-bound” album, the photo box method. There is just something about the tangible photograph in hand that pure memory has nothing on. Indeed, sometimes I wonder if our childhood memories often stem more from the medium of the photograph than the reality of substance floating around in the corners of our brain.
In 2008, I launched my photography business and really got serious about documenting the life of my own family. At year’s end, I created a photo book from Blurb. It was honestly, nothing fancy : just a simple hardcover 8×10 book filled with my favorite pictures from the past year, organized by month. Happily, it became one of those traditions that stuck around. We have a library of 10 books now, and I just ordered our 2017 edition to add to the collection. There is nothing that makes me more sentimental and misty eyed than leafing through pages of my babies when they were small and pudgy and dimpled and drooly.
These books are a treasure. Not just for me and my foggy memory bank, but for our children as well. They LOVE spending hours paging through every book, year by year, reminiscing over past travels and traditions and snapshots of the everyday. I would say, that if our house ever burned down, these would be the first thing I grab, but the beautiful thing is… they are all stored securely on Blurb’s Website, so thankfully I don’t need to worry about that…
In this age of smartphones and screens, I dread the thought of many families having nothing tangible of their personal history to pass on to the next generation. Photographer or not, find the time and method to somehow document your memories! There’s nothing special about my system, but for what it’s worth I’m sharing it here…
Our books include a combination of pictures from my “real” camera and Iphone shots — I just found I can document the everyday more consistently on my phone rather than lugging out the big guns. I also like to include things like favorite artwork of the kids (shot on my iphone), summer lists, Christmas lists, and our annual Christmas card.
I have grand plans every year of working on the book throughout the year, but it honestly never happens. I can usually knock it out in a week of marathon editing+lay out, which I usually find time for in January or February. My digital photos are organized (in Adobe Bridge) by month, and within each month folder, I have additional folders for each date/event. I have found the easiest way to access and organize my Iphone images is through the Photos application on my Mac. You can search by month, and then export those filtered images to a folder entitled something like May17Iphone. Then I pop them into the corresponding monthly folder where I have my other photos.
I like to lay out the book one month at a time, with a title page at the start of each month to delineate. Blurb offers an application called BookSmart which is a simple drag and drop program that makes putting everything together pretty straightforward. You can also sort your photos directly by date taken, so no need to try to organize beforehand… they’ll be auto-sorted as soon as you import them into BookSmart.
Blurb is almost always running specials, so I try to snag a coupon and order when they have a deal going. Regular price, the book usually runs around $130/$140, but I can typically get it for 25-40% off that…
And there you have it… feel free to message or comment if you have any questions! I’m sure I probably left out some obvious steps. And if you’re interested in thinking more through the topic of memory keeping for your family, I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast on the topic from Coffee + Crumbs. (Although, I do admit being mildly amused by the fervency of the mothers with only one or two small children 😉 )
How are you preserving your family memories? I would love to hear… <3 Thanks, friends!