I carried on this tradition after Beau and I were married, and started buying albums on sale at Kohls, and every six months or so, I'd print, organize, and file our pictorial memories in these books. They'd then sit on a shelf and collect dust until I'd decide to thumb through one or two of them every now and then. This little system worked okay, but I often wondered where I would go with these albums if I continued to take pictures at the pace I was at.
Fast forward to February, 2010, just a month after I found out I was pregnant with Cruz. Beau surprised me my first 'baby' --- a brand new, shiny black Canon Rebel, and all thoughts of printing, organizing, and managing a feasible picture system went out the window! I was experimenting a lot, which meant taking hundreds of pictures in a given week, and it became impossible to keep up with printing them. Although I upload and edit almost every single one (I use Photobucket for storage and simple editing and Photoshop Elements for pickier editing), and use this blog as my recorded history of moments, memories, and reflections, my head spins in circles every time I attempt to print some. I needed another alternative, and found it with Shutterfly.
If you haven't experimented with Shutterfly's photo book collections, I highly recommend it. They're easy to use and they offer simple paths or more creative, custom paths depending on how much time you want to spend on it. The thing I love about them is that you're easily able to personalize the pages as much or as little as you choose.
I decided to shoot for one, 12x12 hard cover book for each year of Cruz's life. I use the max pages it allows (100), and shoot to complete a two-fold page each week. I start each book with his last birthday, and as I take pictures, put spreads and captions together as I go. Many of the pages coincide with my blog, so it's easy to copy and paste many of my posts in my pages. I go the custom route, and can put together a two-fold page in 30-45 minutes, depending on how difficult I want to make them. Then, I try and have it revised and ready to order as close to his birthday as I can be. Shutterfly offers discounts and special events all the time, so I usually wait to score a 50% discount before I order.
I love the quality of these books, and love to have my favorite pictures from each year displayed in one place. Most of all, I love that if anything were to happen to the book, I'm one click away from ordering a duplicate. Finally, the book feeds my weekly creative outlet, and is easy to work on during the football game or an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
I'd love to answer any questions about my camera, my photo storage routines, and my photo books. They are by no means picture perfect, but a manageable alternative if you suffer from picture overload like me ;)
I finished this book at 11:54 pm last night after logging in to Shutterfly and realizing their 50% offer ended at midnight! It was a late night, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I found and fixed all typos!
Shutterfly allows you to customize your photo book just the way you want.