I think we can all agree that the abundance of photos that live on our phones is a major source of anxiety. What if they disappear? What if I can never find the ones that mean something to me buried in the abyss? How the f*ck do I organize them so I can access specific memories as the years go by- I mean, Alexa's rehearsal dinner could be just 18 short years away, gotta start thinking about the requisite photo montage video!
There is ONE thing I do annually (this started in 2012, so we are going on the 6th book this year) for our family to keep me from having an all-out photo induced panic every single time I accidentally look at the insane number of images that live in my Photos app. I dread this one thing literally for an entire year leading up to actually doing it- but I know that if I don't complete it, I will be so upset with myself for so many years that the 15-20 hours it takes me to execute is a small price to pay.
I create a "Year In Review" photo book on Shutterfly- complete with clever captions and graphic design details- documenting what I like to (mostly) lovingly refer to as "Falik Family Fun Time".
Here is how it goes down:
*NOTE: DO NOT TRY AND DO THIS DURING THE YEAR THAT YOU ARE DOCUMENTING. YOU WILL WANT TO INCLUDE WAY MORE THAN YOU PROBABLY SHOULD, BECAUSE IN THE MOMENT, IT ALL SEEMS SO IMPORTANT. LET AT LEAST 3 MONTHS GO BY- IT GIVES YOU A BIT MORE PERSPECTIVE, WHICH MAKES THE EDITING PROCESS MUCH EASIER.
1: Sneak onto my husband's phone, and create a shared album called "Falik Family Favorites 2017" (or whatever year just passed) and upload the best 40-50 photos in his camera roll.
2: Download those photos from the Cloud into the Photos application on my laptop.
3: Create Smart Albums for each month of the year (and title them January 2017, February 2017, etc. Nothing clever here- all about simplicity)
4: BI break them up into 3 sittings where I narrow down 4 months of photos at a time into albums titled 2017 SELECTS JAN THRU APRIL, 2017 SELECTS MAY THRU AUG and 2017 SELECTS SEPT THRU DEC.
5: I upload these albums to Shutterfly, using the same naming categories, so the photos are still in 3 groups- it feels MUCH less overwhelming this way.
6: I go into the Photo Books section and choose to create a book using Custom Path. It is the most labor intensive, yes- but I have tried the Simple Path option where they arrange the photos into pages for you, and it actually ends up taking way more time because inevitably, it is not the way you would have done it.
7: For size, I always go with 8.5 x 11. There are more modern options now- square, oversized, etc- but since the goal is year-on-year consistency, I stick to the tried and true. Next, pick a style. There are a TON to choose from- it is mind boggling- but in my experience, the more simple you go, the easier it is- so I suggest one of THESE. Last year, I did Modern White, and the year before, Modern Black.
8: The photos get batch loaded into the project- starting with SELECTS 2017 JAN THRU APRIL. Month by month, I lay out the photos to chronicle both special occasions and everyday events. At the end of each month, I always put in a collage page (using the template options that Shutterfly provides on the project sidebar) where I can throw any random pictures I want to include but can't figure out a storyline where they fit. Always click the option to "Hide Used" photos- this way, once it is in the project, it no longer stares up at you tempting you to rethink where you placed it.
9: After all the photos are loaded in, the real work begins- writing headlines and captions, and inserting in fun graphic elements to reflect the personality of the year. The text part is where Shutterfly kinda kills me- but I am in too deep, so I just deal. There is no easy way to make sure all your fonts and spacing and sizing and colors are consistent from page to page. Advice here- don't obsess over it. You will make yourself insane. Instead, have fun with the copy- be conversational, include any funny anecdotes that come back to you while looking at the photos, and, if there is a typo or a style slip-up, WHATEVER. (That is big for me to say, guys- so just go with it.)
10: When I finally feel like I have done my best to corral the most memorable moments, I choose a cover format and insert my favorite photo(s), make sure to write "FALIK FAMILY FUN TIME 2017" on the binding (so, when they sit on a shelf, I can make sure they are in chronological order and the fonts all line up consistently), opt for the upgrades that they get me with EVERY. DAMN. TIME. Glossy hardcover, lay flat pages, yada yada yada- I mean, at this point, why the heck not, right? (Plus, they always have those 40% off coupon codes, so...) And- cue the sweeping orchestral music- ADD IT TO MY CART!
I order 2 copies (so it is one less thing for Alexa and Goldie to fight over when Brian and I kick the bucket)- one goes on display in our family room, the other in storage for safe-keeping. But the beauty of Shutterfly- and why I put up with the many less-than-ideal glitches and overall clunkiness of the site- is that the books are saved in my account and with one click, I can reorder as needed.
My books to date have been between 95-110 pages, and cost around $190 each. This cost includes the upgrade options mentioned above, and small fees here and there for additional sticker embellishments and premium storytelling pages that I think are totally worth it- just adds that extra touch of whimsy and personality that takes the pressure off having to showcase museum-quality photos (because who has those?!) and Pulitzer-worthy prose.
Anyway- there you have it. Long, I know- but hopefully helpful enough to inspire you to give it a go yourself. Trust me- your family will thank you big time. My girls LOVE flipping through them, and it is so cute to watch Alexa narrate the pre-Goldie years to her little sister, years that I am fairly sure she only remembers through photos.
How do you get the photos off your phone? I would love to know- as would other readers... This is a topic that seems to come up all the time- what to do with all the digital photo clutter! HELP!