Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday DIY Gift Idea: A Modern Family Album

We're all guilty of it: leaving photos forgotten and abandoned in a digital wasteland. Why not personalize your gifts this holiday? And free your photos? A travel journal from a vacation with friends for the friends you traveled with. A yearbook to share for a class reunion.
The Stories of Our Lives: Modern photo albums are personal "yearbooks."
Creating a book or magazine worthy of your coffee table or your friends' and family's coffee tables has never been easier. You already have the material to start - in your phone, on Facebook or Twitter, or on your blog (in your diary or journal).

Steps for Creating Coffe Table Worthy Photo Journals and Travel Guides

  1. Determine your audience. This sounds obvious, but it's not actually. Is the journal for your immediate family? Extended family? Family by blood or by choice? The photos you choose, the stories you highlight, the details you share, and more depend on how familiar the readers are with the people and events. For chosen family, you may want to share more inside jokes. With extended family, your photos and prose may be more sedate.
  2. Select the time period your album will cover. If you're a shutterbug, giving yourself boundaries will make your task immensely easier. By selecting a start date and an end date, you immediately reduce the number of photos you'll be selecting from. For me this is important as I've easily shot a hundred photos a day when traveling.
  3. Choose your feature stories. Whether you're documenting one event or many, you'll want to organize your content and highlight a few areas that were important to you. For example, say you've chosen your honeymoon. You could include photos chronologically or you could share what was most memorable, selecting the best photos. Highlights of our mini-moon two years ago this week would be: Attending Cooking School, Dining at Michelin Star Restaurants, and Visiting Wineries.
  4. Figure out rough page counts for your features. Most photo books include 20 pages (you can add more if you want). This breaks down into 9 two-page spreads and 2 one-page spreads. A simple breakdown for our mini-moon example, would be a one page table of contents, followed by three two-page spreads of the food we cooked with a recipe or two, three two-page spreads of the restaurants we ate at, three two-page spreads of the wineries we visited, and a one page overview of the places visited.
  5. Pick your photos. Which photos you choose depends on your audience. If the book is for people who were there with you, you may include slightly grainy or out of focus photos if it's they're the only ones you have of a poignent moment. If the book is for extended family or co-workers, you'll probably choose well-lit and in focus images as they won't have an emotional attachment to what they're viewing.
  6. Adjust your page counts. Chances are you aren't going to have the same number of photos for each story. Give more pages to where you have many photos you want to share and less pages when you don't have much to say or show. You want to keep the overall quality of your book high, so let the content dictate how your book evolves.
  7. Design your book. Depending on which publisher you choose, this will be different. Some to consider are Blurb, MixBook, Shutterfly, and Snapfish.
For any text you're planning on including in your book, from captions to stories to recipes, compose the text outside of whatever program you use for publishing. This way you can check your spelling and grammar. You can also proof a print out for typos. Once your text is the way you want it, you can cut and paste into your album.
Are photo books on your holiday shopping list?
Ciao Bella!
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.