Emily Henderson Header Image Emily Henderson

Adding this to my Christmas list...

Memory Hoarding (and gifting) with MPix

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I was practically told, my whole childhood, that life didn’t exist unless you scrapbooked, journaled and created photo albums to document it. It was part of my family culture – all you LDS folk know what i’m talking about – and seriously one of the best things my parents ever did for us. As you know they had 6 kids, which meant there are a lot of memories both in photos, report cards and newspaper clippings to keep (and reflect on later). But, I’m like all of you now – I can’t find the time to sit down and get it done. So Mpix reached out for me to try their service and I have to say I loved it and was psyched to have an excuse to tap into my memory hoarding self. I have over 20K photos and videos on my phone, despite the fact that I go through and delete them often. So this forced me to confront them. I ordered lots of gifts, both for myself and for the grandparents (and I actually am ordering a ton more).

Today I’ll show you what I made and give some tips about how to do this, how to get over your intimidation and how to just pull those photo album triggers so that you can finally move your memories from somewhere digital to somewhere that you and your family or friends can enjoy.

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**First off, I realize how utterly perfect that photo is, with both Charlie and Elliot engaging with the “the product” with such sweet faces. I assure you that you cannot get a toddler and baby  – LET ALONE BOTH – to do anything you want in front of a camera (WITH A SMILE) unless it’s genuine. Apparently they love looking through family memories as much as I do.

Tip #1: Give photo projects as gifts and then double the order for yourself. You kill two very big time-consuming birds with one photo book. I think people get caught up by thinking that each book has to be curated per person, but really it could just be the year of your family and trust me that both grandparents will want it, even if they are only in a quarter of the photos (unless they are rival grandparents like in “Meet the Fockers” in which case GOOD LUCK). So you’ve done the work once, but for three different people (including yourself).

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Tip #2: ‘Favorite’ photos throughout the year on your phone while watching TV at the end of the day. By doing so it automatically puts them in an album and then viola, you have ALL your favorites ready to print or shove into projects. And if you are so inclined edit them as you go, then more power to you. I do my editing in the afterlight app on my phone – I brighten, add contrast, sometimes upping the saturation or turning to black and white if the room was dark or kinda messy/ugly.  If you want to go the extra mile delete all the photos fails just to declutter your phone and make end-of-year photobooking less daunting. Create ‘albums’ in addition to ‘favorites’. I have ‘friends’ as an additional album so that I can create books for them (I did this three years ago for all our friends and I pretty much became a legend for years). You can even label an album ‘2017’ right now and whenever you take a good photo just shove it in that album really quick (use that little box/arrow icon and select that album on your phone – it’s super easy).

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Tip #3: After every trip or big event do a quick edit/photo album order. Vacations are easy to wrap your brain around if you haven’t organized any photos for the year yet. Just do that at least. You literally can’t have too many photobooks so even if it only has 30 pages and represented 1 week in your life, JUST DO IT.

Tip #4. Stick in the uglier/more personal shots. I know it seems like I have professional family photos taken (like seen here) all the time, and I used to, for sure, and certainly more than anyone I know. While I love these photos, they are not necessarily my favorites because they show age and happiness, but there is rarely a memory attached to that smile (other than pure happiness). Things look perfect, sure, but it’s the ones that are taken on Saturday mornings reading to the kids in bed, with coffee and flannels, or Sunday nights when we are all in our huge fort we made that are the frame worthy ones. They aren’t well lit and there was no hair and makeup team but they are real and authentic. When making books you feel the need to put in the most beautiful photos so maybe it seems like you don’t have enough of them to fill a book, but don’t forget to put in the everyday shots of you all making pancakes together. It will remind you of the emotion you felt during that time, not just how you looked or whether that sweater popped on camera. (I realize I’m speaking mostly to me, here :))

Tip #5. Stop being precious about chronology, photo editing and cropping.  Perfectionism kills productivity (as I’ve written about before). Your photo book will never be perfect. You will always feel like you are either missing some (but the camping trip was mostly on Scott’s phone and he hasn’t text them to me yet!) or if you haven’t edited them you will want to brighten and crop 941 photos, which is daunting. You are not wrong and those things are good to do, but making the perfectly documented, photographed and organized photobook will never happen unless you have a slew of assistants helping you and a full time photographer documenting your life perfectly and uploading them daily. I have help. I have photographers. I can’t pull it together more than once a year and even then I’m thinking that I’ve surely missed some photos.

My point is, take what you have and create a book so you have something. It won’t be complete, but it will be done and once you have it in your hand you may forget all the photos that you didn’t include in it, and that’s ok. As a mom I’m big on the ‘done is more important than perfect’ method of housekeeping, and photo books fall into this realm. Remember, JUST START. You can always create more.

Now on to the projects and the products that I chose and love. I love the full bleed images in the Mpix linen books, and the simplicity in uploading them. They made it easy and every page looks high quality and simple. The linen is classic and pretty and our books were $50 each which is much less expensive than many of their competitors.

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We also had a bunch of photo magnets made and even Brian was surprisingly excited about them (which is good, because I ordered some for him for Christmas). These are really inexpensive at $3 for two magnets and if you order 10 of them they make a pretty darn thoughtful gift for family or friends.

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The Accordion Mini Calendar is a great one for grandparents or parents who go into an office and could use a little something on their desk. Or if your toddler finds it he may insist on bringing it to preschool and playing with it for days upon days until its totally destroyed (true story, obviously).

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Besides the photo books, my favorite might be the Thumbprint Photo Box.

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It’s 10 photos that are printed on photographic paper and mounted with single-weight matboard and they come with simple wood frames that you can pepper around your house. It’s like 10 gifts in one (this photo is a GIF, the product doesn’t actually change before your eyes). Charlie was equally obsessed with these (the photos of him looking engaged and excited were not faked nor were they planned – he LOVED playing with them).

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I made some for Brian that were mostly him and the kids, real moments that I know that he LOVED and then another that was for this shoot that was more bright/fun colors for us to have around the house.  emily-henderson_mpix_custom-gifts_digital-book_printing_gifts_christmas_holiday_9

They come in a pretty little wooden box that is absolutely giftable as is with just a little bit of ribbon on it. These start at $50 each and are such a great gift for grandparents, husbands/wives, or anyone that would love to see some of your memories displayed.

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Lastly we ordered two sets of  playing cards of the kids. I chose a really sweet shot that I love of them sitting next to each other on the sofa that I took one magical non-exhausted Saturday morning, and then turned it black and white for printing. Such a cute, sweet gift that can sit on a coffee table or be brought out for, you know, poker night with the guys.

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I feel VERY proud of myself for getting these gifts done (and some books for me). It’s endlessly satisfying and I promise you will NEVER regret it. Nobody in the history of the world has ever said ‘I wish I didn’t have this book full of memories’. Also, they all come in such pretty packaging that you don’t even need any additional paper or supplies to wrap them, just a little bit of ribbon and a name tag and you are good to go for the holiday season.

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Now is your chance to get on top of that memory preserving, and Mpix is giving you $10 off any order of $25 or more – just use the promo code emily2016. (Expiration: 12/21/16 at 11:59 p.m. (Central))**

Thank you very much Mpix for helping me rid myself of a few to-do’s this year. While there a lot of photo book options out there, our experience was VERY good with these gifts (and super fast) and I’m excited to do more.

**Disclaimer: Valid for one use per customer. Cannot be combined with other offers. $25 minimum order prior to shipping required. Promo code must be entered at checkout to receive the discount. Not valid on orders placed through the Mpix Tap To Print App, Zenfolio or ROES. This promotion does not apply to E-Gift Cards. Offer expires on December 21, 2016.

***Photos by Tessa Neustadt

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  1. These gifts are so cool! I’ve always wanted to put a photo book together but I’ve always hesitated because I’m never sure if the photos I take on my phone will be blurry when blown up to a larger size. It seems like it’d be such a bummer to print one and find a bunch of blurry pictures in there. Does Mpix have a way to let you know if a given picture isn’t high resolution enough?

    1. Hi Melissa, our software will notify you if an image is too small to produce a quality print. We want to make sure your happy with those photos!

    2. I haven’t used Mpix, but both Shutterfly and Mixbook tell you when your photo isn’t of a high enough resolution to look good. So I would imagine Mpix is the same.

  2. Emily,

    Do you know if you can add text to the photos in these books? I’d really like to make a book with Instagram and Facebook photos of my kids, but I want to include the captions, because that’s how I record all the adorable things they say and do. I haven’t been able to find a printing service that makes it easy to upload from social media and allows me to use text. Thanks for your time!

    Also, I really like your sponsored posts. I know not everyone does, but I think you do a good job with them. Rock on!

    Jenny (a fellow mom of two)

    1. Try blurb. You can upload from social media, add as many pages as you want, and add text anywhere. Completely customizable. Its a bit more expensive then most options, but I aways wait until a 40% off sale, which happens 4/5 times a year at least.

    2. Hi Jenny, you can definitely add text/captions to the photos in your book. You can also directly upload from your Facebook and Instagram account. Great questions!

    3. Jenny, I know that Chatbooks lets you upload directly from Instagram and you can automatically include your captions and the date if you want to.

      1. Chatbooks sound perfect for you! I signed up for them about a year ago, and it’s seriously been life changing. I still plan to do nice, hardcover photobooks once a year, but the Chatbooks are a super easy, no thought way to make sure that at least some photos get printed and don’t just live on my phone. I stick all my photos on Instagram. Then once I have posted 60 photos a Chatbook is automatically printed. It includes the date and all the captions. I think they are about $8.00/book. It is SOOOOO worth it.

        ps. You can exclude photos if you don’t want them included, but I don’t even bother doing that most of the time.

        1. whoa – this is awesome – thanks for the tip!

  3. Thank you! I use Mpix for prints, but never really looked at their other products. I need something for the in-laws, and I think that Thumbprint box might be the ticket.

  4. I’ve been doing photo books for 8 years since my kids were born. I have one for every year since 2008 and they are the greatest thing I ever did. I agree with everything you said about just start doing it. Mine don’t have text or any special borders just full bleed pages. They are usually 80-100 pages and since it’s the only album I make covering the whole year I feel that’s a good number. I usually use a different company but I’ll try mpix this year. I really like that thumbprint box.

    1. That’s so awesome Kelly, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

    2. I do the same. I’m lucky that my husband loves photography, takes all our photos, and edits them every month or so, so we have a ready-made Flickr set for each year of our twins’ lives. They were born in Sept, so each December I take the best shots and make a Sept-Sept photo book of that year of their lives. They end up around 100 pages. We keep one for us, put one in each of their memory boxes, and give a copy to each of the grandparents for Christmas. It takes time but I’m so glad we keep on top of it every year. And the Christmas deadline helps get them done.

  5. Thanks for the company recommendation — and the coupon 😉 I did a book of my parents’ life for their wedding anniversary and got such a good response I’m hooked on them!

  6. Dear Mpix person responding to comments – Can I upload to Mpix from my Flickr account? If so, Mpix will easily edge out Shutterfly as the winner of my photo book business!

    1. Hi Regina, unfortunately we don’t have that capability at this time. That’s a wonderful idea though, thanks for the feedback!

  7. Your kids are seriously the cutest mini humans ever! xxoo

    1. Thank you. I’m traveling right now so i’m just staring at photos of them thinking how is it possible that they are so cute. That’s what you do when you are away from them, right?

  8. I ordered the playcards right away after reading your post. I had some trouble with uploading my picture from my windows computer but it worked in the end. I reached out to customer service just to make sure they got it and they responded right away! Super service. I can’t wait to get them and to give them with xmas.

    1. That’s awesome. They are a REALLY good gift. xx

  9. Whoa. It’s like you wrote this post from inside my head, addressing every single one of my hang ups on making family photo albums. Pretty much every day I think about starting and I just know I don’t have the time to be perfect. I need to just get going on it – thanks for the great post!

  10. These gifties work great especially when the people in the pictures are as photogenic as your family is 🙂

  11. Absolutely the cutest thing ever! I love DIY gifts, they’re so thoughtful.

  12. Tip #2 blew my mind.

    I have two kids very similar age to yours and still haven’t done their baby books and it’s a dark shroud on my life (I have all the info/stories just not down in one spot). And I keep wanting to do the photo books but am all gah where to start. I needed this post and love your viewpoints. Thank you!!

    1. yes. do it. favorite them before you go to bed. I do it on planes now (but I travel a lot by myself) and it does make it so much easier. xx

  13. Thanks for the post and discount code. I have been using mpix for a while. I have ordered prints, calendars and photo books. I have loved everything that I have gotten. Their quality is fantastic!

  14. Hi Emily,
    Just curious how you found the quality of the printing to be? Was the color what you were expecting? Looking to make some prints of some professional photography we had done of our family and 9 month old. Depending on the printer, I find that I receive prints back where the coloring looks nothing like the photographer intended. I’m looking for that professional quality without spending a fortune. Wondering what you thought… Thank you!!!!

  15. How do I send photos directly from my “favorites” to MPIX to make an album?

  16. Hi Em, A bit off topic but Im dying to know where you got this rug, or what style is it? I saw it on you IG story and having been trying to find one ever since. I love it and need to have it thank you

  17. “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” — Voltaire

    Thought you might like that one!! I wait all year to make the ultimate publishable beautifully cropped, etc. etc. and you are right about all of that! This year, I set a timer, wrote down the main events, devoted one or two pages to each and just did it. (At Shutterfly, you can buy a clear plastic pocket to glue in the back, so I get one of those and buy extra pics I didn’t put in the album, then just stuff them in the back. Done and they are there for my daughter to take with her someday!

    Going off to look up Mpix…I want those magnets!!

  18. You are great and your work also be excellent.
    Thanks for this article

  19. I know this is well after this was posted but I wanted to tell you that this post caused me to get myself in gear and actually make some photo books. I have been meaning to do it for ages but what you wrote about just getting it done struck a cord. Thank you very much! I know I will be so happy and grateful that i just sat down and did it even if it is not perfect.

  20. Hi,
    I went and looked at mpix, but cannot find the “linen photo book” that you mentioned in this post. Is this not a product they offer anymore?

  21. I feel VERY proud of myself for getting these gifts done (and some books for me). It’s endlessly satisfying and I promise you will NEVER regret it. Nobody in the history of the world has ever said ‘I wish I didn’t have this book full of memories’. Also, they all come in such pretty packaging that you don’t even need any additional paper or supplies to wrap them, just a little bit of ribbon and a name tag and you are good to go for the holiday season.

  22. Give photo projects as gifts and then double the order for yourself. You kill two very big time-consuming birds with one photo book. I think people get caught up by thinking that each book has to be curated per person