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