Scrapping the Old Baby Book

The Munchkin just turned two and I am now ready to send his baby book out to be printed. It has been a big project, one that I started in a traditional scrapbook-style baby book I was gifted before he was born. I worked on it dutifully, got photo prints made, all while thinking I was doing the right thing and documenting his first year.

Well, to be honest, it sucked. I have terrible handwriting, first of all. Then here I was gluing photos and mementos to these slick pages against my better judgment. And the ultrasound pictures? The ink or dye from the prints bled onto the opposite page and left a huge, ugly stain. It was a disaster.

I have scrapped the whole thing and vowed to start over. I knew that I hated the stuffy scrapbook format and that a custom and modern photobook would be the perfect solution to memorializing his first year. I could replace my awful handwriting with nice fonts, I could scan the birth announcement and the hospital bracelets, and I wouldn’t be limited by the number of photos I could glue to the pages of the old baby book.  Oh! I had so many ideas about what to include in the book from his horoscope and headlines from the day he was born to all the baby firsts I documented as he grew.

After a few fits and starts, I have finished the entire baby book layout. Truly, the hardest part has been creating a multi-generational family tree. This was an element I wanted to carry over from the original book and showcase a couple of generations back with grandparents and great grandparents. Since I have gotten over that stumbling block, I now trust that my baby’s first year book is as perfect as it will get and finally sent it out to be printed! 

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Weeding Down 1000s of Baby Photos

If you are anything like me you have a kid, a smartphone, a digital camera and WAY too many baby pictures. It is completely understandable. The little darlings are just so cute! Their first year is filled with wonderful moments that have to be documented. And, omigosh, they change so very quickly! Just when you think those doughy faces couldn’t possibly get any more adorable they start smiling and laughing. Sigh.

So you have been snapping away and taking all of these baby photos with your phone, your camera, your partner’s phone, and, of course, the grandparents’ all have phones. Before you know it you have hundreds, if not thousands of photos of your baby. It is understandable. It is just so easy to capture any precious moment as it happens and we don’t want to miss a thing. Personally, I probably took around 1,200 photos of my son during his first year. I have friends who ended up with upwards of 5,000 photos from their baby’s first year!

But then what?

What are you going to do with thousands of baby pictures? How many baby pictures are you really going to want to look at? How long will your friends tolerate sitting with you and looking at all those baby pictures? The best thing you can do to get a handle on your enormous collection of baby photos is to weed out the not-so-great photos so the very best photos can shine through the clutter. Just like a garden, you want to weed out the junk to show off your gorgeous flowers.

Start by gathering all of your baby’s photos into one place, just one folder, on your computer and title it something like “2015 Baby’s First Year Photos.” Place all the photos that you have into this one folder. Get all the photos off of your phones, cameras, and social media sites. Double check with your friends and the grandparents to make sure that they have shared all the photos they took of your baby with you.

Now you get to delete and do the actually weeding. My favorite part! But if this makes you nervous, simply create a subfolder titled “To Delete” and place the weeded out photos in there. You can decide later if you want to keep any. Delete duplicates and make it easy on yourself by using software like PhotoSweeper (for Mac) or Awesome Duplicate Photo Finder (for PC). Weed out any photos that are blurry, out of focus, grainy, show blurry movement (like hands), or if anyone has their eyes closed. Weed out any photos that look similar to each other but are not as good as the best shot in the group. Make sure you flag or make note of your very favorite photos as you work through the larger group since these will be the one you want to put in the baby book or print out and frame.

I was able to organize my son’s first year photos and weed them down to a more manageable 450 photos. I tried to work on weeding baby photos in small chunks of time, five minutes here, ten minutes there. It won’t take long and you will soon have an adorable (and smaller) collection of the very best photos of your little bundle that you will be happy to show off. 

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Why a Wedding Photo Book Is Better Than a Thumb Drive In a Bowl

Someone I know got married a year and a half ago on the same weekend in October I had gotten married on several years before (Anniversary Twinsies!). When she was all a flutter about planning the wedding and soon about to leave Seattle for the big event, I made sure to mention how much I love wedding photos and I hoped to see the whole gorgeous lot of them when she got back.

I think she forgot because she recently confessed to me that her wedding pictures have been living on a thumb drive in a bowl (a wedding gift, of course) on her kitchen table. The photos were not backed up to her laptop and she had not had any prints made yet. That was just too sad! She needed to get these important photos organized from her big special day and back into her life.

I am happy she turned to me for help.

First things first, we made sure to backup the wedding photos from the thumb drive onto her computer and onto a cloud-based service. I carefully went through the 450 wedding photos and selected the best of the best images. I tried to pull the photos where the bride and groom looked their best as well as the photos that really captured all the special moments from the day. I was able to drill the original batch down to about 100 photos after a little back and forth to make sure I had included all the photos the couple wanted in the final book.

After I became pretty familiar with her wedding photos and got a solid sense of the couple’s style, I laid out the wedding book design. I focused on telling the story of the special day in a linear way that highlighted the couple’s modern and nontraditional style. I was inspired by the bride’s playful blue shoes (“…something borrowed, something blue…”) and used a striking slate teal blue throughout the book as a unifying theme.

The hardcover book was ultimately printed on real archival-quality photo paper and bound in a seamless, lay-flat spine so no portion of any photos would be folded or hidden by a “gutter”. Once the book arrived for the bride to see she exclaimed the book had turned out even better than she had imagined. The happy couple also had copies made for their mothers and gifted them on Mother’s Day this past weekend. This special wedding photo book is making not just one couple happy but three at the same time and isn’t that so much better than a thumb drive sitting in a bowl? 

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