Don’t leave those photos in the cloud— turn them into a custom picture book!

Don’t leave those photos in the cloud— turn them into a custom picture book!

We’ve all had that thought as we’ve flicked through the many (many) photos on our phone--- I should really do something with all of these.  Then we glance at the laundry that needs doing, the bills that need to be paid, and the fact that the four-year-old just drew all over the two-year old with permanent marker (again), and we decide that those photos will just have to wait. 

Part of the problem is that it just seems so complicated to get photos printed, find an album, organize / decorate it, etc.  The good news is, however, that these days, making a (professional-grade) photo album is easier, faster, and less expensive than ever.

Before getting into the logistics of actually creating a photo book, let’s consider the benefits of even doing one in the first place.  First off, there is a wonderful tangibility to having a book in your hands that digital photos just don’t deliver.  The crack of the spine when you open it, the feel of the glossy pages under your fingertips, the pop of colors as your eye moves from page to page—very different (and wonderful) sensory impressions come from experiencing photos in a book format than from simply swiping around on a phone or tablet. 

Creating the book is also a fun (and often very easy) process that can even become a family project; it’s a great opportunity for you and your partner to reminisce about a particular period or occasion, and (depending on their ages) your kids can even be part of the process by helping decide which photos to use, what color cover you want, etc.  Making a picture book allows you to organize your favorite photos and tell a story and / or capture an important event such as a birthday (and some creation platforms even allow you to add captions and other text to enhance the photos themselves).  A side benefit is that going through the pictures themselves often helps sharpen your photo-snapping skills and preferences as well. 

There are multiple options when it comes to actually making the photo book.  You can go the traditional route and hand-make an album using your own printed photos through services like Shutterfly (where you can order prints from your smart phone and pick them up at a local drugstore) or you can have a professionally printed book made.  Everyone has their own opinions when it comes to budget and creative preferences, but rest assured that there is a service out there that will fit your needs— websites like Blurb and Mixbook allow you to customize the book’s dimensions, paper type, cover, and more (with prices that start under $20).


One fun option for babies is to create a custom board book with pictures of family members who aren’t around all the time so that your little one can learn their faces along with everyone else’s (and yes, Baby can safely handle, drool, and chew on the book—check out Pint Size Productions for more info. 


An innovative set-it-and-forget-it approach is that of Chatbooks, which allows you to set up an “ongoing photo book series” where a new photo book is automatically created and sent to you for every 60 photos you put on selected social media accounts or your favorited photos on your phone.  If you don’t even know where to start (or you just don’t want to deal with any of the organization at all), you might consider checking out a service like The Photo Organizers, whose members basically act as your personal photo curators to help make sense of your collection of pictures and assist with everything from photo books to slide shows to photo restoration. 

Once your picture book is created, it’s great to have not only as a custom-made decorative and conversational item in your home, but is also a wonderful gift for family members (another benefit of getting one professionally printed is that it allows for the option of ordering multiple copies).  Having a photo book on hand encourages friends and family to interact with the pictures again and again rather than losing them to the abyss of virtual storage (if you’re sitting around the coffee table at Christmas, you’re much more likely to pull out an album and flip through it together than to say Hey, let’s all log into the cloud account and look through some digital photos!).  A custom-made picture book is a beautiful and long-lasting keepsake that can be passed on to your children (and someday their children), and with today’s technology can be easily and inexpensively created…even with real life happening at the same time.