Sometime over the past year I came across a post on Pinterest that I really liked--instead of printing out all of those pictures taken over the past year, turn them in to an annual album. I used to be a big scrapbooker, I have tons and tons of paper, tools, embellishments, but for whatever reason, I kind of got tired of it. I have found ways to use all that stuff (for the most part) but I also had a computer full of pictures that never got any further than my hard drive. I also have boxes of photos from my pre-scrapbooking days stored away. I hated that idea. And since I'm on a "reduce clutter" mission, the idea of putting a whole years worth of photos together in one place seemed like a terrific idea.
I waited until there was a good photo book sale at my favorite site and I got to work. I decided to start with 2010 as I have scrapbooks from 2000 - 2007 completed, one from 2008 almost done and in 2009 I did several photo books and scrapbooks for various things. I am already a bit OCD in how I store my photos on my computer, so that made it much easier to put these photos in chronological order for my photo album. Once I got started on the first book, I was amazed at how easily it came together. I have since completed three years, and 2013 is in process, I hope to finish it up in the next two weeks. For me the longest part of the process is uploading all the photos to the website. Now that I have a routine for this, I will just make a point of regularly uploading photos as we take them.
I love the fact that I can use a favorite photo (or two or three) from that particular year to make the cover with, it not only is pretty but also serves as a quick reference/memory trigger. I'm very much a visual person, so having a photo on the cover helps me to remember what else might be in a particular album. I know, I'm weird ;) They also make great coffee table books. I've done a couple of them from special trips we've been on as well, and I'm hoping somewhere down the road to do a cookbook this way.
As far as sites that offer this service--there are soooooo many. I've used both Shutterfly and Snapfish and I've found that of those two, Snapfish offers the best color reproduction and their software is the easiest to use in addition to offering the most options. I love the fact that you can select numerous themes and backgrounds as well as text and embellishments to accent your pages. The Snapfish software also offers a variety of premade layouts to accommodate any number of pictures, or you can do your own thing if you feel like it. It's all a matter of what you feel comfortable with.
Want to give it a try but not sure where to start? I suggest picking a special event that you have a lot of pictures from--a wedding, a vacation, something you want to commemorate. Several years ago we had a birthday celebration for my husband's grandmother, and one of the family members had scanned a large assortment of photos for that event documenting 90 years of grandma's life. I was lucky enough to be one of those who got a copy of the CD she had burned of those photos, so I turned them in to an album to give to grandma and several other family members. To say that the gift was a hit is putting it mildly, and now all of those pictures are in one place, making it easy to look at them.
The other big plus--if you store these items at a site you regularly shop at, these projects can be stored indefinitely. If something happens to your hard copy of the book, it is as simple as a couple of keystrokes to get a new copy made. Be sure to check the website policies regarding photo and project storage first, these do vary from site to site, but to me it's a nice piece of mind. I actually had one of my albums seriously damaged in shipping and it was so easy to have it replaced.
Have fun! And if you decide to give it a try, I would love to see what you come up with. Just post a link in the comments section. I will warn you though, it is completely addictive........