Every year, I make a family photo book of all the year’s memories and give it to my husband for Christmas. Here is a step-by-step on how I make a family photo book!
How do you keep your family memories? My favorite way is to make a photo book with Mixbooks! Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how I make our yearly photobook, plus all your questions you had on my yearly book!
How to Make a Family Photo Book
First, let’s talk about some of your major issues that you have with making these photobooks, and how I’d recommend handling it.
- “I have too many photos — photo overload!”
- We all take WAY more pictures than we could ever fit in a photobook, but the beauty of this project is that it helps you go through everything and choose the photos you really want to remember and save. Yes, you have 300 pictures from that trip, but lots are duplicates and you can choose the best 30 to really help capture the memories. Remember, your children and grandchildren can get the feel of the trip and have memories of the trip without seeing ALL the photos.
- “I’m years behind – how do I catch up??”
- This can feel super overwhelming, I know! But if you’re really committed to doing all the years previously, maybe enlist the help of family members or your spouse to go through photos with you. My dad has been working on digitizing all our old family photos from the last 40+ years and he’s been working on it for YEARS. It’s a big task, but it only gets worse as time goes on, so start now! OR you can decide to just start this year going forward and don’t worry about having books for the previous years, if that alleviates your anxiety. Your choice!
Exactly how I put together my photo books
Step 1. I go to my phone’s photo app and search “January 2021.” All the photos from that month populate and I scroll through and multi select which ones I want to use. If any need to be edited, I’ll pull them into my Snapseed app and quickly edit them. I like Snapseed because when it saves, it allows you to overwrite the original photo so you don’t get a duplicate, and it stays in chronological order.
see image below
Step 2. Once you’ve selected all the photos you want, Airdrop them to your desktop computer, and place them in a new master file folder “2021” and a subfolder called “JANUARY.” This will help keep everything super organized. (see photo above and below)
Step 3. At this point, you can name all your photos if you’d like, so you can save all of these photos to a hard drive when you’re done (you might as well, since you’re going through the effort already and then they don’t get buried in your phone with 80,000 other photos, never to be discovered again). Once your “JANUARY” folder is organized, drag and drop all of these photos into your Mixbook Photobook Editor. They’ll show up on the sidebar. (see photo below)
Step 4. Now it’s time to create your January pages. Select “hide used photos” in the sidebar above your photos so as you build out your January pages, you can see how many photos are left. At this point, add all the text and stickers and anything else you want. You want to finish these pages now and then move on, and not have to come back to them.
Step 5. Once all your January pages are done and your photo box is empty on the sidebar, repeat steps 1-4 with your February photos, and then March, and so on.
Step 6. After all of your months are done and your pages are complete, it’s time to go back and double check everything, spelling, image quality, etc, and then you’re ready to order! Choose the size and finishing options (I always choose matte covers, “everyday semi-gloss” pages, and 11×8.5″ book.
And don’t forget to use code MERRICK22 for 50% off through December 31, 2022!
That’s it! Super simple. Now let’s answer your questions about the book.
All Your Photo Book Questions
- What finish do you use on pages?
- I do the “everyday semi-gloss.” It comes out beautiful and sleek looking!
- How many pages do you usually have?
- It depends on the year! Back in the day before I took a million phone pictures, it was about 30-40. Last year mine was 97 pages.
- What materials and design do you use for the cover?
- I choose a different design every year, but always keep it pretty minimal. I like to have the year on the front and the date on the spine, and I choose the “matte” finish for the cover. I accidentally did the “glossy” cover one year and I don’t like it as much – it’s so shiny.
- What size book do you usually order?
- I always do the 11×8.5″ rectangular book. They’re all this size so they are uniform on the shelf!
- When do you start making the book? Do you make it all at once or monthly? Is there anything you do throughout the year to make it easier?
- I shared all the steps above, but I make it all at once and do it in December. Usually I’m ordering at the last minute before the Christmas deadline. I don’t do anything during the year to make it easier…I’ve found a system that works well for me so it’s pretty straight forward to do it all at once!
- How long does it take you to choose pictures and put the book together?
- It usually takes me a few days. Maybe 3-4, working on it for several hours at a time.
- How many photos do you use? How do you pick which ones to use?
- I use several hundred photos total, and I just choose the best ones that help capture the memories of the year, both big and small. As I go through my photos from the year, I just know which ones I want to be memorialized and which ones I don’t necessarily need in the book.
- How do you organize your photos?
- Basically all of my photos are on my phone, so that makes it easy to keep things organized because your phone can search by date or by location. I do it by date. I start by typing “January 2021” into my photo app’s search bar and it pulls up every photo I took in that month. I go through the thumbnails of all those photos and select which ones I want to use for the book. Usually it’s between 15-40 photos, depending on the month. I grab all of those and air drop them to my computer and put them in a folder called “JANUARY.” Then import those photos to Mixbook’s photobook editor page and create all my pages for January. Once all my January pages are done, I go back to my phone and search “February 2021,” and repeat.
- How does Mixbook compare to Shutterfly and other services? Why do you prefer it?
- I’ve tried like 10 different photo book companies and it’s crazy how user friendly, non-glitchy, smooth, and seamless Mixbook’s editing tools are. They also have beautiful and modern designs, and their prices are way more affordable for the quality. I absolutely prefer them to all the other services I’ve tried.
- How do you write captions without making the pages look cluttered?
- I don’t write captions for every picture or every page…I just write paragraphs every few pages to share what was going on, where we went, or something I remember from that trip or experience. I keep the text small, black, and all in the same font so it feels clean and uncluttered.
- Since this is a Christmas gift, what do you do about holidays?
- I always create a book for the previous year. This year I’m doing our 2021 book. This lets each book cover the entire year!
- Do you edit the photos beforehand, if so how do you do it without it being overly tedious?
- I just edit photos as I go, as needed! I edit in the Snapseed app, which allows you to overwrite the original photo and not create a new photo once it’s edited. This keeps it in the same chronological place, and easy to edit quickly and then air drop it over to your computer.
- Do the photos have to be high quality? Can you use iPhone photos?
- I almost exclusively use iphone photos! If your phone doesn’t take good photos, your pictures aren’t going to get better once they’re in the book. But if your phone takes good photos and you edit them as needed, then the photobook will turn out great!
- How do you combine photos from all sources? (Your phone, spouse’s phone, camera, etc)
- I rarely use a camera for pictures. We do take professional pictures throughout the year, but I’ve always downloaded those to my phone so I can share them to Instagram, so they’re already in my photo feed. Also, I’ll sometimes sneak into my husband’s phone and steal some of his pictures for this book, but mostly I just rely on my own photos because I take way more than him and we’re often taking photos of the same things.
- How easy is it to catch up? What should I do if I’m behind!
- I got three years behind a few years ago, and had to do three years in one year, and it was definitely more work, but I dedicated a couple of weeks to working on it and got it done. If you’re 20 years behind, that’ll definitely be harder, but take it one at a time and just get it done. You can do it!
- How do you take enough photos throughout the year?
- I’m constantly taking photos of the kids playing sports, holidays, vacations, family visiting, everyday moments…there’s never a shortage of photos of my kids or our family.
- How do you decide on a layout? Do you ever use auto layout?
- I have tried auto layout before, but they always put things in weird places or group photos together that I don’t want them grouped. It’s much easier for me to drag and drop and put them exactly where I want, than do auto layout and then have to go back adjust most of it. As for the book theme, I always choose a modern or simple layout because they’re clean with plenty of white space and look professional and uncluttered. But if you want more of a scrapbook feel, Mixbook has so many good and cute options.
- Do you create one book a year? Or do you make books for special occasions as well?
- When our oldest turned one year old, I did a book of all the pictures from his first year, and thought, “I’ll do this for all my children for every year of their lives!”And then I never did another book like that. Ha! So nope, this is my one and only book, and I just include all the pictures from the kids over that year, and that’s good enough for me! I have actually done a few other travel books for family members as gifts, but for our family, this one book is plenty.
- When do you order your book by?
- Last year I ordered mine on December 15th, and I believe the deadline to avoid rush shipping was December 16th. Soooo…I always procrastinate! But since I’m doing it for the year previous, I could really do it anytime…I just always put it off til the last minute cause I have so many other things taking priority!
- How do you store/display your books?
- We have a shelf in our family room below our floating bookshelves and we stack all of them there. They are so fun for the kids to pull off the shelf and look at on a lazy Sunday, or really anytime. They’re a treasure, and they look so pretty on the shelf!