Blogging Photo Books

Making Memories Last

Friday, August 12, 2016S.V. CAMBRIA



One of the reasons I started this blog was to share our experiences with family and friends. But my grandmother, who just turned 98, doesn’t own a computer and my mother, who does, rarely ventures beyond Facebook or email. And then there are David’s granddaughters. It’s important that they know who their granddad really is, but I don’t think they use the internet for anything other than games and required schoolwork. So, I needed to find a way to get the blog into the hands of some of the most important people in our lives . . . including ourselves.  

Twenty years ago the answer was obvious – a photo album. But the digital world opened the door to other options and the photo album was replaced by the computer, then the digital frame, then the tablet and now the smart phone. But I’m old school. I like the feel of a book in my hand, the smell of a new binding and the sound of a page turning so when photo books became the latest rage, I was all in.

It started off as a Christmas gift. In 2008 David and I sailed up the west coast of the United States from San Diego to Seattle, stopping along the way in places like Santa Barbara, Monterey, Eureka, Coos Bay, Newport and Neah Bay. It was a big deal for us and, all these years later, I still remember the feeling of accomplishment and awe we experienced after rounding Cape Flattery. I wanted him to know how much it meant to me and a photo book seemed like the perfect way to accomplish that.

There are a lot of choices available and most photo sites like Shutterfly, Snapfish and even Walmart offer an easy way to organize pictures with a small amount of text and have them printed into an affordable hardcover book. But I was looking for something more substantial than that and my search brought me to a source that I’ve stuck with for the last eight years – Blurb. It’s more expensive than some of the other options on the market, but the difference in price is more than made up for in terms of flexibility and quality. This isn’t an advertisement or review for Blurb, so I won’t go into details about their product or service – eight years surely speaks for itself. But I do want to add that their free downloadable software, BookWright, is easy to use and fully customizable.  




David loved the book I made him . . . and so did my mom and grandma who read it from cover to cover. So, I decided to make one every year, but they’re not cheap. Prices start at $14.99 and increase based on the number of pages, dimensions of the book, cover type (hardcover versus softcover), quality of paper and quantity ordered. Ours are usually 150 pages or so and cost somewhere in the neighbourhood of $60*. We kept them on the boat for a while, but decided to put them in storage when Blurb came out with an ebook option for $2.99. Unfortunately, the price was raised to $9.99 a few years ago, so we stopped buying them because we don’t see the value for money at that price (all of the screen shots of pages are from the ebooks). 


I won’t lie to you. Making a book is seriously time-consuming. Transferring the blog to the BookWright layout is easy enough – I just copy and paste. But combing through the hundreds of pictures I’ve taken, deciding which ones tell our story the best, and editing them in Photoshop so they can be placed onto the page is a painstaking process. But in the end, it’s worth it and the result is that we have a wonderful way of looking back at the places we’ve explored along the Inside Passage, reliving the experience in a way a regular photo could never do on its own and that we can carry with us to our next adventure. 





And that is how we make our memories last.

*All of our photo books are hardcover with upgraded paper and in the 8 x 11.5 landscape format.

How about you? How do you save and store your photos? And if you have a blog, what do you do with all of your posts?

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19 comments

  1. What a great idea and such a nice way for you to share with your mom and grandma! We've got all of our photos on external hard drives, but it's not very organized. I do worry that our blog will disappear into the void one day and all of the data will be lost, which would be a huge shame as one of the points of doing it was to look back on it later in life.

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    1. It really is a time-consuming process, but it's so much fun to go back through the blog and relive our experiences when I'm putting one together.

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  2. What a wonderful idea! I have made photo books in the past, but I think I have some more photo books coming.
    We organize all our photos by place (Belhaven, Ocracoke, etc), but I need to remember to tag them too - "Hastings", "stars", so I can find subjected photos. We take a lot of photos on various devices, so it gets a little overwhelming. We have Lightroom and store all photos on a hard drive so either of our computers can edit and view all the photos. The book is a great idea - I think my folks will love it and it will be fun for us too!

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    1. I think you're right, Lucy. Your folks will love it and so will you. My only regret is that I didn't blog as much about our pup, Sally, as you do Hastings. She was such a big part of our lives and that's not reflected in the blog until her last year with us and so we don't have many pictures of her in the books.

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  3. I make an album every year. One for me, one for Andrew with pictures of his kids etc as well in there. One for my son with all his adventures and one for Andrews kids with photos of them doing things. I love looking back through them. I don't tend to put in much writing - just the dates, places and peoples names. I've used Snapfish and will stick with them so all my books look the same! Seth - my son has got one for every year of his life. Yes they are expensive and time consuming. I try to add all the photos to the book and save it after each adventure as making 5 books at the end of the year would be a mission!! They make great Xmas gifts. :)

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    1. That's so cool, Viki! I love personalized gifts (sadly, my family members don't -- David excepted). I can only imagine how much it means to Andrew, Seth and all the kids that you take the time and make the effort to do that for them.

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  4. These are great memories! I would like to make photo books of all our travels, but I have tens of thousands of photos. And, they are not labelled, which makes it already extremely hard to find them for blogs and articles. My plan is to somehow make (many) photo books of our eight years of cruising, but they are incredibly time consuming, as you know first hand. I recently finished one of two months in New Zealand (because I want to keep up with these books from now on, starting with the most recent trip). Well, it still took me a year to complete it! And, I have gathered thousands of photos since that trip!

    I have heard of Blurb before and did look into it some to copy over our blog, but all my photos on the blog are resized and I have so many (long) stories on the blog covering the same eight years, I don't know whether it is even possible to "paperize" our It's Irie blog. I would have to check everything on typos and add all the photos manually.

    Every year, I make a calendar with photos of Mark and me in different locations (one a month) for my grandmother, parents and in-laws, since they rarely see us. They love them. Now that we are not traveling as much, it will be hard to come up with at least 12 nice photos of us! But, at least they will have different pets in them. :-)

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    1. I definitely don't envy you, Liesbet, because I'm in a similar situation. I don't use the Blog to Blurb option for the reasons you mentioned so I have to start from almost scratch (I do keep copies of what I post in Microsoft Word so, after re-editing the posts, I can just cut and past). But it's still a very time-consuming process but I think it's worth it in the end.

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  5. I also think it is worth it in the end (especially since making photo albums and writing reports and diaries have been my hobbies since a teenager). I just wish I had more time for it all now. And, that the photo book company's software would work without glitches! So nice to have the final products in our hands, though! But then, we have more items to store as well. :-)

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    1. I know what you mean. That's why I was so excited when Blurb came out with an ebook. But they're not as user-friendly as a regular ebook and I think $9.99 is too much for something I put most of the work into myself -- you can buy a newly released book for that.

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  6. This is such an amazing idea!! I totally agree with the feeling of an actual book. I honestly have never thought to do something like this which surprises me since I prefer a real journal over a digital kind. I may have to do this..thank you so much for the great idea!

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    1. You're so welcome, Krysta. I'm glad you like the idea. It really is a fun way to look back at what we were doing years ago and relive the whole experience.

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  7. We started using blurb for our personal blog last year and I LOVE the quality.

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    1. I know. They really are good, aren't they?

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  8. LOVE this! Such a fun gift for your family and for yourself!! I am in the process of printing some photo albums (I still haven't gotten a wedding album made and it's been almost 2 years oops) and I really want to do a photo book for each year. I take so many photos and they just sit on my phone or computer. I love looking through my grandparents and parents albums and want my kids to be able to do the same because who knows what direction technology will take and it's nice to have something tangible.

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    1. That's it, isn't it. When we were taking pictures with film, it was easy. You finished the roll, had them developed, then put them in an album. But now we take so many pictures that just sit around and get lost in the shuffle.

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  9. This is such a cool idea! I have never heard of Blurb...I just back up my blog and save the file..haven't thought that far ahead ...blogging is so time consuming and working too...this would take a lot of planning on my part, but a great idea ..love it!

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    1. It really is a lot of work (I'm 4 years behind right now), but so much fun to look back on what I was thinking and doing all those years ago.

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  10. I absolutely love this idea! I have thought about putting something like this together for the posts I've written about my adoption and just the entire journey I've been through to find my birth parents and stuff. I love being able to save all of this!

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