Personal Photobooks

There is nothing I love more than creating a beautiful heirloom album from a family session. These albums are a timeless way to showcase family session images that are meant to live together as a story. But what about all those photos you take of your day-to-day life or your family vacations — those times when a photographer isn’t there to be a fly on the wall of your beautiful life. While it can be hard, with the demands of work and home, my best advice is to keep your photos as organized as possible, and over time, create photo books that you and your family can leaf through. I have a few tips on just how to keep things organized, and some recommendations for getting those photos off of your phone or camera, and into your hands.

And — if you need help creating a photobook from your personal photos, get in touch, because I’m offering photobook design services while I’m unable to shoot due to stay at home orders (and maybe longer if clients are interested!). Scroll down for pricing!

Personal Photo book

Keep your images safe.

Please don’t learn the hard way, by losing precious images before you finally make a plan to back them up. Images from your camera should be saved on your computer (or to an external hard drive such as the My Passport, from Western Digital if you need to conserve storage), and then you should back up those images to a cloud service such as Backblaze. Images from your phone can be stored the same place on your hard drive, and/or automatically backed up to the cloud through a service such as Apple’s iCloud, if you have an iPhone (or a similar service for your brand of phone).

Keep your images organized.

I have an external hard drive for my personal images, and I have one folder for every year. Within each year folder, I have a folder for every month, and whenever I take images off of my camera or my phone, I save them to the appropriate folder. If you have time to learn a few things, and really want to get organized, I highly recommend Lightroom from Adobe. Even though I’ve been a Mac user for my entire adult life, I still don’t understand how iPhoto works, and where it stores my images. Lightroom is software that keeps your images organized, and allows you massive editing capabilities, not found in iPhoto. Before you dive in, you really need to understand how it works (it’s pretty easy to get the hang of), so definitely check out this beginners course on Creative Live.

Get your images off your devices and into your hands.

I believe that the best way for you to enjoy the most images is with an album or photobook rather than a pile of loose 4×6’s like the old days. My Heirloom Albums are well suited to a family session, but because of their page thickness and high production value, they don’t make sense for hundreds of personal photos. What you really need is a photobook, that allows you to print a large number of pages in a single book. I know there are a lot of consumer photo companies, but the photobooks I truly love are from Blurb. They offer a variety of sizes (I love the biggest — at 13×11 it feels like a coffee table book), and several different papers. Blurb books can hold up to 440 pages with their regular paper, or 240 pages with their premium paper (I use the Proline Pearl Photo 140# paper), so if you want to create a entire book for each year, you can get them all in there! I’m currently working on yearly photo books, but I already have a collection of photo books from our family travels, and they are one of my most prized possessions.

Personal Photo book
Japan, 2019 — 420 pages.

A few tips for making your photobook:

  1. Organize you photos. As is said above, I highly recommend saving your images in folders, by year and month, then when you go to design your book, you can put them in chronological order. You can also consider dividing your book in some other way, but it will be helpful if you are pulling the images from folders in the order you want to use them. I recommend dedicating a few hours at the end of each month to organize the previous month’s photos — if an image is not worth printing, then consider deleting it (or save the extras that you really only want in digital form to a separate folder). Then, when you are ready to design your book, the tedious work will be behind you.
  2. Use software that makes designing your book easier. Like most photographers, I’ve invested in software that helps me efficiently design an album, and connects to Photoshop so that I can retouch or make other edits during the design process. But there are other design tools out there that are less costly. There is one called Album Stomp that I hear great things about, and a single user license costs $99. You can also design and upload a book to Blurb from Lightroom, if you have it. Blurb also has their own design software, and though I’ve never used it personally, it will probably work for you!
  3. Don’t get hung up on captions. It’s better to get your book finished than caption your photos. If you are working on a book for a particular year, you could have a caption denoting the month. For my travel books, I sometimes identify a particular place that was an important stop with a lot of photos, but I just provide just a detail or two. It would take me way too long if I tried to caption everything. I also tuck admission tickets into the book on the page for a particular site, and that helps remind me of what I’m looking at.
  4. Better done than perfect. While that’s not the standard I use for my client’s heirloom albums, it certainly does apply when your goal is to get hundreds of photos into a book that encapsulates a year full of memories. Just getting it done and having those images in printed format is a huge success.
  5. Look for promo codes. Whether you use Blurb, or another company, be sure to search for a promo code before you order. Blurb often runs 40% off, or savings off of two more more albums. If you can get your album designed, then you can wait to have it printed until there is sale running.

View a complete Blurb book design at this link.

I did include a caption here for a section of about ten pages of photos from our day trip to Nara in Japan.
But most pages are not captioned. Also note the size of these images. For images you really love, the size of these books allows you have them fill the page.
Personal Photo book
This book is from our trip to France in 2016 and has 204 pages.

Need a little help getting your book designed? I’m here for you! See below for pricing, and if you would like to learn more about the process, feel free to contact me. You can view a complete book design proof at this link.

Cristen Farrell is a Boston family photographer, specializing in families, newborns, children, and life events. Her goal is to capture you and your family in a natural and authentic style, and for you to have fun along the way. She is based out of Andover, just North of the city, but travels anywhere in the Boston area. Cristen can be reached by clicking on this contact form.  Don’t forget to follow Cristen Farrell Photography on Instagram, too, for lots more Boston family photos.

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Based in Andover and available

North and West of Boston.

LONDON - PARISBoston Family Photographer


LONDON - PARISBoston Family Photographer