Making a photo book to remember the events of the previous year? Here are my six best tips for making one (and actually finishing it!). Plus you can use the code SAVEHOLIDAY for 40% off any photo book.
A few years ago, I started making annual photo books for our family.
One of my plans for the holiday break a few weeks ago was to make both my 2019 and 2020 photo books but . . . it got away from me so I’ve been working on them this week.
And I feel great about this.
Once the new year rolls over, it’s the perfect time to do it – there aren’t as many things going on in January or February, generally, and with cooler weather and early darkness, it’s an ideal indoor activity.
Plus, the previous year is still fresh in my mind.
I’ve always done mine through Mixbook because they have beautiful print quality (after years of seeing photo books with wildly pixilated and dull colored photos from other printers, Mixbook is always a breath of fresh air).
For my 2017 book, for example, I did a full cover spread of my three big girls holding Tally the day after she was born and every time I pick that book up, I’m thrilled with how crisp and sharp it looks. I love every detail about it, from their little eyelashes to their tiny painted nails and their chubby cheeks.
I also think Mixbook has the easiest online editor to use – some of them are SO tricky and make the whole process so unnecessarily painful.
Now that I’ve done it for a few years in a row, I’ve picked up some tips for making it as quick and easy as possible.
If making a photo book is on your to-do list this year, I hope these tips will help you make it happen!
6 Tips for Making a Year in Review Photo Book
- Remember that ANY photo book is better than no photo book. Guaranteed, in 10 years, you won’t look back and think “I forgot to add this one photo. I wish I didn’t have this book at all.” You will be thrilled you did it and so will your family, so don’t stress yourself out about making it absolutely 100% perfect. Everyone loves looking through photos of people they love and great memories – so pretty much no matter what you put in, it’s going to be a hit!
- Stick with 20 pages. I mean, you can certainly add pages (it’s usually around $1.30 for each extra page, so very reasonable), but I tend to feel overwhelmed, so knowing that I only have to do 20 pages made it feel super feasible. This doesn’t need to be an encyclopedia of your year.
- Use your social media feeds to remind you of the highlights. You can connect directly to your Instagram or Facebook feeds and it’ll show you all your photos. You can even just pull your own whole feed in and Mixbook will auto-populate your book. Because my Instagram feed has a bazillion book photos on it which I don’t necessarily want commemorated in my family photo album, I just browsed through, it selected the photos I wanted and let that remind me of the highlights of the year – a quiet spring at home, backyard movies with our inflatable screen, trips to Las Vegas to see my parents, a trip to Lake Powell, the first day of school, Halloween, Christmas – then dropped those photos in.
- Don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel. Mixbook has really talented designers, so pick a style of book and use their templates. I tweaked a few things on mine or changed the layout, but mostly I just trusted them to have made it beautiful and didn’t waste tons of time starting from scratch. Plus, they have way better taste and a sense of style than I do.
- This is for you. After I added the photos from Instagram, I went back and found photos that Bart and I had texted to each other. They weren’t the kind of photos I’d post on Instagram, but they were fun and sweet and things I didn’t want to forget, like a goofy photo of Star with the scariest panda eye makeup and a white dress-up dress from her cousin eating an entire plate of plain whipped cream at Halloween. It wasn’t really an Instagram-worthy photo, but it was definitely a photo I knew we’d love seeing every time we looked through this for the next 50 years.
- Set a deadline. One thing I love about Mixbook is how simple the whole process is – you pick a Year in Review book, you import your photos, write a few captions and place your order. Done! But it’s easy to let it drag out forever or never quite click that order button. So set yourself a deadline and add it to your calendar with a reminder a few days before. Or decide to give it to your spouse or children or parents as a Valentine’s gift so you need to have it ordered in time for it to print and ship. You’ll be glad you made it happen.
I’m always SO happy to get my photo book done and printed – my girls are just growing up so fast and I want to make sure I have a tangible record of our travel, our biggest events, and our quiet days at home.
I don’t want to miss a moment.
Any questions about making a photo book? I’m happy to answer!
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Photos by Heather Mildenstein
Sarah R says
Thank you so much for this! I have been getting into a terrible habit of keeping all my pictures on my phone and never getting around to putting them on my computer or printing them out. My husband and I were just saying we need to set some time aside to take care of this, and then I read your post. I just spent 3 hours creating my book and I thought the process went so smooth. My pictures are not professional like yours are, and I am HIGHLY underskilled in photography (and creativity in general) so this site worked great for me. I am so excited to see the finished product!
What size book did you create? I went with the default of 8.5 by 8.5 since it was so much cheaper and it was my first time.
I uploaded the same photo to mixbook and shutterfly both sites reduced the quality of the picture but sadly mixbook made the picture terrible. I wanted to love it!
I’ve had a similar experience
I am SO impressed you do a year in 20 pages!! I’ve been doing photobooks since 2014ish and I’ve always done 100 pages for our annual book…plus another 60ish page book for every vacation we take (usually once a year). PLUS a ~100 page book each year for our son, covering about birthday-birthday. So…generally ONLY 260 pages a year… Hahaha. I do work on them gradually through the year though, updating once a week, if needed (not always needed, we don’t do a whole lot in January-March! We make up for it in the summer!). I SO agree that any photobook is better than none! And SO interesting to see how others do this!
Paige Flamm says
Last week I sat down and made photo books for the last 4 years, and it was seriously the best feeling ever knowing that I’m finally “caught up” on our life!
Charlotte Anne Brand says
This is such a lovely idea! <3
Charlotte | https://charlotteidek.com
Rebecca Lately says
That is so cute! I did a photo book for the first time in 2017. Now I want to go backwards and make all the years since we’ve been married. It’s so nice to look back on all our pictures!
Deneen Walters says
I think this is so important to showcase your photos in a way they can enjoyed and shared, and even tell a story. I have created photo books of our family for years, but using Picaboo. After trying all the different sites, I found they offer the best tools and most variety in templates, backgrounds, stickers, etc. I’ve been very happy with the quality.
I have used picaboo as well with great results
Thank you so much for this recommendation and your tips. I need to make photo books for our family but I always feel too overwhelmed to start. What size do you make?
Janssen Bradshaw says
I may be about *cough*eight*cough* years behind in my photobooks and your rule of sticking to 20-ish pages just made catching up seem possible! I need to start working away at this!