10 Easy Steps to Make Your Own
Photo Book for the Extended Family

display of digital photo books

Get ready to make your own photo book!

How many pictures do you have on your phone, camera and computer? What about those photos stuffed away in boxes and drawers that you wish could be viewed on a screen?

I'll bet you have hundreds. Thousands? I really wouldn't be surprised if you had hundreds of thousands of digital photos, as we live in a digital age and are surrounded by technology.

a picture really is worth 1000 words

So here's the deal.

Take advantage of modern resources and use them to strengthen your family! It's time to gather all those photos from the last family reunion and use them to make your own photo book!

Did you know that it's pretty simple to make photo books online? I've broken it down into 10 easy steps so you can easily share your keepsake photos with extended family.

 -take the E-Course -

Work through the family reunion planning process by
focusing on three phases of printed materials.

It's Free!

time to Make your own photo book

1. what kind of project do you want to do?

One of the advantages of digital photo books, is that you can focus on a single event, such as the family reunion. This way, you won't feel overwhelmed by an entire family history or life story.

Another approach would be to focus on a particular theme. For example, you could highlight family Christmas traditions or the annual Halloween Bash.

Family tree books are also great. Make your own photo book starting with the matriarch and patriarch. Highlight each branch of the current extended family with a few photos, facts and dates.

2. gather photos

If you can, swap photos with the extended family before anyone leaves the reunion. Copy all files onto a thumb drive or have everyone upload their photos to a shared cloud account, such as Dropbox.

If you're gathering photos after the event, communicate with everyone via your family reunion website, facebook and/or email. Give a deadline, even if it's arbitrary. Tell them where and how to share their pictures. You may even consider sharing YOUR account login information to whatever company you decide to use, so family can upload pictures directly to your account.

Try a message something like this: Hey everyone! I'm gathering photos so that I can make a photo book about the family reunion. Do you have any photos you could share with me? Please upload the images to {location & link} by {date}. Thanks!

3. digitize photos & organize files

Printed photos, handwritten notes and artwork can be used in your digital photo books, too. You just have to scan the image in order to create a digital file.

Consider asking relatives to bring their family history photos and other hard copy keepsake items to the reunion and have a scanning party while everyone is there together. (Check for local photo scanning services if you don't own a scanner.) Scanning parties work especially well for those folks who are hesitant to let go of their only copy of precious black and white family photos.

Create electronic folders and sub-folders on your computer's hard drive to keep track of what's what. It usually works best to decide what photos you want to use - and make whatever digital edits or enhancements needed - before you upload them. 

 -take the E-Course -

Work through the family reunion planning process by
focusing on three phases of printed materials.

It's Free!

4. choose a vendor

There are SO many vendors and businesses printing digital photo books these days! From department stores to photography studios to online specialty stores - you have plenty of personal publishers to choose from.

Do Your Research

my vote

My vendor recommendation is Heritage Makers. I love them so much I became a Personal Publishing Consultant so I could easily personalize my own family reunion projects and share them with readers! You can make your own photo book or create digital scrapbooking projects based on thousands of templates. Sign up for a free account here.

Be wise and do a little research before jumping in with both feet, as you'll find significant differences between products, quality, software and service. For example:

  • Standard length for digital photos books is about 20 pages; many companies have the capacity to include up to 100-150 pages for extra cost.

  • Books can have either a hard or soft cover and, sometimes, a dust cover. 

  • They come in a many different sizes and vary significantly in price and quality, depending on the vendor.

  • Templates, layout options, backgrounds, themes and the usability of photo book software will all vary. Significantly. The amount of text you can put on a page and the editing flexibility changes from company to company.

  • Each vendor will also have their own policy on account usage, photo storage, reorders, etc.

  • Your product choices will vary. Once you make your own photo book, some companies might also give you the option to order custom printed playing cards or other photo gifts. Some vendors offer online digital photo prints; others do not.

Things to Consider

To find the company that best suits your needs, consider the following:

  1. How much help will you need? Browse through the "about us" and customer service portions of the website to get a feel for how available a company is to answer individual questions. Are there webinars or tutorials to get you started?

  2. What size do you want? If you're going for a storybook feel, you can't beat the 8x8. But sometimes a 7x5 or 11.5 x 8.5 might suit you better. If you want to create a photo book based on your 12x12 scrapbook pages, it’ll be easiest to print a 12x12 book.

  3. What is your skill level? How easy does your project need to be? If you don’t want to spend a lot of time customizing pages, look for attractive templates and themed books. If the available backgrounds and designs seem limiting, make sure the company offers editing options and photo placement flexibility.

  4. How much text are you planning to include? Some companies/templates offer little more word space than the ability to print photo captions. Make sure there is enough space to say what you want to say.

  5. How many photos do you plan to include? Most prices are based on a certain number of pages per book. Additional pages can usually be added at a per page cost.

  6. Is the cover important? Do you want to be able to print your book title on the spine? Do you need a dust jacket? Does the book need to lay flat when opened?

  7. What do you plan to do with your book? Who will read it? Make sure the book and pages are of a higher quality so they will resist wrinkles and tears from young children.

  8. Can you order additional books after the initial purchase? Some projects are gone the moment they're ordered. Others stay forever in your password protected account.

 -take the E-Course -

Work through the family reunion planning process by
focusing on three phases of printed materials.

It's Free!

5. create an account

Regardless of the vendor you choose, you will need to create an online account. Follow their instructions. 

Write down your username and password in a safe location when you're finished.

6. upload photos

Regardless of the vendor, you must upload photos to make your own photo book. It's a simple matter of copying files. I recommend testing the process with just a few photos the first time through.

  1. Open your online account
  2. Locate the folder or album you want your pictures to "live"
  3. Locate the images on your computer's hard drive
  4. Select the ones you want
  5. Upload. Look for a "upload now," "add photos," or "go" link or button.

7. choose a template or layout

When you make your own photo book, most people skip directly to this step because it's the fun part. But trust me - do the first 6 steps first and you'll find the entire process much easier and more enjoyable.

8. Proof read

Be sure to check and double check each page, photo and text box. Are your photos of high enough quality that they'll print okay? Did you spell everything correctly? Does the cover photo look the way you want it to? Did you remember to change titles as needed?

9. order and pay for your photo book

First, you make your own photo book. Then, when you've finished proof reading and editing, look for the "publish" or some sort of "I'm all done" button. It's a 2 step process - 

  1. make your book
  2. order your book

To order, place the book in your shopping cart and then follow the check out instructions. Look for a "media" rate for the least expensive shipping option.

10. share with family

brothers reading personalized family reunion magazine togetherThese goof balls love reading our personalized family reunion magazine.

I love this part!! There is nothing better than touching, holding and reading a brand new photo book that you've made all by yourself. :) 

Be sure to share it with your extended family. Order additional copies to give as gifts. Or your extended family may even want to purchase their own copies.

When it becomes a family reunion tradition to make your own photo book, take all of them to the next reunion with you. I guarantee it will bring smiles and happy memories.

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