Tuesday, February 28, 2012

DIY: Making Annual Photo Books Manageable

Being a photographer I have literally thousands of personal pictures stored on my hard-drive each year. Though I use them a lot on Facebook and on the blog, probably less than 1% are ever printed. That made me a little sad. I've always intended on creating photobooks from these pictures but to be frank the task seemed ridiculously overwhelming.

However, in attempt to embrace my "mantra" if you can call that, from the last few years, "something is better than nothing," I decided to start with current life and make a book (set of books) for 2011. The OCD me wanted to go back at least until the birth of our first child but I gave myself grace to get there in time but to at least just start with this most recent year.



I used My Publisher (and I'll share more about them later) but I am absolutely thrilled with the results!

In case you'd like to tackle your own project I'll share my process and tips.

Getting Started:

If you don't already, try to arrange your photos into folders by month or at least in chronological order. I use Lightroom for business and personal and so all photos taken in a certain month get uploaded into a file marked "January 2011 Personal" and so on. It makes it much easier to find them even if there are 400 images in a folder.

Next you need to select which pictures you'll include in your book. I would look at each picture in the month's folder and rate every picture I wanted to use with one star. If your editing program has any other way of flagging a picture you can do that as well. Then once I had them all flagged I selected them and exported them to a file on my desktop for just that month. I obviously did this for each month.




Once you've selected your pictures you've made a huge step!

Creating the Book:

I tried out My Publisher based on the recommendation from Ashley Anne from Under the Sycamore. I fully recommend them as well.

What I loved initially is that you actually download the My Publisher application to your computer and it was able to access all of my images without uploading them to an external website which meant that I could use them right away.

To keep it manageable I would only drag and drop one month folder of photos into the program at a time and finish all the pages for that month before I moved on.

In effort to keep it simple I chose a classic theme with just nice white pages and no text. I would look at my pictures, decide how many I wanted on a page and then search for a template that suited it. I also liked that I had the option to create my own image boxes and layout if none of theirs fit the pictures I wanted together.




Being that I ended up with 180 pages between two books (each holds a max of 100 pages) it could end up being quite costly. Companies like this though have really great and quite frequent promotions.

I had 3 months left to complete when I received an email offering "All Extra Pages Free". That meant I would only pay the flat rate of $35 for a 20 page book and all of my extra pages were free. Considering I had 140 extra pages that was the most. amazing. deal. ever.  I kicked it into high gear and finished my remaining months just in time to take advantage of the offer! Woot woot!



I think the wisest idea is to create your photo book and have it ready to print and then wait for a great offer to come along rather than pay full price. There are loads of buy one get one free or 50% off. Just be patient.

When you're ready to print you'll need to upload your entire book then to their website. This can take a while, especially if you're me and didn't read their size recommendations and used images that were probably 20x the size necessary for even full page pictures. Ooops.





I really would like to have books printed from the several years prior as well and so I'll slowly work on them and have them ready to print. It's also my goal to start on this year's photo books by creating pages at the end of each month or two so that by the end of the year it's all completed. We'll see how that goes.




I'm so happy with these books. The quality is fantastic. So much better than the few Snapfish books I've created. I love them and am so excited for the library we'll have after a few years. As a friend jested on Facebook that I had received my "Willms Encyclopedia of Living Series". It's such a great name I may have to use it on next year's book!



 And for a little randomness... here are my littles cuddling after looking at the books watching "'Spicable Me".





Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Super Hero Birthday Brunch | Part II

We have really cool friends. When I sent the party invites I didn't plan for guests to wear costumes but said that Kai and Hanny would be and if people felt like it they definitely could. It was super fun to see all the amazing super heroes that showed up :)


Uncle Matt and Finley. Canada Boy and Canglish Boy! Finners how cute are you?!



Little Spidey Hunter.


Clark Kent with Canglish boy!


We've got a Super lady here!


What a cute Super family. Canada Boy, English Woman and Canglish Boy!


Super Sadie!



More of our super family!



I'm so blessed.


Auntie Crystal and Uncle Collin!


Plasma cars were a big hit.



Super Hanny having some cake :)


Playing a little B-Ball!


You would never know this was a toddler party by the looks of the next couple of pictures!


There may have been a few Plasma car races...



Nice of you to share tall one ;)




Miss Emma as Bat Girl!



Part of the Wagstaff clan. Erin and her Super boys!



All the mini Supers! I'm learning that whole group pictures should always be taken in the first half of the party or it's not going to happen!




Oh my little Hanny... you are so tired!



Present time! Love how all the little girls are congregating around the musical My Little Pony toy :)


Apparently I thought something was funny.






Angry Birds finger puppets. Good times.






Party favours!


Little Ryker :)



Love it!



Finger lasers! No super hero is complete without one.


The Super Tregonings!


Family!






We had such an amazing time and were so thankful for all the help setting up and taking down. I'm blown away by all of the effort people put into being "super" for a day.

Thanks for loving our kids!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Super Hero Birthday Brunch | Part I

The girl one and the boy one have birthdays 5 days apart. This year their Auntie Crystal and her boyfriend Collin made arrangements to come down this month so we could have family at a birthday party - so cool! So, we decided to throw a combined party for our little "supers".

I find mornings a great time for toddler birthdays and so we hosted a birthday brunch. This also made it much more economical to feed 30+ guests. A cereal bar!

Over 300 pics were taken at the party so I'll split the posts up. This one will just focus on decor and tips on pulling it off.

Here is our food table.



Cityscape Backdrop - I purchased a tri-fold cardboard piece from Hobby Lobby that was already blue and glued/taped black poster board to it, topped with the yellow poster board "windows".

Comic Book Bunting - I needed "G" rated comic book pages for the bunting and came across an "Incredibles" book at the dollar store. I just cut pennants and sewed them to ribbon.




The cereals were the main course. I collected various glass containers to hold them and created custom super hero labels in photo shop. By using the same shape and "scheme" it saved a lot of time. For the graphics I searched for free graphics in google images.

Cereal Names:
Shredder Wheat
Rings of Power
Invisicharms
Thor's Hammers
Wonder Puffs
Cookie Kryptonite
Apple Jacks Bauer (My personal fave cause Jack Bauer should definitely count as a super hero!)
The Lone Granola
Captain America Crunch







We also rounded out the carb overload with Co-op donuts. They are the bomb. I also found delish Devil's Food Cake sprinkled donut holes in the Minot Walmart.




We just used inexpensive plastic table cloths for the tables and topped with our hero balloons.


Each child place setting had a super hero picture to colour (with crayons), a super mask, their plate/bowl and a juice. I fully recommend juice boxes for the kids as it cuts down on spillage exponentially!


Rather than finding helium balloons that would float I purchased balloons on a stick so we could put them in vases. Using scrapbook paper we cut masks for each balloon and just taped them on. The kids enjoyed taking these home as well.


I will say it again, a bounce house is one of the best investments a parent of a toddler can make. We use ours for EVERYTHING!!



The English one blessed us by volunteering to make a super cake for the kids. It was absolutely amazing! Everyone loved it and it tasted delicious. She included the Wonder Woman for Hanny specifically and then Batman and Superman. I love all the details and that it has clean simple lines. So beautiful. It was a great center piece!


The birthday boy and girl sitting with their cake as we sang "Happy Birthday". They are so tired.




Along one wall in the gym I had the tall one (and then Crys/Collin) create a city scape using newspaper. It's perfect as it nods to things like "The Daily Planet" newspaper and comic book prints in general plus it's already in rectangles. They taped them up the wall and then added more windows. I had created the "pop" and "Kaboom" signs on photoshop. "Badaboom" from Dafonts is a great free font you can use for your own.


As you can see the tall one is rocking Clark Kent and I at last minute decided to go as his Lois Lane. That's my press I.D. around my neck. We thought it fitting to go with Lois Lane and Clark Kent who got married and had little super babies. I made each of the kids' capes and forgot to get pictures of them. I guess we'll have to have another photo shoot!

We got most of our guests to get pics done in the photo booth - I'll share all of the fun pics with real live people in them in the next post!!!