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Emily Ley Blog

Building a Family Yearbook Collection

October 29, 2018

A few years ago, I sat in the middle of a pile of photos, CDs containing photo files, thumb drives of photos, and more — and decided it was time to do something about the photo disaster at my house.

But more than just organizing my files, I wanted to find a way to archive our photos so that they could be easily enjoyed in the years to come. In the past, I’d toyed with scrapbooking (love it, just don’t have the time to devote to it), creating automated photo books (also loved these, but didn’t have the space for them), and even just vowing to keep them all in neat little files on my computer. But none of those methods seemed to accomplish the goal I had — to create a legacy piece that was simple, beautiful, and could be enjoyed for years to come. 

Enter Artifact Uprising. My second goal was to finally create a wedding album — something we’d put off after our wedding. In late December 2015, in that relaxed in-between week between Christmas and New Years, I organized our photos, uploaded them to Artifact Uprising, and (easily) designed 7 Family Yearbooks. Over the years, I’ve been asked many, many times for a step by step tutorial on how to do this (and how to carry on the tradition), so I’m thrilled to write this, in partnership with Artifact Uprising.

To preface these instructions, I have to say that it's important to realize that unless you are starting with the current year, you’ll want to make a decision about 1) how far back you’re going to go and 2) your budgeted amount for these books (they are 100% worth the investment).

For our family, I decided to do the following albums: 2008 (which would serve as our wedding album), 2011 (the year of Brady’s birth), and then one per year from 2012-2015. From that point on, I’d devote an afternoon at the end of every year to creating that year’s Family Yearbook.

  1. Gather: Get all your photos into carefully organized folders on your computer. Scan any photos necessary (you can purchase a simple scanner like this one or do what I did and use a free app called Tiny Scanner to take a photo of the physical photograph, crop, and save). 
  2. Organize: Once you have all your photos in one place, I suggest using a naming convention to sort your photos first by year, then by photographer, then by topic. For example: 2018_GinaZeidler_ChristmasSession or 2017_iPhone_Beach.
  3. Select Favorites: This is the most time consuming part of the process. Here is the key: don’t think too hard about this. You will have a gut reaction to each photo you look at, just move quickly. I go folder by folder using the Cover Flow feature in Finder on my iMac. This is the icon that looks like a square with two little lines on either side of it. It allows you to view the photo in a large size. I put a * in front of each file name so that particular photo rises to the top of the list of files in that particular folder. Soon, I have a bunch of folders with a couple of starred images at the tops of each file list. (Note: many have asked how I handle iPhone photos. I usually gather 9-18 favorites and create a grid page of smaller images (3x3) to preserve the image quality.
  4. Select Your Book: Our Family Yearbooks are the Layflat Albums (10x10 size). These are fabric covered with hard, layflat pages and are just dreamy. The quality was what sold me on them. I wanted them to display beautifully and last for decades. Artifact Uprising just released a slew of new fabric colors that I am so excited about using in years to come. I use the Lustre paper with gold foil on the cover and spine. Each of our Family Yearbook covers says “The Ley Family” and on each spine is the year.
  5. Upload to Artifact Uprising: Knowing how organized I like to be, this may come as a surprise. But I do not put my images in any specific chronological order in our books. I started to at first and decided I just didn’t really care. These books show the highlights of 365 days of our lives. They are better off completed, rather than perfect. I do group images from events together. 
  6. Create Your Album: Once you’ve uploaded your images into their system, the Artifact Uprising Editor is super easy to use. You have two options when it comes to building your album. One, you can use the drag and drop feature, creating the pages of your book any way you like. You can easily select different page layouts to best compliment your images. Or two, you can use their new Autofill feature. All of your uploaded photos will be placed for you. Easy peasy.  You can even sort your Autofill album by date uploaded, date taken, or by file name so you can tell your story from start to finish. Some of my books are thicker than others. The years of my childrens’ births, for example, I maxed out the books by adding pages until I couldn’t anymore. :) Also, Artifact Uprising has enhanced their preview feature to where you can see how your custom-made book will look on your coffee table. You can flip through each page and make edits along the way to perfect your family's memories.

I can’t say enough about this special tradition. I make one set of books for our family (I’ve been asked if I make one set for each child, but I do not) and display them in our living room on a shelf. They are, quite literally, the things I would save if my home were on fire and all my family members were out. When a hurricane threatened our city last year, they got packaged in a plastic bin and taken with us as we evacuated. They’re that special. Sure there are some photos that wouldn’t fit in the albums, but now that they’re nicely organized on my computer, they’re easily accessible any time we want to take a walk down memory lane.

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Our friends at Artifact Uprising are offering our friends and followers 20% off a layflat album of your own –– valid with code EMILY20. Valid one use per person. Click here to begin making yours! (This post was written in 2018, but this code is valid for 2020!) :) 

 This post was sponsored by Artifact Uprising. What a treat to work with a brand we love so much!