The older I get the more I look back over the years and can’t believe how quickly the days, weeks, and months have gone. I often get lost in thought about how I can’t remember what my daughter was wearing for her first day of preschool. Or I become teary eyed because I can barely think back to when my son was on my chest as I rocked him to sleep at night. Really poignant and remarkable moments start to fade over time. Yes, they are woven deep into the fabric of who we are, but the little details somehow start to get lost. Today I am sharing five reasons why you need to pull your photos off of your camera and do something beautiful with them.
We are entrenched in a digital age, aren’t we? We snap away, whether on our iPhones or cameras. We document. We pose, we snap, we create still moments in time. And I am all for that. I love that the phone cameras have made it easier for us to get a quick shot of an important moment. What I don’t love is how we can easily store thousands of photos in these little rectangular devices we have attached to our hands at all times. I am guilty as charged. Or maybe you’re famous for seeing this message, “Card Full” on your DSLR camera. I see it every. single. day. No joke. Of course choosing to blog, I snap one million photos. And sometimes I think, gosh, is it too much? Am I documenting too much? And time and time again I am reminded that no, it isn’t too much. It is a beautiful thing and I plan on sharing five reasons why I think so.
Now, to be perfectly fair, I am not a proponent of missing the moment because you are behind the camera. I still think that being truly present trumps all. Having said that, I am a champion of photographs. I am excited to share five things with you that have become crystal clear as of late. And they all point to pulling those photos off of our phones and camera cards in order to create something really lasting and precious.
1. Old-Fashioned Entertainment
Photos are entertaining in ways that other forms of media are not. I can’t tell you the countless hours my children have spent on the sofa curled up with a blanket pouring over our albums. They savor each page and point new things out each time. It’s like they instantly jump right back into the moment the photo was taken and can go on and on about what they were thinking and doing. That is priceless entertainment in my book. They are reliving their own story and our family’s story. Each year we take a trip to Big Bear with two other families. We have done it for five consecutive summers now and when we return, one of us makes an album for that year. We all upload our photos and then from there an album is created. We print three copies (one for each family) and these are cherished around here. It is the most fun to get out the previous years albums just before heading back up to the lake. The children giggle and laugh . . .and they recall really special memories. Old-fashioned entertainment at its best.
2. Photos Leave Behind a Legacy
Each year I gather all of the photos (taken from the phone and camera) and create a Shutterfly album. I fell very behind a few years ago and just recently did our 2014 album. I have to confess that I am missing 2012-2013 and I am super bummed about it. We suffered some tragedy in our family and it made it difficult to create those albums. But I got caught up with last year and I will make the time to create the missing years. These albums have become too important not to. I often think about how when Riley and Grady are grown and have families of their own, they will be able to pull out these annual albums and share their childhood. The photos will spark conversations about family members that went before. Who are they? What were they like? Tell me their story. There is great value in that. There is a strong sense of family and roots when the legacy is passed down.
3. Memories Fade
Well isn’t that the truth. I sometimes can’t remember what I did yesterday. Let’s be honest. In those adrenaline pumping moments where we reach for the camera we think, “Oh, this is amazing. I’ll never forget this! This is such a moment!” And yet I am so thankful that in those moments we do reach for the camera. I will never remember all of those special times but when I see a photo of something it brings it all back. And it may not be of the exact event. . . but I will see a photo of when my daughter had her hair in a bob and suddenly I recall the way she walked with confidence into her preschool class each day with her tote slung over her shoulder and arms swinging. That’s magical. I know that we will all forget and new events take the place of old, but boy is it wonderful to look back and suddenly be reminded.
everyday moments: the monitor, bedtime stories, bedhead . . . the good stuff
4. Photos Beget Photos
Did any of you read the book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child? There was a line in that book that deeply resonated with me. It read, “Sleep begets sleep.” The more a child sleeps, the more they will want and need to sleep. The same goes for snapping photos. The more I see the value in albums we create, the more I am motivated to document our lives. And I don’t just mean the big stuff! I like to snap photos of the mundane. You might think because I have a blog I am more inclined to snap away at the pretty birthday party or under the decorated Christmas tree. In fact, I am the opposite. I like to take photos of the moments that make our life pretty darn ordinary. I take pictures of the kids in their dentists chairs with giant sunglasses on. I take pictures of my son tying his shoe because it’s still a hot mess but one day he will get it! I take pictures of both children sleeping at night. Not because I am weird but because I so love their sweet faces when they look so snugly and peaceful. If you don’t already, try taking photos throughout the day of the mundane. Take a photo of that sippy cup or of the broccoli left on the plate. And when you see the photos in an album that you can hold in your hands you will be so happy you did that. Promise.
5. Photos are Powerful
I am actually brought to tears when I think of this last reason. Photos are powerful. They are. I have seen it. We have a family member who is losing her memory. It is painful and it is life changing. When I show her photo albums, I see an entirely different person. She lights up. She enjoys. She may not remember the moment in the photo, but there is sheer happiness in seeing those photos and those sweet faces. Photos are powerful. Don’t under-estimate them.
Where to Begin
There are one million ways to make your albums. My sister prints her photos and slips them into old school albums. I love that. The photo you can hold in your hand is an ancient artifact and for that I am sad. I love that she does that. There are many online companies that make creating albums easy. I use Shutterfly. Who knows? Maybe I am missing out on something greater but for me it works well. I can upload my photos and now there are so many advancements that they can arrange them in a layout for you. It’s really not that time-consuming. I then go through and add embellishments and text. I usually spend about 2-3 days on a yearly album (a couple of hours each of those days). It’s a very small investment of time for a huge return. And there is nothing like getting the album in the mail. I think it ranks right up there with Christmas morning around here.
Creativity is Not Required
You honestly do not have to have a creative bone in your body to make online albums. They are so advanced with the amount of scripts, fonts, stickers, etc. they offer. There are even themes. I created our “Celebrate Everyday Life” album with a theme. I was able to take advantage of the creative and brilliant mind that created the template. So easy. So fun.
I have just seen such great things from creating these albums and I wanted to share. I hope it inspires you to get those photos off of your phone and into your hands. And if you have a great album making site that you wish to share with all of us, please do so in the comment section. I am always up for learning about something new.
I couldn’t agree more with your five reasons, Courtney. Like you, I take millions of photos with my SLR or phone too, and yes to mundane photos. I even took a photo of my son and husband yawning. LOL. And thanks for the reminder, I do need to have some of those photos printed. 🙂
Oh my goodness. I love that you snapped a yawning photo. That is the good stuff for sure. It’s so easy to snap away but a bit harder to do something with them, right!
This is so timely for me to hear! I have been looking at my 7,000 (no joke!) photos in iphoto and have realized in one swoop they could be gone. They are hard to enjoy on my laptop. I am already organizing them into years, and plan to get books done this month. Thanks for the additional encouragement!
You have made me so happy if I encouraged you to get them off of the phone and into albums! Sometime I literally have to clear my calendar for a day and force myself but it’s always so worth it. Have fun in the process, Sarah.
Hi Sarah, I saw your comment about organizing photos and had to share with you what a lifesaver THISLIFE.COM (photo storage branched from Shutterfly) has been for me. I found it a few months ago and dumped thousands of pictures into it and have been AMAZEDDD at how it organizes automatically without any work on my part. And the pictures held on the site become searchable by day, month, face, etc! And I can email out hundreds of pictures with the click of a button. Also Shutterfly books can be made straight from that site….so nice that storage and book making is all connected. Anyway, just inviting others to try it out since it has saved me sooo much time.
Thanks so much for this post, Courtney! I have been pouring hours into Shutterfly books this week and it’s nice to know it is worth it!!
Love this reminder. I love photo books too. So easy to do, and so worth the small amount of time it takes to put together. Must pencil this in on my planner to get it done.
So funny. That’s what I just said to Sarah above. I really do write it on my calendar to get an album started. Once you start, it’s really fun to get it done. Have a great day, Beth.
I’m glad I’m not the only one that has the same sentiments on this subject. I am the same as you and pull all my photos into an annual “yearbook” so to say, so my husband and I have this years to look back on as we are just starting out in our marriage, before kids, etc. What a shame it would be to go on all these fantastic trips and renovate our home without proof to look back on all the progress we made and memories that we shared!
Also, would you mind sharing what Shutterfly theme that you used to create the photo book with your family photo on the front? I absolutely love it!
Great post Courtney! Feel the exact same way. I’ve actually been working on yearly photo albums from Shutterfly too. It really is easy to use and a big time savor over scrap booking.
Yes! I used to create scrapbooks back in the day, too. I am so grateful to these easy albums. So much faster! Thanks for taking the time to share.
I have never put my photo’s into books but recently I have thought about it a lot especially as my dad is seventy this year and very ill. Do you know whether there is a way to get paper photo’s put into books.
I love your books Courtney they look great xx
Hi Tara. Gosh. I am not entirely sure but there has to be a way. I think there are companies (Like legacy box) that do things like that. I have seen such value in it as my parents get older.
I couldn’t agree more! I’m a mom to a 12, 9 and 6 year old. Every year on their birthdays, I give each one of them an album I have created from photos, artwork, school work and such over the past 12 months. Because my kids go to a year-round school, it works to create an album that includes their year in school as well as EVERYTHING we’ve done over the past year (all the holidays, family trips, etc…). The albums end up being about 70 pages each, but they are easy to do (Picaboo.com) and the kids absolutely LOVE them!!!
OK! You win the best mom ever award. That is such a beautiful idea. Your children are so fortunate. And how sweet to include artwork and school work, too. I will have to check out Picaboo.com. Thank you for sharing.
This is at the top of my to do list this year (along with going through all the girls papers from school, yes they are almost 22 and 25!!). I got hooked on the books after making one for Katie from when she was a float chair at BU. She loved it!!
What a great post. I literally (today) just finished a scrapbook for my daughter’s 16th birthday. I noticed that I had so many pictures when they were little, but all the pics from the last couple years were still on SD cards or on my phone. It really forced me to think about printing photos and taking more photos/videos of them at this age. I love your blog.
Leslie moore says
Love all your articles but this one especially hit home! Just recently discovered Chatbooks and had all 12 volumes arrive….. A great way to cherish all our Instagram memories ❤️
Catherine McAllister says
Great inspiration, Courtney. Thank you! My last book was 2011. Do you have a Mac? All my photos are now in iPhoto and I can’t figure out to select them into Shutterfly. Might have to convert to that other site mentioned above. But was curious how you store you photos digitally.
YES! I absolutely adore looking through old albums, whether they are my own or my great-grandmother’s. Sure, I may not know who everyone is in her old albums, but I just love looking and learning about her life. And looking back on my own is just a fun trip down memory lane (happy and not-so-happy memories all rolled into one). My sister made me scrapbooks when I was younger too – such a treasure!
I make a yearly shutterfly book for my kids each year from their birthday to the next birthday. I limit the number of pages to just a 2-page spread per month, so the books are only 25 pages each (2 for each month + one title page). This really forces me to get my “best-of” or highlight reel of their year. In addition, I am working on yearly photobooks that include e-v-e-r-y-t-h-I-n-g. These books are quite lengthy once kids came along. Our pre-kid day books are around 30 pages each. Then kids come and we get to 100 pages or more 🙂 I am a few years behind (oops!), but I am hoping that my maternity leave in late winter/early spring can be used for doing a little catch-up.
Another product to consider is Project Life. They have an app (can’t speak from personal experience on the app since I am waiting for Android), but you can put pages together right on your iPhone!
Thanks for the inspiration! Would love to hear how you organize your photos digitally before printing.
Barbara M. says
Love this post, Courtney!
Love this, Courtney! You are so inspiring and motivating in the best possible way! I even felt a little teary eyed as you shared your past moments and I thought of my own. I’m going to schedule the time to get this done!
Would you mind sharing the theme/style from Shutterfly that you used? It’s a beautiful book!
Angelina Stroumpouli says
Being 25 years old it’s obvious that I’ve spent my whole life with technology. No printing, no albums, no anything. My generation is absolutely connected with the digital life and I used to be okay with that till I became 18 and started traveling around. I’ve got a thing for taking photographs and sharing stories, so one day I decided that I would create a book/zine/album with the photos I was taking each time. Either it’s a beautiful day with my family, a trip to another country or just a lovely moment, I’ve started designing my own albums (the fact that I’m a graphic designer helps too). Now I feel better with the photos I’ve taken. There are somewhere easily accessible, no need to check folders and folders until I find them in my laptop.
As it seems I didn’t come here for the reasons (which are amazing and couldn’t agree more with you). It just feels nice that there are other people out there who appreciate the value of printed photos. A lot of my friends, family and acquaintances don’t.
Thank you so much for the reminder to cherish our everyday events in life. You have inspired me to get moving an create some albums. Life gets busy, but it is so important to take time to create these wonderful keepsakes.
Maria Zern says
I love this post! I miss when we used to develop all our photos! Now they get forgotten in a memory card or google photos or icloud…!