Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sharing and preserving your memories

It was on a stormy evening much like this when I first fell into my photobook addiction. I was looking through the photos for the year, picking out pictures to print for scrapbooks when I came across a beautiful photo from Stockton Springs Harbor. It struck me that this picture could be an oil painting.
The lighting is amazing, though ideally there would be no tarp
We’d bought a waterproof camera that year, and brought it with us on many paddles. Soon I came across another great photo:
And several more. They weren’t really family photos, they didn’t belong in a family scrapbook, but they were rich in memories. Earlier that summer, Mark’s uncle had first shown us photobooks. Each year he’d make a book summarizing his hiking tours in England. I began thinking we should have a book of just beautiful kayaking pictures. So I gathered the pictures, went to the Winkflash site, made a book and watched the mail anxiously until it arrived.

It was wonderful, and I loved looking through it each night. A week or so later I visited another site, Snapfish and made a second book, this time of a series of boats on beaches, a common motif.
Two boats on Rum Key, off Bar Harbor
Then, seeing how much neater these books were than the scrapbooks, it was off to a third site, Shutterfly, for a collection of favorite family photos. And back to Winkflash, who was having a sale on books: $19.95 for up to 100 pages, for a bigger collection of beautiful kayak pictures and a vacation book. And some cards; glossy 5x7 inch notecards.

A few more books got me through the summer, and by Fall I was ready to inflict share my favorite pictures on with others. So it was time to pick a calendar. I actually wound up with two; one from Winkflash, and one from Shutterfly.
Shutterfly to the left, Winkflash to the right
I started with Winkflash, who tends to be cheaper. But at the time, they had limited designs, no date labels (like New Years Day) and no way to put coordinating photos on the date. (That is now an option) I checked with Snapfish but found the price for what I wanted was too high. Then I got an email from Shutterfly, who’d I’d forgotten as an option. They had a great calendar design, unifying the top and bottom, and some temporary discount which made the calendars quite reasonably priced. Shutterfly is the only site I’ve seen with calendars decorated on both pages.

And last week I realized I’d need more note cards for thank-you notes. I picked up some beautiful glossy cards at Winkflash, just .80 cents each, and a few with an interior and exterior shot (which I can’t seem to do on Winkflash) from Shutterfly, for more, but with free shipping. I ordered the Winkflash cards on Dec 22, and they were shipped on the 23rd. I placed the Shutterfly order on the evening of the 22nd and they arrived on the 24th. (To be fair, Winkflash’s order was larger with several cards, Shutterfly was 5 copies of one card.)

If you are thinking of doing this I have some tips:

1) Check out a few sites. Put together a test collection of pictures to see book/card/calendar formats and prices.

2) To check out the sites they’ll probably make you join and sign. When you do request email/Facebook notices of sales and specials.

3) Gather photos for a specific project in a folder on your computer. That makes it easy to move them to any site to take advantage of a sale, or a special format.

4) If the calendar idea seems appealing, remember you’ll probably be putting it together in October or November. You might want to get Christmas photos now.

5) Some sites allow multiple coupon codes to be entered.

6) Edit carefully, especially gift items. Multiple pictures on a page are trickier than single shots (or well spaced pictures) because depending on the focal point some photos are brighter or darker than others Before you place a big order, you wish to order one copy for final review.

7) Full page pictures in photobooks are ideal for most scenes. It’s a big world, four shots to a page just looks cramped.

Feel free to add your tips or favorite sites (list why!) in the comments area.

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