Photo books

I probably take 20 pictures a day, on average. Pictures of face-painted Viv, Amelia with daddy’s shoes on, Sonya mid-leap at gymnastics, a screenshot of somebody’s Facebook comment that I just know I’m going to want to refer back to, recipes, nutjob puppy tormenting asshole cat, a beautiful day, a terrible day, a birthday cake. When I dream of getting rid of my phone, the camera is the thing that always holds me back. Well, the camera and the phone, which is like 1% of what I use my phone for, but really, it’s pretty important to be able to call the doctor or the insurance company every once in awhile.

But the problem is that if I don’t do anything with those photos, they are a waste of time, space, and probably money somehow. Even if I am super vigilant about deleting the bad shots (here’s my strategy for taking pictures: take 100 pictures, keep 1) right away, even the good ones just disappear into the background, not interesting compared to Words With Friends or Facebook or even the weather app.

So, I make photo books. They aren’t free, but the value per cost, to me, is very high. I make one photo book each year in January, and then, usually, one or two throughout the year if we have a big thing, like a family trip to a lake or a free (not really free) (but kind of free) (because thank God for airplane miles) trip to the home country.

Fairly often, the kids will just grab the books and look through them, which makes me feel like I have made all the right choices in my life. Also, sometimes, I imagine the kids all grown, moved out, and for some unknown-to-me-yet reason having cut me off, and me, a super old lady (should I live that long) sitting alone in my house, staring at the pictures, probably drunk as a skunk and sobbing, wondering where it all went wrong. Ahh, the future.

Here’s the thing, though – you can spend a ton of money and a ton of time on them. I’ve made books through a lot of sites – Snapfish, Shutterfly, Walgreens, Picaboo, probably others. When I was starting out, I chose the cheapest option, and went with that, which works. I can say right here and now that they’re all basically the same, quality-wise. Generally speaking, without trying very hard, you can get a 20-ish page book for 30-ish dollars. Even when you get a “free” book, you usually have to pay like $10 in shipping.

As I’ve gotten older (so much older!) and wiser (a little bit wiser!), I realized that I wanted to have all of my books saved in one place so when the house burns down, I can easily re-order them all from one place. God, I need to get my anxiety back in line.

Also, I want the most bang for my buck, so eventually, I settled on Picaboo. Why? Because of a deal they have going on right now! Unless you are reading this and it isn’t January of 2019, but don’t worry, this deal comes up periodically, probably 4-5 times a year. The current promo code is FREEPAGES19, and it’s good through 1/28/19. What is it? Free unlimited pages.

This is a lie. The pages are limited, because unlimited pages is physically impossible. But they are limited to 160 pages, which means you can get a 160 page book for the cost of a 20ish page book. I ordered mine yesterday, and it cost about $50 including shipping. It’s definitely possible to spend less money, but not a lot less, and 160 pages! If I were to order that without a promo code it would be something like $280.

So because I have a billion photos per year, it is easy for me to fill up a 160 page book, and I don’t have to agonize trying to find pictures to go on 1-2 pages per month. 1-2 pages per month! What is this, communist Russia?

The trick is that this particular promo code is short-lived and you usually only have a week to do it, and it takes time to put a book like this together. But I’ve got a system in place that works pretty well.

At the beginning of each month, I upload all of my photos from that month to my computer. I choose the best of those, and upload that to a Facebook photo album (so I have a backup on my computer, and then a backup on Facebook, because you can’t have too many backups and…how soon do you think I can get back on Zoloft?). Of those, I choose the best, and make a new folder in my “2019 photo book” folder for “January 2019.” Then, over the course of a few days, I upload those photos to Picaboo, and place them on the pages, trying to keep it to about 12 pages per month. It takes an hour or two each month, but then, when the promo code is released, the book is already ready and saved on the site, so I order the book without having to worry about cramming it all in.

My sister takes a different approach – she waits until January, goes through all of her pictures from the year all at once, uploads them all to Snapfish, and then uses their “autofill” feature to place the photos. I have never done that myself because I am a control freak but when I helped her to do it, I was shocked at how well it was able to group the photos – all the pictures from a birthday party are on one page, for example, and it looks like they have been manually placed. Someday I’ll unclench my ass and try something like that for myself. You can also find promo codes for Snapfish – for all of the sites.

Never ever ever order a photo book without searching for promo codes. There are always promo codes available. Always.

I started doing this back in 2009 – and now we have a shelf full of memories that people actually sometimes look through. I wish when I started that I had been more careful about size (now I get all 11×9 books, but I have some oddball ones in there), but it has been money very well spent.

P.S. None of the links in this post are affiliate links or whatever because I don’t know how to do that. If you click on the links, I get nothing except the satisfaction of helping somebody else preserve their memories for all time.

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