Are Photo Albums a Fantasy?

DSC01489No philosophy or cultural critique today, just cold, hard practicalities. What on earth am I going to do with our thousands of photos of SBJ?

Taking and working with photos of our baby is basically my favourite hobby these days 🙂  We have a standard digital camera and I don’t do anything fancy with it, just take a hundred photos at a time and assume that one or two will be awesome through the power of maths.

That is the marvel of digital photography. Each photo isn’t going to cost a dollar to print out and find out if it’s any good, so you can just click, click, click on the off chance.

And, of course, the flipside of that is that you risk never getting around to printing any photos out. Many of us have hard drives (that may or may not be backed up regularly) full of gorgeous photos, but few in hard copy.

I do a lot with my photos. With friends and family all over the world, I enjoy putting them on facebook (I figure if people are sick of seeing my cute boy, they don’t need to look!), and regularly send a few to people by email.

I’ve also used sites like Kroma and Diamond (who seem to just be portals for exactly the same – dreadful – online printing software) to make calendars and large prints for the whanau. Picasa makes collages easy (well, again it’s fairly unintuitive software, but once you get the hang of it it’s ok), which is helpful because uploading collage jpgs rather than single photos is the best way I’ve found so far to get multiple photos on pages with the cumbersome online calendar systems. I’ve used both Kroma and Diamond because they both regularly have huge discounts on daily deal sites like GrabOne, so I never pay full price.

DSC01410But, oh, I love my childhood photo albums, with real photos stuck onto real pages! Are they a thing of the past?

As far as I can tell, there’s a spectrum of documenting life with albums that most of us are on. At one end are the crafty, creative scrapbookers, who create astonishing works of art. (I’m not going to link to any – I’m too jealous!) It’s highly time-intensive, so only suits people who actually love the process and find it enriching in itself. Definitely something I admire but won’t make time for myself. At the other end of the spectrum are people who never print anything (though they’d probably like to).

Most of us are in the middle, probably, with a few things printed and framed but masses on the computer, hopefully backed up to the cloud. We look wistfully at other people’s albums and wish we had the time or could make a decision about what on earth to do, since none of us are doing conventional photo albums anymore.

So this is a chance to swap some ideas and get some motivation, ok? What are you doing and how?

I’m thinking of using the Picasa-collage-plus-online-photobook option to make one album for SBJ and see what I think of it. Our wedding album was a digital photobook, and surprisingly good, but I still find them far less satisfying than my childhood ones. I may just have to get over this.


Not a great photograph in itself, but I did feel the need to document SBJ climbing onto the roof of the car. I got him off really soon after, honest!

I have a talented photographer friend who has started printing out dozens of miniature photos of her kids and pinning them to a long piece of mounted wood on the wall. It looks amazing and is great for making use of all those shots that otherwise wouldn’t make it to view. She has a digital printer at home that is good enough for photos and I wonder if this is the way of the future.

So. Tell us what you do, please! In detail!

Where are you on the spectrum of photo documenters? What are your best tips (either what you do or what you’d like to do!)? What are the best online printing sites in your country? I’m particularly interested in hearing this for different parts of the world, because with local delivery options, we could be very efficient with photo gifts if we used foreign sites, saving trips to the post office. Thanks in advance!

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0 comments on “Are Photo Albums a Fantasy?”

  1. Daina Reply

    I guess I’m in the middle. I take lots of photos then go through them and delete the awful ones and select a few of the best to print. I put them in a folder on my desktop and wait for someone to do 9c prints (usually harvey norman online so I can pick them up for free) – that way they are all ready to go when a special comes up. Then I put the ‘best of the best’ into a photo album (actually if I am being honest there are rather a lot of albums – trying to keep it to one album per year or so). All my digital files are backed up to one of two external hard drives (one is kept offsite and they get swapped every 6 months or so), I’ve been meaning to sort out some kind of cloud backup but haven’t gotten round to it yet. I also try to get professional family photos done every year (or two at most) and get cheap online specials for canvases etc – great for presents when they can just be sent direct as I have done this year.

  2. Bekah Reply

    I’m planning on doing an online photo book per year for Isaiah as a birthday present and I’ve done the first one and i LOVE it! And hope he will too when he knows that the baba on the page is actually baby him! And I’ve got an old fashioned type album for Tayla started back when I used film (!!!!) which I admit needs a bit of work at the moment, but thats work I fully intend to do! Also, I consider our facebook albumn and excellent offsite back up facility!

  3. Angela Reply

    Well that’s funny, I was about to tell you how I have printed out a whole lot of tiny pics and put them on a strip of wood on my wall…
    I, too, ponder this question, and am a very old fashioned girl and like the idea of albums. With screeds of pics on Picasa for the kids to trawl through when they’re older, I’m not so keen on creating another online/digital thing. I don’t think we have to get in to creative scrapbooking. I have never forgotten the joy a 6 yr old relative of mine got through going through a small, basic flip album that told the story of her birth and newborn days. No fancy lettering, no cut-out card, so stickers… just some photos. She LOVED it! As you loved your childhood albums. So keep away from pinterest inspiration – basic is not bad, and basic is not boring.

  4. Alex Reply

    I do a mixture of things too. For both Marcus and Isabelle I made a hard-copy album at the end of their first year – M’s is one where you stick photos onto a page, I’s is one where you slip the photos in, because that’s what I could find on each occasion. Apart from that, like Daina, I periodically upload the better shots to an online photo site (photobox, in my case) and print out when I get round to it – usually after big holidays, or birthdays. And I’ve got into the habit of making myself a photo album of favourites at the end of the year. Some of the prints go into bog standard slip in albums and sit on a shelf to be flicked through occasionally, others go into plastic wallet ‘hanging’ albums that we have adorning our kitchen wall. I change the kitchen ones round very sporadically. I agree with Angela – there’s no need to go fancy on this. I do try to scribble down a little bit about where and when the pics were taken (having learnt how quickly these things get forgotten) but that’s about it. We don’t look at the albums all that often, but I find it comforting to know they’re there. Both Marcus and Isabelle enjoy looking at the pictures on the kitchen wall, though.

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