In high school a friend dragged me to a Creative Memories scrap night where we created a scrapbook page using all of the fun papers, punches, stickers, and tools they had to offer. Creative Memories is like the OG scrapbooking company who transformed the booklet of plastic sleeves with pictures slid in (you know the kind) to a crafty and curated photo album.
I left that scrap night loving the idea of creating a unique album with personalized detail. I went on to make many more scrapbooks and eventually began creating an annual album when Mr. Bins and I got together. Traditional scrapbooking is a LOT of work and somewhat limiting in what you can do and not as durable (some of my adhesives are coming off of my older albums). Once a picture is printed you can’t make it bigger or smaller, it just is what it is. Once you’ve layering papers and pictures and embellishments they can become quite large as well. After struggling through scrapping the first year with twins it had become a laborious job instead of a fun activity and I knew something had to give – so I went digital.
No matter if you are a seasoned scrapper or new, I want to share the in’s and out’s of Shutterfly’s custom photo album tools to give you the confidence to start going digital and take back your time. I’ll start with the main menus to get you on your way down the digital path. Some more advanced features and tips will be shared in a follow-up blog post.
Photo Album Style
Shutterfly has many album styles to choose from. Look at style options as a starting point for your album as you can add more options later on. I generally prefer a fairly simple design in an 8×11 size with a hard cover for our annual photo album.
Once you’ve selected a style, size, and cover option you’ll be asked to add photos in order to get started. This step will take a little bit of time but don’t over analyze! Select the best of the best from your year (some duplication or similar pictures are OK at this stage). I generally end up with 200-300 photos to start with and upload them to Shutterfly as an album to make grabbing them easier.
When you import photos into your photo book Shutterfly will give you the option of placing them for you or letting you do it yourself. Choose the DIY option! I’ll explain why in the Storyboard section below.
Now that you’ve added photos Shutterfly will take you to the album editor page. The top navigation menu includes 5 options: Style, Storyboard, Edit, Arrange, and Options. Since you’ve already selected a style I won’t cover it here, but just know that you can change your album style by navigating to the Style menu at any time.
Storyboarding is my favorite tool and will save you a TON of time. Clicking on Storyboard will bring you to a page with all of your imported images on the left hand side and album pages on the right (you can add and delete as needed). Just drag and drop by group or theme – that’s it! You can rearrange the pages later, the most important thing is to get them grouped.
It’s the same concept I use when organizing physical items as well. Pull everything out, group like with like, then make keep or toss decisions by group. There are always extra photos that might not be used, so grouping them together by theme and then weeding them out as you edit the page later is easier than making decisions as one giant group – especially when there are similar pictures that are equally as good. Keep in the back of your mind that you will always have ALL of your photos, even if they don’t all make the album.
Once you have them all in groups you can start to visualize the layout of the book and make decisions on page count. It may help to jot down the groups you want represented and pages to make arranging them in a way that makes sense easier.
Tip: Turn on the “Hide Used” radial button to hide the pictures you have already dragged to a page so you don’t miss anything!
Arrange technically follows Edit in the menu, however, I generally like to do the arranging at this point. Simply click and drag album pages to arrange them in any order you like. I try to stick to a chronological order as much as possible to tell the story of our year. My books always start with winter, include pages for major holidays, vacations, school end/start, and seasonal memories.
The Edit page is where you’ll make final photo decisions and pretty everything up. The first step for each page is to look at the photos you have storyboarded and decide on the number you would like to keep. You can then select a layout option with that specific number of photos (in the 8×11 album there can be as many as 25 photos per page or 19 photos in a 2 page spread).
After your layout and final photo selection and editing there are tons of backgrounds and embellishments to choose from to fancy it up and add text to give some context to your pages. Shutterfly even has idea page layouts for you to take the creative guess work out of it.
The Options page is the last step in the process where you can select final finishes, add a memorabilia pocket, and even select a gift box.
I’ll be putting together a follow-up blog post for more advanced details and tips on editing options. In the mean time, if you still have some physical photos laying around try organizing and preserving them in a photo storage box – find custom labels HERE!
For your pinning pleasure: