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  • Writer's pictureLiz K

7 Tips for Creating Photo Albums (even when you are low on time)

Updated: Aug 6, 2022

I mentioned in my last blog post, 8 Ideas for Creating Memory Keepsakes for Your Children, that I don't remember much of my childhood and how thankful I am that I have lots of family photo albums from when I was growing up. Those photo albums, lovingly put together by my mother, are the best way for me to remember my childhood. It is full of family vacations, trips to the zoo, birthdays and other memorable moments - and even more memorable 90s fashion.

I definitely want to continue the tradition with my own family, and if you want to as well, here are seven tips to help you on your way. If you are very low on time, scroll down to numbers 6 and 7 for the time-saving tips.

1. When and How Often Should You Make a Photo Album?

Most families that make photo albums will do it once a year. If that's what you want to do, then it is pretty clear when it's time to make a new one.

Additionally, or alternatively, you can make special photo albums for occasions as they happen. Family holidays, photoshoots, parties, anniversaries, and graduations are just a few examples.

Even if you're a bit behind on the albums, you can start at any time and make backdated albums as long as you still have the photos somewhere.

Here are some examples of albums I have made:

  • my own wedding album

  • a huge album of our time living in the Netherlands when Zara was little

  • a small album of our first holiday as a family of four

  • a sturdy little album full of my favourite photoshoots of the girls (I keep this in the same place as the kids' books so they can look through it any time they like)

  • a little album for my parents to remember their recent visit to us in Te Anau

a little snippet from the Grandparents Visiting Te Anau album

As you can see, photo albums are also a great gift idea, especially for grandparents. If you are making a ready-made album online, it is super easy to have it printed twice - one for you and one for the grandparents. You can even go back to your project and make little tweaks to personalise it.

2. Ready-Made or Print & Paste?

I have made both kinds of photo albums, and I definitely prefer a ready-made album. But let's look at the benefits of each...

Print & paste benefits:

  • It feels more personal.

  • You can get crafty and put some scrapbook-type elements into it.

  • The kids can help out.

  • It's easier to do this as you go. You don't have to pre-plan the whole album, so you can work on it whenever and when the pages are done, you start on the next one. This also breaks down the costs nicely, you can get your photos printed every few months, instead of having to purchase a whole album in one go.

cute photo from Adobe Stock (my print and paste albums are all in the Netherlands right now)

Ready-made benefits:

  • I have found this to be quicker.

  • You have more freedom to plan the layout with different-sized photos and photo grids.

  • The end result is less heavy and more compact.

  • You're not in danger of accidentally glueing pages together.

  • If something happens to the album, you can go back to the website you created the album on and order it again.

  • You can create a professional-looking personalised cover for the album.

If you are not sure where to start for a ready-made album, check out some of these low-cost options: Vistaprint, Diamond Photo (I have used this one a lot, because they have some good deals on GrabOne ), and Snapfish .

3. Which Photos Do You Include?

Some photos are pretty obviously amazing and simply must be included in the album. If you have a photo of the whole family together and everyone is looking great, that's an obvious yes! And if you don't have any of those yet, it's time to book yourself a family photoshoot *wink wink*.

But photo albums are not just about the picture-perfect highlights. There are other moments that you will want to remember, like what kind of bedtime routine you have for your kids at this age. What their favourite toys are. What your house looks like. This is the kind of stuff that you will appreciate later.

Here is an example from my daughter's first photo album:

On the left side is a grid full of things that I wanted to remember from that time: baby sleeping in her little wahakura, me wearing her in the baby wrap, the old sofa hubby would sit on when he played his bass for her, the traditional Dutch food for welcoming a new baby we served (beschuit met muisjes). On the right side of the page is one of those picture-perfect moments: Zara looking adorable during one of her many photoshoots.

If you haven't already got photos of these little details, try to capture them now. And also, very importantly, make sure everyone makes regular appearances in the photos. Often mum is always the one taking pictures, and you don't want to be missing from the album. Your kids will want to see you in there too.

4. Page Layout & Photo Quality

Your photo quality will determine what kind of page layout you are able to do. I like mixing it up and having grid layouts with lots of photos interspersed with full-page photos, but it depends on how big your album is going to be and if your photos are sharp and high-res enough to look good across a full page.

If you are creating a ready-made album, the website will often tell you if you have enough resolution in your photo for the size you want to create. But you also have to look at the photo itself. If it is blurry and/or grainy (perhaps it was taken at a time or place with low light, or you didn't hold the camera still enough), then you will not want to emphasize that. Go for a small grid in that case.

Even when I have beautiful high-resolution photos from a photoshoot, I still will want to create a varied and interesting layout. Here is an example of that:

I picked my two favourite photos to be big and then added a few smaller ones.

5. Pro Tip for Layouts and Cover Art

Some ready-made providers have beautiful layouts that will work perfectly for your project. But sometimes they don't, or you might have a specific vision in mind, and you want to create the layouts yourself.

Luckily there are a few free tools out there that allow you to get creative with this. It will take longer, but if you have the time then you will get the exact result you want.

The two main tools out there are Canva and Adobe Express . These are also great to use for the cover of your book. They have thousands of templates that you can customise with your own photos and text.

Here is a screenshot of Canva - I did a search for 'collage':

Image Credit:

I used Adobe Express for Zara's first photo album. I had lots of time, because I started working on it during the first lockdown, and I found that it was faster to use that tool instead of creating collages myself in Photoshop.

Here is one of the pages in action:

Yup, that is my daughter at 9 months old dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood.

The important thing to keep note of is to check the dimensions of the photo album you are making and setting that as the size of your project. Also, remember to be consistent with your choice of border and cell size. And then try to keep in mind that the pages will go in pairs in the album, so make sure the lines either match exactly or are quite different. You don't want them to be ever so slightly off.

6. How to Find Time to Create Your Photo Album

If you've ever made a photo album, you know it can take a very long time. But if life is keeping you busy right now, here are two ways to get around that...

First of all, you can do it the easy way. Lots of ready-made album providers have an option that does the work for you, like this one on Vistaprint:

All you have to do is load the photos and check to see if you're happy with the album.

Or if you want it to be just to your liking, you can also choose to do it in installments. This one works for both ready-made and print & paste albums. You take whatever time you have in a day - even if it's just five minutes - and chip away at it. Set a timer on your phone that goes off every evening if that helps.

Here is an example of how to break it up.

Step 1: decide whether you want a ready-made or print & paste album, then research a good provider or physical album

Step 2: pick your favourite photos and put them in a folder on your phone/computer (on some phones you can also click 'favourite' and then access the favourites folder.

Step 3: loading the photos onto the website or sending the photos off to be printed for your print & paste album

Step 4: start working on the layout. With both options, you can stop at any point and continue on another day. Make sure you Register or Log In before you start any work on a ready-made album, and click Save before you close the tab.

7. Low on Time Hack

If you're really really low on time, or you just don't have the energy for it right now, there is a way around it.

Instead of a photo album, you can do a photo box!

For a few weeks, I'd been thinking about creating a Happy Memories photo album. Something full of photos that will cheer me up if I'm having a hard day (like when my two toddlers are sick at the same time and take turns keeping me awake at night and then I still have a full day of parenting ahead of me). I was really procrastinating on this project for some reason, even though I was quite passionate about it.

And then I decided I would just create a Happy Memories box instead. I printed out a bunch of photos from some of my happiest moments (and found some old ones that I already had) and put them in a box:

As luck would have it, the perfect box fell into my lap around this time as well. My parents arrived with a gift box full of nice-smelling toiletries, and guess what the box said on it?

If you can't quite read it, it says "Today's little moments become tomorrow's precious memories"

I love it! And now if I decide to make it into an album, I already have the photos printed and ready to go.

Hopefully, I have inspired you on your journey to creating more photo albums. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message on Facebook, because I love talking about photos! And please go ahead and share this post with any friends or family that would appreciate some photo album inspiration as well.

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