Photocrafting for a Photocrafter

The Mixbook site header has my book superimposed on it.
I received a photo book made just for me!

What a wonderful surprise I got this month — a photo book made just for me! I had a major birthday and Shel and her mom decided to make a book for me. I was (and am) overwhelmed! What a labor of love! It’s fabulous and seems just the right highlight for this post.

Photo books are probably the primary photocrafting experience and a good way to wrap up Photocrafting Fun for a while. We’ll look at my very special book, review some photocrafting organizing tips, and provide links to some of our earlier posts about books. Here’s to inspiring you to start creating your own book! Believe me, it will be a treasure.

All photo books are challenging and time-consuming but this one was particularly complex. Shel’s mom asked friends and family to send photos and notes that they could incorporate into a book for me. Shel and her mom had loads of photos in various formats and notes spread across two computers! What to do?

Two photos show a stack of photos and a pile of letters.
This is a small sampling of the photos and letters, not including all the digital responses.

How would Shel make sense of all the photos and images and notes she had? In Photocrafting Fun, we’ve talked about how to organize books (or calendars or anything with multiple pages).

  1. by Date, For example, a typical organization for a family calendar or annual photo book is month by month, that is, activities that occurred in July appear on the July calendar page. In the Jigsaw Puzzle book, Anita used one photo per page in chronological order of the year the family did the puzzle.
  2. by Activity. In the “Memories” calendar example, we had 20 years of getting together with a group of friends. Our first thought was to organize the calendar by years, e.g. each month would represent 4-5 years of photos. Ultimately, we decided instead to organize it by our activities, the way we spend time together. One month was breakfasts, another was shopping, etc.
  3. by Category: When I tried to position 35 different t-shirts in a 20-page T-Shirt book, the obvious thought was to arrange them by the year I got the t-shirt. I decided instead to group them into categories — politics, vacations, towns where I’ve lived, etc.
  4. by Location: It’s easy to imagine a vacation book in which you organize the pages of the book by the places you visit. In photographing his church, Tim decided it made sense to work through the building, starting with the sanctuary and moving around the building looking for external architectural features. The result is a beautiful book on preserving the beauty and much of the meaning of the building.

Shel first thought that perhaps it would make sense to organize the book by the years of my life. Of course, some friends (and their photos) span a number of years while others focused on only a few. Furthermore, Shel didn’t know all the people and often didn’t know where and how their lives intersected mine. She could arrange the photos by person but that wasn’t always possible either as there was often overlap among people. Finally she roughly sorted the photos and notes by people and by the time in my life — people that were in my life early and then family, and then college and my partner and then people where I lived for my early working life and then people in my current location. When it made sense, she further grouped people who themselves were part of a group (e.g. my neighborhood friends).

Three pictures from the book show the range from a 50-year-old b/w photo to a current color image.
Early in the book is a b/w picture of a Latin class project in the 7th grade! Later comes a picture of college friends
and more recently a yoga pose with a good friend here in Oregon.

Shel chose to use Mixbook to create the book. She had used it before and felt it had more flexible layout options than some other choices. One of the nice features of Mixbook is that it allows you to select layouts for a particular number of photos, e.g. four or eight. Shel selected the square 8.5″x8.5″ matte cover book — a perfect size for flipping through! The bright colored circles made a cheerful cover.

Here are two layouts that Shel used. Sometimes she had a page of photos only,
sometimes photos mixed with text, and sometimes text only.

It’s difficult to ask others to provide photos, particularly when some of the photos are many years old. A few pictures had such low resolution that Shel couldn’t use them and a few came in hardcopy rather than in digital form. Shel was amused at the number of images that came in PDF form. Mixbook (and most other photo book sites) will not take a PDF image. What to do? She opened the PDF files and took image screenshots (selecting only the portion of the screen with the photo) ! She also noted that some folks sent photos that only included me and none with the sender included. It works; they’re all wonderful in the end!

You may remember that early in the Covid-19 pandemic, I decided to make a book about experiences during that time. I thought it would encompass 4-6 months, not the 15+ that have now passed. However, I still plan to get the book together. I said it would be a good idea to organize notes and photos along the way but, of course, that has not happened to any great degree. I have thought about how I might structure the book — by time or by persons. I think I will probably fall back on categories, first listing some of the highlights (e.g. no toilet paper available, mask wearing, vaccinations). Stay tuned!

It’s summertime with enough months before Christmas and the holidays to plan your own photocrafting gifts and books. We will leave you with this as we’re taking a break from publishing a blog post twice a month. Please do let us know what you’re doing — and if you’d like to write a post on photocrafting, we would welcome it!

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