This holiday season, if you are looking for a personalized gift with special meaning for the other person, it doesn’t get better than a photo book. This is truly a gift that keeps giving – a vibrant and compact keepsake of photographic memories that is sure to be treasured.
While we often think of photo gifts for other occasions – birthdays, anniversaries, mother’s day – they are undervalued as Christmas or holiday gifts. An additional benefit of starting a photo book project is that it motivates us to sort through our physical and digital photo piles. A beautiful and thoughtful gift that also gets you to restore your photo collection at the same time…what could be better than that?
The importance of photo memories
We go through life making memories – through childhood and beyond – that, sadly, fade with the passage of time. What we are then left with in our minds are largely fuzzy images and vague details from different phases and periods in our lives. The older we get, the farther we get from some of the key memories in our past. This is where photographs come in – to capture moments in time and give us a way to travel back to them. A photo’s ability to freeze a moment in vivid detail is priceless, especially given the unreliability of our own memories in doing this.
Starting a photo book: pick a theme; find the photos
Photo books take this a step further and help us tell riveting stories using photographic memories. In the past, we stuck our photos in physical albums (this was actually damaging to photos but that’s a topic for another blog post) and these became part of a photo legacy that could be passed on to younger generations. Now, with all the tools out there, it’s easy to create a photo book with a set of digital photos and either save it to view digitally or print it so that it’s easier to flip through.
The beauty of a photo book is that it can be about anything you want as long as you have enough photos to support it. Here are just a few ideas:
The funny faces have it: Make someone laugh with a compilation of goofy candid moments featuring them and others in the family. With the right captions and digital stickers, this will make a quirky and heartwarming keepsake.
Childhood chronicles: Which parent doesn’t want to have a sentimental and moving record of their children’s growing up years? A collection of special pictures spread out across the years can make for a wonderful gift – for child and parent alike.
A tribute to a cherished pet: Someone once said that “the problem with loving is that pets don’t last long enough and people last too long”. Any pet owner would probably agree with this sentiment. What better way to honor a loved and deceased pet and bring joy to its owner than with a book that captures moments – playful, lazy, loving, cute – from a short but sweet life?
Holiday highlights: Another winning idea for a photo book, given the time of the year, is to create a Christmas-themed memory book with photos from family gatherings and holiday celebrations of the past. With the right festive colors and embellishments, this will be a wonderful coffee table book to display during the holidays.
A few technical points:
Digitizing photos you want to include…
Some of the photos you want to use may not be in a digital format. So digitizing the photos that you want to incorporate in the book is the next step. You can either do this yourself with a good scanner and editing software, or you can get a professional photo scanning service to handle it for you. If you are choosing to digitize this yourself, pay attention to scanning resolution since this is an important factor when it comes to printing photos. You don’t want that special photo on the cover to turn into boxy pixels when enlarged. Picking an optimal setting for scanning resolution avoids this problem.
Designing or getting the story designed…
The next step is to put the story together. There are several digital photo book tools out there (ranging from professional grade ones such as Photoshop to more user-friendly apps) that you can use for the project. Depending on the tool, the amount of time and effort you have to put in may vary. There are also established photo book services that will design the book for you although it helps if you have a plan for the narrative in place. You can organize your photos chronologically in the book, or have sections dedicated to specific people, phases, places and more. There are no fixed rules here as long as the theme or pattern is clear at the end. Creative captions, page titles or more detailed text under a photograph will help the storytelling. You can add as much detail as your story warrants. It’s your creation; have fun with it.
Photos in need of some TLC
If you have some old photos that don’t look their best but that you really want to include in your book, don’t give up on them. Photo restoration and repair can make these photos look like new again. In the right hands, rips and tears can be fixed and even missing sections filled in. It’s also possible to reverse the damage to a photo due to moisture, light or just the effects of time. An experienced photo restoration specialist can also colorize old black and whites so that they look like authentic color shots from a previous era and give us new perspective on fashion trends and styles that prevailed back then.
Think beyond photo books…and the holidays
Once a photograph is digitized, it can be spun into a number of beautiful gifts beyond photo books. Think mugs, key chains, calendars, posters, framed prints and a lot more. The key is to get a good digital image of a photograph to work with. On this point, while it’s quite possible to scan images using a home scanner, a professional service is likely to get you the best results when you are working with memories that matter.
Some of the best gifts are those with sentimental cache and personal significance. That’s what makes photo gifts so special and perfect for any occasion. The holidays may come and go, but by digitizing your photos, you can weave these memories into gifts all through the year – for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations and just about any kind of special day or milestone. Sprinkle their magic on the people in your life and give them something they will savor in the years to come.