Friday, August 5, 2011

Photo Books--Of My Own Making

I love photo books. I've always taken lots of pictures and love to put them together in story form. I was a scrapbook girl back when they were all the rage. However, I have a few that are still waiting to be finished ...namely my wedding album!

For a while I decided to just get prints made and stick them in traditional pocket albums. I have quite a few albums, but they don't really tell the story of life like I want.

Therefore, I switched over to photo books as soon as I could!
Over the past year I have made several photo books. I have used many companies to make my books--Snapfish, Picaboo, Shutterfly, and SmileBooks.

I've managed to snag some great coupons and usually purchase my books when I can maximize my savings. I'm ALL ABOUT saving some money! I got each one of my nine books for either "free" or significantly less than regular price.
My conclusion: Shutterfly books are my favorite and will pretty much be the only ones I make from now on. As a result, I plan on looking for coupons or deals and having books made and ready to finish so I can order them when a deal rolls around.
Shutterfly (top left), Picaboo (top right), Snapfish (bottom left), SmileBooks (bottom right)

Picaboo album, above, and SmileBooks, below
I really liked the black pages in the SmileBooks album, but I had very little control over where pictures were placed and the program was cumbersome to use.

Why I like Shutterfly best:
--book binding (appears more secure than other brands, even though it has glued in pages rather than sewn in pages; time will tell)
--coloring of the pages (brighter colors overall, though the SmileBook coloring was very good too)
--quality of the photo wrap cover (better selection of covers, better color, better quality when opening the book to the first page)

The biggest thing I didn't like about Shutterfly books:
--the cost without a coupon can be high
--the inability to get the layout I wanted, especially when creating 8x8 books

This year I made each of my big kids a "First 5 Years" album using Shutterfly. I used the 8x8 size. They LOVE them; it's a book all about them! (That's especially cool for a twin who typically has to share everything!) The only bummer was trying to make all my pictures work with square frames (which was standard on a lot of pages in that size book).

BUT, I cannot wait to try their new Custom Path. You can resize photo boxes, move them around, etc.--all the things I wanted to do in the books I made but couldn't. I could do this customizing on other brands of albums, but other features were more cumbersome (like importing photos).

In addition to photo books, Shutterfly makes awesome cards. They have a vast selection of Christmas cards and the most adorable birth announcements!

In all fairness, I will tell you that I'm hoping this post earns me another free 8x8 album so I can try out the new Custom Path very soon. However, all the opinions expressed in this post are entirely mine!

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