our 2011 family photo books {Blurb}

The family albums I mentioned working on a couple of weeks ago arrived over the weekend! I have gotten a lot of questions about the details of my book, so I’ll try to bullet list a bunch of things you all have asked about:

  • Company – This year I created my book through Blurb.com
  • Size – I did the 12″ x 12″ book and am THRILLED! The photos are large and so is the book. It isn’t obnoxious big…just right. I like it so much better than the smaller 8.72″ x 11.25″ books I’ve done in the past.
  • Paper – I had to use the standard paper because my book got too big (250+ pages) and I no longer had the option for upgraded paper. However, I am very happy with the standard paper.
  • Text – My books are photos only. I plan to add some hand written text eventually. I know if I tried to add text while creating the books, I would never finish them. So, I opt to have books with no text verses no books at all. I also like the idea of the handwritten text – makes them feel a little more like my grandma’s photo albums with names written on the back of photos!
  • Design software – I used the Blurb BookSmart software and the Modern Family templates from Design Aglow. The templates are set up for a 10×10 book, but they worked just fine for the 12×12 book. I didn’t really understand the BookSmart software at first. Once I got the hang of it I started using it more than the other templates. Next time I’ll just use the BookSmart templates and customize them.
  • Cover – I did the wrap around cover and really like it
  • How are my photos organizedhere is an old post on how I organize photos, I still do basically the same
  • Extra copy – I always order 2 yearly albums. One is tucked away safely. The other is left out for us to enjoy. I don’t harp on the kids to be so careful that they are afraid the thumb the pages. I want them to enjoy the books…as they enjoy photos they are more willingly to continue to not mind my camera out all the time.

Overall, I am so happy with the bigger Blurb book this year. In the past I used a company that had a 100 page limit so I had to divide the year into two books. Though I really liked the product, I’ve always just wanted the whole year in one book. I’ll be sticking with Blurb.

Here is a look at our 2011 book…

A size comparison.


This year I added small square pictures in the very back of the book of all my projects from the year. I think it will be fun thing to look back on one day.

When the book arrived, the older boys began devouring each page.

They were joined by another little boy.

And a little girl wanted to join, but didn’t get her way.

I enjoy our family books for so many reasons. One of the biggest is how it makes my heart overflow in gratitude. To look back and see all that we enjoyed and overcame. To see a glimpse of the days gone by. To see how much we’ve changed and stayed the same. To be reminded of just how incredible the plain days of our lives are. To see photos of everyday life that capture incredible beauty – more than any exotic location travel book could. It isn’t the picture quality or the paper quality. It is just the culmination of so many of our ‘boring’ stories that together are anything but boring. It makes me thankful for all of it. And all of it is just so good for my soul.

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  • Jamie - blog jumped and got to you…so glad I did! This book looks awesome!! I have been wanting and wanting to do one, and now I am inspired!

    My kiddos are almost 4 and this would be a great thing to try to complete before they are 5…baby steps-right!

    Thanks again for sharing…I’ll definitely be back to visit!

    Nice to meet you-have a Happy Day!

  • Susan W - You mentioned you will go back later and write in your books, will the paper accept that? Some photo books they’ve told me I can’t and your book looks so cool! If you get a chance and can let me know that’d be great!

  • Why I don’t Project Life | Christen Krumm - [...] at this one Elise did (I know I know Elise again — can never have to much Elise) And this one Ashley did of her family [...]

  • kate - i LOVE blurb and the 12×12. i have been using them for years!

  • Teresa - I love the chair your kids are sitting in, the book to of course :), but I just have to know where you got that chair!!!

  • Julie B. - Love your photobook. Your kids will cherish them in the years to come.

    So, I was designing my family’s 2012 album in MyPublisher and reached the 100 pg. limit. I haven’t reached Halloween yet and that’s with cramming too many photos on some of my layouts! I’ve downloaded BookSmart as an alternative, but I’m kind of disappointed in the page layout options. Would you be willing to share the layout templates you customized? Feeling a little overwhelmed with the task of redoing my entire yearly book…

  • Vera - This is a brilliant idea! Photo albums are so old fashioned now…this is such a better way to organize/hardcopy digital photos!!!

  • What do you do with your digital pictures? - [...] year in one book.  A photographer/blogger that I have followed for years, shared her family Blurb book and it looks gorgeous.  Like I said, I am picky.  I want nice vivid [...]

  • Aharon Hill - Ashley, I am so glad I found this post– one big book makes so much more sense than ordering lots of small ones (my previous method). Quick question: do you use Blurb’s design software? If so, bookify or booksmart?

  • swanson yearbook | laura swanson - [...] iPhone pics from our last few months in Brisbane.I plan (optimistically) to put together a photo book for each coming year. Rather than follow the January to December year, I’m doing November to October, to coincide with each year of marriage (our anniversary is November 19). If it’s not too expensive, I’d really like to print two copies each year – one to keep out and look at all the time and one to store away as a family keepsake. I was inspired by one of my new favourite bloggers – Ashley Ann of Under the Sycamore – because I loved seeing photos of her kids going through their family albums. [...]

  • Joe K - I love this idea! My mom & aunts are all big scrapbookers. I am not. I love looking at theirs and know I’m going to be sad that I don’t have our memories recorded in a book. This looks like the best of both worlds to me. I also love the idea of having two. My 3 year old son loves looking at photo albums and I want to let him, but he’s rough on them! Thanks for the great idea(s)!

  • Marnie - I know this is an old post, but may I ask you a related question Ashley? I have used Blurb a few times for my photobooks and have also been delighted by the quality, BUT the images are always way darker than on the computer screen. I understand the different colour systems of monitors vs ink and the backlighting issue, but it looks as though your images came out just right (although I haven’t seen the originals, of course).Here’s my question – What did you do ensure the images were not too dark? I know you are busy and I will understand if you don’t get time to answer. Thanks!

  • AshleyAnn - Marnie – I haven’t done anything to ensure that. Some photos are too dark, but overall they seem to be pretty accurate. I’m not sure if Blurb has any tips for monitor callibration, but you might check that. Sorry that isn’t much help!

  • Marnie - No, that was helpful. Thank you : )

  • Valerie - Love this post…I’m currently in the process of making a book, i=using Design Aglows Modern Family Templates…but how the heck did you get them to upload via BookSmart. For the life of me, I can’t figure it out. Did you import the images as jpegs already in the Modern Family layout? Any help would be great! I’ts driving me crazy!


  • AshleyAnn - Valerie – Yes, I imported them as jpegs already designed. So then I selected either full page or full spreads in the BookSmart software

  • Julie - How did you get your colors so bright with Blurb? For my last book with them, I spent time editing my photos before putting them in the book, but the printed copy on standard paper looked drab. My pictures were RGB which might have been the problem. Were all of your picture CMKY?

  • Renee - Hi, quick question!! You said the 10 x 10 from Design Aglow worked for 12 x 12… did you have to edit each of the templates to make them a little bigger, or could you just import them and go without messing with them?

  • Modern Scrapbooking - […] PHOTOS:Album […]

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