My Yearbooks

Since I only ever take digital photos these days, my pictures rarely get printed. Even if I did order prints, where do you put them? Who wants all that paper clutter?

I don’t really care if I have photos displayed in my home. And I don’t super miss photo albums like I had growing up. But I do miss being able to show people pictures in-person and talk about them. (And not via Facebook.) But instead of printing single photos, I’ve come up with a solution that I’ve been quite satisfied with for the past 6 years: yearbooks.

My yearbook is a photo album that only includes photos from the past year.

Before Thanksgiving every year (since 2012), I make a single square photo album that sums up our year. I include all our best/favorite photos from the past 12 months and create themed page spreads. Then I bring the book with me the next time we visit family. When they ask, “what have you guys been up to?” I pull out the book and show them (and I secretly love doing that).

I don’t just toss all my photos into the book– I deliberately plan out what each page spread will be. This forces me to create a narrative for the year, and it’s actually pretty insightful. Do I like the story of my life this year? What would I change for next year?

One theme that we loved from 2013 has had a place every year since: food we loved this year. Looking back at old yearbooks is super fun, especially this food page and seeing what we were loving back then.

A couple of our books have signatures in them. I think this came out of my sister joking about it being a “yearbook” and asked if she could sign it like you do with school yearbooks (quite literally: “never change!”). I said yes, and let other family members and friends write in it, too.

One other thing I do with these books is tape our holiday card into the back. I just use double-stick tape on the back of an envelope. This way, I have that year’s holiday card right with the book. We typically write about our travels and life events on the card, too, so it’s also there for that extra info.

Details about the books:

  • I make them on Shutterfly. Their software is easy to use and the print quality is fine.
  • Besides my photos, I use only free backgrounds, stickers, and elements in Shutterfly. I try to just have fun with the layouts and get them done as efficiently as possible, knowing that if I spend too much time on it I will get sucked in and be frustrated that Shutterfly isn't my beloved Adobe InDesign.
  • Each book is 8x8 inches. One of my books came with a free upgrade: Lay-flat pages. It's bigger than the rest. Unfortunately, Shutterfly doesn't tell you that their fancy layflat pages makes your book 1 cm wider. Had I known, I wouldn't have done it.
  • Shutterfly's 8x8 books are about $20. I typically pay for mine using free 8x8 book coupons I get from my local Safeway. I can pretty much rely on getting a coupon in the fall. If I didn't get a coupon, I'd just wait for a good sale: Shutterfly always has sales.

My Yearbooks ⇒ Creatively Operating,, @oleiah

I am an artist who collects. Instead of keeping everything to myself, I'm trying to share more. This blog is for my artwork, finds, and creative projects, along with inspiration and thoughts on creative and intentional living.

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