Creating a family photo album can be a huge challenge. It requires a lot of work, thought, time, and skill. I treasure my family photos, such wonderful mementos of the things we've got up too and of my growing family. Photography is quite important to me, and family photos are the best. Seriously, I look at photos from last year and wonder how on earth my boy was ever that small - and it was only a year ago! Or photos from my childhood that remind me of those happy, carefree days that only a child knows. Or the time my Dad capsized the jetski. All of these things are important. The small moments captured on camera, bring a lifetime of memories to life. But with all the things that go on in day to day life it can be hard to find the time to make new albums. Choosing the right photos, editing them, designing the album layout, these things all take thought, time and skill.
Yes. It can be difficult! Specially with our particularly busy lives these days.
But I really do believe that bespoke photo albums are the best way to capture and preserve your family photos, and share your stories. So, despite their challenging aspects, I think it is important to find the time to create more of them, or if you prefer, to use a design service such as And Other Memories who can take all the hard work out of creating a family album. To help you on your way, I thought I'd share some thoughts on the surprising types of photos that can go into a family album, giving a little bit of help with the choosing process. You'd be surprised at the images that can be great for albums!
One of the first things I look at is the quality of a photograph. Photography has come so far for the general public, even in the last 10 years. Nowadays most people will have a good quality camera built into their smartphone, that can take some beautiful, clean and crisp images. And if you add in built in software such as Google Photos that can automatically edit and stylise your images, we have become somewhat spoilt and used to stunning, idealised photos. This can make it hard to look back at old photos which often appear soft and grainy in comparison. It is easy to think, "Eurgh, they are rubbish, I won't use them." And this is where I say hold on a minute! Grainy photos are part of the past. If they are of a good subject matter, in focus, and you like the photo, there is no reason it shouldn't make the cut for an album. The personalised albums I design for clients are often chronologically based, and this means that photos from a certain period often have a similar look, which is great for album design. Try and group photos with similar looks - colours, grain, lightness/darkness, together. This way a photo won't stand out or look odd in an album. If you have a page of grainy photos, or even better a double page spread, then it can really look beautiful. The only time I would say not to use a good image that is grainy, would be if you were placing it on a page with other photos of better quality. The sharpness of the other images will make the grainy one look really out of place and not quite right.
Everyone has had a photo taken where they aren't looking their best. Teenagers in particular are famous for looking sullen, sulky or moody. What's this got to do with a family photo album? Well you'd be surprised at the number of times a client has asked me to remove an image of their child looking sullen and it isn't really surprising. Everyone wants the best photos to go into their albums. However, a good portrait photo - nice background, clear, sharp, with the child as the main focus point of the image, can be a really great photo for an album. Afterall, a family photo album is about the times you have had together, and how your family has grown, and a nice photo of a sulky teenager can be a brilliant memento of the teenage years. I'm not saying you should include a photo of Jack on the sofa in the kitchen giving you an evil eye, but a good portrait photo of him sitting in the garden, or on a boat, can be stunning and a fabulous reminder of times gone by, even if he isn't smiling in it!
Not everyone has these, but some decent family photos can be a good investment, and getting some professionally taken tends to guarantee some photos that you love. Professional photos don't have to be formal or posed. Find a photographer that is happy to tell your family story. Documentary type photos can be great - this is where the photographer will capture natural shots of you and your family as you interact together. Documentary type photos can be taken anywhere, from playing in the kitchen or garden, to a more thought out background such as a pumpkin patch or lavender field. Whatever you do, choose a photographer whose style is right for you. If you preferred more formal photos go for it. Whatever style you go for, professionally taken photos can look great dotted through an album as full page photos and will mix nicely with your own photos.
I guess this is a bit like the moody photos. Don't forget the details. It's the little things that make up the day to day, and the little things that can be worth remembering too. So if there is a photo of your favourite tree, view, or a board game that you love, use it to tell your story. It doesn't have to be a big photo, but small photos dotted in amongst all the ones of your family can add an extra dimension to a photo album, and really make it more personal to you. Or you can use such images as background photos, with the more human ones laid over the top. This can work particularly well for holiday photos where you'd like to remember where you were but actually it's a pretty boring photo on its own. However you use them in the design, just remember to add some photos that give you those extra details.
Poorly taken images
Everybody wants their photo album to be full of fun, beautiful photos but in reality you might find that when you go back through all your images, they aren't always that great. The lighting might not be right or there is too much red eye in that shot taken at a party. This doesn't mean the photos have to be ruled out. A little bit of editing can fix most of the flaws you see. Obviously you have to work with what you've got, but adding a bit of light, can really make a difference. A photo where someone seems too dark can become one where you can really see the person. So don't rule out an image immediately because it has a fault. Instead, have a play around with some editing software and see if you can bring the photo up to scratch. Photoshop is great if you have the time to learn how to use it, but there are loads of easy to use apps for those that don't. I particularly love Google Photos for a quick and easy edit.
So those are the five surprising things I would think about including in an album, which doesn't necessarily help when you are trying to cut down the thousands of photos and choose which ones make the pick for your family photo album. Anyone who has tried to make a family album knows how tricky it is to decide which photos to use, particularly when each and every photo reminds you of something special. Do you prefer this angle or this angle? Oh but she looks so sweet in that one too! Everyone has these thoughts as they try and do the cull! That's why so many of my clients will ask me to do the initial pick and then rule out or swap any that they don't like. There are definitely two things that I would try and avoid when picking photos though.
It can be so difficult to choose when looking at different photos of Lilly toddling through the grass, or stuffing her mouth with cake. And you don't necessarily have too. Choosing a few photos of the same thing can make a nice feature for a page of an album. But you don't want every photo to be the same throughout the whole album. So try not to choose too many photos that are 'same same but different.' Recently I was designing an album where the majority of photos were of a family sat around one table or another, eating various meals. Not only do these sorts of photos tend to become dull and repetitive if there are numbers of them, but in my opinion they don't tend to be the best photos anyway. People are spread about, someone stuffing their face, someone else not looking - these images are great for setting the scene, or as a record of who was there but they don't make great viewing page after page. And this can be the same for most generic every day shots, you don't want your album to be the same photo on every page or it will get dull. This goes for choosing who the photos are of too, Tim might love being in front of the camera and Susy might hate it so you might end up with many more of Tim, but you don't want the album to be just of him - so try to avoid picking too many of the same types of image unless you are making some sort of feature from them.
Out of focus
I don't think this needs much explanation. An out of focus or blurry photo is never good unless it has been created in an artistic way, so as a rule of thumb I would suggest avoiding any image that isn't in focus.
So there you have it, some surprising images that you may not have thought of including in your family photo album. Little things that can make a difference to the story that you are telling, adding the smaller details and background to the story of your lives. These are the things that truly make a personalised photo album, and are the things you should think about when choosing the photos to make up your own bespoke family photo album. And if it still all seems too tough, or there simply is not enough time, then why not let a professional like And Other Memories help you out, choosing the best of your photos to create your own unique album. A stunning keepsake that you will be proud to show your children and your children's children.
And Other Memories albums start at £300 and you can find out more by contacting us here.