It has been about a year since we visited Ireland and Barcelona last summer, and until recently the photographs from the trip were sitting in my computer for the most part unedited, unprinted, and otherwise unattended to. Normally, I would have already printed them out and created a trip album for them.
Of course, this was no normal trip. And the last year has been anything but normal. But still I wanted to do something with the photographs I took. Over our long Memorial Day weekend, I realized there was one day when I would have the house to myself (Henry was umpiring; Paul and Clara went to a blues festival), I invited a friend over to show me how to make a photo book. The night before she came over, I went through all my photographs for the Ireland portion of our trip, edited them and had them ready to put in a book.
After some deliberation, I decided to use Mixbook. I used their "Travel Magazine" format as my starting point, although I modified it as I went along. Using it gave my book a coherent feel appropriate for a trip book. And, by and large, I liked the colors, fonts and graphics in the format. I also like their "Vintage Travel" format and will likely use it as the starting point for my Barcelona photographs.
On the whole, I enjoyed the process of getting these photographs into a book form. The mixbook interface was easy to use, and I quickly got the hang of using their templates, graphics, text boxes, etc. I think the little bit of PSE I've done, working in Picmonkey and playing with the iphone app Snapseed all really helped my learning curve. The paper and color quality of mixbook was good, as was the delivery time. There was a problem with the book when it arrived; all the pages were glued together along the right hand side, so I couldn't open any of the pages! I called the company and spoke to a nice, live person, and explained the problem. She sent me an email with a link to send some photos of the problem and within a few hours they had sent me an email saying they would reprint the book and send out a new one straight away. The new/second book arrived just fine. Since they dealt with the problem so well, I'll give them another chance before deciding they have consistent quality control problems. The book struck me as fairly expensive, though that may be because I made a 12x12 hard cover book with a lot of pages. My friend tells me that it's actually competitive in price to other photo book manufacturers (she has tried a lot of them). Also, if I compared the price of the book to the cost of printing photographs (especially in larger, varied sizes) and all the scrapbook supplies, I'm sure it's much less expensive than a traditional scrapbook.
The thing I liked best about making the photo book was the ability to easily use larger versions of my photographs. It also went together very quickly and will be much easier to store and show off than a traditional scrapbook. At the end of the day, the best thing is that the book is done! The major down-side (and this was probably a rookie mistake) was that I didn't do as much journaling because I thought there wasn't room. When I received my book, I saw that the font was really big. I could have made it much smaller and included a lot more of the story. I also was not able to include memorabilia, although I have most of that stored in the trip journal I made for the trip.
This post has been percolating in my brain for a while, but it wasn't until I read Amy's recent post on her 2012 Photobook that this really came together. I loved how she recorded her thoughts on the process, and I wanted to do the same. First, a question. Is this what people mean by digital scrapbooking? I know the answer doesn't really matter in the big picture, but I'm curious. I didn't make any templates on my own. I just went to the mixbook site and used what they had. I did add and subtract elements on the page like I would in regular scrapbooking, but it seemed much less involved than what I had previously thought of when people talked about digital scrapbooking. Second, I'm glad I took the plunge and made the photo book. I know I will make more in the future. I already made one (using shutterfly) for the half-marathon instagram photos I took, and I will review that one when it arrives. I have plans to do another mixbook with the Barcelona photos I have (once I edit them and find a good block of time). Third, I really like the storability of this book. I do have serious concerns about storing all my regular scrapbooks. But, at the end of the day, I know I won't ever completely move to photobooks. And the main reason is because I miss the look and feel of real, printed photographs. More than the paper and supplies, I love photographs. I love holding them and looking at them. Even good, professional printing in a book is not the same to me in terms of texture and depth. On the upside, I take many fewer scrappable photos these days, as the kids have grown up. So I think I only have a few more years of traditional annual scrapbooks lefts to do. That should help with the storage problem at least.
So, those are my thoughts. I welcome your reactions!