Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Photo books.

  I'm a big fan of tangible photos. Obviously, I enjoy taking them, but even more so I love having our memories captured in something we can physically hold in our hands or walk past everyday on the walls of our home.

  Growing up, my grandma had a photo album for each of my sisters and me that she would add to regularly. (by photo album I mean one of the old school one with sticky pages that you lifted the clear topsheet from to place the pictures on each page however you wanted) The same was the case for my mom. And we had an ever growing collection of photo boxes- filled with old and and newer pictures. I loved going through them and reading my mom's notes on the back of each photo. 

  More often than not, a finger was blocking the viewfinder or the flash was on when it shouldn't have been or the picture was completely out of focus. But I never cared. Back then and still now, the imperfect everyday shots are my favorite. I always dislike them in the moment after I take an imperfect photo, wishing I had captured a better shot. But always, without fail, I look back days/weeks/months later and love it- imprecations and all.

 I'm getting off track though. I love real, printed off photos. Not just a massive photo roll on my phone or computer that I never bother to look at and will likely be deleted to make space for something else one day. It always seems silly to me to have so many photos stored digitally where no one will ever really appreciate them. So I print my photos off often. I try to do a monthly print of family/kid photos and add them to their photo boxes or project life books (I'm so behind on those though). 

  But even I can admit that with our cameras so accessible these days (hi, iPhone) more pictures are taken and its silly to print each one. Enter photo books! I'm super super late to this game, so I'm not offended if you're rolling your eyes. But I just got my first round of ChatBooks and my first Groovebook is on its way, so I thought I'd share what I've learned so far in case you need any tips. Have you tried any of these? Leave a comment and let me know you're experience/tips! :) (I included any coupon codes I could find in case you want to try any of the photo books. Some are referral codes where I get credit if you use the codes but no love lost if you don't use them😊)

Shutterfly: I like this service for inexpensive and simple gift books. I've never used the app, since I'm mostly uploading camera photos from my computer. I've used Shutterfly to make pregnancy/newborn books and gift this past Christmas to create gifts for family from trips we've taken (beach and lakehouse). Easy templates to use, computer friendly (I didn't use instagram photos), decent quality. I'll likely use them again next year and make those photo books an annual gift (spoiler alert to my family!) I love Shutterfly and Snapfish for my monthly photo printing- between the two you can almost always find a coupon code for penny prints or 101 free prints. Its a great way to get photos off your phone/computer (always print in matte, not glossy)! For any professional photos (newborn, annual family, etc) I stick with higher quality mpix.com, but for everyday pictures Shutterfly and Snapfish work great. ((I couldn't find a coupon code, but there is an email-able Free Photo Book coupon each account user can send to friends to try the service- let me know if you want one!)

ChatBooks: Overall, I'm really happy with my first round of ChatBooks. I found a coupon code and got my first book free so I only paid for 3/4 of the ones I received. It took me a little while to figure out the app and how to get it to truly be caption-free (I used only photos from Instagram). My favorite parts are that I could use my hashtag (#RushLittles) to seamlessly pull and organize photos from my IG feed, it labels the books by volume and date, and I could choose the cover photos. I have to admit I was a little let down at the photo quality when they arrived, but then I remembered I paid only $8 for each. They really do look great for that price. The size is perfect and I'm excited to have them on hand so we can flip through them often. Caleb has already found them is keeps asking to see 'baby Caleb', so I know they will get a lot of love. My biggest tip for ChatBooks (or any photobook app that you want to use for your Instagram photos) is to create and use a personalized hashtag. It makes the process SO simple. Since the boys were babies, I've been using #RushLittles. It's unique enough that literally no one else in the world is using it, which means when I sync that specific hashtag up with my ChatBooks app it only pulls my photos. If you have 20 minutes to spare, its worth going through your instagram feed and adding a unique hashtag to pull from when you create your photo books! (here's a link if you want to try it and get your first book for free) 

Groovebooks: I'm jumping the gun on this one because I haven't received my first copy yet. But I can share the three things I know I like about this photobook service so far- besides the user friendly app. First, it's extremely inexpensive. For $2.99/book, you can't beat it. I also love the option the book has for taking single photos out- each page is perforated to allow you to remove a photo to frame/share/etc. Lastly, I like the gift option. You can recreate a book and have it shipped directly to whoever you want to gift. It makes a great gift idea for grandparents to receive monthly photos of their grandkids, while also taking little effort and cash upfront. The downsides? I'm learning it takes forever to print and process (I ordered mine two weeks ago and it's still 'printing') and I don't have crazy high hopes for photo quality. But again, I'm sure its great for the price I paid! (Here's a coupon code for your first book free: RUSH1984)

Artifact Uprising: I plan to try this next month to see how the quality compares to ChatBooks. They are more expensive ($15 versus ChatBooks $8), so I'm guessing they'll have a nicer look. But for a product I plan to print monthly and have set out so we can flip through anytime, the lower price tag of ChatBooks seems like a better fit. I like that Artifact Uprising lets you format the books and customize them. I really like the look of their hardcover books and may give them a try for some baby books I need to print off for Tyler. Again, a bit more expensive than Shutterfly (which I usually use) but I'm guessing the design and quality will be worth it for something that is a keepsake! (I couldn't find a coupon code, but there is an email-able $10 off coupon each account user can send to friends to try the service- let me know if you want one!)

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