Tag: make a family album

Making a Family Album with Shutterfly


Okay! Now for the fun part of making the album. But first let’s recap:

Step #1 – Gather your photographs, prints, slides and digital. Do a preliminary sort. Consider, is everyone involved accounted for? Think about which images need sprucing up (brightening, adding contrast or color correction). We’ll look at that next week.

Step #2 – Scan slides and prints. Put everything in neat, orderly digital files. (Hear me laughing. I still have way too many pictures!) Copy all the pictures you think you want to use into a separate file, named shutterfly book.

Okay, we’re ready to start. Let’s take a preview walk-through of the Shutterfly online system that I always use. There are other systems out there, and mybe you’ll choose on of those, but I’ve found the quality with shutterfly is excellent and any customer support we’ve needed has been fast and efficient.

BIG HINT – if you are ready to go and can get right to it, the price discounts usually increase (prices go down) towards the end of every month, so try to have your project ready to push the print button at the end of the month. Also, look for online coupons.

It is the busy Christmas season, but you might be able to get your book done, printed and delivered before Christmas if you start right away. I regularly have them sent to Canada, no problem, and have even sent a wedding book to Australia.

Now, to start. As you’ll see, Shutterfly makes many other products besides photo books, but try to stick with me and not get lost.

  • Go to www.shutterfly.com and open an account
  • Click on Photo Books under the shutterfly tab
  • Click on About Photo Books
  •  Scroll down to read about the three ways to make your book. We are going with the middle, Custom Path, but if you feel you’re in over your head, you might want to give the new Make My Book service a try. Or if your photographs are in chronological order (like from a trip), you might want to use the Simple Path and adjust them on the page later. (It will load them chronologically and then you can drag and drop to where you actually want them.)
  • Click on Custom Path.
  • Choose your book size. We started with 12″ x 12″, a nice size to hold, and now always get our books that size. being the same makes them nice and orderly on the shelf. Hold some other books and try to visualize the result and make your own decision. At this point you are not locked into anything and can make and abandon the whole book for no charge – but you won’t want to when you see the great results!
  • You see the percentage discounts kicking in. It will probably go back to full price at the start of the month.
  • Click on a size and go to the Book Ideas section. Again, you can switch it later. I usually stick with Modern Black, a traditional/portfolio black, but I’ve used a grey theme for a winter wedding and a brown, gold and green theme for a fall wedding.  If you are wilder than me, one of the other themes might appeal to you. Different themes have different “embellishments” built in, but you can choose other embellishments from outside your theme later if you want.  WARNING – Your photographs are the star of this show, don’t let the do-dads overpower your story.shfly-2
  • Click on a theme and click through the tabs above the sample book to see the different backgrounds and embellishments available with that theme.
  • Click on the arrows at the sides of the book to scroll through a few pages to get a feel for the theme. when you find one you like, select it.
  • Take the tour. The every-10-minute save is a great feature. More than once, on my old computer, it crashed and I lost all my work.
  • Click Add Photos, from the prompt. If they are on your computer choose Upload.
  • click Add photos, or Upload.
  • navigate to the Shutterfly book folder on your computer and open it. If nothing shows up, click the image/jpeg(*.jpeg) menu and choose All Files.
  • Select your pictures to upload. Try 10 images to start. To add multiple images at one time, hold the ctrl key and click on the images shfly5you want, or if they are all in a row, hold the shift key and click on the first and last to select. Once selected, click Open.
  • Here my photos are moved to the new page.
  • For this demonstration, I’ll click the All button at the bottom of the screen and little check marks appear on each  image selected, then I’ll click done
  • I’m going to place them all on the pages myself. I think it’s fun. You can decide for  yourself.
  • Here are my pics at the bottom of the book page, uploading one at a time. (1 left to load)shfly6
  • Click the little arrow to open the book.
  • Scrolling through the Layouts tab on the far left side of the screen, I see that it is not showing me very many layouts. I could go to the + Get More Layouts section on the menu at top. 
  • Click Photos on page and click on all the numbers. I see my old favourites come shfly8up already checked. You may have to choose yours. Then click Add to Project. After a minute of loading the layouts, you’ll see this Number of photos bar appear (Image below) and can choose the layout you want. Then drag and drop your pictures onto the page. Not happy with the result? Click on another layout template. Drag and drop to your hearts content.

Think of it as creative play and remember to HAVE FUN!

  • Double click on a photo on the page to open an easy editor page.
  • Click the Pages tab near the bottom left to drag pages into another order.shutterfly
  • The faint green outlines of boxes on the page are for text. Click on one and a typing box will appear. The green line will not show in the finished book, so you leave them blank, they will disappear.
  • Check out the Storyboard, Arrange and Book tabs at the top.
  • If you’ve chosen Simple path, you will want to check each page carefully. The pictures are placed on the pages by the computer and I’ve seen people’s heads cut off by mistake. You may also want to change the layout, highlighting different pictures or eliminating some completely by dragging them off the page.
  • Remember to SAVE before you close up.

Now I’m going to continue with my own book and upload more photos.

I’d love to hear what kind of photo book you are planning!













Scanning Photographs and Slides

Welcome to the second post in the Making a Family Album on Shutterfly series. (You can view the first post HERE.)

Last week I encouraged you to organize your photographs. Mine go back 100 years to my mother and father’s parents. And of course, this does not include the hundreds of digital photographs I have of my immediate family. In the  interest of full disclosure, my daughter made this beautiful family album of her childhood years for a family Christmas present last year. Now I just have to organize my childhood and my parents!

If all of your pictures are already high quality digital, you can skip this post completely and make the Best Christmas Fruit Cake Ever from my recipe instead! Then come back next week for the introduction to the Shutterfly program.

If you are not sure of the quality of your images, read on.

If you are using old photographs and slides, read the section on resolution and the scanner section below.



captureTo check the file size of your photographs, open your file explorer, or however you usually find your photo images, hover the cursor over the image and look for the pixel size.  The largest size my little Nikon Coolpix camera takes is 4608 x 3456 pixels , but my digital SLR takes larger files.

(More pixels = more visual information= more details)

By opening the menu on the camera I can set it to take photos as small as 640 x 480 pixels, a size I would use in these blog posts. You only need 72 ppi (pixels per inch)  for an image to look good on a computer screen, but you need 300 ppi for the same image to look as good when printed.

So, just because it looks good on the computer does not mean a picture will look as good when printed at the same relative size as what you see on the screen.

That said, you cannot add information to an image. If it was shot at 640 x 480 pixels, making it three times larger will not show up any new details, it will just make it blurrier.

For print, you want to shoot the largest size, most pixels possible.

At 300 pixels per inch, (the resolution necessary to print), assuming your original photo is in focus,

4608 x 3456 pixels will make a clear photograph 15″ x 11.5″

(4608 ÷ 300 = 15.35,   3456 ÷ 300 = 11.52)

640 x 480 pixels will make a clear photograph 2.1″ x 1/6″

So, divide the number of pixels of your image files by 300 to see what potential size of prints your digital photographs are. And I’d recommend changing your camera to take the largest pictures possible if you think might want to print them later, for example on a trip. Yes, it takes more room on the memory card, but you can always make an image smaller (we’ll go into that another week) but you can’t make it bigger without losing clarity.


You can take photographs and slides in to most places with a good photo department, here in BC I’d say many small  photo stores or London Drugs, and Costco, and have them scan all of your prints and slides onto a DVD or thumb drive. But that can be very pricey, especially for slides, so you’ll want to carefully select the pictures you actually want in the book before you have them scanned. Also, I have had bad luck with scanned slides before so if you decide to go this route, have a small sample scanned first.

For prints, you might be able to use your current printer scanner, if it’s a good one. My daughter used the scanner at work to scan many of the photos she used in our first family album. I have a HP Office Pro 8600 plus that’s a few years old, and it will scan prints to a resolution of 4800 dpi (dots per inch.) You only need to scan it at 300 ppi to reproduce a photograph at the same size. However, a very crisp  image, and some of the very old, very small black and white images I have of my parent’s honeymoon are incredibly crisp, can be scanned at 600 ppi and successfully printed at twice the original size.

A 4 x 6 print scanned at 100 ppi, it will look as crisp as the original printed at 1.3″ x 2″

at 300 ppi it will look as crisp as the original printed at  4″ x 6″

I repeat –

you can not add information to an image,

a blurry or mediocre image at 4 x 6 will still look blurry

if scanned at a higher resolution and printed to a larger size.

Scanning at a higher resolution takes longer and is not always worth the trouble if there is not enough detail captured in the original print. For the most part, I’d suggest scanning old family snapshots at 300 ppi or slightly higher and planning to make them no larger than the original size in the album.


Because I have a lot of my own and my father’s slides, I bought a dedicated scanner, an Epsonperfection scanner that scans prints and slides and even film. It cost about $200 a couple of years ago and I  have been very happy with it. It’s a flatbed scanner, versus a drum scanner which would only be necessary if you were planning to print very large, say greater than 11″ x 14″.

There are advantages to using a dedicated (no printer attached) scanner for prints. Often, you can lay out many small prints at once and set it the software to separate the prints into separate files before you hit scan, rather than you having to scan them one by one or cut them up with photo software later.

You can also do some corrections right in the scanner software, taking out color casts that cloud old photographs, cropping, brightening etc, before you scan.


If you have slides to scan, make sure you buy a scanner specifically for slides and prints, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. It’s no more difficult than scanning prints and you can get amazing quality images from slides, often suitable for a two page spread.

Slides are very expensive to have professionally scanned, because they are fiddly and take a long time, minutes per slide, to do a good job. But often, they are exceptionally crisp images in a very small package. Think about how good slides can look projected to many times their original size on a screen. Slides will soon be completely obsolete though, ending up in the garbage without a backward glance. So I took the time to go through all of my own and my father’s slides, saving only the best for my book.

If you don’t have a slide projector, you can get an inexpensive slide viewer that you hold up to your eye one slide at a time. Consider getting one. There may be some real gems in that pile.

Next week, I’ll get you started with Shutterfly for those who are ready to surge ahead.

Now – to work!

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