Putting memories in their hands

I take a lot of photos. Every time I upload photos from my DSLR, a computer pop-up says something like, “28 items were successfully imported” and I think, “That’s more than a whole roll of film. I just took a whole roll of film of my kid eating breakfast.”

When I was a kid back in the 80s, back when I was bald and nothing was digital, my parents took maybe one or two rolls of photos a year, mostly at birthdays and on special occasions, and to document that time my sister and I tried to wear our doll clothes.

They printed those photos and put them in albums and we looked at them over and over. I’ve looked at those same photos for decades, and those albums helped crystallize childhood memories.

It’ll be different for my kids. We have thousands of images on hard drives and online, but the kids almost never see them. Now that I don’t have to drop my photos off at K-mart and pick them up a week later, getting physical copies is a step I skip.

I assume that I’ll get around to it eventually, right? Tom has asked me what I want to do when all of our kids are in school and I don’t hesitate: I want to spend the first year sitting on the couch, looking at the wall, luxuriating in the silence. The next year I’ll get around to printing photos of the kids.

For now, their memories are here. Chronicling these early years is the main reason I blog. One day they can look at photos and read stories and they’ll say, “Ooooooh, so this is what Mommy was doing while we were watching Paw Patrol.”


A few years ago I ordered a photo book as a gift, and I was amazed at how much my kids loved it — seeing photos of themselves in the book made them feel like celebrities. There’s me! There’s Grammy! There’s Aunt Kristie!

Watching them enjoy it, I vowed to start making books for them.

But, ahem, books also take time. The process can be overwhelming and cumbersome, and I end up putting it off.

Then, BOOM, Shutterfly started the Make My Book service. Problem solved. Instead of sorting photos and formatting a book yourself, you just upload all of your millions of photos and a Shutterfly designer does the rest.

A few days later the designer sends you the proof of the book and after you approve, you get one of these happy packages on your doorstep.

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Thomas was so excited that he brought the top of our blender out to the porch to share in this moment. 

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The kids love their book, and watching them enjoy it helped me realize anew that they truly almost never see pictures. Mary Virginia was delighted to see photos of her birthday that I’d never shown her! How is that possible? That she hasn’t seen her birthday photos?

Oh yeah, she doesn’t follow my blog.

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I want to talk about the process again, because it really was incredible. (Or you can just visit Shutterfly for lots more info.)

  1. You choose the size and style of the book
  2. Upload up to 800 photos from your computer or phone. 800! (I sent just over 400. At least 300 photos were of David doing cannonballs into the pool, and I didn’t have to decide which photo best depicted our summer. Someone else did it for me.)
  3. Boom, you’re done. Snack, Netflix, do whatever you want. Say you’re still working and just stare into space for a while. No one will know.
  4. In about three days you’ll get an email with a preview of your book. You can make changes if you want (I switched a few photos around), then order your book.

It’s so very, very easy, and the product is so high-quality.

My favorite part, besides how fast and easy it was, is that I could tell that there was personal attention to detail. Photos of things like our vacation or birthdays are all grouped, and there was equal representation of each child. Perhaps most importantly, I uploaded several frames of the same pose and they chose the one where my double chin was least pronounced.

I could tell that someone sorted through all 400 of my photos with care and attention to detail and curated a collection. The result is really special.

Tom’s mom saw our book and was so impressed with the quality of the book — the sharp photos, the thickness of the pages — that she asked if I could make one for her. I made my best damsel in distress face, checked my calendar and said, “I think I can somehow figure out how to fit that in.”

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Visit Shutterfly to make your own book, and enjoy some memories offline.


1 Comment

  1. Karen April 9, 2017

    Just took me about 8 hrs over three days (after I already had collected photos for two years prior) to scan, edit, upload photos and finalize a 20 page photo book with S-fly. Okay–I did spend about 2 hrs removing blemishes from people’s faces or fixing the red eye stares. Are you still using S-fly? Karen


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