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    Baby’s first year photo book – how to begin?

    Fotoksiążka z pierwszego roku życia dziecka – porady praktyczne

    Baby’s first year photo book – how to begin?

    Many of my friends would like to make a photo book for their children with pictures from their first year of life. Most of them, however, don’t know how to begin; the time flies, and they finally give it up. This article will help you create your baby’s first year photo book.

    Why a photo book?

    I presented the pros of photo books and their advantage over traditional albums in the post “Your photos in a photo book”. If you are still undecided, or you lack arguments to convince your spouse, you will find plenty in that post. What I personally like about photo books most is, apart from the creative freedom, the fact that I only have to design them once and may later print them in as many copies as I want and give them to all my relatives. In this post, I am going to deal with practical matters related to baby’s first year photo book creation.

    When should you begin creating your baby’s first year photo book?

    Before its first birthday

    It seems that the best time to begin creating a baby’s first year photo book is after its first birthday, yet it is not advisable for two main reasons.

    First of all, due to the prevalence of digital photography, the number of pictures taken in the first year of baby’s life may be overwhelming. A photo book will include several hundred, but they still need to be picked from – most probably – several thousands.

    Secondly, the older your child grows, the less it sleeps and the more absorbing it becomes. Hence, after its first birthday, you will have less time to do anything that is not directly related to taking care of your child.

    After its first birthday

    Nevertheless, I don’t recommend designing individual pages before you collect and organize your material. What appears super important when a child is two months old, may cease to be so from the perspective of the entire year, and the first clumsy pictures may be replaced by cuter ones taken later.

    How to begin creating your baby’s first year photo book?

    Once you feel you have come to terms with your new reality, and you have some time to spare, browse through the pictures you have already taken and copy the best ones to a separate folder. Owing to that you won’t have to go back to the earliest pictures at the end of the year. In this folder, create subfolders that will correspond to subsequent sections of your photo book and allocate photos to them. Repeat these steps every time you download photos to your computer.

    What subfolders should you use?

    The sooner you decide what “chapters” you want in your photo book, the sooner you will start allocating photos to subfolders and save yourself work later. You will start filling some subfolders right away while others will remain empty until your child is half year old or more. Not all of them will agree with the final shape of your photo book, yet I am positive that they will make your work easier.

    When I created my first baby’s photo book, I used the following folders:

    – first hours
    – first days at the hospital
    – hands and feet
    – infant in diapers
    – sleeping with parents
    – smiles
    – gallant face expressions
    – funny faces
    – baths
    – strolls
    – nice clothes
    – breastfeeding
    – eating
    – in a baby sling
    – toys
    – books
    – playmat
    – teddy bear
    – swing
    – first guests
    – journeys
    – with cousins
    – playground
    – first time head up
    – first time sitting
    – first time crawling
    – first time standing

    Have you noticed the lack of Christmas, Easter, baptism, first birthday or summer holidays at grandpas? I didn’t need to copy these photos to separate folders because I have them all together in our main photo folder, which is organized chronologically. Therefore, I didn’t need to look for them among photos from the entire year.

    As opposed to the photos of our friends who were our first guests, I didn’t dedicate a separate section to photos with parents or grandparents because I knew I would have plenty of them among the pictures from family events.

    How did it translate to the actual photo book?

    My first baby’s photo book has a hard cover, 74 pages 29 cm x 29 cm and includes ca. 350-400 pictures. The first page features 9 pregnancy photos, taken as a part of a different gift for my child. The next three include, in accordance with the subfolders, the first hours and the first days of my baby, that is the time spent at the hospital and the journey home. The first days at home were mostly spent sleeping, which is why I put the content of the “Sleeping with parents” subfolder on the next page. After that, I combined the “Infant in diapers” and the “Hands and feet” subfolders on two pages. The following two pages show baths, and the next four – various face expressions collected throughout the year. What comes next is feeding: on the left – breastfeeding, on the right – eating solid food. This is followed by two pages of baby sling and baby carrier and four pages of strolls divided into seasons. Next, I present journeys with various means of transport. Only then come the first guests (2 pages), toys (2 pages), playmat (2 pages), teddy bear (1 page) and the swing (1 page).  Next, you may see our baby with books (2 pages) and at the playground (2 pages). This is followed by four pages of interactions with cousins and other children. Our baby in smart clothes covers three pages. Then I present its achievements: raising its head, crawling, sitting, kneeling, standing with and without support. The last part showcases important events: first holidays, a family wedding, cousin’s baptism and birthday party, dressing up for the All Saints Day, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, baptism, Easter, first time at the seaside, a family retreat and the first birthday.

    As you may see, I changed the order a bit, yet the individual pages and sections of my photo book agree to a large extent with the folders I had created throughout the year.

    How to create individual pages?

    My child is the only leitmotif of my photo book. This means that it doesn’t have a uniform colour scheme or the same layout on every page. Instead, I treat each section individually and only try to match two adjacent pages. However, there are also exceptions to this rule, e.g. Christmas and New Year’s Eve, which have different backgrounds and themes.

    This is how I create pages in my photo books:

    1. First, I decide how many pages I want to allocate to a given topic: one, two or more.
    2. Next, I open a relevant subfolder and pick the photos that I want to have in my photo book.
    3. Once I know their number, I choose the layout. If all the pictures are equally nice, I pick a layout with equal photo sizes, and if I want to highlight some, I pick a layout with different photo sizes.
    4. Then I insert the pictures to the placeholders envisaged in the layout.
    5. I choose the background. If I have many colourful pictures, I pick a plain background. If the layout leaves much empty space, I fill it with a patterned background.
    6. Sometimes pictures “are lost” on a page. In such cases, I add frames or shadows.
    7. And when I feel a given page is too “angular”, I try out masks and frames that change the shape of pictures.

    What can you include in your baby’s first year photo book apart from photos?

    Personally, I believe that a photo book serves to display photos, so I try not to include much more. In my wedding photo book, I only have text on the first and on the last page. In my baby’s first year photo book, however, I titled most of the double pages, so that no one had doubts what their main theme is.

    If you want, you may model your photo book on typical baby albums and insert the date of the first teeth, baby’s first words, lullaby lyrics or some other memories between photos.

    Whenever I had too much space on a page, I filled it with cliparts.

    Subsequent babies’ first year photo books

    Naturally, if your first child has such a wonderful keepsake, also the next ones should get it. Family expansion usually entails less time for such things, yet one of the photo book’s advantages is that it is easy to duplicate. I don’t mean to say that photo books of siblings should be identical. Especially if your first one is all pink, and your second baby is a boy. Nevertheless, the majority of layouts may be kept the same even if you decide to change the colours, insert different cliparts or change the number of photos at some pages. Some parts, e.g. those dedicated to one-off family events like a wedding or First Communion, may be no longer needed while you will probably have plenty of cute photos with older siblings, which may constitute a separate section.

    Do you already feel like creating a photo book? Do you have any questions that I could answer for you? Or ideas for sections that I haven’t thought of? Let me know in the comments below!

    My advice:

    You may copy one photo to several subfolders. You will decide where it fits best or where you have less pictures while designing the photo book.

    Don’t worry about the number of pictures in subfolders – you will limit them later. However, instead of copying all photos related to a topic, pick just the nice shots. If you have several photos that only differ in details, pick and copy just the best one.

    The names of the subfolders are not that important. You will decide on the final titles or lack of them while designing the photo book.

    – In the editor I use (CEWE), you may simplify matching backgrounds and layouts by using ready book templates, e.g. “Family time” or “Girl”. I am positive that a photo book created with such a template will be harmonious and pleasing to the eye. If you like the suggested backgrounds, you may use the templates as a starting point and change the layouts at will, adding or removing picture placeholders manually. Similarly, you may use the style option, which combines backgrounds and layouts for double pages.

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