Back to School Photo Book Scrapbook

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Project of the Week

A School Year in the Life:

How to create the ULTIMATE school year photo book

I’ve been waiting to share this accidental project that turned out beautifully until this time of year when I know you can use it.  This turned out to be such an adorable keepsake that we will always cherish.

It all started with a classic “First Day of School” Photo

Step 1: Snap a photo on the way into school, and the way out of school if you can

Like most other parents out there, I wanted to take a quick photo documenting the first day of school.  Especially since this was our kids’ first day of their first school ever.  I didn’t make much of a fuss out of it.  I just had them sit down before we walked in the door so they would be still-ish and quickly snapped their photo with my iPhone.  I always snap 4-5 photos out of habit since with two little ones, you never know what you’re going to get.  Plus, my iPhone loves to focus on the wrong thing leaving me disappointed, so I snapped away and picked my favorite later to send to friends and family.  I also snapped an “after” photo when I picked them up to show that they survived relatively unscathed.

Like this idea?  You may also love our school year art photo books:
Organizing Kid Artwork With Photo Streams & Photo Books In 5 Easy Steps


Then came the surprise

Day two rolled around and they asked to have their picture taken again, so I obliged.  Then day 3 & 4 and so on, until I had a large collection of these photos.  I didn’t want them to go to waste sitting on my phone, so I started to organize them.

Next, the plan to make the ultimate school year photo book

Step 2: Keep an organized stream of photos

Just as I had started organizing the kid artwork into a photo stream, I thought what a great way to organize our new tradition of snapping photos at school.  I started another photo stream for our “School Days” photos which is a quick and easy way to organize the photos in a way that I can later pull them off and into an album on my computer — and also a great way to share the photos with my husband instantly.  Now, all the photos are managed in one easy place.


Some days  had more photos than others, but we always and one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  I never insisted that the girls sit in the same spot each day.  Instead, I went with the flow of whatever was going on for them that day.  This was their project.  After all, it was really their idea; I just expanded on it.  I picked my favorites and uploaded them to my photo stream.

For more info on using Photo Streams, click here for Apple’s FAQ.

Step 3: Download the photos at the end of the year

After the last day of school, I pulled all of the photos off of my photo stream and into an Event/Project in iPhoto/Aperture and then into a temporary folder on my desktop for easy access.  If you’re using a PC, Apple has a handy App for you, too.

Step 4: Import into photo book software, like Blurb’s BookWright

I use Blurb for most of our photo books.  Partly so they are all consistent and look like a set of photo volumes, but also because I love the quality of their books and software.


Step 5: Create your book

This is always my favorite part.  Making a project come together and seeing all of these little bits and pieces make a whole masterpiece.


I put a photo from the first day of school on the front cover.  This is actually our “after” photo taken in the afternoon, but it was my favorite because of the pure job on their faces.

I use the same font and white binding on all of our photo books to make them look like a set, but you can use any font or color with Blurb.


On the back cover, I picked one of my photos from the last day of school.  It’s amazing to flip the book over and see how they have grown!


All of our books also have a title page with a bit about the project or event.  I included a school calendar here as well as a keepsake.


On the first and last pages, I showcased the first and last day of school photos by adding a white page with some of our favorite quotes rather than photos.  I love mixing up an all-photo book with some beautiful text.


The rest of the book was easy to put together.  Morning photo on top, afternoon photo below.  I created a custom page template to have the photos evenly spaced just how I wanted them with the date on the bottom of the page.


I was able to sort the photo by date after importing them and the date was displayed below each photo.  This made the project flow easily since I was literally just dragging and dropping, then manually adding the date.


Some pages got black dates since they had light backgrounds, and some got white dates on dark backgrounds.  This is really easy to do with the Blurb software.


I had so many favorite photos and outtakes that didn’t make the cut for favorite morning + afternoon photo that I decided to use one of Blurb’s templates to make a collage on the final pages.  I just couldn’t leave some of these beauties out of this memory book!


It made the photo-taking much more fun to be relaxed and encourage the girls to have fun.  There isn’t as much pressure when you don’t demand that the photos all be perfect and uniform.  I like to encourage their personalities to shine through by letting them take the lead.  It makes it more fun when they are empowered to pick the location and setting, within reason of course.


And that’s how taking a simple “First Day of School” photo can turn into a beautiful keepsake.  My kids love looking at their photo books!  My favorite part is looking back at all of the silly outfits that two toddlers can put together.  There’s their matching phase, Chloe’s tiara phase, the mismatched sock phase… it’s all right there for us to enjoy for years to come.

If grandparents want their own copy, don’t worry.  They can order a copy themselves from Blurb through your account’s page and you control all of these settings.

Get your iPhones ready, it’s nearly time for Back to School!

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