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Mother’s Day: A photobook love story

This post is sponsored by Snapfish as part of their support of the LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER SHOW 2012 series of Mother’s Day performances. I am directing the Spokane show on May 13, 2012. I was reimbursed for making the photobook in this post and compensated for writing this post.


For some reason, the way my life has unfolded, May is a mile marker.  Year marker, I guess I should say.  May anchors my memories and I often stop and center my thoughts on May to define the events of a particular year.

Matt and I were married on Mother’s Day weekend in 1999, which makes it a natural year placer for our married life. And then there’s my unholy obsession with getting pictures of the kids on the flower wall each May.  We do it on Mother’s Day weekend because I’m able to convince Matt to help me with resistant, whining children by tearing up about how it’s Mother’s Day and I just want this one tiny thing.  Pictures of my family.  By the flowers. In the sunshine. SOB.

When LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER asked if I would like to make a Snapfish photobook for Mother’s Day and tell you about it I thought:  Yes! Finally, I will be forced to learn to make a digital photobook. Finally, I can make a beautiful album of all those Mother’s Day flower wall sessions and keep it just for me!! 

Okay, fine. First, because I’m phenomenally lazy I thought: What if it’s hard?  What if I make the whole book and then the program loses it somehow? I’ll have to go through all the pictures and it will take forever.   While I would love to have beautiful scrapbooks of my children’s lives artfully arranged around years and special events, I fear the process would cut significantly into my available trash TV, Downton Abbey and wine night time, which is untenable as far as I’m concerned.  I hope I’m not alone when I tell you that I have thousands – thousands – of digital photographs stored precariously on my unbacked-up laptop of the faulty, sparking power cord.

But these are just excuses, you guys, and we can’t let excuses stop us from preserving beautiful memories.  We are smart and capable and we can make photobooks.

Not without some trepidation, I sat down to make the Mother’s Day story photobook on Saturday.

Hats off, Snapfish.  It was easy and the end result is gorgeous.  How easy?  I made the book in about three hours with all four kids loose in the house.  Only two temper tantrums and/or fights with injury incidents occurred while my focus was on Snapfish.  It could have been much shorter, but I spent a lot of time playing with page layouts because they are so much fun.


The interface at Snapfish walks you through five clear steps, starting with picture upload.  I dreaded this. My pictures are bunged into folders by month with no attempt to otherwise organize.  It’s been problematic in the past because if I want to upload multiple pictures from a folder that are not grouped together, I have had to do them one at a time or move them all to their own folder.  Right?  NO. Snapfish had a clearly visible little note that was all “if you want to upload multiple photos from one folder, hold down control to select photos.”


Revelation!!  You can be in a folder of 1000 pictures and as long as you hold down control, you can skip around and select the twenty pictures you want.  They don’t have to be in order.  When you hit “open” Snapfish automatically uploads the selected pictures.  Forget the beautiful book I made, Snapfish has my heart for that little piece of computer knowledge alone.

When you have uploaded all of the photos you want for the book, Snapfish put them in a convenient little side bar for later.

Next, you pick the book. (See how I’m on step two of five easy steps?) I chose the full 12×12 custom photo book because Yay! I’ve wanted to print these photos forever.

Moving onto theme,  Snapfish really surprised me with the variety of choices. I decided on “Graceful” because these photos are so colorful and busy, I knew I needed a simple background.  They have two beautiful new templates for Mother’s Day as well.  If I weren’t so freaking selfish, I’d go back and make one for my mom.

Once you have a book and theme selected, you are ready for the hard part (I. am. so. lazy.): Making the actual book by laying out each page.  Except it wasn’t hard because the interface is so well done.  The photos you’ve uploaded and the various page layout choices are in a sidebar on the right.  You can easily toggle between them.  The book is in the middle. As you play and experiment with pages, the look instantly updates for you.  It’s all drag and drop.  Hello, twenty-first century!

Remember, I wanted to tell the story of the past thirteen years of Mother’s Day, starting with our marriage in 1999 and ending with our last visit to the flower wall in May 2011.   You can see the page layouts sidebar on the right.  If I dragged a different layout over, the program instantly updated the page.  See where “photos” is underlined.  That toggles you back to the photos you uploaded so that you can drag different options in to see what you like.

Yes, I was impressed!  But, the BEST feature is the “magic layouts.”  I didn’t like this page as I originally created it. The pictures are too small.  Snapfish has three “magic layouts” that automatically enlarge the photos you’ve chosen to artfully fit the page.  At first, I was confused because when you drag over a magic layout template, your text boxes disappear, but you can add a title to any page by hovering over the page and clicking on “title.”  This option instantly brings back your text and allows you to place it where you want it on the page.

After applying the magic layout and title functions to the wedding page, I had this.  Cool right?

We’ve dragged the kids down to the flowering wall in the park every May from 2006 to 2011, so I had a lot of material.  For some years, I had as many as 15 pictures to fit on one layout.  The magic layout and shuffle features (both of which automatically rearrange and re-size photos on a page) really helped me with this.  It turned out beautifully.

Look at this multiple photo layout from May 2006.  (Saige was still in the orphanage in May 2006, but she was already ours.)  I’ve highlighted another neat feature with arrows on this page.  I had uploaded 85 pictures for this book, mostly of the kids in the flowers and they were such similar shots.  I had trouble keeping the years straight.  Snapfish puts that green check on each picture as you drop it into the book so that you know which shots you’ve already used.  Handy.

Here’s another from May 2009. I’m pregnant with Nate . Our sweet, little family is almost complete.

The finished page.  Yes, I did include a picture of Garrett watering the flowers.


Sigh.  Most of you know that we wanted more children and it was not to be.  Funnily enough, Listen To Your Mother Spokane, my baby of another sort, was born on Mother’s Day 2011 – the month when our next child might have been born had we stayed on our every-two-year track.  The show pierced through the gloom of learning that same week that we were unable to have any more children.  And LTYM Spokane will turn one on Mother’s Day, May 13, 2012.  I told you, May is a big month for me.

I don’t endorse things easily, particularly not computer-related things because I am so technologically-challenged. If you haven’t made a photobook before, go to Snapfish and make yourself one for Mother’s Day.  Happy child-bearing to you!  Or be less selfish than me and make one for a mother whom you love.  If you already love photobooks, try this interface.  You will probably discover features that a newbie like me can’t fathom.  I thoroughly enjoyed this process and I can’t wait to see the final book.

26 Responses to Mother’s Day: A photobook love story
  1. Gayle
    April 24, 2012 | 4:02 pm

    I’m always going to make a book, but never get around to it. I am horrible with making decisions and I’d end up spending days on the damn thing. You did a great job!!

  2. Paige
    April 24, 2012 | 4:17 pm

    I make four of these each November to give as holiday gifts to each of my daughter’s sets of grandparents. If you are willing to get your book all set up and then wait for the right moment, they often have buy one get one free deals right before the holidays. It’s simple, by the way, to make more than one book.

    You don’t even have to go back and redo your work. Just order more than one copy of the same book. I like mine just a little customized, so I make one book, copy it with a new name, and substitute pictures of one set of grandparents for the other set. That way our terribly fractured family doesn’t have to look at awkward pictures of their ex-spouses.

    At some point I will make an album for us to keep at home. But every time I try, the price quickly gets up above $150, and I shut the computer down and resolve to buy one when I get rich, instead. I should take a page out of your (photo) book and choose one specific event to follow so my book doesn’t get novel length.

  3. Mary Hamptom
    April 24, 2012 | 5:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing I have always wanted to make a mile marker book of my kids like but never new the easiest way to do it.

  4. Adventures In Babywearing
    April 24, 2012 | 5:51 pm

    I love how you chose to create your book! And I was married in ’99, too!


  5. Issa
    April 24, 2012 | 6:17 pm

    I love that you included the picture of Garret peeing…uh watering the flowers.

  6. Ann
    April 24, 2012 | 7:40 pm

    Happy One LTYM: Spokane! Happy Beautiful Mother’s Day gift, Stacey! Thank you, Snapfish!

  7. Naomi
    April 24, 2012 | 9:12 pm

    I use snapfish every year to make a photo calendar for the grandparents. I get the sisters in law to add pics of their kids to an album and it’s easy to customize it to each part of the family. very similar interface. they will even autofill ! which i never use, beacause i like the halloween pics on the oct page. silly me.

  8. anna see
    April 24, 2012 | 11:15 pm

    lovely! what a treasure!

  9. Korinthia Klein
    April 25, 2012 | 12:00 am

    Incredibly cool, thanks for walking us through that. I have always been spooked about trying to put together a photo book online, but I may try it!

  10. Alexicographer
    April 25, 2012 | 1:42 am

    That looks beautiful. Also, I am glad I am not the only one who might at some time have been rather behind (or in my case still be rather behind) in her photo book creation. I will say that I looked at Snapfish and Shutterfly, both places I’ve used for calendars (I like Shutterfly for calendars) but wasn’t happy with their photo book options … why? I think I was determined that it had to be a portrait-oriented 8.5*11 layout and neither offered that? Anyway I’ve ended up at Mixbook, which I’d also recommend; I like it better than the functionality of the other 2 I’ve tried because (at least back when I was using them some time ago) they wouldn’t let you make the pictures any size you wanted, or crop parts of them out (i.e. not just resize but crop?). But OTOH though I do find Mixbook easy to use, I haven’t actually, you know, finished my book, so Snapfish may well be better … too many options and functions are not always a good thing, you know…

  11. Galit Breen
    April 25, 2012 | 1:47 am

    Lovely, you!

    I adore that you went with a theme here!


  12. Varda (SquashedMom)
    April 25, 2012 | 6:07 am

    As I am currently working feverishly to give birth to the first ever LTYM-NYC, I gotta say I hear ya, baby!

  13. Jeanne
    April 25, 2012 | 4:29 pm

    Can’t you just make a copy of that for your mom? Because, seriously, she’s gonna want that thing.

  14. Loukia
    April 26, 2012 | 2:50 am

    I think photo books are the best gift ideas, ever! I have done this for my mom, grandmother, and mother-in-law for Christmas gifts and now that I think about, a photo book would make the best Mother’s Day gift ever!

  15. Carl
    April 26, 2012 | 9:53 am

    I just love photo books but I am one lazy soul motivated to design one myself. I heard of snapfish before but I was not impressed, however with the previews you have shared, I can smell a change here, plus this is such an incredible gift for any mum.

  16. […] shorter, but I spent a lot of time playing with page layouts because they are so much fun. –Stacey, Is there any mommy out there? (LTYM: Spokane […]

  17. Nichole
    April 26, 2012 | 3:54 pm

    Your book turned out so lovely.
    These books are such an amazing gift.

  18. Deborah
    April 26, 2012 | 5:35 pm

    You did a fantastic job of walking through the steps and proving that the process is super easy. Agreed that the magic layouts are, well, magical. Happy Mother’s Day!

  19. D
    April 27, 2012 | 3:20 pm

    It makes me sad that you didn’t know about the control thing. Gorgeous book though.

  20. Maria Stones
    May 1, 2012 | 2:42 pm

    It seems that your photobook is so nice and I like how you make it. Then, thanks also for sharing to us on the process in making it.

  21. Lady Jennie
    May 1, 2012 | 7:14 pm

    Hey – if you know how to grab an image and then draw little red arrows pointing towards it, you are waaaay ahead of me.

  22. Joe W.Solis
    May 25, 2012 | 12:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing an awesome recipe! I will most definitely have to try this soon!

  23. Francisca Park
    May 31, 2012 | 2:17 pm

    Happy Mothers Day to all moms. Your photo-book story is really fantastic. I am interested to make this photo book story for me and for me, for my husband and for my kid.

  24. House of Light
    June 4, 2012 | 8:21 am

    a photo book. Its so sweet…

  25. Oyster Memories
    February 16, 2013 | 2:21 pm



    June 16, 2013 | 3:28 pm

    It’s an remarkable article in support of all the online visitors; they will obtain advantage from it I am sure.

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