Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hybrid Digital Photo Books

This was written for the Oscraps blog:

You do of course print your masterpiece layouts, right?

For the prolific scrapper, this can be time consuming and expensive. But it seems nearly every week there is an offer from a photo printing company for discounts or free books. But there is always a catch, usually in the form of a fast-approaching expiration date. 

I struggle with this all the time. I love to print my layouts, and sometimes I want to use a book format, especially if I have a series of layouts that are subject specific, for example a particular vacation or a set of people or even a season. But unless I am working toward this goal, it is not unusual for me to find myself short of the requisite 20-page minimum needed for a photo book. Now the pressure is on. I need to scrap "x" more pages in a short period of time so I can use this photo book coupon/discount/deal. 

Been there? If so, I have a solution for you! I came up with this recently while pondering how to use a free 8x8 book offer from Shutterfly (I have no professional relationship with Shutterfly, I am just a good customer and really like their products and service).

Mix it up with hybrid digital!

I have to admit, I don't know if this will work with all photo-printing companies, but I know it works really well at Shutterfly, and am almost positive this can be done at Blurb. All you need is the ability to combine full-bleed pages, also represented as single-photo pages, with other formats. The idea is to mix your digital full-bleed pages with pages of photos using the company-provided templates. I know, perhaps not an earth-shattering idea, but with this simple idea, I was recently able to get two really nice books done without having to scrap a bunch more pages. And I am thrilled with the results! 


My first effort was for a Spring 2012 book. I found I had made several predominantly floral layouts, but I only had 14 pages. The thought of creating 6 more pages plus covers was daunting, and not going to be done before the book offer expired. I created a simple cover (products from Dido Designs Earth Song): And several of the pages consisted of 2-page spreads of coordinating layouts, like these: (products from Oscraps collab Hello Sunshine and Dido Designs Earth Song)  

But to fill the pages, I combined digital layouts with photos filled in to Shutterfly-provided templates. It was exciting to be using up some of the additional photos, plus being able to see side-by-side how I use some of my photos in digital layouts. (Products from Anna Aspnes ArtPlay Palette Crazy Life) This template on the left was a very dramatic large photo with a smaller one on top, making for a very yellow hybrid-digital spread about spring daffodils (products from Dido Designs). There are many options for collage-like templates, perfect for floral photos. I didn't fuss with these much, just adjusted the placement of photos a bit (products from Anna Aspnes). The templates are also a good starting point, but are customizable. For example in this next page, I isolated one of the photos against a black background to match some of the black in the facing digital page (products from Anna Aspnes).  

I was so happy with the results, I used the hybrid digital method again to document a trip to San Diego. Coincidentally, once again I had 14 digital pages done. I needed 6 more pages, plus covers. I decided to make slight modifications to two of the pages for the covers, as this was quickest (products from Maya de Groot). And because I really wanted to start the book with digital pages, I created a two-page spread showing the hotel views and the first thing we did, go to a local farmer's market (templates from Anna Aspnes). As with the other book, there are pages with already made digital pages, coordinated and placed side-by-side (products from Oscraps collab Soiree): And then I turned to my hybrid-digital idea for several pages. I love this spread showing multiple photos from the San Diego Botanical building in a hybrid page on the left, with my daughter in the midst of them, facing a digital page featuring one of the beautiful orchids (products from Maya de Groot). This spread uses a simple single-photo template on the left, facing a digital page of the Belmont roller coaster on the right (template from Anna Aspnes). In this next spread, on the right is the page I modified for use on the back cover, facing a simple layout using three additional photos of the Hotel Del Coronado (products by Maya de Groot).  

 I finished up this book with a simple set of 9-photo template pages using photos from San Diego's Gaslight District.  

I am now hooked on this hybrid digital approach. Another advantage, besides saving time, is that it uses up more pictures that what I have managed to capture in my digital layouts. For me that is important, because I want to make sure as many of my photos as possible are printed and are contributing to my photo-story legacy. 

 If you have any questions or additional ideas for hybrid photo books, I am all ears! I am toying with the idea of including some blank pages into the photo books for hybrid-scrapping of related ephemera. I hope you find this idea useful. Now go forth and make books!

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