Yearly Photo Book Ideas

Creative Yearly Photo Book Ideas via


In addition to our yearly family photo albums, I make a photo book for Boo stocked full of memories. I just finished 2011:

How to make a yearly photo book via

My method/thoughts on photo books:

1. I complete the books about 10 months after a year has ended. I like for them to be January 1st through December 31st. It’s an OCD thing. The delay also allows time for missing photos to show up.

2. I compile memories, quotes, etc by going through blog posts, Facebook posts, and even just browsing photos. I usually cut and paste snippets into a word document in order of date.

3. I organize my photos, artwork, etc by month before starting my project. I work on the book by month….sometimes skipping around to the easy months first and then coming back to the hard ones.

4. I never feel bad about going overboard on pages. The bigger the better and I don’t think there is a price I can put on family memories. My books (through iPhoto/ usually cost about $75 to $100 each. It seems like a lot (especially when ordering multiple copies) but I would rather have a photo book over a few trips to a restaurant!

5. I  save the photo book as a PDF (“Print” as a PDF in iPhoto) and back it up to a hard drive or CD and store in a safe place.


Here are a few things I added into this years book:

Boo’s Self Portraits:
Boo asked for a mini tripod a few years ago and she had so much fun taking self portraits. When I would look at the camera I would be surprised by hilarious snapshots she’d taken of herself. I made them into a collage (using and then loaded that collage as one photo into the book template:

Photo book ideas: Self Portraits via

Scanned Artwork:
I love kids’ artwork. It’s so funny to see how they view the world. I organize all of Boo’s artwork for the year and choose a wide selection of the best depictions of what she was working on.  I always label the works at the bottom of the page as if they were in a museum:

“Tom and Jerry” by Sienna Hackshaw, November 2011, Marker and Crayon on Paper, 9″x11″

Photo book ideas: Scanned artwork via


Journal Entries, Memories and Stories:
I don’t always have this done in advance. I usually go through blog posts, Facebook posts, school work and the years photos to compile milestones and stories.  You’ll be surprised how much information you can get from school report cards, random Facebook posts and even phone videos!

Adding text to photo books via


Photo Spreads:
I load in page after page of favorite photos.  For example, this particular year I participated in Project Run and Play and it required me to create a new themed outfit each week for Boo. I ended up with some fun photos of her:

How to make an iphoto book via

Family Trip Highlights:
I always include a page or two on trips we took. If it was a long trip I’ll include more pages and vice versa. I always make sure there are family members in every photo.

Documenting Family Trips in Photo Books via



Funny Quote Collections:
I included funny quotes and conversations from throughout the year. A good way to track these is to just post them on Facebook…..then you can find them later!Documenting Funny Kid Quotes in Photo Books via

Project and Process:
If Boo worked on a big project she’s really proud of I’ll show a project progression.  The process is the best part!

Picture Book Ideas: document a project via

Hilarious Drawing Descriptions:
Sometimes the titles of Boo’s artwork are the best part.  Here she drew: Monsters that Eat Good People and an Alien Snowman:

Displaying Kid's Artwork via

Instagram Photo Collages:
I have so many Instagram photos and they aren’t always the easiest to load into the photo book templates. Some I cropped and put in their own pages but I made about 6 or 7 pages in this book of just photo collages (1 or 2 months at a time). I made the collages in Adobe Photoshop Elements and then loaded the collage into the photo book as a single image:

Printing Instagram Photo Books via

Handwriting Comparisons:
I love how Boo’s handwriting can change so drastically over a few months at this age!

Photo Book Ideas: Handwriting Comparisons via


A Kid’s View of a Trip:
When we go on a big sightseeing trip I give Boo her own little camera and have her document the trip in her own way. Her photos of this San Francisco trip were better than mine!  I put them all into a collage just using the 16-photo page in iPhoto:

Photo Book Ideas: Kid's photography via


Family Portraits:
I included a few of Boo’s drawings of Mr. LBB, me and even a family portrait she did:

Photo Book Ideas: Kid's Artwork via

Holiday Outfits:
Of course you have to include special birthday and holiday photos!

Photo Book Ideas: Holidays via


Friends and Class Photos:
I always include photos of her friends that year and who was in her class.  Even though they will change over time it’s an important memory!

Photo Book Ideas: Class Photos and Friends via

School Photo:
I always include the school photo!  Even if it’s the cheesiest photo ever….they are so cute!


Family Photos:
Sometimes I’m reluctant to put in a photo….maybe because I look ill or un-showered?!  But….really….who the heck cares. My daughter doesn’t want a book of photos just of her…..she wants her family in them.  I always make sure to include photos of her grandparents, Mr. LBB and I and even the dog.

Photo Book Ideas: YOUR PHOTOS!!! via

Full Page Photos:
Favorite photos get a full page spread. Each page adds about $1.30 to the cost….that’s less than a cup of coffee….so how can I justify not including it?

Photo Book Ideas: Full Page Photo Spreads via

Big milestones always need a big photo spread….like stripes on a karate belt or riding a bike for the first time.

Photo Book Ideas: Documenting Milestones via



The mixture of different elements and images makes for an interesting book and one that tells a story:

Making a Book in iPhoto via


Make sure to back up photo book as a PDF via


A funny “About” section:

Add an about section to photo book via


I’d love any other ideas! Leave them in the comments to share!


Overwhelmed? Check out this post on organizing and printing years worth of photos…’s all about pacing yourself! Promise!


How to Organize, Print and Backup YEARS Worth of Photos via



For more on organizing and preserving family memories click the image below:

organizing and preserving family memories via



  1. Sandra says

    This is great! I am a pretty organized person myself and have made a few photo books, but I just love your idea of including so many things in them – pictures, artwork, quotes, current friends and family members. Thank you so much for the inspiration, Ashley!

  2. says

    When I graduated high school, my mom got all the “special” people in my life (favorite teachers, old boyfriends, best friends, family friends, a handful of relatives…) to write letters to me. It would be cool to have people in her life write little notes!

  3. says

    I am doing this right now… I am going through for mine. I really like the idea of incorporating quotes and things. Thanks for all your awesome ideas!

  4. Amy V says

    Love this! I am going to do this but it will take a while since I have 4 children and 11 years to catch up to!

  5. Lynne says

    How would you incorporate newspaper articles?? Especially large articles?? Someone recommended scanning them…would that work? thinking of doing one for my son but the newspaper coverage (high school sports) has me stumped…

  6. Gretchen says

    Oh my goodness! Thank you for this post! Oh I could cry though. I have 10 and 8 years lost! Well let me just tell ya, I am starting January 1st with a camera in my hand. I pray I chronicle this year of each of my two boys lives! What a priceless priceless thing to have. Thank you for sharing and thanks for the inspiration!!

    • says

      You could always do a compilation book of the last 10 and 8 years too! My husband didn’t have a baby book and I was able to slowly piece together a book from the first 10 years of his life and that was 36 years behind :)

  7. says

    Perfect timing – in addition to doing a total overhaul/reorganization of our house, I am also trying to tackle some long-overdue photo books. These are awesome ideas. My son is about Boo’s age and I love the idea of including handwriting samples and conversations because both are just priceless.

    I know this is sort of a stupid question (yea, yea, there are no stupid questions but then there are) but when you get a little backed up – how do you catch up? Do it while sitting in front of the tv? devote a weekend or day to it just to get ahead? Finding the time – on top of work and everything else – to sit and sift through them all.

    Thanks for the wonderful ideas!

  8. Kasey says

    I love your ideas. I do a photo book every year through Blurb and I might have to incorporate some of your ideas in my next one. 2011’s book was done in October of this year and was 222 pages! The cost is usually about $75, but it is worth every penny! I have one for every year since my oldest son was born (2008-2011) and I’ll start working on 2012 sometime next year. I also do photo books as Christmas presents for my parents and for my in-laws. Those books are usually about 200 pages and they take me a couple weeks each to do, but that is the only thing they ever want for Christmas because they love them so much.

  9. says

    Love, love, love this!!! So many ideas that never would have even occurred to me. I may not have kids yet, but definitely pinning this for when I do. Awesome – love your dedication to memory making & memory keeping <3

  10. ira lee says

    this is the coolest idea ever!!! i am making a photo book of my wedding thru its gonna be maybe 40 pages and like $35. that might be a cheaper option, if you are interested.

  11. Amanda says

    You always have amazing ideas. I do a photo book every year as well, but have not thought of adding quotes and artwork. Thank you for that idea :)


  12. Sydney says

    Soooo fantastic! I have my work cut out for me unfortunately. Six kids and twenty five years of photos, it makes my head hurt to think about it! 😉

  13. Delaney says

    These are some great ideas! I’d love to see a tutorial on how you use Photoshop Elements to make a collage of your instagram photos.

  14. Amanda says

    Hi Ashley. Although I followed your blog a few years ago, you fell off my reader for awhile. I stumbled across the blog again recently and am enjoying reading your blog again. Your “right of passage” video had me bawling. Boo looks so smart and it seems like you are doing such a great job as a mom.

    Anyway, As for this post…. I use for my scrapbooks (mine end up costing me about $250 for 400+ 12×12 pages per year) I work on them through their software as the year goes on. I like the interface and books better than iphoto. I think you would save some money doing it that way also.

    thanks for sharing your life and creative talents.

  15. Amy says

    I love this post. I made a photo book of my twins’ first year for Fathers’ Day and my husband loved it so much that I’ve done one for each of them for every year of their lives. They are 7 now and when their 6 year old book came in, they sat down and read them cover to cover for the first time. I want these to be passed on to them one day and to serve as a chronicle of their lives.

    I include many of the same things as you: trips, milestones, family, yearly traditions, school pics, etc. I love the idea of including quotes and artwork. Each year, I end each book with a letter from me summarizing the year and, of course, my love for them.

  16. Allison says

    Hey Ashley! I love that you made a post about this… I actually have been doing the same thing, but have only printed out 2 years so far. I have 4 other years designed/completed just haven’t printed them out yet AND I’m glad I haven’t because after seeing your post, I realize you have titles on the spines!? How did you do that?? I was using the “picture book theme” so the front cover is a full photo and the spine printed out just black with no words which drives me crazy. What theme did you use?? And I can’t figure out how to export to a PDF?!? Sorry to ask, I know this isn’t a mac forum! Anyway you can help, I’d appreciate it!! You’re the best! :)

  17. Jennifer PM says

    Love the different ideas! I make photobooks on a pretty regular basis but want to start incorporating more descriptive parts like the ones above. I have to say that I find iPhoto impossibly hard to work with, and would never consider using it to make a book. I used Snapfish for a year which was super easy but not easy to customize. I’ve been using Shutterfly for a year and after the learning curve I’m really pleased with it. Still want to experiment with a few other sites, but hesitant about the learning curve.

  18. says

    THANK YOU!! Family yearbooks have been on my to do list for some time now. But the idea of getting them done can be so overwhelming! I’ve read through all your tutorials and am not only ready but even excited to tackle our yearbooks. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your system!

  19. Mary says

    Thanks for the ideas! I made a yearbook last year on shutterfly, and organized mine by month. I included a bio page for each member of the family, and added a caption paragraph for each month. I am already working on my book for this year, so I appreciate having new options to add in.

  20. shelley says

    Sweet Ash…this is truly an awesome project!!!! I thought I was really doing something when I just put the photos in an album with items along side to make it more of a meaningful memory, but this is over the top in professionalism and display of deep love for your family. Your technical skills are amazing! No wonder you graduated at the top of your class when you earned your MBA!!! I am sooo proud of you. My love eternally, mom

  21. Kris says

    I love these ideas! I do something similar for my kids. I do traditional scrapbooking for family albums but I do online photo books (get them printed through Shutterfly but I also like Picaboo and Smilebooks) for my kids each year. Instead of a calendar year, I start with the 1st day of school each year and end with the days just before the next 1st day of school. That way the pictures from school are all from the same grade in one book. It works for me at least! And I love your mention of not apologizing for going overboard on pages. I’m soooo with you on that. For example, my son’s 1st grade book is 100 pages (ordering any day now.) I have his writing samples, cute notes he’s written in school about what he wants to be when he grows up or letters to friends or notes about what he did over the weekend, drawings, a photo or 2 with him and his teacher, photos from class and photos throughout the year for all kinds of events he’s been a part of (sports stuff, family outings, birthday parties, holidays, etc.) I also include a note from me to each kid at the end. I don’t have very many photos from my own childhood so I wanted my daughter and son to have as many memories documented as possible. So far they love all the books I create. And the next one I do, I’m sure I will incorporate some of your great ideas too.

  22. Kim Stone says

    Love the yearbook ideas. Just wondering if you have a book available online to flip thru the pages to get ideas for layouts & such. Thanks :)

  23. Inna says

    THIS IS P E R F E C T !!!!! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas! I might need more ideas on how to organize everything when there are 4 kids in the family. My books are probably going to be hundreds of pages:) Also kids love to have their own albums so even more work for me to catch up on all these years and for those I think the printed photos will work best.) I am sticking with your website! I am so impressed with people who manage to stay organized. I desperately need to learn that. Thanks again for sharing your wonderful and helpful ideas:)

  24. Tina says

    I do this every year, and each time I’m concerned about the cost, I go through the prior years books. Watching our kids grow up in front of our eyes is worth every penny. I’m late this year, I usually finish in February, but I don’t feel so bad hearing that your timeline is ten months! 😉