Quickly create an easy annual photo album in just an hour a month (hint: start now before the mountain of pictures piles up)

Quickly create an easy annual photo album in just an hour a month (hint: start now before the mountain of pictures piles up)

Capture The Year's Best Photos and Memories So You Don't Forget All Those Special Moments - Big and Small

Family Photo Album - Crushing Motherhood

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Those Photos Hanging Over Your Head

Do you have piles of photos (virtual or printed) that you keep meaning to organize? Have you created scrapbooks or albums before and they take sooooo much time and effort?

We capture so many amazing photos throughout the year. We post a few on Facebook or Instagram and maybe email them to family members who aren’t on social media.  It’s now so rare to actually print them. It’s more common to have a pile of photos stacking up virtually, never to be seen again.

I used to scrapbook, but it took literally over a 100 hour to make a book. Did you ever create a scrapbook or album and it became so overwhelming, you never did it again?

I loved having the annual family album and didn’t want to throw in the towel. I really wanted to make sure I was capturing all of our memories, but I didn’t have 100’s of hours to make it happen.

I wanted to continue with annual family albums so that we’d have a record of each year, not just a special album for a vacation or a birthday or something like that.

Organizing photos for an entire year into a book seemed so daunting and time-consuming.

The Quick Solution to an Amazing Annual Family Photo Album

I started the process I’ll describe below 10 years ago, and now I have 10 annual family photo albums, plus 3 baby books. I can tell you from my experience (as a very busy part-time working mom of 3 young boys and someone who has very little extra time), that this process is easy and you can make it happen. I know you’re just as busy as I am and you can do it!

family photo album



How to Create an Annual Family Photo Album In Just an Hour or Two a Month

I want to share the system I developed to create the family photo album in just an hour or two a month (depending on how fancy you get).

Then, next January, you’ll be able to print off your annual family photo album book without the stress or overwhelm of trying to piece together what happened in the last 12 months. I know it might sound like a long time to work on a project and to wait for your book, but believe me, it will be worth the wait!

Here’s how it works:

Note: I use Shutterfly for this process, but any book-making app should work with a few tweaks to the process I describe below. (This post is not affiliated with or sponsored by Shutterfly in anyway. I should have them sponsor me….maybe I’ll look into that 😉

Checklist for a Keepsake Annual Family Album

Use all those photos from your phone and keep track of all the year's memories in a simple-to-follow process.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Step 1 (Once): Prep Work

A. Log into Shutterfly.com and create a Share Site for your family, if you don’t have one already

I use the Shutterfly Share Site option (as opposed to standard Shutterfly) for 3 reasons:

  • I am able to share photos with our family members who aren’t on social media, while also organizing my photos for the annual family album. I love processes that accomplish more than one objective without any extra work, don’t you?
  • I like how easy it is to organize the photos in the Share Site and
  • I like the Share Site app (better than the regular Shutterfly app).

Note: You could follow my steps using the basic Shutterfly albums (or even with another book-making website), but may need to tweak slightly.

Family Photo Album

Family Photo Album

B.  Create your first monthly Share Site album/folder, to organize the photos you’ll use in your book later

  • First upload at least one photo. 
  • Then, edit the Share Site album/folder name to the Year – Month (e.g. 2018 – January)

Family Photo Album

Family Photo Album

C.  Download the Shutterfly Share Sites app to your phone, to use later.


Step 2 (Weekly): Upload Photos into the Share Site (you can do this in 10 minutes when you’re watching TV)

A.  Edit your favorite photos from that week

  • I just use the simple auto-edit feature on my iPhone to edit it.
  • Mark the photo as a ‘Favorite’ after you edit it.

Family Photo Album

B.  Upload your ‘Favorite’ photos into the associated month’s Share Site album/folder.

  • Open the Share Sites App
  • Choose the ‘Photos & Videos’ link
  • Click the + on the top right to add the photos

family photo album

  • Choose the photos to upload from your Favorites list, then choose the correct album/folder to upload into (add a new album/folder to that drop-down if you need to), and then click upload.

family photo album

  • Extra credit: log into the web version of the Share Site and add the week’s funny stories, cute sayings, activities, memories and milestones to the album/folder description. Then, you’ll be able to pull this into the photo album/folder easily for memorable captions in the next step of the process.

Step 3 (Monthly): Create Monthly Pages in the Annual Family Photo Album

A. Create the family photo album book in Shutterfly (note: this step is only for the first month). 

  • In the first week of the following month (so early February for the month of January), log into Shutterfly and create your annual family photo album book.
  • Put a few placeholder pages in the front for the year in review and then insert the # of pages you want to use for the month of January.
  • TIP: Shutterfly has a page limitation and it changes periodically. Check the max # of pages and divide that by 13 (one for each month + some extra pages for the front and back, that you’ll finish at the end). Don’t use anymore pages per month than that #.

B. Insert your photos from that month’s Share Site folder into the pages of the family photo album book.

C. Arrange the photos to your liking.

  • TIP: I like to use the first page of every month as a description for that month. I use a Shutterfly sticker with the month’s name on it and I copy all the text I collected for that month onto the page as a reminder of all the fun we had.
  • TIP: Try the Shutterfly Storyboard feature to drag and drop the pictures really quickly onto the pages.

D. Type in any memories, special activities, or other milestones into the captions (you can cut/paste if you captured these in the Shutterfly Share Site photo album/folder).

E. Repeat this process each month, as part of your month-end-closing process (that’s a whole separate topic).

Family Photo Album

Step 4 (Yearly): Complete the Book

A. In January of the following year, I finish up the book.

  • Add a cover photo
  • Add some photos and memories to the first few pages of the book
  • Add any other memories you want to capture
  • Review/edit the whole thing one last time and it’s ready to go.

B. Add the book to your cart.

C. Wait to order until you have a 50% off coupon (don’t forget to use ebates as your starting point before purchasing from Shutterfly so that you can get an extra % cash back) [⬅this is my referral link if you’d like me to get a few dollars back without costing you anything extra. In fact, sometimes ebates gives you a credit just for signing up through me. It depends on the promotion at the time you click. Thanks for considering it!]

Family Photo Album

A few more tips:

  • Start now, it doesn’t matter if you’re reading this in September. You can catch up. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Done is better than perfect.
  • You can use this same process to create baby books. They’re so easy and full of detail!
  • Scan or take photos of kid’s favorite works of art, tickets to special events, and other mementos and include those in your monthly pages.
  • This is an easy way to keep the amount of clutter to a minimum and feel less guilty about throwing away those kindergarten masterpieces…

And here’s a simple checklist you can use to track all the steps you need to accomplish for the annual family photo album book:

Checklist for a Keepsake Annual Family Album

Use all those photos from your phone and keep track of all the year's memories in a simple-to-follow process.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

That’s It

So, by spending an hour or so each month to keep on top of this project, you will have these gorgeous books that recap your family memories year after year. 

Leave me a comment and let me know how this works for you. Or, if you have extra tips on how to make this even better, I’d love to hear them!

family photo album 

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