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How to Create a Photo Book | Graduation Gift Idea

Learn how to create a photo book. From organizing your photos to laying out the pages. Ideas for creating a personal one-of-a-kind gift.

My son graduated high school a couple of years ago.

Yup, I know I’m old.

Sometimes I still can’t believe I’m old enough to have a kid in college.

But you know as they say…young at heart.

Well, that’s what I keep trying to tell myself. Haha!

Anyway back to the point of this post because it’s not all about me.

I wanted to give Jake something meaningful for his graduation.

I’m a pretty sentimental person and love doing special things for the people I love. 

As a graduation gift, I created two different memory books.

The first was a graduation book where I collected letters from friends, family, and mentors to include in a book.   

This graduation book was probably is favorite gift!

If you have a graduate you’re definitely going to want to check out this idea now!

The second was a photo book of memories simply titled…  Jakob Riley: Through the years…

Want to learn how I put 18 years of photo memories in one little book?

Then keep reading…

Some of the items used in this post include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. You can read our full affiliate disclosure policy here.

How to Create a Keepsake Photo Book

photo book on table with plant

Can you believe we have actual hard copy pictures in photo albums of his first few years of life.

Nothing fancy…just an album with pages to slip in pictures.

This is from way back when…you know in the late ’90s before iPhones or even digital cameras.

I wanted him to have a photo book of the highlights of his life.

Just something small that would fit on his bookshelf and he could take with him to college.

back of hard cover photo book with quote printed on back cover

I started looking through the literally thousands of pictures I have on my computer… I started to feel overwhelmed!

It didn’t help that I started this project just 2 months before he would graduate.

The pressure was on!

See all those baskets filled with photo albums?

How was I going to scan 4 years of printed pictures from those albums?

photo albums in basket on bottom shelves of console table

Not only those 4 years of printed pictures…but how was I going to organize all of the 14 remaining years of digital pictures stored on my computer?

I started searching for an easy answer, but there were so many variations of how to layout a photo book that I felt unsure of myself.

How was I going to condense 18 years worth of memories into one photo book?

I was feeling emotional!

My baby was graduating!

Wasn’t he just starting kindergarten??

How to Plan a Memory Book

laptop with screen of picture folders in view

So what’s a girl to do?

Call your friend…

the one who’s a photographer…

a scrap booker…

and an excellent memory keeper…

I called Anne!

The next day I was in her studio and she asked me just the right questions to help me figure out what was important to include and how I wanted it to feel when he looked at it.

I left her house with a plan and felt confident I could get this done.

So, let me show you exactly what I did to get started.

How to Organize Years of Photos

close up of photo folders to organize photo book

I started with “scanning” in all my printed pictures.

Since the quality of my iPhone was better than the quality of my printer, I just took pictures with my phone of all the old printed photos I needed.

Then, I uploaded the images to my computer.

Although I wouldn’t recommend this method if you want to print out a large picture, it worked perfectly for a photo book.

I created a separate “Jake” folder on my computer, then created subfolders for each year, including a subfolder for all those older “scanned” pictures.

Once I had all my folders set up I started going through all my pictures.

Next, I copied any pictures that I thought I might want to use in the photo book into the appropriate year folder.

After talking with Anne, I decided to layout the book chronologically from birth through current with a few special extra pages.

Those additional pages didn’t necessarily fall within the chronological span of the book.

They included a cover page with a picture from his senior photo session along with a note I wrote for him.

I also created a page of images of the three homes & his bedrooms in each of those houses that he’s lived in.

How fun is that to be able to look back at all the places you’ve called home?

And I “borrowed” some of his friends’ pictures from social media and created a few pages with quotes about friendship.

I’ve even written a post with 75 inspirational quotes that will help you when creating your photo book.

How to Layout the Photo Book Pages

beginning of memory book with baby pictures

I chose Blurb to create this photo book because it allowed me to create the layout that I wanted for each page.

Once a layout page is designed you can save that page design to reuse later in your book.

It’s seriously so easy to use!

You can use any online publisher of your choice.

I’ve also used Shutterfly for other projects but find Blurb to be the best for this book.

Click here to get started making your own book and get 35% off.

With Blurb is that there is no page limit which was very important to me!

No need to be limited once I got into my groove. Haha!

And I’m super happy I used Blurb because my book ended up being 160 pages.

holding book open on table

Some pages had a just few pictures….but others had up to 12 on a page.

You get to decide which you prefer.

Or do a mix like I did.

opened book with picture collages and text inside book

On some pages, I wrote a little message about the period in his life or shared a memory of the experience we were having in the photos.

Once this is printed your child will have this memory photo book forever.

Take the opportunity to share your heart!

printed heading under photo collage

But also please don’t worry or stress about coming up with something different to write on every page.

If I didn’t have something to meaningful or witty to write, I just added a simple heading.

The heading can be the name of a vacation spot.

Or a sport or hobby.

Really anything!

Easy Peasy!

How to Add Inspirational Quotes

holding memory book with text and photo

Another idea to add text to your photos is to find a quote that resonates with you.

I love quotes so I found some that expressed a feeling I had about him and our family.

And nope…I don’t remember meaningful quotes and have them stored away in my head.

Google is my friend!

But I’ll make it even easier for you!!

After creating these photo books I wrote a blog post with 75 inspirational quotes for graduation.

If you’re looking for a great quote check it out here!

close up of book page with list of events printed next to photos

This is one of those projects I’ve wanted to do for years but never found the time to do it.

Apparently, I work better under pressure.

I’m so glad I did this for him…and for me…because of course, I ordered 2 copies of the book!

Be sure to click this link to get started using Blurb.

Get 35% Off Your First Photo Book!

More Meaningful Graduation Ideas

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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