How to Organize a Family Photo Album or Yearbook

The following guest post was created by Ruthie Hart.

The year my oldest child was born, I started making family yearbooks as a way to chronicle the happenings of our year. I know you mamas can relate with the mountains of photos we have (okay– not physical mountains but digitally, the number of pictures we take is Everest level, thank you iPhone X portrait mode). Typically I make traditional baby books for each kiddo but wanted a way to keep track of what our family did, where we traveled, and how we grew over the years.

I compare our family photo album to the stacks and shelves of photo albums my parents have of my childhood– you know what I’m talking about. Grainy photos stuck into those three ring binders with the clear film that never seems to stick. I keep our family yearbooks on a side table in our living room and every few weeks the kids will go through them or a friend will notice them and want to take a peek. 

create your own photo book with layflat design and collage photos

I plan for, organize, and work on our family photo album throughout the whole year so it doesn’t feel like a burden. And because I like to have our book in chronological order, it helps me keep my pictures organized. The last thing I want to to is be drowning in photos and overwhelmed with the task of making the book. I want to pour into it, smile, and savor the memories as I create it. I know not everyone may be as “Type A” as me (Marie Kondo is my spirit animal!) so I want to share a few tips on how I plan, create, and execute our family yearbook.

the hart family 2018 family yearbook with photos

(yes we still have our Christmas cards up, I think I may keep them up all year!)

Organizing Photos

Like I said above, the fact that we all have incredibly megapixel cameras glued to our hands at all times, I assume everyone has more photos than they do hairs on their head. I keep my photos organized by month and year on my computer so they are easy to upload directly into Shutterfly. My PICTURES folder has sub-folders named for each year (ex. 2018). Each year folder has sub-folders named for each month (ex. 2018-1 is January. I use numerical naming vs. the actual month so they show up in order).

Each month I do a picture dump from my phone onto my computer and place photos into the folder of the month I took them in. If I use my DSLR camera, I move those pictures into the folder too. I be sure to delete random screen shots or photos that I only needed temporarily (you know those “Hey husband, look at this gross thing our kid is doing” photos). This helps simplify the yearbook making process and really… I don’t need to save everything! My phone auto uploads into folders based on month so it is easy! Once a month is over, you can make it even easier for yourself and upload the entire album directly to Shutterfly! This saves you a step when you are ready to create your yearbook. I use the same naming system in Shutterfly. 

Creating a Family Photo Album

Shutterfly gives you many options on style for your book and I keep it clean with the white, modern layout for our 8×10 book. I also prefer to create my family photo album manually vs. their auto populate function but if that sounds like too much work for you, you’ve got that option too. When I had less kids (ha!), I worked on our family yearbook every month. I would make an evening of it, uploading my photos when a month had passed and immediately filling pages with those pictures. Now a days, I am lucky if I remember to do it every quarter but hey, it’s better than waiting until the end of the year and having to sort through 100000 pictures!

Over the years I have learned that your book has a maximum of 100 pages so I choose picture layouts with 6+ pictures for individual pages. I have friends who do two separate photo books, one for the first half of the year and one for the second half, but I stick to one book total per year. This gives me about 8 pages per month but I know we will have extra during the summer and Christmas holidays so I try to go lighter on other months. Each page is unique- some are devoted to specific events (a vacation, a holiday, etc) and some are just random snapshots put together.

You also have the option to add text to any page if you like writing down details or specific memories about the photos. I always use our Christmas card picture on the front of the book, although our 2018 book’s cover is a family photo from a photo shoot we did in May.

Ordering Your Book

If you’ve been around Shutterfly for a while, you know that they run amazing deals all the time! The best time to order, in my opinion, is late January when they offer 40-50% off and free additional pages. Basic 8×10 books come with 20 pages so adding 80 more can get expensive. I also highly recommend opting for lay flat pages.  It makes the book thicker, sturdier, and easier to look at. The days my yearbooks arrive in the mail are one of my favorite days of the year.

the hart family album and child

If you are new to family yearbooks and want to create them for years past, don’t get overwhelmed. Start by organizing your photos and work on the book little by little. You will be so happy you are taking the time to collect curate your memories because as years go by, the memories fade and get harder to recall. It is truly incredible how a group of photos can take you back. 

Happy Memory Making!


Ruthie Hart