When it comes to decluttering, I seem to have a hard time throwing away my children’s artwork! Over the years, this has meant that the art piles have taken over our kitchen counter, office, and kids’ closet spaces. Not only is this messy, the pictures never get pulled out and admired.
I recently had a great idea for showcasing my children’s art while eliminating the piles: put the art into a custom photo book!
While the idea of photographing and compiling your children’s art this way might sound overwhelming, I can tell you that it’s really doable. Today I wanted to share how I made mine as well as offer up some tips for creating a beautiful photo book using Picaboo’s user-friendly interface.
Start by gathering all the arts and crafts that you have laying around. For me, this involved a trek through multiple rooms and about a good 15-20 minutes’ time. Consider all the various art your child may have created:
- School work and art projects
- Special displays such as science projects or models
- Lego sets
- Recipes or other perishable creations
The art can really be anything you want it to be, anything your child has created.
To photograph the art pieces, I picked up a posterboard in white and black for $0.59 each. You can find these at craft stores and most drugstores. The purpose of this is to provide a clean, simple background for the art.
I also found a spot in my house that had bright, natural light (next to the glass door off my kitchen), and photographed the art during late morning for the maximum light. I don’t own a fancy camera by any means, but I found I was still able to take beautiful photos with my digital camera thanks to this set up!
Next, I placed each piece on the board and photographed it straight down. Afterwards, I cropped the photos as needed. Once I had all the photos in a folder in my computer and edited, I transitioned to making the photo books!
I chose Picaboo for my books – I’ve used them before and I think their interface is slick and easy to use – even if you’re not creatively inclined! The wizard walks you through the process – from choosing your book orientation (landscape or square), theme (I went with “kids!”) and photos.
Picaboo lets you pull photos from your computer, but also your Facebook page, Flickr, Web Content or other projects. I loved that I did not have to wait for all my photos to load before working on my project. They were available to drop in my book as they were uploading to my account. This is different from other photo book services I’ve used and it meant getting my book done quicker than other sites I’ve used!
When you select a theme, it will automatically provide you with layouts and backgrounds for each page. All you have to do is drag and drop! If you want to change the layout on any page, be sure you are in Creative Mode, click on the “layout” button to the right, and select how many photos per page you need. Even after that, you’re not bound to the layout. You can easily resize photos, drag and drop extra photos or delete photos you’ve changed your mind about.
When you’re working on your book, you will see all the photos you’ve selected at the bottom of the screen. When you select a photo for a particular page you’ll see a green check mark, indicating it’s been used in your project.
How about a few tips for bringing this project to life?
Tip one: include corresponding photos! My daughter and I made pressed flower bookmarks last spring, and I had taken some photos of her that day collecting flowers. I love the way this 2-page layout turned out! If your child has drawn a family portrait, consider adding a photo portrait to that page. Or maybe a photo of your child at the pumpkin patch on the same page as a pumpkin painting they created. You could also add photos of the child at the age the time they made the drawing you’re highlighting.
Tip two: interview your child! On several of the pages, I asked my kids to tell me a little about what was happening in the picture.
Tip three: make use of the text box feature! Many page layouts include a text option, or you can easily add one to your page manually. You can also share your own reactions or stories. The goal with this book should be to preserve the memories!
Tip four: add an “about the artist” page! To do this, I asked my kids to share a little bit about themselves. If your child is not sure where to start, ask a few probing questions (“what are your favorite activities?” “who are your friends?” “why do you like art?”). I tried to leave their words as unedited as possible to capture their personality in words as much as I had with their art.
By the way – do you see the cute pencil art on the page above? Picaboo offers many “sticker” add-ons that you can drag, drop, resize and rotate to customize your pages!
This is one of those projects that seems more daunting than it actually is. From start to finish, I bet I spent under 4 hours on both books including gathering and photographing the art, editing, and building my books. I truly believe using Picaboo cut out a lot of time thanks to the easy-to-use layouts and tools.
I’m so relieved that I can finally declutter with confidence and reclaim my kitchen counter space and office floor! Even more important, I feel that I’ve put together something of real value for my family. My husband remarked to me how excited he was I was doing this – and how much he wishes he had something like this from his childhood. My kids were delighted to be a part of this process and are eagerly looking forward to receiving their books in the mail. I have to agree that this feels like one of the more meaningful memory preservation activities I’ve done for my kids. I plan on creating subsequent volumes every 2 or 3 years so they have a collection of treasured childhood artwork to take with them one day when they’re grown and have little artists of their own.