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Using Photo Books To Celebrate Kids Artwork

I am a super fan of kids artwork. 

I am not a super fan of storing all the artwork. 

I've been staring at, and also moving from place to place, a large pile of paintings that Anna did when she was in preschool ( she just finished second grade). I adore these paintings for a couple reasons: (1) I love simple and abstract marks on a page, 2) Anna made them, and (3) her teachers asked her what she drew and wrote her response on each and every one. Those words make this artwork that much more special to me because some of the things she said are just so awesome (things like "Mommy and Daddy are jumping on the bed"). 

I've had an idea to turn this pile of paintings into a photo book and it took me a couple of years (you know how this goes) to finally make it happen. My goal was to document the artwork without having to keep and store all the artwork. I might keep one or two of these - maybe pick out my favorite and put it in the frame - and then I'm going to let the rest of them go. 

I've used  Artifact Uprising in the past to create a soft cover photo book from a trip to Kauai and love their quality and their overall mission to honor what is meaningful so it was a no-brainer for me to use them again. 

I LOVE HOW THIS PHOTO BOOK TURNED OUT. Yes, I actually used bold + caps to communicate to you how darn happy this photo book made me. See below for my process and a video overview of what the end result looks like. 

NOTE: This is not a sponsored post. Artifact Uprising did not pay me to do this write up or give me a discount on these photo books but I am an affiliate of theirs and if you use the links I've included here I will receive a small percentage of your purchase.

Here's a look at my process for creating this photo book: 

As you can see in this silly photo (thanks Aaron) of me holding one of these paintings, they are not small and they were not easily stored away. Some of them used to hang in Anna's bedroom. 

They are colorful and fun and happy. 

My first step in this process was to photograph all the paintings. 

To do that I used a  white foam core board (I order these on Amazon) on top of Katie's desk with nice natural light coming in from the window to the right (I turn off all overhead lights when I photograph projects in this way). You could totally shoot these with your phone camera but I went ahead and used my Canon 6D with my 24-70 lens (this is what I generally use for shooting projects). 

I chose to photograph rather than scan this artwork due to the size. If it would have been smaller I would have considered scanning it vs. photographing it but this worked just fine. 

My goal was to get these all photographed at the same time so that the light quality was the same for all the photos. For me that was mid-day - the light here right now seems to be the best at that time depending on the amount of clouds vs. sun. Look around your own house for a good indirect light source when shooting your projects. 

After shooting all the paintings I uploaded them into Aperture and then edited them in Photoshop - mostly lightening and brightening using Curves and Levels and Contrast. 

I saved them all to a folder on my desktop and then uploaded them to my account at  Artifact Uprising

For this photo book I went with a  Hardcover Photo Book sized at 8.5 inch x 8.5 inch. They have other size options - I found this one to be just right for this project (I wanted it to be square). 

These albums start at $69 and go up from there depending on how many additional pages you add. They have a variety of colors available for the linen cover (I went with Lemon Appeal - you can see it in the video below) and then you can select photos for the book jacket (I chose a close up image of two of the paintings for the front and back of the jacket). 

For the first page I included a photo of her from this period of time, the name of her preschool, and a date range so I don't know the exact dates. 

And then the rest of the book is just images of these paintings. 

Seriously, holding this completed photo book in my hands made me so happy. 

I used the same simple white-border template for each page and simply selected the artwork image and their program loads it right into the page. 

It probably took me an hour and a half to two hours for this whole process (taking the photos, editing, and then uploading/formatting the book within their program). I initially kept putting it off because I thought it was going to take a lot of time but once I got going it went really fast and I was so happy to submit my order. 

I ordered it on June 8th and it arrived here on June 15th (I did not select any expedited shipping). My album included 50 pages and the total cost of the album + shipping was $80.99.

Here's a video that walks you through Anna's artwork photo book. I also included another photo book I made last Christmas for Aaron (also from  Artifact Uprising) that I haven't shared here yet: 

Here's a closer look at a couple of those pages I made for Aaron's book: 

The album I made for Aaron is a  Layflat Photo Album and starts at $139. 

I super, super, super love how this one turned out too.  

It's 10 inch x 10 inch and it was definitely more expensive but so worth it as something special just showing photos of the two of us from when we met in 2012 through 2016 ( it was his main Christmas present last year). 

The full-bleed panoramic page option was definitely my favorite. 

But truly I love it all. 

I loved bringing all these photos together in one place.

If you like this kind of idea for kids artwork you should also totally check out a photo book template that Liz Tamanaha designed for Shutterfly called  Mini Masterpieces. Actually I'm not sure if Shutterfly is still offering that photo book template but the ideas in her blog post are awesome and could be applied to other projects. I may do something similar to that with the other pile of random pieces of artwork I've saved of Anna's over the last few years.

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13 thoughts

  1. happytoscrap says…

    Impressive! So glad there are other options to gathering memories.

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. tshaw says…

    Stunning!!! My husband and I have spent the better part of this week sorting through our 4 adult children's keepsakes and treasures, and discussing what to do with all the school pages,etc. We have 12 years worth for each child, this blog post came at the perfect time with a fantastic suggestion. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Murray says…

    Loved your approach to Anna's Artwork Book. So many times I get hung up on how long it might take in reality you made a beautiful album in two hours. Thank you Ali for always sharing your approach!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Bellaa75 says…

    These look amazing Ali! It did make me feel guilty though that I throw a lot of these if not all of my kids artwork out that looks like this! I think the fact Anna's teachers wrote on them added that something extra. How awesome that they did that!
    Also I did a book through Shutterfly a few years back using the Mini Masterpieces and I love it!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. jchurch2 says…

    What a wonderful idea. The one you gave Aaron is just fabulous. Thinking I might have to do this for my hubby this Christmas.

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. cynthialyons says…

    I have an 8 year old storage container filled with art for each of my 2 girls that I need to do this with, so thanks for the idea!

    ALSO – what are those lovely looking plastic envelopes sitting on Katie's chair?!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. breski says…

      I think those envelopes are from the Studio Calico scrapbook kits.

  7. Storyboard_c says…

    This is awesome Ali! What a grand idea! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. eklante says…

    I love this idea! I have stacks and stacks of my kids' artwork I can't bear to get rid of. FYI Mini Masterpieces is still available at Shutterfly.

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. themorningdew1 says…

    Wow! I need to get working on my kids art and this is so inspiring. About Liz's fabulous templates, you can get them as gallery album no. 2 at her store and print them with the company of your choice.

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. ellenchatfield says…

    I love, love, love Artifact Uprising for their amazing quality of products and their values as a company. Just made a book for my dad for Father's Day.

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. abbypimentel says…

    ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS!!! And yes, all capital letters! This is so tempting to get me to do this for my boys - they're 21- and 25-years-old now. So. Many. Photos!

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. jessicanturner says…

    This is fantastic. Liz's Shutterfly template is available. I am going to do this for each of my kids. Thanks, Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies

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