Do you take tons of pictures of your kids? Little one has some adorable bedhead, or puts on some perfectly-mismatched clothes, or shows off a missing-tooth grin, and out comes your smart phone to snap a pic. Isn’t it great to capture those small, everyday moments?
But how often do you actually get to see those cute pictures? And are *you* in any of them with your adorable children? I bet not. 🙂
I’ll be doing an occasional series here about fun projects to get all those personal photos out of your computer and into your life to enjoy them on a daily basis. First up: a family photo calendar!
I actually started one on a whim years ago, as a surprise gift to my then-boyfriend (now husband) for our one-year anniversary. I gathered up the photos I’d taken of the two of us all year and filled in a calendar. This was seven years ago–I still had my first digital point and shoot. Almost all the photos were arms-length couple selfies. Nothing special, nothing formal, just us together doing fun things (including our first trip to Europe together!). But it always made me happy to see our smiling faces up on the wall! I wasn’t aiming for something artistic, I knew the photos were ‘just’ snapshots (and looking back, the photos are terrible, my goodness)–I cared more about the story behind the snapshots.
Every year I’ve continued the project, but I added a twist–I’ve made sure to take at least one photo of us together every month. (Read about the tools I use here!) Sometimes they’re photos I set up myself, and sometimes they’re snapshots from a passing stranger while we’re out somewhere. Those photos go into next year’s calendar for the same month (so last August’s beach photos will be in this year’s August calendar page).
The point of a project like this isn’t technically perfect photographs, the point is nice pictures of ourselves throughout the year–out and visible for us to see all the time. Not buried in a folder on my computer, forgotten. And since I take them every month, we always see new and updated photos of ourselves–we see haircuts and favorite outfits, not to mention the interesting places in the backgrounds.
We love our photo calendars; it’s one of our favorite traditions. Every month we take a minute to turn the page together, look at the photos, and reminisce about the time that it represents. The 2011 calendar was all about our engagement and wedding (which took place between April and August of 2010)–a mix of our personal photos from Costa Rica, where we got engaged, plus professional photos from our engagement session and wedding (both from the amazing Sarah Tew Photography in NYC).
Our 2013 calendar (photos from 2012) was especially fun, as it included a trip to Central Europe, a cross-country road trip, a burgeoning belly, and finally two teeny tiny babies. That was a hell of a year! And the next year we got to relive it in the best and easiest way possible. 🙂
It does take just a bit of organizing, but it’s easy, I swear. Here’s how I do it: In the My Pictures folder, I have a separate folder for the monthly photos. Every once in awhile, I’ll scan through all my photos in Picasa (which is free, easy to use, and has some really helpful tools for organizing/creating – cropping and making two-up collages being my favorites) and copy over the family photos to the year’s calendar folder. Sometimes there are more than one set of family photos, and I throw them all in there. PS–this is a great way to get those cute holiday photos out and about!
Then, around the end of the year, I have to sit down to put the whole thing together. (I’ve always used Snapfish, and they always have sales in December. I’m sure Shutterfly or anyone else is also great, and everyone has sales around the end of the year.) It does take some time–partly because I often end up going back through my photo folders for more interesting pictures to add to each month, and because I want everything to be as nice as possible, so I hem and haw about which photos will be best, and what is the best arrangement of them. Sometimes I only have one good photo for the month, and sometimes there are way more than that, and I have to figure out what kind of mosaic will look best.
Keep in mind: if your favorite shots are from your phone, the resolution may not be high enough for one large photo. So you can either create collages in a program or app and upload that, or just use a multi-photo layout for that month’s page. Multi-photo layouts are great anyway, because you can get more adorable photos up for display. 🙂
Also, since Snapfish allows you to add photos to any square of your calendar dates, I like to add in portraits for birthdays, and relevant pictures for holidays.
I don’t love the hour that it takes to put the calendar together — often I put off doing it as long as I can (this year it was almost in January!). But it is so worth it! Since I have a terrible memory, I always forget the layouts, so it’s a fun surprise each month all around. 🙂
A bonus is that it’s an easy way to show our babies a lot of different pictures. We keep our calendar in the kitchen, and they have been drawn to look at it from a pretty young age. We like to show them the calendar, point out who is who, and they always look and smile and sometimes point with us. It’s a lovely little way to celebrate our family together, for just a moment, at random times.
(Super extra bonus–this could make a wonderful grandparent gift for the holidays!)
So in case you can’t tell, I feel pretty strongly about having a lot of current photos out in plain sight! There’s definitely a place for displaying images from professional family photography sessions, but please–get those “everyday” photos up on your walls too! Take photos of your family on a regular basis–your whole family, yes, including you. You will not regret it! Imagine what it teaches your children to see lots of pictures of your entire family together — love, togetherness, acceptance, unity, happiness. All kinds of good things. 🙂
Best of all, you can start this project TODAY! Go on, grab a camera and do an arms length of you and your loved ones. Take a look through your photo folders and choose your favorites to put in a new calendar folder.
Have you ever made a calendar with your own photos? How do you organize/plan it? Let me know in the comments!