Wednesday, November 10, 2010

christmas minibook

i am even more than usually pleased and proud that today's featured project on the pixie dust paperie blog, utilizing november's SNOW SHOE kit, was made by me! it's a mini-book version of "the night before christmas" starring niece madeline and nephew matthew, and it is--if i do say so myself--pretty darned cute! here's a sort of "overview" this case taken quite literally OVER the book!

of course, there are loads more photos, closeups, and details about the making of the book and the products within over at the PDP blog, and i cordially invite you to have a peek at those, because i think--again, all modesty aside--it really came out very well indeed! :)

here on my own blog i want to say a few words that might be easily be tag-lined, "in defense of bad photos"! when i first asked my sister about using her xmas pictures from last year, she was willing, but didn't think she could help, because her photos were (according to her):

1. not that great
2. of the wrong stuff
3. really, REALLY casual
4. not all from the same occasion
and finally
5. there weren't nearly enough of them to fill a minibook

i am printing this because i've had this conversation SO MANY TIMES with myself--in fact, every vacation we take, when i get home and edit my pics, my main thought is, "well THIS is gonna be the year the travel journal HAS NO photos!!!" because inevitably it rained part of the time, and i had the camera on the wrong setting for the really CRUCIAL shots of the biggest icon of the whole trip, and i forgot it entirely on another un-missable day, and so on, and so forth. and yet, somehow, i nearly always figure a way AROUND such problems...and when the project is finished, and the pictures bring back all the wonderful memories i think, "OMG, i nearly talked myself into deleting these!!!"

here are a couple of specific strategies, and a few illustrations from this project.

1. photo editing software is your friend!
it helps if you can identify what's bothering in about your pics. if you have lots of different pics that don't "match" why not make them all black and white, or sepia-toned? i use photoshop elements, but there are plenty of other inexpensive software programs (one probably came with your digital camera!) and free online tools like picknik and picasa; most of the online and store kiosk printing services have a some basic editing functions, too, that'll let you convert to b&w, fix red-eye, add frames, etc.

original photo of matthew & santa
b&w conversion, judiciously cropped & sized

2. collage is your other friend!
if your photos are blurry or you've only got low-def file sizes, print them small and make little photo clusters. also, consider WHERE you want to use them...this mini-book is 5x5"; enlargements were not an option anyway! clusters and groupings are also great if you don't have ONE shot with everyone together. if you've got distracting backgrounds that'd be hard to lose, let another photo overlap!

not close enough
too close
just right!

3. you don't have to use the whole photo!
yes, i know you love your great aunt edna, but she's making kind of a funny face in this particular shot, and her motorcyle parked in the background is VERY distracting! the great thing about digi is, you can save more than one version of things-- if aunt edna doesn't work for THIS project it's fine to trim her!!! crop her electronically, or cut her out of a print with scissors, or place a couple of embellishments over her side of the photograph. remember, all your pictures don't all have to be the same size and shape, either; in fact a variety of shots is often more dynamic on a page.

4. play to your strengths!
having done a bit of "tinkering" with the photos for this minibook, they started to remind me of the snaps from my (1960's) childhood-- the vast majority of which are 3" b&w squares with a white border. when i realized that, i used this digital frame set to make the resemblance even stronger. (if you're printing at home you can also do this by just placing them far apart on the page and leaving some white on when you trim; you can make faux polaroids this way, too!) i cut out my pics a bit wonkily, and inked the edges, so they'd have a "messy on purpose" look that covered any "messy by accident" problems! (b/c no, many of these shots would probably not look as good if they were the centerpiece of a minimalist masterpiece!)

nobody realllllllly looks good here...
...that's better!

5. sometimes drastic measures are called for
in this case, the tricks from above were more than sufficient, but i have been known to do "CRAZY" things when the sane ones didn't work! in my new york travel book, most of the photos are printed on transparency; some as collages, some on their own. in my washington dc travel book, i used photoshop's "watercolor" filter...not to mention the "contrast" and "saturation" change my disappointingly grey and lackluster photos extensively. do you want to know which photos in which travel books are unanimously the favorites of anyone who sees them?! yep. the ones that were so "BAD" they needed to be crazied up!!! :)

6. sometimes you just have to bite the bullet
hey guess what? i just found half a dozen photos of your mom & her siblings on christmas morning, 1947! oof, no, wait, you're not gonna want these...some of 'em are blurry...and your grandmom had not done her hair yet...and holy moly, in this one your 6-year-old future mom is bouncing on the bed and your uncle has a lincoln log in his ear! i should just toss these, right? they are inarguably BAD photos! what am i CRAZY--those are priceless treasures!!!!!! uh-huh. and so are yours! perspective really is everything. :)

one more gratuitous picture...but do check out the PDP blog!

in conclusion, my on-going photo-evangelical advice to myself... (and anyone else who needs it!) this: KEEP the "bad" photos! USE the "bad" photos! i promise, in the future you will agree... if they contain people and places you love, THERE ARE NO BAD PHOTOS!!!


  1. If I ever have a "not so good day", I know this is the place that would make me happy again, you are just brilliant Lauren, and it shows all throughout your lovely creation, your funnier than funny writing, your knowledge of almost everything, hey, is there anything that you are no good at? I bet its NONE! You are just brilliant! And I am thankful that we met!!!! And that we are team, and that we are blog buddy!

  2. hehe, loved this post, lauren! i need to learn how to play with my photos more! i do crop them and things, but would be cool to play with b/w, sepia, etc. thanks for the tips!
    love your mini by the way! i have to hop over to see more pix.
    thanks for sharing and have a great day!
    *hugs* steph :)

  3. Thanks for all the photo advice...I don't have photoshop, so I don't understand "collage" etc, but I learned a lot from your post and gained perspective :) I love to read your posts because you write so well, you are entertaining, and you are so very very SMART!

    Now I must pop over to the pixie blog to see another fabulous Lauren project (and your adorable nieces & nephew).

  4. Fabulous post Lauren ... Love the album ... love playing with photos too ... ones I once thought were "awful" are now so appealing to me as I get more wrinkles! So I try to remember that what I don't like today ... I will love in 10yrs time!!
    Have a great day

  5. wow!!! Such a fab mini seeing the before & after have such the magical touch!

  6. AWesome post! I love your mini book and reading your thoughts on "bad photos". Been there, now to look through them with a different view :) I love your blog!!

  7. Oh Lauren, awesome post!! I wish I had Photoshop! I do have a simple photo-editing program and you're right, a little cropping can actually save a bad photo. Sorry, I meant to say a "really casual" photo :-)

  8. This could not be cooler - of course the kids are just adorable, but the project is amazing. As always. You will never cease to amaze me!

  9. thanks this is wonderful! not to mention it makes me want to make some mini books!

  10. Great advice, Lauren! You're mini Christmas book is delightful. Love how you included those little journaling spots.

  11. Lauren, thank you for a great post. The minialbum is just a stunning book with lots of great pictures :-)
    and I will for sure see new ways of using not so good picutres..

  12. I have to agree... even the *bad* ones are fantastic later on. Well, except the ones of ME! :) Love your little minibook(s), you put so much care & thought into them that OF COURSE they're an instant hit. It doesn't hurt that they're fabulous too!

  13. Your album is delightful. Love the colors and the whole way you put it all together. And with those adorable models, how could you fail!!! As for the photos, I am a believer. I also think that there are NO bad photos. Only ones that weren't taken. I edit the heck out of mine. (When I take the time. LOL) Thank you for validating my theory. :)

  14. So many wonderful tips and ideas in one sweet little album, Lauren. I love editing my photos, especially less than perfect ones. I really LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of using a poem or story for a mini album gift, and my brain is going full speed on plans for a Christmas gift for Lily and Rowan. Woo hooo! Thanks!!! ♥

  15. Oh my goodness I can't believe you took all those pictures altered them and made that gorgeous book! Its amazing. I haven't made a mini book in ages this totally inspires me. I love this book. Cutestness to the max!


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