Monday, 7 September 2015

Photo Books // The Pregnancy & Portrait Series

If you have been reading this blog for more than just a few days, you will have most likely noticed that every Sunday, I post a portrait of my daughter. I started this in January of 2013, when Ruby was just a few weeks old. The idea came from Jodi who writes at Practising Simplicity. Jodi founded The 52 Project a few years back as a way of documenting her children throughout the year, and this seemed like the perfect way of having a simple structure to help me document Ruby's first year. Jodi suggests just writing one sentence to go alongside the portrait each week, but I decided to write short letters to Ruby each week instead. This would also serve to be a diary of sorts to help me remember what we had filled our weeks with. During pregnancy, I had started writing letters to Ruby (which you can read if you click on the 'Pregnancy' tab in the sidebar on the right of your screen), and it made sense to me to continue writing in this medium once she was born.
I always knew that I would want to turn these portraits into a photo book at the end of the year, and I also knew that I wanted to incorporate the self portraits I took during pregnancy, along with the blog posts I wrote while pregnant. Thus, The Pregnancy and Portrait Series was born. Once 2014 had come to a close, I started to think about the format I would use for printing my photo book. It was also around this time that Artifact Uprising kept popping up in my Instagram feed and on my favourite blogs, and their aesthetic was exactly what I wanted in a photo book.
When it came to assembling the photo book using Artifact Uprising's software, I encountered my first  (and only) major challenge. I had hoped to be able to simply copy and paste the text from my blog posts into the A.U software, ensuring all of the pages were set to the same font, then insert the portraits alongside these. However, I found that because each blog post included a different amount of text, this process was not straightforward. I couldn't get the alignment right, and I couldn't work out from the software what size font would look best in print. It was also proving problematic to just copy and paste the text from Blogger into Artifact Uprising, perhaps because of the html formatting of Blogger, but I can't say for sure.
Thankfully, one of my favourite bloggers came to the rescue. There is a wonderfully gifted photographer and memory keeper called Ronnie, who writes over at Life Captured Inc.
I loved the family photo books that she shared on her blog. Her fresh, clean style is timeless, and I loved this about her. Much to my delight, Ronnie created some templates to use with Artifact Uprising's photo books. Suddenly, the task of putting together a photo book with a new-to-me software in a new-to-me format, became achievable.
I purchased one of Ronnie's story book templates through Life Captured Inc's website, downloaded the Adobe InDesign software through the free 30 day trial that they offer, and set about creating my book. Ronnie also offers a template specific to The 52 Project, as she has also taken part in the weekly portraits, but the style of the 'Documenting Family Holidays' template worked best with what I had in mind for my book. The storybook template files come with very clear instructions as to how to use them within Adobe InDesign, so if you like the idea of making this kind of storybook, but feel daunted by using complex graphic design software, I can assure you that Ronnie makes it as simple as it can possibly be. All of the fonts are pre-set within the template, so there was absolutely no faffing around with sizing and changing fonts, which was great. Although I had a few teething problems when it came to using the software, Ronnie was incredibly helpful via email, and once I knew what I was doing, the process was very straight forward.
Once I had completed the book design in Adobe InDesign, it was a very quick process of uploading the completed book to Artifact Uprising. I purchased one of their soft cover books measuring 8.25 " x 11". One of the features that first appealed to me about Artifact Uprising's photobooks is that they use Mohawk superfine eggshell paper, which has a beautiful texture, and the interior pages of the books are made from 100% post consumer waste material. I love the recycled element, and I much prefer eggshell textured paper to glossy photo pages. The only downside to Artifact Uprising is that they are based in America, which means shipping to England adds a huge amount of airmiles to your books, and the cost of shipping is pretty significant. The cost of the books themselves is very reasonable, but shipping really does bump up the price. If you wanted to make a similar book but without the high shipping prices, you could make a Blurb book using their standard portrait book option and choose pro-line paper, which is more expensive than the regular gloss pages, but has a beautiful texture to it. (This is the paper I print my Instagram 7"x7" photo books on). I am absolutely thrilled with the finished book, which is 140 pages long. It's thick, sturdy and beautiful, in my humble opinion. 

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