Digital cameras have made the whole process of image capture so much easier. Most households own a digital camera and take considerably more photographs to the generations who grew up during the 36 and 24 exposure film roll years.
Such accessibility to photography has resulted in a devaluing of the images we take. So many of us are capturing our memories on phones and cameras, transferring them to our computer hard drives and forgetting about them.
Photographs can end up lost through hard drive crashes or accidental deletion and unlike most other documents the photographs of family birthday parties or holidays simply can’t be replaced.
The Importance of Print
In the pre-digital era photographers really only had the option to have prints made from negatives, these prints made their way into family albums and photo frames. Boxes of photos and albums were perused from time to time as an aid memoir to all the things that happened before and we marvelled at how much we had forgotten and how much we had changed.
Personally, 2014 sees the tenth year of my annual portfolio archive, a collection of prints in chronological order (thanks to Lightroom) that documents the adventures of the year before. Each time a new new year book arrives the previous archives are always revisited with a “I had forgotten about….” Or “do you remember….”
Paper versus Screen
There is something much more relaxing about looking through photography books than viewing images on a screen. There is time to consider the photographs, view them in the context of time yet the process is still instant. Another advantage is that visitors don’t have to huddle around a computer, or TV screen but can flick through the books with ease and, for us the books serve as a perfect documentary of the next generation growing up.
The first few of the annual archive books were created through the Apple print service. Although these books are great I moved to creating book the 2009 to 2013 books via the excellent Blurb book service. and I am totally blown away by the quality and value.
Blurb and Lightroom
Lightroom has a built in book making module that links directly to Blurb for the creation of books. The process is really simple to use, offers a live approximate cost (in case you get carried away) as well as a range of page formats and cover designs.
The Book Creation Process
My process for creating the annual archive is relatively simple. Using the Library module I use the metasearch to display photos for the previous year. From this selection I then create a ‘Collection‘ from which I then create the book. To do this go to the library module, along the top you will see the option “Text, Attribute, Metadata, None”. Click on ‘Metadata’. I have highlighted the option in red below.
Lightroom then allows you to filter your images according to a range of metadata variables, lens, camera, and on the very left by date. Click on the year for which you are creating your book, then you can use the edit menu to “Select All”. Once all the images are selected click the “Library” menu and create a new ‘Collection’.
It is possible to use ‘Smart Collections’ to achieve the same thing but this is the technique I employ when creating the books.
In the Book module the images are displayed in chronological order and I can then literally start to drag them into the book template. Right clicking on a page will also allow you to change the layout of the page and add text. Furthermore when you drag an image into the template frame you can move and resize to the desired composition. Lightroom also indicates the number of times I have used image within the book to avoid unnecessary duplication.
Lightroom allows you to save your book in the Lightroom Collection so changes can be made at a later date or the book can be re-ordered. One handy feature of Blurb is the fact that once you order a book it is also stored digitally in your account for reprint at a later date without having to go through the whole re-upload process. Also, once you have uploaded your book Blurb also gives you the option of selling your product on their marketplace although I personally haven’t ventured this far.
Photography is about capturing a moment and time and creating the ability to revisit that snapshot in later years. Personally I find that a photograph becomes much more meaningful as time passes. I have thousands of photographs in my Lightroom catalogue and it is great to pick the best, funniest and most poignant store them in an annual print book for review in the years ahead.