How We Create “Year in Review” Albums for Our Clients

A year can pass by in a blur, leaving us wondering how so much can happen in 365 days! That’s why we have several clients a year asking us to create “Year in Review” albums. While you might think they would be looking at the most recent year’s events, some decide to go back to a specific year and work their way up to the current day. Each album year has a theme based on the most memorable highlights. It can also be devoted to a specific family member. Collecting photos to preserve this way can take some time, so we break down the project into smaller tasks.

Planning out a client album project

One of our favorite projects is a client where we create new albums for her four grandchildren each year. The albums have a combination of shared family events and personal moments experienced by each child.

Collecting Photos – We begin by collecting new digital photos and identifying the events to be included in every album along with those specific to one grandchild’s album, including their family members. To do this, we create a photo list and sort them according to dates for each quarter of the year.

Reviewing and Organizing Photos – Next, we review the photos for each quarter, editing, cropping, and rotating images that need adjusting. We then rename the pictures by adding the date they were taken and the event name. We process the photos through Adobe Lightroom, a software program to add facial recognition, keywords, and color or light corrections.

Creating Folders – A project folder is created for each album to verify the important events, noting any preferences the client has for certain images and how to place them. Once we have the answers, the album design begins.

Choosing an Album Format – We involve the client when selecting the album format. Sometimes the decision is based on other albums they’ve made so that they have similar sizes for each album. In this case, we chose a 12×9 album. But we’ve also designed for a 10×12 or 12×12.

Completing the Project – In this case, we complete the album drafts in a 12×9. Once it’s done, we upload it to our album proofing site, where we share the link with the client for review. She reviews and comments on captions needed, stories added, or photo preferences to let us know which she wants to emphasize. We make the changes and upload the new version for her final review.

Traditions carried forward every year

This example is a repeat client who has been making these albums for so many years that we keep those previous albums and preferences in mind as we continue to collect new photos. The album project usually starts in the fall to give us plenty of time to design each one. By the end of the year, we will collect the remaining photos from the holiday season. The albums are ready to publish in January and delivered to the client. Her family tradition is to enjoy celebrating the past year with her grandchildren on Valentine’s day!

How to plan your “Year in Review” album

There are a few things to know before you begin. You’ll want to go month by month when picking out highlights for your album, so each month features something unique. But if it doesn’t have a highlight, don’t worry! You’re building a list of photos and memories to help you select the best overall album theme.

If you are making more than one album, you’ll need a list for each one. Some photos may be included in other albums, while others are specific to only one.

Gathering photos – For those events where someone else took the photos, have them share the original pictures with you online. But be careful how they share them.

  • Apple users can send photos easily using an iCloud link to a full-resolution version of the images. Files received via Apple’s Shared Albums feature are reduced copies that won’t be as sharp and clear.
  • Android/Google users can share an album with someone and then download a full-resolution copy.
  • Emailing photos works if you only have a few to share. Otherwise, it gets cumbersome. See our article for tips on how to share your photos safely.

Selecting photos – Find the photos that showcase the moment or event in the best way. Close-up photos are better versions than those where people are off in the distance. Everyone in the photo should be looking at the camera, eyes should be open, and the shot is in focus. While sorting these, it may be a good time to delete duplicates that don’t meet these conditions.

Sometimes a series of shots of the same moment can tell a great story. For example, if someone is jumping off a diving board and you capture the moment all the way down until they hit the water, you’ve created a series to display. Or if you tried to get a group photo, and there isn’t one where everyone looks their best, use three or four to help remind you of that moment!

Getting the project ready – Make a project folder for the year with subfolders for each month, then copy the photos you’ve selected into those folders. How many pictures should you have? We recommend starting with 500 and whittling it down to 200 or 300. The album style you’re using will affect the quantity. We typically design lay-flat albums with a spread limit of 50 pages giving us 100 sides to fill. If you are doing the classic or magazine-style with a crease in the middle, the page limit is much higher – up to 400 sides!

Stories and captions – After selecting the photos, start creating the album by adding pictures of the same event on the same side or spread. When we design an album, we get all the photos in place first and then add the titles, captions, and stories that go with them. So you’ll want to leave room for some storytelling on the album pages.

If you need some ideas for a “Year in Review” album, check out our article on tips for creating an album. Now is a great time to reach out if you want to surprise family members with a truly special gift!


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