Have you ever made a photo scrapbook? If so, you are probably intimately familiar with common scrapbook terms like: stickers, die-cuts, embellishments, double-mount, etc… You may have even had a dedicated scrapbook room. Your scrapbook creations required a faithful devotion to put together and the results were a beautiful keepsake documenting your precious family photos and stories. What happens, then, when your children want to take your ‘labor of love’ with them when they grow up and move out. All that hard work, the laughter and tears, it was for them, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want a copy of it for yourself. So, what do you do – where do you start?
Recently I had the opportunity to convert some scrapbooks into digital photo books and the five key things I learned I would like to share with you to help you get started:
- Scanning the pages. You will need a scanner that has a bed that is at least 1/8th of an inch larger than the size of the page to ensure that nothing gets cut-off. I considered two other ides: photographing the pages and stitching the pages, however the source of light provided by a scanner is consistent and scanning the page as a whole versus individual scans and stitching was going to be a better use of my time.
- Software. You will need good editing software to clean up the pages and remove any area of the scan that you do not want – like the hinge staples – on the books I was scanning. In addition there was a border around the outside of each page that was meant to protect the page but was not something I wanted in the digital reproduction. I used Photoshop because I could automate some of the clean-up and re-sizing that was needed via the ‘actions’ function. I believe Photoshop Elements also has this capability.
- Digital Photo Book vendor. You will want to pick out a photo book company that offers the following
- a book size that matches your original album/page dimensions
- a lay-flat option because if you use the magazine style option anything on the inside edge of your pages risks getting stuck in the valley of the book.
- flexibility in the number of pages – count the pages first. Depending on the page restrictions of the vendor (how many pages you can add and in what number for example a minimum of 4 or 8) you might need to eliminate a page or two of the original book or be “ok” with a blank page.
- Time. To perfect the process you need to allow for a learning curve. Give yourself time to establish a process that works for you. I like to scan one scrapbook at a time (page protectors removed), and then import the images into Photoshop. Experiment with the best way to clean up the pages, re-size the DPI (dots per inch) to meet the printer’s guidelines for the book vendor, allow for the printer’s bleed (this is the part of the book that gets cut off in the print process) and then export to your upload folder. A trick here – be sure to build two sets of actions in Photoshop – one for the even numbered page and one for the odd number page – the clean-up is different for the different page sides. Once the pages are perfect save and upload to the digital photo book software. I like this process because it breaks up the monotony of any one step.
- Preserve. Once you have received your books back from the printer you will be IN LOVE with the outcome. You will be happy to send off the original scrapbooks with your kids and display your new versions. Be sure however, to preserve your original edited scans on a thumb drive or a DVD. Why? If anything happens to the hard-copy books you can easily access the images and recreate. In addition, if you want to access any one individual photo on one of the pages you can do that too. Make sure to scan the original pages at a minimum of 600 DPI so that the individual images offer a good reproduction quality.
Let me know if you have any questions about this process or if you would like some help converting your scrapbooks into space saving digital photo books.