My First PhotoBook

Birthday gift

It was my bestie’s 40th birthday and her husband wanted to do something super special for her.

He had past experience of buying ‘cool’ surprise presents, that she totally hated.

Well, the truth is, it is a bit difficult for a man to fathom a woman’s mind.

So, this time, on her special 40th Birthday, he did a wise thing.

He made a secret Whatsapp group with friends and family to brainstorm ideas for the super Birthday present. We were all sharing thoughts about what she likes and what she doesn’t like.

That’s when inspiration wafted in!

Why not make a book that has all her favorite people in one place? The PhotoBook would have pictures, stories and love notes from family and friends.

So I bounced the idea with the group and everyone liked it!

Let’s make a PhotoBook!

Next, I asked everyone to send me their favorite pictures with Anita along with a note, a story, a wish, or whatever they wanted to say to her.

Meanwhile I searched and found some nice pictures of her that I saved in a new folder. Her husband found some old pictures of her school, grandparents and parents and we scanned them.

Pictures, poems, stories, little wishes, little notes started pouring in. Anita’s mother sent a two-page handwritten letter that we scanned using the home printer with a built-in scanner.

It was time to organize all this information that was pouring in. So I made folders for each person/event and saved their pictures and notes within that folder.

How do we create the Photo Book?

Now it was time to figure out how to create the Photo Book? I know Indesign, and it allows you to make large documents that have text and images. You can have various page layouts. Once done, you can export a high quality PDF for the printer to produce the book.

So then, using Indesign, I started putting together chapters in the book..

She had written a blog about their family dog, so we used that story interspersed with some lovely pictures of Bingo with Anita.

We ran some polls in the group and came up with song titles that suited Anita, so one layout was made with that compilation.

Some pictures were high-resolution so we used them as full spreads, others were not so good, so we used those in smaller frames.

Time to Print the Photo Book

Finally, the book was ready for printing. I did some research and finalized one printer who agreed to print our book on short notice.

Binder Photobooks

The team at Binder is very helpful and easy to talk to. They guided me about the printing process from what kind of paper to use and what kind of binding would work the best, etc. I have to admit, I was thrilled when I saw the freshly printed book in my hands. Since then, I have used Binder to get more Photo Books printed and I have become a fan of their work. Their work deserves applause and a full review of the process they follow and the services they offer, but that’s a story for another day!

Coming back to our story, it is one thing to see pictures on the computer or phone screen, but the sheer joy of seeing your favorite picture printed edge to edge inside a photo book is something else!!! You have to see it to experience it!

On her Birthday, we presented the book at a surprise lunch party. Can you imagine her joy, her surprise, her delight, her happy tears, and her happy hugs as she saw the pictures along with everyone’s notes inside the book!!!

She was over the moon!

Her husband was thrilled with the response and quite pleased with himself for finally getting it right!!

Moral of the story: Photo Books are a great way of showing your love to that someone special that really matters to you! It takes time and effort to look for pictures and to write little notes – but the end result will be an asset that keeps bringing joy over and over again!

Anita keeps that book on her desk, anytime she feels low or begins to doubt or judge herself (women have their days!) – she just picks up that book and opens a random page. Each page of that book is a reminder for her about how special she is! And she is back with her Happy Smile again.

As for me, after that initial success, I have become a Photo Book designer. I have designed a range of Photo Books with various themes. The privacy of my clients is very important to me, so I never post pictures of real Photo Books that I have made. The story I shared above is true, the names aren’t.

This brings me to a thought I have been pondering upon –

Are women better at planning and finding Birthday presents?

In my experience looking at my friends, I have noticed that for women it is a matter of priority about making birthdays special. They like to do this for all the people that they care about and start planning ways to create an experience that makes the Birthday extraordinary. Take the example of my friend Pratiti Bhatia who did something truly extraordinary for her husband’s 40th birthday. She started with celebrating his half birthday six months in advance and then the celebrations culminated in a luxurious holiday at a beach resort. I’m sure you are curious about what all she did – you can read about the whole adventure on Pratiti’s blog, here.

What’s your experience been like? I would love to hear your stories about your birthdays.

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