A S C R A P B O O K O F S O L U T I O N S F O R T H E P H O T O G R A P H E R
Reviews of photography products that enhance the enjoyment of taking pictures. Published frequently but irregularly.
5 August 2013
We were under the impression that males were exempt from attending baby showers. But apparently we're mistaken. We received an invitation a month or so ago and not only were we invited but one of the hosts was a male, too.
This made it awkward to use our exemption.
So we began the arduous task of wondering what to give as a baby shower gift. It was arduous because we hadn't done this before. So it took some research. What are the kinds of things you give someone at a baby shower?
Turns out most of them are not the kinds of things we are in the habit of shopping for. They're baby things. Miniature clothing of all types, adorable furnishings, little books with industrial strength pages and lots and lots of diapers.
There's nothing wrong with any of those things as shower gifts, but they all do suffer from the same fatal flaw. They involve cash.
We are not adverse to cash. In fact, we're quite fond of it. "Don't go!" we cry when it has to leave. But, as you may know, it goes when it has to go.
Wasn't there something appropriate yet affordable and perhaps even personal we could give?
Fortunately, this wasn't the first time we'd answered that question. When Cousin Tony invited us to his son Valentino's baptism a few years ago, we came up with a pretty good solution. A photo book of the child's relatives. As we explained at the time:
We went back to the oldest relative of his whose picture we had: his Great Great Grandfather in his youth. And we started the story from there, going through our digital scrapbook to copy any image we thought might come in handy.
It turned out to be quite a love story. At least the way we told it. How Great Great Grandfather fell in love with Great Great Grandmother and how their son (Great Grandfather) fell in love with his bride (Great Grandmother) and how their son (Grandfather) fell in love with his (Grandmother) and how his father (Dad) found his true love (Mom) just in time for our celebrant to be born.
We sprinkled the portraits with smaller pictures of all sorts of things along the way. The house in the old country, the ship they arrived on, even the manifest with their names on it.
Admittedly, it wasn't the whole story. But then, what is? At least we'd have lots and lots of branches to trace out in the years to come, we thought. Birthday presents, perhaps.
So we took our own advice and got to work on a photo book for the new arrival.
GETTING TO WORK
We had a lot of scans in our archive already, of course. Four families going back to the nineteenth century (the late 1800s, that is). So we didn't have to spend any time scanning. Lightroom made is easy to scroll through our archive to see just what we had.
But much of the story this time was the same as last time. Things diverged only in 1950s. So we could pick up a few pages from the original photo book.
Rather than use an online photofinisher (and their photo-centric, text-poor software) to create and print the original book, we'd done the production here in the bunker. As we confessed:
Certainly we might have done a photo book (as no doubt some of you have). But we never do things in one take. Version upon version upon version, day after day after day, revision after revision after revision, night after night after night. That's our method. We would have sent the thing off only to wake up in the middle of the night with a better idea.
So we wanted control over production, too. And that meant using the inkjet to print the book, binding it in a stiff presentation cover using some sort of ribbon and a hole puncher. It sounds primitive, but it actually works out very nicely. You punch two holes next to each other at the top of one side of the sheet and another set at the bottom and use two thick ribbons tied in a bow to bind the pages.
Our tool of choice then was Pages. And we relied on it again this time.
We copied the old document, edited the copy and, before we knew it, we were well on our way to printing it on 24 lb. Hammermill Laser Print (which holds the images very, very well and you can find at any big office supply store) using an all-in-one inkjet.
This was a big help with the images, in fact, because Pages keeps its own copy of the images, rather than point to the originals elsewhere. When you edit an image in Pages, you're editing the copy not the original. So our old edits had already been done for us.
It's also a pretty free-form way of laying out a page. No grid (but we did observe a wide margin on the left for hole punching). Just drop a photo or two on the page, rotate them, resize as necessary and then add some text.
What we really like about this approach, though, is the story. This isn't a family tree in the usual sense, in which dates and genealogical lines diagram connections. It's a story. It starts with one person. Who became a parent. Of someone who also became a parent. And so on.
You see how a family is composed of people. Who meet other people. And extend the family.
The photos make sure the story is about individual people and not a genealogical tree with a few loose leaves. You can't take a photo of abstract relationships. But you have plenty of scans of old wedding parties and formal portraits. Full of people.
This time around we didn't include photos of family members who were still living (except for some overlap). The baby will get to meet all of them in person.
Instead we told the story of the people who the baby will never get to meet because they are not with us any longer. As we said:
What we managed to show, after all, were many of the people that little child would never be able to meet who had nevertheless made it possible for him to be here. They weren't just ghosts. They were young people in love, once upon a time. And we had the pictures to prove it.
The only trouble is once the gift has been opened and passed around, everybody wants one. Fortunately, the story is crafted around the baby, so it doesn't quite translate to anyone else's family.
And anyway, they really do have one of their own. A story, that is. They just have to tell it.