Help Me Create My First Photo Book!

I have always wanted to make a photo book, but the idea of sitting down and pilfering thru hundreds of photos and adding captions is something I never felt like I had time for.

Ok, that’s not entirely true. One time I tried to turn my blog into a photo book and the book was 420 pages and cost $1000.00, not to mention there were a million photos (these numbers are not at all inflated). The whole experience was completely overwhelming and discouraging. Since then I’ve sort of had a bad attitude towards photo books.

Oh, I love the way they look, all organized and personalized and coffee table-ized.  I’ve just have never had time to actually create one.

At least that’s what I thought. I’m participating in Snapfish’s “Your Creative Lens Thru LIfe” Holiday Campaign, which is basically a really great reason for me to create my first photo book. They also have a very cool new tool that helps design your book for you.

There’s a contest between the ten bloggers in the campaign.  The contest will be judged on how creative the photo books are. If my photo book is selected as the winner, I get Snapfish credit and the first 100 people who comment on this post will receive an exciting gift from Snapfish! Cool, huh?

Good thing I like pressure.

So, here’s my question: What should the theme of my book be? [My first thought was Mercy House??]

I need y’all to leave a comment with your suggestions to help me create a unique photo book…if you have a great idea, tell me about it. If you’ve made books before and have suggestions on themes or layouts, I need those too.

I can’t wait to show you what I create. You know, as soon as y’all decide for me!


Important: Please leave your EMAIL in your comment so there’s a contact for when WE WIN!

Yes, that’s called faith, people.

Disclosure: I am being compensated by Snapfish for my participation in the  “Your Creative Lens on Life” Holiday Campaign.


  1. 3

    Jennifer says

    I love to make photo books! I definitely think you should make a book about your trip to Africa and the Mercy House. Picking a theme definitely helps you focus and keep your page number down. One of the things that I sometimes do is add stickers and keepsakes to the pages after I receive the book. Makes it a little more “home made”. Good luck!

  2. 4


    I agree! Mercy House for sure! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!!! :-)

    (My favorite tip for any work that needs to be done on the computer? Find some awesome music to play while you work!)

  3. 6


    i think your book should specifically be about your kids’ first time to africa. ’cause i’m sure it’s not their last trip.

    and my WFMW tip for photo books is… if you have very little time to put it together, do full-bleed pictures! they look awesome anyway, and then you don’t have to think about layouts or colors or any of that nit-picky stuff that can take forever. don’t get me wrong– i love the way the books look with a bunch o’ pictures on them, but if you’re pressed for time, go full-bleed. you won’t be sorry.

  4. 10

    Lesley says

    A Mercy House Photo Book would be awesome. My advice is to plan what photos you want to use and upload only those. Then when you are creating the book you can focus on arrangement and captions. If you have a journal of the time the pictures are from it helps a lot with the captions.

    LTSchmitz @

  5. 12

    Elizabeth Hall says

    I think Mercy House is an excellent idea. Just make sure you bring the book to Kenya, I’m sure the girls would be thrilled to see it! My tip: if you decide to use captions, make them quick and to the point. Remember, the pictures are supposed to tell the story.

  6. 13

    Stacy says

    I think your book should be your trip to Africa as a family. What an awesome memory that needs to be preserved. The second book should be a yearly one that features the women and babies that were born for that year at Mercy house and to tell a bit of their stories.

    • 13.1


      Oh! I LOVE that idea! Another idea for Mercy house in general is to sell the photobooks with the moms stories in them and let the proceeds go to helping the mom’s in those books, maybe even after they’ve left the Mercy House. It would benefit them, and perhaps give a job to someone over there with a talent for photography and bibliographic writing. I know I would read them. Great idea Stacy!

  7. 14

    Erin says

    Definitely a Mercy House theme. I can imagine what great encouragement it would be to you every time you looked through the book.

  8. 15


    I LOVE the idea of a Mercy House book. I like their world traveler photo book option for your book. I’m very excited about seeing what you come up with.

  9. 16

    Debbie says

    I think a Mercy House book would be amazing. A Day in the Life book is cool too, I’ve seen some of those, but a photo book of your family trip to Africa would be amazing. The kids could write their favourite part/thing they learned as a comment under a photo of themselves there.

    Hope you win.

  10. 17


    Creating a book to bind the present together is most lovely. Considering the Mercy House is such a big part of your “now”, how could it not be the theme of your book! :o)

  11. 18

    TEN says

    I was thinking about something that incorporates your ideas for family discussions. I’m thinking of your chalkboard dining room table as a centerpiece of the book.

  12. 19

    Dana says

    Your trip to Africa through the eyes of your children. It may be time consuming but have them help choose pictures and use their words for captions. It would be a gift of a lifetime for your family.

  13. 20


    I love photobooks. Every anniversary, my husband and I try to make one so we can see how we’ve changed over the year. That way it isn’t overwheming either. I think the journey from your first trip to Africa to the birth of Mercy House would be a great photobook. Like the birth story to a labor of love. Good luck to you in making your book. I’m sure that it will win, if not for the contest, then for your coffee table.

  14. 21

    Courtney says

    I am totally sold on the mercy house idea – your photos from both Africa trips were awesome – and the story is beautiful. God is using you in such powerful ways. love this! clsch6 at gmail dot com

  15. 22


    I can so totally see a book on the Mercy House. I can see beautiful pictures of the crafts the ladies are making, photos of your garage and those who volunteer for you, the stories of the ladies and their babies, the wonderful pictures of Africa and your adventures there, the possibilities are endless! Thanks for your blog, it is an inspiration!

  16. 23

    Amy says

    Photo books from Snapfish are really nice. The quality is top-notch. I think your picutres from Africa would make a great book. You’d have something on hand to share with supporters. Good luck!

  17. 25

    Dana says

    I have comleted about 10 picture books the last several years and I love them! They are much more compact than a traditional scrapbook and usually have more pictures and so much faster. I love the way someone comented earlier about your “first trip to Africa to the birth of Mercy House” telling the story of Mercy House through pictures would be awesome! There doesn’t have to be a lot of comments in the book, let the pictures tell the story. I sometimes will use one of the first pages in the book to tell about the whole book and then just put little phrases or titles on the pictures. My advice is to pick pictures you want to use (maybe put them in their own folder like Snapfish photobook) and only upload those to make your book. It makes it so much easier than sorting through 1000 pictures to find the 2 you want on a page! Good luck, I can’t wait to see the final result! God Bless

  18. 26


    Whatever you decide, the book should focus on one thing. Mercy House is a great idea. You could print two copies — one for yourself and another for the girls at the house. If you wanted to make one for your family, perhaps you could focus on 2011 and capture each child right now. You could make an ABC book of your family.

    kritinhilltaylor (at) gmail (dot) com

  19. 27

    Amber says

    Your trip to Africa and Mercy House gets my vote for your theme/topic. It’s so much easier to put together a book when you can truly relive an experience. The other tips on here are great – determine what pictures you might want first and upload only those, keep the words to a minimum (but include enough details to let others know what they’re looking at and why that picture might be important to the story). Vary the layout of pictures on pages so you have somthing differnt to look at. It will be amazing when you’re finished!

    amber_wiggins (at) hotmail (dot) com

  20. 30

    Kaitlin says

    We do these every year – my favorites are our family pictures on just a plain black background (it turns out very striking!) I agree that telling the story of your family’s trip to Africa/Mercy House would be a great book!

  21. 31

    Jane says

    When I started reading your post I knew instantly your book would be about Mercy House! BUT you might want to limit it to the trip with the kids this past summer. I know that would make an awesome memory book for your kiddos!!

  22. 32

    Sam ES says

    Definitely Mercy House. Could it be used as a fundraising tool? Make a couple, people can buy them to support you guys; or better yet, they can buy them to show their friends/family/small group/church/business/etc to raise funds?

  23. 33

    sarah says

    Use the theme for mercy house… I feel like there was a quote on a shirt some were… Give mercy… I think involving the kids is key too.

    Bill . Sarah . Furman @ gmail dot com

  24. 34

    Amy says

    I agree that Mercy House should be the theme. I love photo books that “tell a story.” You could use pictures from the beginning – how it all started and continue through to recent days. I would also encourage you to pick your pictures before uploading them. This is very exciting, I can’t wait to see what you create! tapenn at aol dot com.

  25. 36

    Kaylan says

    One thing I like to do to save time/agony over the comments is to use the lyrics from a song, instead. So, for example, on the book I made of our honeymoon pictures, I used lyrics from “our” song instead of trying to come up with things to say. Saved me a lot of time and, I think, makes the book timeless.

  26. 38

    Susan says

    Definitely Mercy House! And I really agree with not uploading too many pics – it takes ages to upload and then you have too many to sort through.

    susanbeardsley1 at gmail dot com

  27. 40

    Sandy says

    Definately the story and pictures of how God started Mercy House. What a great thing to look back on and see how faithful He is!

  28. 42


    I agree that your Africa trip would be a good place to start. I would also encourage you to buy a 2nd book to send back to Maureen so share with the girls. We did this when we went to Vegas with another couple and it was awesome. Good luck

  29. 43

    Julie Wright says

    Our family loves to make books for each year. It sort of causes us to reflect on the most meaningful events from that year as a family and gather pictures together. We have 6 books done now and it’s fun to look back over those last 6 years and reminisce!

  30. 45

    Emily says

    “Mercy House”–no doubt! You could make it a dramatic all black and white or a super vibrant colorful collection…whichever, it will be lovely and filled with emotion.
    Snapfish will be a great first photo book experience for you!

  31. 49

    cheryl says

    Having your book done on Mercy House would be a great idea. You could use it at all the places you speak and have booths at conferences. It would be a treasure on your coffee table too telling the story of where you’ve been and where you are now. You could focus the book on your trip with your family this summer or even tell the stories of the women you’ve helped and are helping. You will look back on this for YEARS to come!

  32. 51

    Kristy says

    Mercy House! I’m a big fan of photo books. The Lord has provided 5 opportunities to serve in Guatemala over the last 3 years and people love looking at the photo books I have sitting on my coffee table of each trip. Super easy and cool way to share all that the Lord is doing!

    kristypt at gmail dot com

  33. 53

    Amy Penner says

    I love the idea of Mercy House ! What about each one in your family’s personal page in the book. The photos that are personal towards each persons experience with visiting Mercy house. Special memories / dedication pages.
    I like putting personal pictures with a persons interests,foods they like,pets that are theirs.Kinda special when it is YOUR page ya know… This book is going to be lovely,I just KNOW it !!!

  34. 54

    Melissa says

    Mercy House sounds great, but I am sold on family books featuring pictures of the kiddos. So pictures of your kids experience in Africa would be fabulous! Can’t wait to see it!
    melissachaffin (at) live (dot) com

  35. 55


    Definitely Mercy House! those would be some amazing photos to use! Plus maybe you could chronical any photos you have leading up to all of it. Almost like a photo journal of the whole experience!

  36. 56

    Penny says

    Definitely Mercy House! I can’t wait to see it. Photo books are hard because you want to include great pictures to capture all the fun memories.
    pennyguy75 (at) gmail (dot) com

  37. 57

    Monika S says

    Your trip to Africa for sure. The picture of your husband dancing with children should be the cover!
    My email is monikashisler at hotmail dot com. Can’t wait for you to win!

  38. 58

    km says

    My first thought was a Mercy House book, but then I thought of your first trip to Africa. You could look back at those blog entries for text and I’m sure there are a ton of photos for that. Or, your family trip to Mercy House.

  39. 60

    kate nowak says

    hi kristen!
    i agree with many others…mercy house should be the overall theme. i think it could be a really nice story in photos of the journey of mercy house…your trip to aftica…how mercy house came to exist…your family’s journey during all of it…your first trip as a family to mercy house. i think it could be amazing! it could serve not only as a great photo journal for your family, but also for your internet family and potential donors/helpers for mercy house…sort of like “here we are…this is what we are about…want to join us in making a difference?”

    as far as lay-outs go…i usually make each page different or every few pages different…some with words, some without. i’d be happy to help.

    God bless!

    kate nowak pknowak99@gmail(dot)com

  40. 61

    Stephanie says

    You should make a photo book of your recent trip to Africa with your family. What a great way to preserve those memories! Have fun!

  41. 62


    I think your theme should be Dream Storming. That way, you can get in pics of all the behind the scenes work, the volunteers, the journey, and the dream come true, Mercy House. I’m sure plenty of people would LOVE to see that story in pictures. And even read about it.

    Blessings~ Beth

  42. 63


    I couldn’t agree with the others more. Mercy House should be at the center of your book! Maybe highlight all the ways your kids have participated. You’ve shared some great photos here.
    fiskfam5 (at) hotmail (dot) com

  43. 64

    isabelle says

    I agree too ! Mercy House is a part of who you are as a family.
    You can highlight the moms’ stories and also how your whole family have been involved.

    isabellehomier at gmail dot com

  44. 65

    Carolyn says

    I think you should do a “We are THAT Family in Africa” photo book. I love to see full photos on one page, then several smaller, related photos on the next. The page opens to a full story. Good luck! Your family will treasure this.

  45. 66

    Linsay says

    Either Mercy House or doing a THAT family moments would be super fun to look back and giggle at and a great conversation piece.

  46. 67


    I agree, Mercy House hands down! It would be great to include pictures from your trip there and use some of the pages to high light the girls you have staying in there… remembering how the Mercy House is giving each girl a new outlook of hope!

  47. 70

    Leah says

    I like the idea of it being about mercy house, however, I’d love to see /feel your family journey to their, if that means that it was an idea since you were married, or as your children got older, your lives… how they lead to Mercy House, and how it has affected you.. not so easy, but powerful. good luck.

  48. 71

    kelly says

    Mercy House! Can’t wait to see it I need some inspiration, I feel completely overwhelmed when I start putting mine together too.

  49. 72


    I like Mercy House – but what about bigger – FAMILY MISSIONS??
    I love the pics of you and your kids on mission trips! I think you could include lots of mercy house – but also of family missions and what goes on on this side of the ocean with Mercy House.
    I cannot wait to see it!!


  50. 76

    Amy Kirby says

    I definitely think you should do it on Mercy House/Africa! What a great way to show people what it’s about when you’re at trade shows, etc,… Also make sure and use pics of your crafts for sale!

  51. 77

    Catherine says

    mercy house your trip there with your family…you can show packing…airplane ride…arriving etc. I think it would be an amazing book…hey what if you choose a baby themed book or somethng similar with polka dots etc. would be awesome!

  52. 79

    Emily says

    Photo books are great! I did one (10 years ago!) with our wedding pictures-instead of paying for the really expensive photo album fromt eh photographer. He gave us all our photos and reprinting rights so I made a photo book. I’m working on photo books for our boys, now, too. I agree with everyone else–I think Mercy House and your time in Africa would make an amazing photo book.

  53. 80

    Jolee says

    Definetly should do Mercy house. Pictures from the start, girls and babies that have been blessed. It would be such a great example of what God has done through Mercy House.

  54. 81

    KimKay says

    When I do my photo books I like to keep them simple. To many do-dads and whirrley-gigs take away from the photos.

  55. 82


    I agree with everyone else, make the book about your trip to Africa. One suggestion, keep it simple! Get the pictures in, add some journaling, and call it done. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

  56. 83


    Mercy House! I would start with your story of meeting Maureen … and do all black and white photos… then as HOPE grows, add bits of color… until now with the BABIES! :) Then, at the end of the book, show the changes in hearts and hope by using bright vivid colors! :)

    … just an idea…

  57. 86

    Sarah says

    I LOVE Melanie’s idea, I think it’s cool to have the book transform, or almost have a plot through the pictures! You’re so creative–good luck!

  58. 89

    Ashley C says

    Mercy house would be cute, but so would a family book. Maybe just focus on baby pictures or some other similiar time all the kids have had to cut down on photos to look through?

    ashley.m.cochran (at) gmail (dot) com

  59. 90

    Jennifer K says

    I would definitely do one with Mercy House. Or maybe your trip to Africa this summer? One of the pictures I remember is your youngeset lying on the floor next to the space bag, that was funny! You could also do one using the pictures of your family and the children you sponsor. Maybe make one to send to those families? Have fun, photo books are great when you only use specific groups!

  60. 91


    I always have the same problem as you! a billion pictures and it needs to be narrowed down to twenty pages! Love the idea of Mercy House…but how about making it even more specific and making it pictures of just your family and Mercy House…or the faces of Mercy House?


  61. 92

    Andrea says

    I agree with everyone else: I can’t think of anyone would wouldn’t love to see photos of your children discovering such an amazing country for the first time–all the emotions and the excitement–a life-changing experience!

  62. 94

    Mandy S says

    I like the idea of just Africa in general, but Mercy House is an awesome idea as well. Maybe from the perspective of one of the girls coming in, or as a “guidebook” from one girl to another that anyone could read. I made a photo book for my daughter of her first year written from her perspective. Everyone loves reading it! :-)

  63. 95

    Jan says

    Even “trip to Africa” or “Mercy house” may be too broad- you may need to narrow it down to a specific event within an event- I agree with don’t upload too many photos or try to write too much- I think less is more

  64. 96

    Jendra says

    How about a book about Mercy House and the girls’ experiencing their very first Christmas as new believers?

  65. 97

    Mary Johnson says

    I make photo books all the time, love how easy it is.
    I think a book on Mercy House is a great idea!!
    You can even make a book for each of the girls at the Mercy house they would love it!

  66. 99

    Kimber says

    I think it would be cool to focus on the maternity angle of the Mercy House … growing bellies, labor photos (not graphic ones, of course, but ones similar to what you’ve shared online), mothers holding their new babies, pregnant girls holding their friend’s new baby …

  67. 104


    You’ve already hit 100 people, but I think Mercy House is wonderful! Then obviously, your next book will have to be “We are THAT family”. 😉

    papercandy at gmail dot com

  68. 106

    Lizzy Allen says

    I say mercy house, but it looks like everyone is saying that too…So here is another idea: you could take pictures of letters in everyday things (ex. a t shaped cloud). Then, I would have my son hold up a letter T and have him in the front or background of the picture holding up the letter! Do this for each letter.

  69. 107


    Idea: three pictures on each page. Macro (so close you nearly can’t tell what it is), a little out (so you can see the whole … thing), and then zoomed out, so you can see it in it’s setting. Mary’s face in the nativity, an ornament on the tree, cookies for baking… I might have to try this one!

  70. 108

    Sharon O says

    I have used Blog2print to make my blog book and it comes out wonderful, my blog is about 198 pages and with pictures. Reasonable and sometimes you can get a 15% sale, my last book I made was only $67.48 normal cost was about 76.00. EASY to do and you want to do your book in a snap shot setting so the pictures match the writing.
    Hope this helps.

  71. 109


    I know i’m not in the first hundred – but I think you should do the theme as mercy in general – then you could do captions like “mercy at home . . .” “mercy in Africa . . .” “mercy in me . . .” (and do pictures from your time at incourage, etc.)

    Also, a tip – I heard of a rule – 1/3 rule. Your page should be 1/3 people, 1/3 places, and 1/3 things. That will keep it more interesting and cause people to talk and ask questions . . .

    Have fun!! I love making photo books!

  72. 110


    I know youve reached your 100 comment capacity but I just had to comment anyway. I have felt the same way about photobooks & my blog. I recently did a photobook from Mypublisher bc it was free (of cost, not of hassel) but it turned our really good. My advice to you is to pick one thing & stick to it. We did our kids birthday party bc this was the first year we have done a big party & we had over 600 pictures. Or you can do one year of pics or Mercy House or your trip to africa….just give it a theme & stick to it. I was happy with our birthday celebration one & it has hopefully taken the sting out of doing them. Good luck, cant wait to see what you end up doing. Sarah Amato

  73. 112

    Heather says

    Well, I’m not one of the first hundred, but I just received my first photobook from Snapfish yesterday and it turned out beautiful! I love it! And I was able to get it half price with a coupon. Can’t beat $12.00 very easily! It was one of their fancier 8×8 books, too!

  74. 114


    I’m creating a photo book about our yearlong RV adventure – and am definitely in the “discouraged” phase. My book started at over $100 and I’ve finally whittled down the pages so that the cost is $50/book. Still to pricey for a Christmas gift for all of our parents & grandparents. I’ve got my work cut out for me this week, for sure.

    I guess I shouldn’t complain though. The reason I can’t delete pages is because I have so many WONDERFUL pictures…and a really good-looking family! 😉

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