From Overflowing Phone to Printed Photo Book Every Year

Cover Photo
Author Pic

In 2016 I had an 18 month old and newborn. My friend took photos of our new family of four and I LOVED them. I wanted to print them and be able to look at them+show them off to my people! But for months they just stayed on my computer. Meanwhile, my phone’s camera was starting to fill up — and fast! — from documenting TWO adorable tiny humans.

  • The Phone Storage Full notification was a daily struggle thanks to the hundreds of video clips I was taking
  • I had thousands of photos on my phone and even more scattered on various thumb drives and computers
  • I had no idea how to store and organize my memories so they could easily be compiled into photobooks and actually be accessible

Fast forward several years, a couple more kids, and months of trial and error experiment with different solutions and today (finally!):

  • I’m caught up on all of my children’s photobooks and now print one photo book per child every year and one family yearbook each year
  • I document our life through short and sweet family films I complete every month.
  • My kids spend hours pouring through their photo books and ask to watch our family films again and again!
  • Obviously it didn’t happen overnight. I took some very deliberate steps to get to where I was to where I am now.

Today I’m going to dive into my journey and show you how this is TOTALLY possible for YOU achieve too!

Yep, I am secretly a momtographer. But let’s be honest, what mom doesn’t turn into a photo taking maniac after her first is born?!

Dad playing with baby

Here's how it happened:

When my first was born almost 6 years ago, I bought myself the ‘fancy’ entry level DSLR committed to documenting everyday of his perfect little life. While it was fun for a few weeks, the truth is I just didn’t reach for it as much as I thought I would. I had enough to carry around in my diaper bag and I didn’t need a camera bag on top of it.

Mama swinging with baby

I DID, however, take tons of photos and video clips on my phone. It was so much more convenient to just whip my phone out of my pocket to capture the moment. I planned to print them all into beautiful photo books...eventually.

Well, spoiler alert, “eventually” never comes! Turns out, I was HORRIBLE at getting them off my phone and into finished projects!

When I first dove into the world of compiling family photos and videos, I was instantly overwhelmed and confused. I was constantly running out of phone storage thanks to all the adorable 20 second clips I was taking of my kids. Was I the only one with hundreds of videos on my phone’s camera roll?!

I searched the internet for tips on 'how to keep my camera roll in check' but the answer I kept seeing was to just give in and buy a phone with more storage! Seemed like that would just perpetuate the problem and prolong the inevitable…

Plus, all of my precious family memories just lived in my phone! They weren’t easily accessible to my kids (or adults for that matter) that wanted a moment of nostalgia.

Basically I spent a lot of time feeling allll the analysis paralysis and getting stuck on the littlest things (sound familiar?!)

I started by choosing a small time frame — those precious newborn weeks — and decided to make a book for each of my kids of their first days in the hospital and first week at home. Choosing such a small time frame made it seem possible and doable as a busy mom of two. Seeing both of those books printed was so rewarding and just the motivation I needed to keep going!

Before I could go on I had to figure out how to get my stuff off my phone into a safer place. In 2017 I bought an external hard drive and finally had a place to dump all of my photos and videos (because my computer was filling up just as fast as my phone!)

I began by sorting my footage by placing them in separate folders by year and month. But it was still kind of a mess with videos and photos all mixed in together.

Lightroom example

In 2018 I decided to try out Lightroom as a way to edit my photos. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it not only met all of my editing needs, but it came with an incredible organization system! I imported all of my photos and videos through Lightroom and was delighted to see them come out the other side organized by year, month, and day! It was magical!

That year, I made my first family yearbook. In December, I went through all of the photos I had taken in 2018 and starred my favorites. I exported those favorites and compiled them into a photobook using Blurb.com’s app bookwright and added a text page to each month to cover the highlights of our year. It only took a few hours start to finish and I was thrilled!

Lightroom example

But I still couldn’t figure out what to do for my kids. There were tons of photos leftover that didn’t include the entire family but I knew my kids would treasure some day. I grew up with scrapbooks my mom made for each kid which I loved but I was also the oldest. So while I had scrapbooks up until I was ten, the siblings who came after me weren’t so fortunate. And I totally get it! Who has time to handcraft a scrapbook for every kid every year?! There had to be a better way.

Enter Chatbooks. (angel chorus “AHHHH”)

I loved that they were the perfect size for small hands (6x6) AND could be created on my phone!! Magical.

I started with the photos currently on my phone and began adding to the app every couple weeks to a book for each kid before I pulled them onto the harddrive. On their birthday, I ordered the book for that previous year and began a new one. My kids LOVED having their very own book of them being 4!

After I set up a manageable routine for my current photos, I started to play catch up. I used the chatbooks website to create the old books on my computer from the photos already on my hard drive. I spent about a year sorting and selecting and cursing myself for taking so many dang photos! And regretting throwing all of my photos and videos in together. It was so hard to pick the photos out of so many mixed up file types.

I had made the rookie mistake of storing my videos and photos together. It just didn’t make sense! They were going to two completely different places as finished products (book and family home video) — why should they be stored together?

Lightroom example

2019: I had a system set up for photo books and I was caught up on previous years!

One family yearbook each year january-december

One chatbook per kid for each year birthday-birthday

And I pulled my photos onto my harddrive about once a month

But those video clips…

After diving through the recesses of my hard drive catching up on photobooks, I had learned my lesson. Keep file types separate!

I created a separate folder on my harddrive for videos and sorted them into year+month folders. This made it so much easier to compile them into short home videos — for vacations, holidays, birthdays, and monthly compilations of every day life.

Mastering this system has COMPLETELY changed how I’m able to show up as a mom day to day. My days are much less frantic with a cleared up phone. Plus, it has given me a space to express myself creatively AND share that joy with my family.

These results don’t just happen overnight and there are very strategic things you can be doing to get to where you want to go — and it starts with downloading my FREE Declutter your Phone’s Camera Roll Roadmap!

Ready to do this but unsure where to start?
Grab your free phone declutter roadmap below!