First I upload all my pictures to Picasa. Picasa is where you can organize and edit your photos. It is owned by Google. It has a lot of cool editing features. Picasa is also what I use to make collages of photos (like my header).
screen shot of Picasa
To make my photo books I use My Publisher. My sister introduced this to me. It was her idea to make my parents a photo book for their 30th anniversary a few years ago. My Publisher may be a little more expensive than some other sites, but it produces a great product. When I downloaded My Publisher I did it through Costco's website. I got a discount on some of my books for being a Costco member. However, I do not see that deal on Costco's site now. FYI Costco members: if you go to the photo section of the website you will also get 20% of Tiny Prints (where I got my Christmas cards done) for being a Costco member.
My Publisher is pretty easy to use. Once you download it and start on a book, it ask you a lot of questions before you start downloading the photos. I'll let you know how I make mine.
When asked to choose between Simpler Publisher or Custom Publisher, I always choose Custom Publisher. This allows me to arrange the pictures how I want them, and I can put them on the page I want. Simpler Publisher designs the book for you.
I also choose the Classic Hardcover (11.25 x 8.75).
I choose the linen cover because it is cheaper, but there are a variety of choices for the cover.
Once you have made all of these decisions you can now download your pictures.
Do you see where it says My Pictures in the top left corner? That is where I store my pictures. When I download them to Picasa, it automatically saves them by the the date I took the picture (not the date I upload them). I just click on the pictures I want and drag them to the space below that box.
Once all your pictures are downloaded, click on Make Book (bottom of last picture). You can also go back and add more photos any time during the process. Just make sure to hit save before exiting (bottom right of screen).
This is an example of one of my books in the making. Above are all the pictures I downloaded. Below is the book I made.
The Page Layout icon allows you to choose how many photos you want on a page and if you want a caption or not. Double click on the photo to edit it (turn or crop).
The rest is pretty self explanatory. You can start a book and finish a few days later. Just make sure to hit save, or do like me, and don't exit My Publisher until you are done. You can preview your work before you purchase anything. It can take some time to make a book, but I think it is worth it in the end.
I usually go for the cheapest options. However, you can pay a little more for the pages to lie flat, a cover to protect the book, or thicker pages. Once you click to make the book it may take a few minutes to move on to the next step.
I love the finished product!
I'll still print some pictures. But instead of printing hundreds, I'll print the ones I want to frame or some that are just really special. I save all the pictures on my computer. Then I'll take them off the computer and put them on an external hard drive. Then I know if my computer crashes, I'll still have my precious pictures.
When I received my book, there was a code that came with it that allowed me to get $20 off my next book. Of course that $20 had an expiration date with it, but I was able to use it since I made all 4 of these books within a few weeks. I just waited for my coupon before I made the next one.
*And please excuse any grammatical errors and/or sentences that don't sound right. I was finishing this up during a very dramatic episode of Downton Abbey.