How To Make Your Own Photo Album

Learn how to make your own photo album that is imaginative, interesting, attractive, and meaningful.

Your photos are pieces of the fabric that makes your life the crazy patchwork quilt that it is. They are distinctive, they are unique, and they mean something special to you.

So why are you keeping them in a boring generic photo album? Or, worse yet, why are you keeping them in a shoebox under the bed, with negatives mixing with photos and assorted memorabilia that you meant to do something with but never got around to?

This is photo intervention. They are important to you. Start treating them like it.

Any of the materials mentioned below can be found at a crafts and/or office supply store.

The first thing to do is to assess your collection. Not all the photos in it exactly memorable. Sort them. This will take the better part of a day, or longer, depending on your collection. Group the ones you want into categories: chronologically, by theme, by style; whatever suits you.

This is a deciding point. Depending on how many photos you have, you may choose to put them in one large, bursting-at-the-seams album, or to distribute them into a set of smaller, themed books. Once you have chosen your course, it's time to find a book.

A hard binder is a good idea: they're cheap, they come in many shapes and sizes, and they are fairly durable. Once you've chosen a good size and colour, decide how you want to fix them in an album. You have several options:

-Photo corners on stock paper, which is very professional and which allows for captions written beside photos. The disadvantages are that this is slightly expensive and does not allow for really interestingly cropped or shaped photographs.

-Album pages, which give little flexibility, but which are easy.

-Stock paper on which you can glue/paste photos. This is the most creative option. You should, however, consider this method permanent.

Once you've chosen your preferred medium, punch holes (if there aren't any already) and put enough (but not too many!) pages in the binder.

On to the cover. The cover is extremely important. You want it to be at once significant, easily recognizable, and (obviously) attractive. Whether you choose to label the cover or not is up to you. While there is no one idea that is best for everyone, here are some suggestions:

-Tear a large sheet of corrugated cardboard from a box and glue it (hot glue is a good idea) flat side down (textured side up) on the binder, covering the binder as you would a book. Add more elements like ribbon, leaves, or a photo to the cover (also hot-glued).

-If you like collages, make one and glue it to the cover. A good idea for a vacation album is pasting all those extra postcards and assorted paper memorabilia to the cover.You may even glue extra photos to the cover. Covering this with Contact paper is a good idea.

-Cover with fabric by covering it as you would a book and hot gluing the fabric onto the inside covers. Glue something to the cover fabric if you are so inclined. You may want to even add texture by gluing a piece of thick foam or fabric to the cover and then covering this with more fabric. Or glue fabric swatches to the cover for a patchwork effect.

-The possibilities are endless. You may choose to glue bottlecaps to the cover. Or string, ribbon, feathers, beading...whatever your imagination decides!

Now comes the most important part: the content of the album. Whether you choose to document each photo copiously, or to lay them out starkly on paper, a unifying theme is a good idea.

-If you choose to write captions, consider writing them on pieces of coloured paper and putting them next the photo. Otherwise, if you like, you can write them on the paper, if you choose to mount or glue the photos on stock paper.

-Try not to crowd too many photos per page. It takes the focus away from the good ones.

-Feel free to crop photos.

-Keep the negatives in the binder pockets (if there are any) or simply glue an envelope to the inside binder cover and keep the negatives inside.

If you follow your preferences, you should come up with a product that is unique, attractive, and meaningful. Photo albums make great gifts for loved ones.

Good luck!

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