Friday, March 16, 2018

Preserving Pictures Using Digital Storybooking

If you’ve never heard of storybooking, you’re not alone.  The most common ways to preserve pictures these days –getting them out of digital form and into your hands– is through photo books or scrapbooks.  Photo books are made digitally through online companies (and even big box stores).  You usually choose from a few pre-designed styles, plug in your pictures with a caption, and you’re done.  Scrapbooks are hand-made using papers, scissors, stickers, pens, and the like.  

What, then, is digital storybooking, and how is it different from more well-known methods like photo books and scrapbooking?

This month’s #familyhistoryfriday posts showcase several different methods for preserving your photos and the stories that go with them.  Some are hands-on methods while others are digitally created.  (You can find links to all these methods at a link at the bottom of this post, too.)  Today we'll look at digital storybooking and see what it has to offer.  You might be surprised!

What Digital Storybooking Is

In the early 2000s, a {young mom named Candy May} realized that her kids didn’t know her hero, her grandfather, as much as she wanted them to, so she decided to do something about it.  About 1,000 miles separated them, and Candy had an idea to bridge the gap between the generations:  she would write her grandpa’s life story as a bedtime story for her kids. 

Candy interviewed Grandpa Wozney, asking him about his younger years and his memories of his life.  At first, Grandpa resisted a little because he didn’t think his life story was anything special.  Don’t forget this great lesson:  Every life story is special to someone else.

This little storybook, “My Great Grandpa,” became Candy’s kids’ very favorite book.  They could quote from it!  They got to know and love their mommy’s hero, their great grandpa, just because she took the time to bridge the distance between them.

And this is actually the story of Heritage Makers!  This experience would lead Candy to start the Heritage Makers business a few years later, giving others the opportunity to easily write their own family stories from their own online accounts, then have them published on the Heritage Makers printing press on heirloom-quality materials.  And so the term “digital storybooking” was coined.

By the way, that black and white picture is Candy reading her storybook to her son, Teague.  After Heritage Makers was born, she reprinted the book as shown above.

What’s the Storybooking Difference?

Aside from Heritage Makers books being printed at {much higher quality} than bargain-bin type photo books so common today, most photo books often just have a place for a caption or two.  A Heritage Makers storybook has no limits on photo or text placement, so you can really tell the whole story.  Simply writing “Cape Cod 2011” doesn’t tell the story of the picture.

Was this a special trip, or an everyday one?  Who was there?  How long did you stay?  Where did you stay?  What happened that was fun, funny, enjoyable, unique, or memorable?  Who was with you?  What did you eat?  Why did you go?  What was your favorite part?  What do you want to always remember about the trip?  Would you go again?  What’s the whole story behind the photos?  Why did you take the photos in the first place?

So digital storybooking is much more than a “photo book” because it tells a whole story.  It gives words to your experiences, memories, and life.  And it’s something you can go back to again and again!

UPDATE 2023:  Anywhere you preserve your story and your photos should be top quality.  Heritage Makers was a great option 2004-2023, and Forever has also been a great option since 2013.  In 2023, Heritage Makers became a new and different platform, YPhoto, under new management of Youngevity (which purchased Heritage Makers in 2013).  YPhoto uses only templates, with the element of full flexibility and creativity gone.  YPhoto is also no longer a photo storage platform.   

Forever offers three software options for telling your story, from quick simplicity to fully creative digital scrapbooking, which is great so you can choose what best meets your style and your available time, with the assurance that Forever keeps your photos private (and does not data mine) as well as providing you with the highest quality products that will last a lifetime and beyond.  You can see an overview of each of the 3 options for digital storybooking with Forever.  

Note:  The first option in the video, AutoPrint, is quick & easy but only offers captions on pages.  I think it's a great tool for something like a wall canvas or a book about a trip to the zoo where you don't have a lot of story.  Design & Print and Artisan are my recommendations for digital storybooking.

You Might Love Digital Storybooking if…

I’ve found that digital storybooking is the preferred method of preserving pictures and memories for those who:
  • believe strongly in journaling and want the space to do it; want to tell the whole story of their photos
  • want a digital method of preserving their photos and stories
  • want multiple copies of their books without any extra work
  • are looking for a streamlined way to preserve all the photos and memories from one year in one place (yearbook)
  • need a high-quality way to showcase and remember a special event (wedding, vacation, graduation, etc.)

What I Love About Digital Storybooking

I really love digital storybooking for all the reasons in the bullet points above.  I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I personally love the {looseleaf method} of preserving my everyday photos and memories, so I use individual digital scrap pages most often.  However, I adore digital storybooking for highlighting special occasions and being able to give copies of the books as gifts.  There’s just nothing more meaningful.

Pretty much THE MINUTE my mom was diagnosed with the disease that would take her life, she said, “I want to go to the coast.”  We arranged a family trip to her Happy Place, the Oregon Coast.  I take a lot of pictures anyway, but I also suspected that this would be the last time she would be well enough to make this trip.  (Unfortunately, I was right.)  I documented as many moments of that short trip as I could and made a really lovely digital storybook, recording all the details of our time together.  It was how I could give my mom Oregon.  She had those memories and those gorgeous photos to go back to as her health declined.  And we still have a beautiful, meaningful keepsake of those moments.

And, truth be told, this is why I can’t say enough about why I love digital storybooking.  It’s one of the most valuable tools I have for my family.  It’s so much more than a “photo book”–I can tell the whole story, record all the memories we make.

If digital storybooking is the perfect fit for you, there are a couple of options.  You can {get started here}. 

What Are Other Options?

If digital storybooking doesn’t sound like your way to preserve photos and memories, don’t worry.  I have two more options coming this month!  You’re bound to find a favorite, doable method here on #familyhistoryfriday posts this month!  Whatever you do, #dontletyourbabiesgrowuptobejpegs

UPDATE:  Links to all five posts in this series can be found here: {Think Outside the Scrapbooking Box}.

Do you know someone who would love digital storybooking?  
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This post was originally published at on March 16, 2018, by Jennifer Wise.  Find more #familyhistoryfriday posts by clicking the hashtag below next to Labels.


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