Wednesday, June 13, 2007

50 Years of Memories

It's been more than a month since I've written here. Between the usual end of the school year hubbub and some extra responsibilities due to a family member's injury, I've had my hands full. But "doing" for family, and actively participating in taking care of each other is is infinitely more important than writing about it! (She writes with a smile).

Mixed in with all of May's reasons to celebrate (end of year banquets, school award ceremonies, Mother's Day, birthdays, etc.) was a very special anniversary this year: my parents' Golden Anniversary. With all of the headlines and news blips talking about divorce rates, it's especially gratifying to celebrate a marriage that has not just lasted, but thrived for fifty years!

Mom and Dad requested not to have a big reception this year, so we celebrated with a special family dinner out at a nice restaurant, with the happy couple surrounded by their children and grandchildren.

Trying to come up with some lasting keepsake to give them, my brother and I came up with the idea of putting together a coffee table photo book for them. Since there are lots of different companies that will publish a photo book for you, researched several of them, and settled on "My Publisher."

With "My Publisher," I could download their software to my computer, and then work with their templates to choose a style of book, and from there, style of page that I wanted to use. My brother and I combined all of our photos on one computer, and then sat down together to work on the project.

As each page came up, we could look at the photos in front of us, and decide how many to put on the page, and then choose the layout that best fit the photos. Some of the photos warranted their own page, and others we put in groups of two to four. We chose never to use more than four on a page, although the software allowed for more. In my opinion, more than four pics on a page made it start to look more like a yearbook, and the individual photos harder to see. There was also room to add captions if we so desired.

The project took Mike and I several hours (okay, make that all day) to complete. However, if we were just working on one vacation's worth of photos, instead of working our way through a lifetime of memories, it would have gone much faster. No matter how you look at it, it was truly a labor of love, and we had a great time doing it.

Since Mike has high speed Internet access, he took the finished project home on his computer, and uploaded it to "My Publisher" from there. This was on a Monday. "My Publisher's" information states that they will have the book ready to ship in four days or less. We paid for overnight shipping, and received the finished product on Friday afternoon, four days later.

In case you are thinking about doing a similar project, here are my thoughts about this company.

Ease of Use: Great! Very intuitive.

Customization: Pretty good. You can choose from three basic styles of books (paperback, hardbound, or deluxe), and there are a couple more options to be decided once you make this first choice.

Finished Product: Beautiful! We paid a few extra dollars to have a dust jacket, and it was well worth it -- it looks very professional. We also chose to use a black background to the pages, and it gives it a very "artsy" look, and makes the photos stand out. Since we were heavy on the photos and light on words, this worked for us.

Price: Not Bad. There is a base price for the first 20 pages, and then you pay so much per page beyond that. We incurred extra charges for the dust jacket and for shipping, which was all well spelled out.

Downside? We only ran into two "hitches." One was the fact that although the project can be saved on your computer, it doesn't actually save the photos again, it just saves their locations on your computer. Because of this, we were unable to save the project as a whole onto a disk or thumb drive, so we could transfer it to another computer. That was a bit limiting for our purposes, but we worked with it. The second "hitch" that we ran into was when portions of the "My Publisher" website were down on the day we were trying to upload the project to them. Their website clearly states that the only way to contact them is via e-mail....they are not available by phone. Several hours later they did have the problem fixed, and our project was able to be uploaded to them, but it did cause us some momentary concern.

The last caveat that I would mention is that the overnight shipping option we chose required a signature. I did not realize that at the time (although it may have been spelled out, I'm not sure)....and thankfully, I was there to sign for it. I would have been very disappointed to have missed the delivery, since it arrived ON their anniversary! (Yes, we should have started this project a couple weeks earlier!).

Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad. You two are a great example of a couple who has not only stayed married, you've stayed friends! We love you!

No comments: