How to Curate Your Family Holiday Photos

During the holidays, everything is a little bit more beautiful. From decorations to delicate sweets, to parties, and visits with faraway family and friends, ‘tis the season with a hundred reasons to snap a photo. Here’s how to organize and showcase the best moments of the season in a holiday family photo book.

1. Gather All the Photos

Take a moment to put all the holiday photos from all your devices into one folder. You may also want to gather the photos taken by other people, and set up a shared folder for an exchange. Make sure all the photos you plan to use are in the same resolution, so the image quality is consistent. If you use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC to sort and edit your photos, you can easily import your final photo selections into your book layouts using BookWright’s Photo Manager module.

2. Sort and Delete

This is the hardest task of them all, but a few tips make it easier. First, take advantage of the date-stamping on your photos, and sort them by date or event, or even by time. Then work through one small pile at a time when you’re feeling fresh. Mark your favorite shots, and delete the rest. Bad shots, eyes closed, poor lighting, the first 8 shots you took before getting the best one—don’t keep them. The more you have to wade through shots you can’t post or won’t print, the less likely you are to do either of those things. If you didn’t frame a shot quite right but you love the subject matter, feel free to crop it and create a stronger image!

3. Create a Permanent Archive

As a curator of these holiday memories, your job is to keep them safe. Back up your photos at least twice—to a hard drive and to cloud storage. If you haven’t been doing this all along, start with this holiday season. Establish a pattern of folders and naming. Once you’ve done the setup with a recent batch of photos, working on the backlog will be that much easier.

4. Pick a Variety of Photos to Use in Your Book

It takes several kinds of images to tell a story. Look for these basic shots to keep in your event collection:

  • Portraits & group shots
  • Setting the scene—decorations, table-scapes, gifts, ornaments, favorite objects, etc.
  • Interactions & candid shots between people
  • Biographical objects—slippers, clothes, favorite mugs, scarves. Objects that work as “portraits” of people, without actually showing people themselves.
  • Personality & emotion shots—images that capture people in their element, or with expressions that reveal who they are or how they were feeling
  • The cover shot—look for that one picture that says it all. That one image that shows a key moment of action, or all the special elements of a scene.
  • Closing shots—loaded cars, packed suitcases, piles of leftover wrapping, confetti everywhere, something that shows the end of the celebration

If you don’t have everything on the list for your holiday collection, don’t worry. Use the list to help you consider which images to keep this year, and also what pictures you’ll be trying for next year.

5. Choose a Book Design Tool

There is more than one way to design a holiday memory book. It’s all about selecting the book-making tool that works best for you and your project.

BookWright: Our free desktop publishing software lets you create professional-quality layouts—no design experience needed. Add your favorite images and captions to premade templates for a quick start, or start fresh with your own layouts. Download BookWright now.

Adobe InDesign Plug-In and Lightroom Book Module: Create Blurb-ready layouts without leaving your workflow. Learn more.

Blurb Mobile App: The fastest way to make a holiday photo album is to download the Blurb mobile app on your iPhone or iPad. You can create, print, and share a beautiful photo book in minutes! Choose from 2 square book sizes.

6. Sequence Photos to Create Layouts

Time for the fun part! Group and sequence the best photos to create your holiday story. Designing a photo album takes a little trial and error, but following a few basic strategies will take you a long way.

Tell a chronological story: Putting your photos in chronological order is never required, but it’s an easy way to organize your story and build momentum, especially if you have images from multiple events, celebrations, or locations. Consider starting each section with a photo that captures the mood, colors, or activity of the day.

Mix it up: Combine images of different sizes in your page layouts, and alternate landscape (horizontal) shots with portrait (vertical) shots to create visual interest. Include a variety of image styles and compositions on each page (close-ups, scenery, people, objects, decorations).

Think big: We all have our favorites—sometimes it’s a candid portrait or a striking composition. Don’t be afraid to fill an entire page with a single photo that is especially meaningful. (Just make sure the image resolution is high enough to be enlarged without becoming blurry.)

Leave white space: If you are working with a lot of photos, it can be tempting to cram 5 or 6 shots on the same page. Resist the urge. Your best images will never stand out if they are too small or buried on a crowded page. For a better viewing experience, try putting fewer photos on each page and include larger borders or white space in between.

 7. Add Captions or Text

A great picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes even the best photos in your album do not tell the whole story. Adding playful captions or section headers can really bring your holiday book to life and capture all those missing details (a joke, a holiday toast, a song, a movie, or a quote).

 8. Share Your Album

Order copies of your photo book to gift family or friends this year, and it can become part of next year’s decorations on your shelf or coffee table.

Ready to make a photo book with all your pictures from the holidays?

Get started today.


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