Here’s my heart behind this blogpost:

Don’t get stressed or overwhelmed by this project. Promise me, k? But at the same time – don’t ignore it. Because this project will be worth it.

The project? Creating a family yearbook!

Before I give you a few resources to try – I want to tell you a little story. The other week, Will and I were sitting on our couch with Milly. I grabbed out our family yearbook from 2016 on a whim, and we flipped through it together. To my surprise, I looked up and Will had tears in his eyes. He looked at me and said, “Man, our life is really, really good.”

All the hours, all the time, all the photos and all the money I spent on that one album:


That moment made it worth it. In the middle of our crazy lives, it’s so good to pick up an album and just get a bigger perspective and realize – this thing called life is GOOD. God is GOOD to us. It’s full of beautiful moments, and photography is the gift we have to remember those moments.

This project is so good and so worthwhile.

Don’t feel the need to do all the work and backlog every single year that you’ve missed. I actually smooshed the first 5 years of our family into 1 album the first time I did this to save time! See below:


But start planning to do it this year! I began this process 3 years ago, and I have 4 steps and several resources for you to consider when making your own plan.

How to Create a Family Yearbook

1. Organize your personal photos.
Overwhelmed by this task? It’s okay. I was too. That’s why I created this guide: Organizing and Enjoying your Personal Photos. In 2015, I set out to organize my photos once and for all, then give you a framework to do the same. In a nutshell, you organize your Printed Photos, then your Digital Photos, then you have a Monthly Maintenance plan going forward.

2. Choose the Albums / Method you want to use.
I am a big fan of Artifact Uprising. I love their products and their heart for legacy. Many of my friends use Chatbooks – an easy way to make your Instagram posts into family books.

Because I love Artifact Uprising, and I love the layout (and control I have over the layout), I plan my family yearbooks around their albums. This gives me a limit to stick to (No more than 400 images per album), and consistency in the look and design of every album.

I also don’t have a separate, dedicated personal Instagram account. I do this intentionally – my life and my work and my ministry all overlap and I want people to see that. While I have strong boundaries between life and work, I believe people like to see the real side of life and “behind the scenes” when they follow someone on Social Media. It’s supposed to be social after all, isn’t it? With that said, Chatbooks isn’t a great fit for me. However, if you have a personal / family instagram account, it could be a wonderful fit for you! You just have to be careful to not print 15 photos books a year. Because by the end of your life, you’ll have more books than you know what to do with, and they won’t seem quite as special but rather overwhelming!

3. Keep your photos up to date and organized

GOOD GRIEF. Isn’t this the hardest part? I have a simple system which I outline in my Photo Organization Guide, but I’m looking to streamline it even more this year. The bottom line is this: Organize your photos at the end of every month. This includes culling (choosing your favorites) and editing them, then saving them in final folders. That way, when you spend time choosing your favorite images for your family album at the end of the year, you have the best of the best to choose from – not 13,583 from the entire year to sort through. #overwhelming. Read more about how I organize and edit my photos throughout the year here.

4. Keep the end in mind.
This is why I create 1 family yearbook each year. At the end of my life, I think it’d be amazing to have 30-50 books for my kids and grandkids to look through over the years of life Will and I have lived together. (I might want to stop after the kids are in college – hence the 30 year period). With that said, 30 still feels like a LOT of books to look at! That’s why I feel it can be pretty overwhelming to create 1 per child, or 1 each month, or 4 each year, and so on. I like one a year because it truly celebrates the highlights!


Here are 3 dear friends of mine who do their family books a little differently for you to consider as you make your own Family Album!

Callie’s Family Year Book Process
Perry’s Family Year Book
Katelyn’s Chatbook System


Do you create a family album every year? I’d love to hear!

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These posts are so inspiring! I do a year AU book, too! I’d love to know what you do with ticket stubs, notes, cards, etc. I hate to throw them away but not sure I want to scan them in and use them as “photos” if that makes sense.

I love this. Thanks for sharing this! I use your organizing PDF and it truly was life changing and kicked me into gear. I do have a question for you. What albums do you do for your kids?

Hi! I adopted your digital photo organizing strategy after watching your webinar (with my newborn baby nursing/napping in my arms…so that whole series obviously came at just the right time for me 😉 lol) so I would love to hear how you end up streamlining it this year if you don’t mind sharing. Also I am in my 4th year of doing a yearly photobook so I really enjoyed this post! Thanks!

On my goal list for this year! Still trying to decide – given the long view, like you said – whether I want to do books covering two years or one every year. And girl, you’re not going to stop making books after the kiddos are in college!! There will still be so much to document, including grandbabies, hopefully!!

Yes! The first year book I created was for 2016 (our first year with a child) and I just finished and purchased our 2017 book. So far I’ve used Shutterfly as Artifact Uprising is a tad too expensive for our budget.

When choosing which photos to include in our 2017 book, I used Emily Ley’s “simplified” method: the best, the favorite, and the necessary. It worked really well!

Love this post! Your photo organization guide has helped me SO much this past year in tackling what felt like an insurmountable task. FYI, the link above for Perry’s Family Year Book isn’t working.

I ‘ve been working on my AU book for 2017 for all of 2017! I just finished editing my xmas photos so I can finish out the year. Now that I have all the photos laid out I am wondering if 52 pages of photos for one year is a bit excessive. Should I try to squeeze two years into one book? Since you have three years worth of photobooks I wanted to see your opinion on this, thanks!

Which AU book do you choose every year?

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