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Shutterfly for Photo Books

by Erin Peloquin on May 26, 2011 · 27 comments

Shutterfly is the photo sharing site of choice at my daughter’s school.  And each year, a mom from each class makes a photo book for that class which is then sold as a fundraiser.  Yeah.  3 guesses on which mom that is in my daughter’s class every year.  ;)

How many of you guys use Shutterfly?

Of the 3 or 4 books I’ve made in the past at Shutterfly, I honestly didn’t put a lot of time into the design of the book.  The number of pictures per page and the text boxes were most important.  And I’ve always been satisfied with my books, but thought the whole process was a bit clunky.

After the Royal Wedding, I wanted a book that would be as wonderful as the trip.  And a book that would make a surprise for my friend to help us deal with the post vacation letdown of not having this fabulous adventure to look forward to anymore.

So, I went to Shutterfly and really studied the options.  They’ve got this thing called a Custom Path now.  I guess I’ve always used what they call a Simple Path in the past.

Now, I don’t know what they mean by Path.  I hate it when companies use words that mean nothing to their consumers.  But I am really happy with how my New Custom Path book turned out.  Do you want to see?  You can click on Full Screen at the top right to get a bigger view.

Click here to view this photo book larger


The thing about this new custom path book is that it is totally customizable.  You can click and drag images around to get exactly the number of photos you want on each page and put them exactly where you want them. And they’ve got great layouts to start with so that you don’t have to re-invent the wheel.  Start with a Shutterfly layout and then customize until it’s perfect.

The new custom path books also have backgrounds and embellishments that you can choose and place where you like.  I would have been happier with more color choices for the embellishments, but I didn’t spend much time trying to figure it out either.  Maybe I missed a color changing option?  It appears that Shutterfly is trying to appeal to digital scrapbookers here, and I think this is a fabulous first step.

You can also add text boxes where ever you want them.  The clunkiness isn’t gone completely from the process, but this experience was much smoother than my prior attempts at Shutterfly books.

This Royal Wedding book that I made actually came from a wedding book layout suggested by Shutterfly.  I made lots of changes to it, like taking out text referring to “our” special day and other items that didn’t apply. I uploaded my favorite images and then let Shutterfly insert them into the book and guess at the arrangements for the pictures.  Shutterfly puts the images in order of time taken, and actually did a pretty good job of grouping similar photos together.

All in all, I’m very happy with this book and will use the Custom Path books again for family and friends.  I don’t see using it with clients, however.  The appearance doesn’t compare well with other professional photo albums.

But I’m curious. What Shutterfly tips do you have?  Any favorite ways to get the look you want?  Shortcuts?  I will be doing more of this stuff, I suspect.

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