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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.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Robyn May 26, 2011 at 7:14 am

My number 1 tip for Shutterfly (which I have used for birth announcements, Holiday cards and photo books for YEARS) is, if you’re not in a hurry, wait for a sale. They are always running sales and you can get a photo book at least 30% off and with free shipping if you’re patient. You can make it, save it and just hold off ordering until they email you a coupon code (so sign up for the email specials).

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admin May 26, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Love that tip, Robyn. Yes, you are right – they do have sales a lot. I should learn to pay more attention to those emails.

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Erin B May 26, 2011 at 7:16 am

I absolutely love shutterfly. I’ve done two books, which took a lot of time b/c I didn’t use a path, so it was strenuous, but they were free offers since I use shutterfly so much, and the recipients loved them. I’m not sure why you had a hard time with colors but the last one I did I was able to change a lot of the colors and backdrops, you don’t have to stick with the layout that is recommended for the style of book you pick (wedding, etc…). I also have a shutterfly share site so that family and friends can go on and see all the pictures that I take of my girls (i don’t use facebook so it’s a way for family as far away as iceland to see pics). I’ve done the calendars (posters and desktop) and mothers day cards (which were a big hit), and invitations (which I get a lot of compliments on the matte finish ones). So, I highly recommend.
I enjoy your posts and am a beginner when it comes to photography.

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admin May 26, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Erin, thanks so much for your nice comment! I used the shutterfly share site for a photo class I took – it was great. I had forgotten about that.

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Jenn White May 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Personally, I don’t like the idea of some site’s software deciding how to arrange my photos. So what I do is lay out all of my pages in Photoshop (or Elements) and put them in the book as single image pages. That way I can use the photos I want, where I want them, with the wording, colors and everything just the way I like them. Granted, that’s not for everybody, but if you have basic photo-editing skills, you can do your pages this way.

I’m curious though, why you don’t do a yearbook at your school? Doing it by class that way seems labor intensive and expensive. I do a yearbook for our local elementary school that costs just $20 per copy hardcover, full color, custom color. 52 pages, each class gets two pages plus we have pages for special events, library, art, gym, computer lab, etc. It takes me about 2 weeks working in the evening to edit all the photos, lay out the pages, insert them into the publisher’s software and burn the disc. If I had help, it would take half that! If you want to talk more about how to do it, I’m happy to help. I don’t sell the books or have a relationship with a publisher, I’m just the mom who gets volunteered for these things!

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admin May 26, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Jenn, I can tell you’re a serious scrapbooker because you put so much time into your own shutterfly layouts. You are right, that’s not for me, but something tells me that your books are AWESOME!

And we do have yearbooks at school also. The class version is more of a memory book of the year, where we can document the major events and get lots of shots of each kid, plus tell stories. And it’s primarily a fundraiser – I think the organizers like the shutterfly method because they can sell the class books at a silent auction and then place the order once they have commitments from people. Sounds like you have a great system though. I’m not going to tell our yearbook committee about it, however, because something tells me that a suggestion might be construed as an offer to volunteer!

Thank you for your info!

Erin

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Jenn White May 26, 2011 at 5:50 pm

You’re totally right, you’ll get volunteered. I love the idea of the book as a fundraiser, though. I’ll have to look at that for next year, I’m thinking it’d be fun for our church youth group even. Thanks for the inspiration, love reading your posts!

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admin May 27, 2011 at 8:52 am

Oooh, church youth group. That’s a good idea. Even a church year book? Hmmmm. I just might have to volunteer for that one.

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Metabelle January 27, 2014 at 5:41 pm

I don’t like the idea of a website placing my pictures either, so I edit them in Picasa then I use the Storyboard feature to roughly place my pictures. This feature has all the pictures you uploaded on the left side and a box to drop pictures into each page on the right side. Once that is finished I edit, crop, add the embellishments and frames and change the backgrounds making each page unique and fun. Then I am done and I dance.

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cheri May 27, 2011 at 8:22 am

Thanks for this great tip! I’ve made a few Shutterfly albums and never knew about the custom path!

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ali May 27, 2011 at 8:23 am

I made a couple of books on shutterfly for my Mum in England so she can keep up with our antics here in the States. We were happy with them, I love that you are giving them a shout out because there are so many “photosite snobs” out there these days. You cnat beat the offers for some fun memory books on shutterfly. :0)

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admin May 27, 2011 at 8:50 am

Ali, it cracks me up that you mentioned photosite snobs. I was thinking about why I have never posted about Shutterfly before, since I have used it off and on in the past. And part of the reason, I think, is that I thought you guys would think I was a big dork! Glad to hear that you don’t!

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ali May 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Far from it!!!! I love using everything out there, I have edited some of my best pics in Picnik but don’t tell anyone for fear of them poo pooing me :0)

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Zoe V. May 27, 2011 at 8:54 am

Erin,

I have been using Shutterfly for years and love their custom products. I’ve done almost everything BUT the photo book. The custom layouts for the books have me rethinking that perhaps I’ll order one. I am a PSE 9 user and really want to learn more about digital scrapbooking. I have not yet placed any professional print orders (just got up and running) and so I’m wondering why a photo book from Shutterfly wouldn’t be good for clients. I know there is a big difference in ordering prints from say, Mpix vs. Shutterfly, but am curious about custom products like books and calendars, etc.

Love your newsletter and site! Thanks.

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Susan May 27, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I have created full pages with lots of elements and photos on them and then loaded them into Shutterfly as one large image. The pages of the book all look as if you have scrapped them and then magically flattened them. It makes for a great custom book. I do senior photos and they love having their photos made into little personal books. The print quality is very good and it gives them a nice way to show off all of their photos.

here is a couple I have done

http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=3AbuWzZk1YsSu

http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=3AbuWzZk1YsTI

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Susan May 27, 2011 at 9:01 am

I have used Shutterfly in the past for several books but I have to say, my new favorite site is Picaboo. If you are a digital scrapbooker like I am, this is the site of choice. It gives you basic page set ups and they you can go crazy from there. You can change the size of the items on the page and easily add another photo to any layout you like. It allows you to add .png files so you can add your favorite scrapbook elements to your layouts. The program will give you a low res alert but I have tried this method with .png files of tape and paperclips and such and they printed just great. I highly recommend looking into Picaboo for you next book.

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Michelle May 27, 2011 at 10:06 am

I absolutely LOVE Shutterfly….I have done 6 scrapbooks and only used the simple path once. After that I use the custom path, make each page so it holds one large picture and insert my pages I have digitally scrapbooked using PE7. Everything is your own, as you designed. I also make calendars like this.

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DeniseAck May 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm

I’ve used most of the companies out there for book printing. I like Shutterfly, but for my personal books, my new favorite is SmileBooks with the upgrade printing option onto silver halide photo paper. Since it’s a chemical developing situation instead of ink or dye sublimation, the colors are ALL perfect. It’s like a 12×12 enlargement attached to a page. The pages then become super thick since there’s the middle paper and the two enlargements. The pages also lay totally flat so it looks great when one image goes across both pages.

I’ve also done a yearbook for my daughter’s cheer squad for the past 3 years and have a suggestion for you. Check out ArtsCow–http://www.artscow.com/?Ref=626383 They often have sets of 5 hardcover 8×8 books they give for free. Only cost is $8 each for shipping. You can always get more from others on their forum. This way, your fundraiser will net more money. I actually have 5 book credits that are going to expire Monday if anyone wants them. The colors are usually very good, the paper quality is excellent, and they are sewn (not glued) so the pages lay flat and you don’t have to worry about them falling out. Here’s a chart of my findings if anyone wants: http://www.box.net/shared/ae1lla2qqv

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DeniseAck May 27, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Sorry–link didn’t work. http://www.artscow.com/?Ref=626383

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Jenn White May 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I’m with Denise, in that I print important stuff on silver halide. Books are nice for gifts, but if I want these prints to be around in 200 years they need to be printed photographically. Persnicketyprints.com is the best I’ve found, the quality is amazing, and they’re cheap. Only $1.99 for a 12 inch print. They do books, but I’ve not gotten one yet.

I have gotten stuff from ArtsCow, and the quality has not been what I’d like. But I do hear they’ve addressed some quality concerns. Part of my problem with them is shipping time can be 6-8 weeks, as they’re printed in Hong Kong. I don’t like to send my money out of the country if I can avoid it, so I stick with onshore companies and pay more. But if you really need cheapy stuff and are willing to wait, you can’t beat the deals.

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Janet B May 27, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I just received my finished book from Shutterfly (first time using any online service), and was pretty impressed. I’m new to digital scrapbooking, but had a few layouts done on PSE8, so what I did is used Shutterfly’s custom path and inserted the JPEGS of my PSE layouts onto a single page. That way I didn’t have to play around with any of their stuff online – my pages were ready to go. Just download, insert, and order your book.

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marilyn May 27, 2011 at 6:30 pm

I’ve been using Shutterfly for a couple of years…mostly travel books & have been very pleased. Recently I’ve been making “generation” books….scanning all those old photos I’ve inherited and compiling them into one concise book (or 2) for my kids. I figure they’ll never save all the photo albums, but maybe they’ll hang on to a smaller Shutterfly book!

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Carol June 2, 2011 at 11:04 am

Personally, I prefer MyPublisher.com. MP is very easy to work with, has customizable pages, and all types of designs. Most importantly, the quality of the book is AMAZING! It actually looks like beautifully published book. I signed up for their newsletter and I like to wait until they offer the book for $35 with UNLIMITED pages. I’ve made gorgeous baby books for both of my boys, a summer vacation book for our trip to Cancun, as well as a wedding book for friends, and I absolutely love all of them. I recently noticed that they make these little mini books for under $5 that would be very cute gifts.

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Di June 3, 2011 at 8:16 pm

I too really like Shutterfly. I have made photo books and have a share site for the family since I am not big on lots of family stuff on FB. One of the “paths” I believe the simple path is kind of cool if you are in a hurry. You simply choose which photos you want for your book and it is arranged for you.

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Susan Lea December 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm

One slight adaptation to Robyn’s hint that I would recommend is to load any photos you will want to use in a book BEFORE a sale starts! If you have a slow internet connection like I do, that can save a lot of frustration when you’re trying to get a book done before a sale ends.

I had used Blurb, iPhoto and Snapfish before I got a coupon for a free book on Shutterfly. (More on Shutterfly in a moment.) After making over 35 books on Snapfish, I was disgusted with them and their customer service, and I was ready for a change. Blurb makes great books, lots of creative flexibility, but much less user-friendly and pricier. I loved the one iPhoto book I made, but it was lots more expensive than Shutterfly and I have never gotten a discount offer.

When I made my first book on Shutterfly I went straight to the custom path. I found it quite easy to use with infinitely more creative flexibility than Snapfish. I’ve now made two books and quite a few cards and find their quality better than Snapfish, too.

Goodbye Snapfish–Hello Shutterfly!

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Teresa October 4, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Hi!
I just came across your site. May I ask how did you embed your London Shutterfly book into your website??
Thanks so much!

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Erin October 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Hi Teresa, I think Shutterfly gave me the option to do that under the share menu when I finished. It’s been a while, so I don’t remember for sure.

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