Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Every year, I’ve done a few Valentine’s photos of Isla (a handful with newborn Emi too last year!). This year, with Emi’s birthday, lots of work and preparing for a trip to Paris, I totally hadn’t thought about any Valentine’s photos. Super duper last minute, I called Meredith, then Nancy, whose studio we used, and coordinated a small set of heart-filled photos. And you know what? I think they’re my favorite yet. Monica came with Riley, and they surprised me with the most delicious egg-free cake in history. Paris diet out the window! Brittany lives around the corner from Nancy (literally), and her and George came too, which was a treat given that I called her 45 minutes before we started – ha.

We’re enjoying this love-filled holiday in Paris – my dream! I can’t wait to share photos over the next week. Hope you all feel extra loved today! xo

The Ultimate Photo Book Guide

The two topics that I receive most questions about (via Instagram’s Direct Message or email) are printing photo books and managing photo storage. Alas, a post that covers both in great detail is very overdue, but actually very timely, given that most people start to think about printing photo books at the end of every year. Plus, most photo sites have great discounts right now (50% off everything at Mixbook until 1/1/18 at midnight, 50% off everything at Shutterfly until 12/28/17 at midnight, etc.).

If you’re new to Snapshots & My Thoughts, then you may not know about my love obsession with photo books. I started printing them in 2006, during my first year in college, and have printed many ever since. Beginning in 2010 (the year I graduated), I began to make an annual photo book in Shutterfly. I would pick a theme, but customize almost every page to my liking. Looking back at the early books, the designs are cringe-worthy but I absolutely love them. I would also print books for vacations and other special events. In 2013, I decided to do a photo-a-day book for Isla, which was quite the undertaking. I am so glad that I documented every day, because it’s amazing to watch her grow page by page, but with sweet Emilia, I am doing a photo-a-week, and you can see the transformation just the same (with much less work involved!). I will share these layouts below!

Every year, I would update the annual book at the end of every month, occasionally falling a month behind but always staying rather up-to-date. Well 2017 happened – a second baby, a busy work schedule and a husband who travels every week for week and alas, my fancy, customized-per-page Shutterfly book didn’t happen. Which I’m still coming to terms with, since I’m one for consistency and routine! I did, however, fall in love with another company in the transition.

I was introduced to Artifact Uprising a few years ago, as I used them to make our Christmas card in 2015. Last year, I decided to invest in one of their layflat books (which are pricier than Shutterfly, beginning at $179 for the 8.25×11 size that I love) for our family photos. Then in February, I chose to print Emi’s newborn photos in another layflat book and seeing the quality of these two ultra-thick, fabric bound books, I was hooked. I printed five layflat books total in 2017!

Fast forward to November 1st, I had this huge cloud hanging over my head: our annual photo book, which had two months of content in it, needed lots and lots of work (and time!). October through December are my busiest months, and I knew I couldn’t spend the time I needed to make the Shutterfly book I wanted. The obvious alternative was Artifact Uprising, as I knew if I couldn’t have ultra-designed, I wanted ultra-simple and white. I couldn’t wrap my head around spending $250+ on each book (I knew I’d need multiple books for how many photos I took this year). I decided to try their hardcover books, which begin at $79 for an 8.5×11 book. I chose the 50 page option, which allows you to fill 99 pages, and managed to get January through March photos included. Filling the pages went so quickly, and you can even chose auto-fill. I’ll go into detail on the uploading process below. I ended up having five books total, but could have done less if I had chosen to do the 150 page option for each instead (allowing you 199 pages) of 50 (allowing 99).

All in all, I am so in love with our 2017 annual photo books. It was not the cheapest option, but I used two Artifact Uprising coupons to bring down the cost (more on coupons in the FAQ section below!). I know that the interest in printing photo books is out there, as people always reply to my Instagram posts or stories saying that much. So, I pray that this post helps move you to action! Print those photos – whether that be prints or books. I love Artifact Uprising’s motto:ย Inspired by the disappearing beauty of the tangible. I stand behind that – if photos stay on digital devices, we are slowly losing the beauty of the tangible printed photos, which tell stories that generations beyond us can cherish.

There is a lot of content in this blog post. First, I’ll cover details on the books I’ve printed before: annual Shutterfly photo books, photo-a-day/week Shutterfly photo books,annual photo books using Artifact Uprising hardcover photo books and special occasion Artifact Uprising layflat photo books. This is probably my most personal post ever, as I’m actually sharing links to many of our family’s books. Let me tell you: when I made them, I had no intention of them ever being viewed by anyone outside of close family or friends, so they include very personal photos and details, but I really do want to help inspire people to make books, so I feel like it’s important to do this.

So, let’s begin!

The Eskridge’s ‘At Home’ Family Session

Breaking news: It’s snowing in Texas. Literally everyone is freaking out, including me! Poor Sasha. This is what he hears from February until well, today: “Ugh, Houston is so hot!” “I am so sweaty – I can’t wait until winter!” “When is it going to get cold?” And then, 46 degree days arrive and I’m all: “THIS IS MISERABLE! I NEED TO GO TO THE BEACH!” Ha.

I digress. Back to the topic at hand: The Eskridge family.

After my clients and I agree upon a date for their family session, I send them a document with photos of a few favorite locations across Houston and have them pick where they want their photos taken. A lot of the time, people choose the same spots – which really is fine, since being familiar with an area is very advantageous with photography. However, on occasion, I’ll have clients who want something a bit different (which is so exciting!). This year, I had two families who didn’t want the typical “green space” photos. One opted for an all-white studio (can’t wait to share some of these!) and the other, Monica of Paper Flour Ink (whom I’ve talked about on here quite a bit recently), who suggested we do them at her house. Well, I’ve been to her insanelystunninginteriordesigngoals house before and was totally into this idea.

Their front yard is gorgeous. The courtyard is gorgeous. The backyard is gorgeous. The recently renovated pool is gorgeous. The fining room is gorgeous. And last, but certainly not least: The Eskridges are gorgeous.ย And there you have it – a winning combination for family photos. Keep on scrolling to understand exactly what I’m talking about!

Will & Lesley’s Engagement Photos

As I mentioned last week, I am going to start sharing more of my photo sessions on the blog – I’ll do a roundup of my favorite family photos at the end of the ‘season,’ since there are a lot of those! On Monday, I took Will and Lesley’s engagement photos at the eastern-most parts of North and South Boulevards in Boulevard Oaks. They live nearby, and Will proposed to Lesley while on a walk down North Boulevard. It only made sense to take these photos there!

It won’t take you but 0.3 seconds to see why I’m dying to share these. Will and Lesley both look like models (for real!), and they were naturals in front of the camera (despite warning me otherwise). Will came to the rescue with tape for Lesley’s dress and an emergency blanket, which worked out perfectly. I love these two together, and I love their photos as well! I apologize for my inability to narrow down favorites to a reasonable number. Ha.

Romantic Houston Engagement Photos at Boulevard Oaks in West U

Our 2017 Family Photos by Courtney Leigh Photography

Yesterday evening, we went to Montgomery to take photos with my sweet, insanely talented friend, Courtney Brown of Courtney Leigh Photography (who also took Emi’s newborn photos and our family photos last year). Y’all, they are my favorite photos ever. I cried looking through them and haven’t stopped scrolling since I got the album in my inbox (in legitimately the most record timing ever). These two girls of mine and that handsome husband – what more could I ask for? Oh wait, Belle!! We forgot to bring her! Ha! Poor pup. Our neglected first babe.

In all seriousness, I am going to print these this weekend to update galleries around the house! Sweet Emi isn’t in a single frame yet. Whoops! I was so worried about her being happy given that the drive is about an hour and she is much happier in the morning than evenings, but she actually did better than Isla. She seriously loved Courtney!

I tried to be selective, but as always, I am terrible at that! She did send 164 photos and it was a struggle to narrow down 100 favorites, then even more difficult to cut that in half for the blog. So alas, a ton of photos of the Petrovics in 2017!

PS Thank you, thank you to Maggie of Bramble & Bee for the gorgeous floral crowns and wreath! I loved these little touches. It was nice to feel a bit festive in 91 degree, humid Houston (in November, nonetheless!). Oh, and my dress is sold out, but the girls’ are still available at Gap! Isla’s here and Emi’s here.