One of the best gifts I was given at 60 was a book of my life. Composed by my daughters and with contributions from family and friends, it is a compilation of some of the events in my life. There are poems, quotes, stories, even a song. For the first few nights after my birthday I took it to bed with me. In the event of a fire it would be the first inanimate object I would grab. When I feel a bit low I look at it and think I can’t be that bad. I did the same for my friend, Ann, for her 60th last month. She loved it. You have to be canny, mind, getting hold of people’s details. Whilst Ann was abroad with her son and family in Australia she emailed her friends, including me, which meant I captured loads of addresses at once. It’s important to guide contributors, even a title helps. We used ‘what Ann means to me’ as a theme. People often say that they are not creative. It’s not true; everyone is. These books prove it. We have done them for special holidays and for Christmas of course. I find that Io don’t always look at photos. And with digital don’t always have them printed. With picture books you do take them off the shelf and relive the memories. There’s also a place to create them when someone close to you dies. When my own mother died 21 years ago, one of my first actions was to out together a physical memory book. I used photos, written words and paste. Susie did a book of memorials for one of her uni projects. This particular one features ‘ghost bikes’ and roadside memorials. Dedicated to the memory of individuals who have been involved in road accidents. You see them all the time.
Here are a few tips for creating a photo book for yourself or a friends.
1. Use Jessops, Photobox or Bob books for a quality job.
2. Ask a young friend to compose the book for you.
3. Decide whether you want just photos or photos and text.
4. Suggest what people might want to contribute and give them ideas for things to write.
5. Add some humour, however sad the theme.
6. Don’t avoid old photos. They add interest and can come out remarkably well.
7. Always set a deadline and make it a week, at least, before the real one, for starting to compose.
8. Add a handwritten dedication at the front. Or get everyone to sign.
9. Get a good speller to proof. You’ll feel annoyed with an error that creeps through.
10. Take a photo of your friend or family member as they open the book and send it to the contributors so they get to share in the moment. Tears and laughter are guaranteed, whatever the occasion!