Keeping Memories Alive, even in Death {with a little help from Shutterfly}

I have been scrapbooking most of my life but time, space and the overwhelming job of keeping up with all my pictures has made it impossible for me to get anything done anymore where albums are concerned.

My problem is this: I love taking photos.  I love telling stories with a series of photos.  I am a photo-essayist.  It’s one of my great passions.  But here I sit with literally 10’s of thousands of photos archived only on hard drives and discs.  They rarely see the light of day or anyone’s eyes.  It is so sad.  That is partly why I love my Facebook account.  I can parade my photos for all to see and yes, I actually do go back and browse them from time to time myself.  I love seeing and remembering.

So this year, one of my resolutions is to REDEEM my photos from digital hell.  They have been cast into this pit of despair and it’s time to free them.  But where to start?? No better place than the present.  And nothing better that something touching, personal and important to me and others in my family.

Namely: my grandfather’s recent passing.

I blogged about him earlier in February.  He was the pillar of love and faith in our very large family.  He knew each grandchild’s name as well as his 48 great-grandchildren.  He was a man with a twinkle in his eye but oozing with wisdom and advice.  Strong in his faith until the day he died, he led and served his family well.  When it came time to lay him to rest, everyone made the trip to be there.  It was, in fact, the first and only time all 22 of his grandkids were in the same place at the same time.  It was quite the homegoing for him. My dad spent hours and hours plotting out how the service should go.  There was to be no church, no minister presiding and no funeral home involvement for the procession or graveside.  This was a family dominated event and a send off fit for the cowboy that my Grandpa was.

Just a side note here about taking pictures at funerals: This is the 3rd funeral where I have taken photos without fear of being disrespectful. There’s a way to do it where you are not disruptive. At this funeral, it was a very casual atmosphere so it wasn’t taking away from what was happening. At a previous funeral where it was in a packed church, I refrained from taking photos during the service but took a lot at the graveside using a zoom lens.  I cannot tell you how much these photos mean to me personally and to the families. Yes, this is a difficult event in the life of a family. But it is still an event worthy of remembering.  Most of the time, people are too emotional to think about pulling out their cameras.  But I have a healthy respect for death  and the transition to the here-after.  It might not be for everyone but I find it to be one of the most beautiful things to witness.

With my dad being so involved in the service and arrangements I wanted to give him something to remember the day by.  I decided it was time to get the photos off my camera and into a book.  My past experience with photo-books is minimal for what reason I do not know.   I have wanted to  get my photos published over the years but I think I justified not doing it because of the  stash of papers, albums and embellishments that I have amassed.   That has been a huge mistake on my part.

I knew I wanted a good end product.  I also knew I wanted some creative control over what I was creating.  With many options from Walmart to various printers I could have chosen any one of a hundred printers.  But Shutterfly was my first choice.  I have had experience with them in the past.  They do ship to Canada.  And , the best reason? Their album options, layouts, colours and prices were second to none. With deals  every few weeks, I knew I could get this done on budget, on time and with great results.  The only problem?? My sometimes pokey rural internet connection. I feared I would have to mail in a disc of my photos.  But no, Shutterfly has a “fast” upload option which is suitable for photobooks and prints.  I wondered if my connection would handle it.

It did.  In fact, I uploaded dozens of photos in less time than it would take me to drive to town and back.  I was in business.

I’m so grateful to Shutterfly for their service and their “Custom Path”  options for albums.  It allowed me to honor my Grandpa and make something timeless that my dad and the rest of the family will cherish for years to come.  When I got my book earlier this week I was SO VERY IMPRESSED by how well it turned out. I quickly posted photos of it on Facebook and had such an overwhelming response from family and friends! Several  family members have already ordered copies thanks to Shutterfly’s sharing website.  What a great idea! I am hooked!!

Here are a few pages from my album.  It is an 8X11 album with hard cover.  I had to add 20 pages to accommodate all the photos.

Front cover

Front Cover

Page one

Amazing quality of photos

Don't be shy about capturing different moments at a funeral. Many people there are so caught up in emotion that they will thank you for this later.

My grandpa was a simple man but he loved his ranch and his horses. This was such a fitting tribute to him in the end.

Capturing faces and emotions at the graveside can be done respectfully with a proper zoom lens.

Sometimes black and white makes you focus on the subject rather than the busy-ness of color but in this case, my grandpa's favorite color was red, his grandsons were the pallbearers all in black and it made such a statement. Shutterfly allows you to opt for B&W while putting the photos onto the page so you can play with different looks.

Back Cover

I want to challenge any of you who, like me, are hoarding thousands of memories on a digital file somewhere that no one ever sees.  Do you remember the days when we would rush our film to the local 1 hour photo? We would spend $10, $20 or $30 and even go for double prints! This is really no different. Only this time, you’re getting a finished product, not just an envelope of photos needing a home.   Join me this year and REDEEM your memories! Let’s get this stuff published and into a tangible, beautiful book that will be looked at, loved and treasured for a lifetime!

Here’s one more book I just got today. This one was a freebie and it’s just for me.  A little 8X8 album with photos I took of my grandpa this past year.  I even added a few that had some poor resolution and blurriness. I don’t mind~it’s all memories that I am so grateful for!

I love these hardcover books!

3 thoughts on “Keeping Memories Alive, even in Death {with a little help from Shutterfly}

  1. Pingback: nice links

  2. Inspiring as always Juanita! Now I just have to have my photos rescued from my crashed computer. I think it is a good idea to put them into a book like this, lot less bulky and more likely to get looked at and enjoyed more often.

  3. Your book looks beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. I wish I had taken some pictures at my grandfather’s funeral last month. I have ONE treasured photo that my aunt took of me and my six cousins. I was always the one who was snapping pics and can totally relate when you mention the thrill of rushing to the one hour photo lab! Sitting in the church hall after the funeral I was thinking how nice it would be to have a picture of all the grandchildren together since the last one I have was taken about 16 years ago! My cousin who was leaving right away to head back home was the one to suggest it and i am forever grateful to her for doing so. We all went outside and stood together and all looked pretty happy considering what day it was. It may be the last photo of us we ever have taken since we always had our grandfather as a reason to gather together and there was always one or two of us missing. I think I may have to check out shutterfly one day soon. Thanks!!

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