My annual family yearbook – and what’s replacing it (probably)

Getting married is all about beginning your life as a new family unit (whether that’s a family of two, four, ten or thirty!). One of the best things about this new set point, is starting new family traditions. I’m a sentimental person, so one of my favourite traditions that we have begun is an annual family yearbook.

Our Annual Family Photobook Tradition

For the last 4 years, I’ve created a beautiful photobook from Artisan State (now called Zno). These are really sturdy books, printed onto photo paper and with lovely thick, wipeable pages. Perfect for us as Henry is a huge fan of looking through the photos, and I don’t want to be too precious or hover over him while he’s engrossed in our memories!

The only downside, is putting the photobooks together. Last year’s photobook had around 1,500 photos to chose from. I whittled that down to 100 and then uploaded them, mucked round with layout…. it took me a couple of weeks, on and off, to get it done. And I’m a graphic designer by trade so this sort of thing comes easily to me!  The other thing was it gets really expensive to include lots of photos. I was skipping a lot of cute photos due to budget and space… I wondered if there was a better way… and then I discovered Chatbooks.

Chatbooks First Impression and Review

I recorded this quick video when my first two Chatbooks arrived, so if you want to skip reading, here’s what I thought:

And here’s a video of the third Chatbook that arrived:

So what is Chatbooks Photobooks anyway?

Chatbooks is a subscription photobook service, in a nutshell. They have a phone app which helps you pick which photos go into your latest book. Each of the books (like pictured above and below) can fit 60 photos in it.

You can link up your Chatbooks app with your Instagram, Facebook or what I do is have it linked to my iPhone’s Camera Roll, since I don’t share a lot of photos online. Also then if I want to add a photo that someone else has taken, or I have taken on the dSLR, I just save it to my phone.

It is SUPER easy to go through your photos. In the video below, I demonstrate how super easy it is (and with the first book in your series free, why not start?!)

The benefit of linking it to your shared photos on Facebook or Instagram, is that your captions get pulled through automatically. As you can see below, the date and location of where you took the photo is included for you too. You can manually edit this stuff in the app, really easily. I’ve chosen not to include captions, because it’s something that I’ll procrastinate on, and the whole point of this for me, is to get them quickly.

The biggest plus is all the layout is done for you. One pic per page, no cropping, no figuring out which photo goes where. It’s all in date order, or you can fuss round with the layout if you wanted to.

The photobooks are a great price – my whole order, per book, worked out to about $25 NZD including shipping. That’s with upgrading my covers to hardcover (to survive kids) and adding extra prints (pictured below).

Get a free photobook

Chatbooks have a great offer where if you sign up using this link, you’ll get your first photobook in the subscription series for free! So you can try out these for yourself. The first book and setting everything up is the hardest, so once you’ve done that, you will be away laughing 🙂

Are the Chatbooks Photobooks good quality?

Short answer, they are pretty good. They are digitally printed, so not as detailed as prints you’d get from the photo lab (haha what’s that). There’s a couple of things I noticed, but I print things for a living, so you can expect me to be ultra-fussy! Here’s a couple of things that detracted from the overall high quality experience:

The edge of photographs was not crisply defined. This was more apparent on one book over the other, so perhaps it is a temporary equipment issue vs a regular occurrence. This was most noticeable in the dark images.

There was a bit of subtle colour banding on the back of the books. This is a common problem with digitally printed grey, so I’m not surprised. Again, something that only very few would pick up on… and for the purposes of a fair review, I noticed it, so I’m mentioning it.

I ordered 5 extra “bonus prints” per book. They were printed on a matte card (I was expecting a matte photo paper, I didn’t read it properly). One edge of the card was a bit furry – depending on how these are produced, it could just be something as simple as a slightly blunt guillotine blade on this softer type of card.

Zno Photo Album vs Chatbooks Photobooks for our Annual Yearbook

So I’m a sucker for sentiment, and I love both types of books for different reasons. So I’m leaning towards doing both – a high quality, edited family album from Zno, and a fun, snap-filled book of daily memories from Chatbooks. Remember, your first book in the series is free when you sign up using this link, so it’s worth having a play at the very least!

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