a family photo album with artifact uprising.

June 1, 2017

This post is sponsored by Artifact Uprising, “inspired by the disappearing beauty of the tangible.”

There are two large photo albums in my mom and dad’s house. They’re navy blue with gold foil along the outer edges of covers that are either totally detached from their spines or on their way there. My mom put them together in the earliest years of our lives together—no doubt tamping down the tiny sticky corners that hold down the prints in the late evenings after we were asleep. My mom wrote captions, funny ones, in her perfect handwriting; thick blue ink under snapshots of camping trips and birthday parties and halloween costumes.

As a kid, I pored over them. I memorized the order of the pages and would flip through them looking for the photos of my parents, long-haired and sun-kissed on cross-country road trips before they had kids. I’d find the photo of my sister, the oldest, grinning and dirt-smeared in the middle of a camp site; the photo of my uncle carrying a whole pig into my grandparents house for Christmas dinner; the shots of my younger sisters and I with our cousins in matching calico dresses and white tights that were bunched at the ankles and grass stained on the knees.

As I looked, photos would pop out of their corners and slide out of the pages. There was always a stack of them tucked into the back of the book, waiting for a patient moment when someone—my mom–would rehouse them. The second of these two blue albums stops when my younger sisters are still babies. Stacks of drug-store-processed prints are in boxes, sorted according to date, still waiting for their chance to shine in an album. 

Fast-forward to thinking about documenting my own new family, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it causes me mild heart palpitations. The sheer numbers of photographs that James and I have snapped is mind-boggling by comparison to my own parents’ archive. Surely, in the first three years of Faye’s life, we’ve already eclipsed the entire number of photos that exist of me from the whole of my childhood. 
When Artifact Uprising contacted me about working on a collaboration for Father’s Day, I admit that my palms got a little sweaty. Where would I start? From an archive so improbably large, I wondered, what would prove to be the most representative? The most treasured? James made me an album of Faye’s first six months, but months and now years have intervened since then. We’re behind, already.

The answer, of course, was just to start somewhere. Though the album was ostensibly a gift for Father’s Day, I recruited James to help me make a hardcover photo book to catalog our six weeks in France last summer. I wanted to include photos that he’d snapped and I needed encouragement to wade through the virtual piles. More importantly, I wanted the work of this family storytelling to be something that we did together.
So I brought home a slice of chocolate cake from the bakery, poured two glasses of wine, and together we pieced together an album from our magical weeks in France in the spring that Faye turned two. With the Artifact Uprising mantra, “off your device, into your life” ringing in our ears, we chose our favorite photos and fit them onto virtual pages that would get printed and bound and arrive in hardcopy just a few days later.

The result is a beautiful pale grey, clothbound book, filled with memories of last summer. It fits perfectly on the shelf next to the album James made for me after Faye was born and the album of our wedding photos. Of course, in the few days that we’ve had it in our home, it’s hardly been on the shelf at all. Faye has already looked through it a dozen times, thumbing the pages, asking questions, doing the work of memory building, one beautifully printed image at a time.

If you’d like to make a photo gift of your own—a photo book like ours, or anything else—enjoy 10% off one order with the code RMTLxAU10. The offer ends June 30, 2017.

This post is sponsored by Artifact Uprising, “inspired by the disappearing beauty of the tangible.” All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Reading My Tea Leaves.

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  • Reply rebecca June 1, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Such a great idea!
    But very important question – what bakery did you get the chocolate cake from? We’ve recently discovered Betty’s Bakery on Atlantic and have had their chocolate cake every night for the last few weeks!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 1, 2017 at 10:09 am

      Ha! Bien Cuit!

      • Reply Alix June 1, 2017 at 8:03 pm

        Rebecca, have you tried Mia’s on Smith Street? They have an amazing selection of cakes and are open until 11PM.

  • Reply Hilary June 1, 2017 at 9:38 am

    What did you use to take the photographs – camera, phone, maybe a mix? With phones it’s seems we are always rushed, resulting in too many disappointing images.
    I struggle with the balance of taking pics but not getting so caught up that I forget to be fully engaged in the moment, yet this article reminds me just how important it is to have photo albums so we all can reflect and enjoy our memories.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 1, 2017 at 10:08 am

      We used a mix! I was nervous that iPhone shots might look inferior next to the others, but I’m so pleased with the result!

  • Reply Oriol June 1, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Looks beautiful! May I ask you what kind of paper did you chose? Looking on the screen, I would say it seems matte…

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 1, 2017 at 10:56 am

      Thank you! The pages have a smooth matte finish! There’s actually not a paper choice though; everything is 100% recycled stock!

  • Reply Lexie June 1, 2017 at 11:13 am

    Beautiful! How many pages did you end up creating? I am working on my wedding album right now and it’s so daunting!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 1, 2017 at 11:25 am

      ha! i know it! we did 100 pages! editing wasn’t our strong suit!

  • Reply Jill Palumbo June 1, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    I love this look! I have procrastinated putting together albums because I thought I needed cute captions, graphics, etc., but I love the clean, simple look.

  • Reply Ally June 1, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Can you please tell me which size book you chose? I love this size but can’t quite tell. I want to make one to remember my best friend, my Labrador who recently passed very suddenly. I think this will be a cathartic and loving process to both treasure and remember him by. So glad you shared this wonderful idea. I’ve been searching for something special to do to honor his beautiful, loving nature.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 1, 2017 at 4:48 pm

      So sorry to hear about your loss! So hopeful a book project brings some comfort! We have the 8.5 x 8.5 book!

      • Reply Ally June 1, 2017 at 5:22 pm

        Thank you so much for the reply and the idea. His entire life was spent giving love. This keepsake will be treasured!

  • Reply auberie June 1, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Your album looks beautiful! And I’m sure all the memories are coming back already 🙂

  • Reply Catherine June 1, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Did you have the option of captions? That is, as you mentioned, a lovely complement to any album (especially if done with humour, but in any case for future generations, having names and stories to put to the pictures…)

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 1, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Yes! You can add them in as printed text (or you can hand write them yourself!)!

  • Reply Melanie | Artifact Uprising June 1, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Your words made our day, Erin! The album turned out so lovely — forever fans of your words + work!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 1, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      Such a pleasure to work with you guys!

  • Reply Barbara June 1, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    So well written, as always. Your photos are beautiful. A family treasure!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 1, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      Thanks so much!

  • Reply Elizabeth June 2, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    I love this! I believe so in the importance of printing photos and making them tangible for our kids–and for us! I love the look of artifact uprising books, but already have my collection started with a different company. Maybe I’ll try this company for gifts??

  • Reply Rebecca June 2, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Ugh- the self imposed pressure of documenting my kid’s life paired with the quantity of pictures is overwhelming. Thanks for the deadline of your discount, I’m hoping I can take the plunge and make an album or two.

  • Reply Kirsten June 4, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    This post was the push that I needed to FINALLY put together a wedding album…2 years later. We’re expecting our first child later this summer and your description of Faye looking through photo albums just reminded me how important creating stories of your family and your parents through pictures is for kids, even if the husband and I aren’t really the print-and-look-at-pictures types 🙂

  • Reply Kaelynn September 11, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    So beautiful! After my husband returned home from visiting his parents for a few days this summer, he brought with him a disintegrating photo book of some of his baby pictures and a handful more of loose pictures in an orange envelope. They were all out of order, so we purchased a new album and spent a few hours together sorting the photos from his babyhood and childhood, trying to guess where each one fit in the timeline. Like you, our family has so many digital photos and so many boxes of photos to be enjoyed. You have to simply start somewhere and both the process and the result are such a beautiful gift for a family! Thanks for pointing out this website in particular–I imagine these books would make excellent gifts.

  • Reply Alexandria November 21, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    I’ve been looking into starting our collection of family photo books (now that I have a four year old haha) and I’m wondering if you’re happy with the hardcover option since it’s not lay flat or if you wish you had chosen the layflat option. They’re sooo much more expensive! I’m wondering if it’s maybe only necessary for my husband and I’s wedding album.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 21, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      We have a lay flat for our wedding album—it’s lovely but I think it’s maybe best for something like that. Totally happy with the hardcover albums.


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