How Can I Mix the Functions of Photo Book and Scrapbook?
February 23, 2015 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Madame Naberius and I want to put together a wedding album. We really like the look and feel of the Shutterfly photo book. The issue is that, in addition to photos, we also want to include things that aren't photographs as such, like our invitation, the menu from our reception dinner, etc.

In other words, we have some things that don't really lend themselves to Shutterfly's "upload your photos and press print" model, but would be better suited to a scrapbook where you paste physical artifacts onto pages in a loose leaf binder. We don't really want to do that.

I'd be perfectly happy with images of these things, and I can readily scan them. The issue is that Shutterfly at least can't handle anything but .jpgs. I scanned a couple of the documents we want to include to .pdf and then converted them to .jpgs, with results that could have been worse, I guess, but weren't ideal. Then I actually ordered sample prints of them, which arrived with their edges weirdly cut off. Basically, I'm not thrilled about using a lossy compression format to try and produce a photo of fine, detailed text. And I'm worried about spending $100 or so on this thing only to discover that page 17 looks like hell and having to start over.

So what would you suggest? Is there another company that can do something similar and can accept .pdf files? Some way to maximize the image quality of a photo of a printed item? More innovative ideas very welcome!
posted by Naberius to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you leave blank pages in your book to actually paste the items in?
posted by teststrip at 10:10 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Why not, during the course of your designing the Shutterfly album, have designated pages for you to paste or mount your physical items? You can just set a template page with a border and or label, and otherwise leave it blank.
posted by Karaage at 10:11 AM on February 23, 2015

Just be aware that if you paste physical items into the book, it won't really close right anymore. Maybe not an issue, but something to keep in mind.

I've never used Shutterfly, so I don't know what their quality is like, but unless the text is really tiny, I'd think that it wouldn't be that hard to get a quality scan that would reproduce acceptably. A top quality jpg isn't going to have visible compression artifacts, and as far as conversion you should be able to scan directly to jpg or at least tiff to make the conversion easier. There's no good reason to scan what is effectively a photograph to pdf, and that makes me wonder if your scanner was configured for scanning text documents or something, which definitely wouldn't give you ideal results.
posted by primethyme at 10:18 AM on February 23, 2015

Do you have a way to scan to JPG or PNG rather than converting a PDF? That seems like it might yield the highest quality results.

Alternatively, I like the idea of leaving some blank pages to paste in the actual artifacts, although if you have a lot of them that could get thick.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 10:18 AM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

The issue of converting PDF to jpg is resolution. If you convert it at a high enough resolution and save the jpg at a medium quality or better, you shouldn't be able tell the difference between the jpg and the pdf in print.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:04 AM on February 23, 2015

Get a scrapbook from a craft store which will be ten 12x12 inch pockets, a front and back cover and hardware to bind it all together. They have really pretty ones specifically for weddings, in both modern and traditional designs. You could pick any theme you want, including solid colors. Pick up expansion pack(s) for the book which are ten more pockets and get the same brand as the one with covers (the holes need to line up). Buy some 12x12 inch card stock and some glue dots. It should all be in the same aisle and cost about $30 total.

Make your own pages. You can attach things to one or both sides of the card stock. You don't have to glue something to a page if you want access to all sides of it and don't have two copies. You can just leave it loose in the pocket, but put a piece of card stock behind it.

Next have shutterfly print up the photos you wanted into a book. If they offer paperback books in 12x12, use that option. If not, use the hardcover option but don't spend much time on the cover, since you'll be throwing it away. When the book arrives, cut it apart carefully with a razor blade or exacto knife. Now you can put those pages into the pockets and alternate some of the pages you made. If this sounds horrible to you, get two copies and only cut one apart.

There are 8x8 and 8.5x11 options for scrapbooks, too. I know shutterfly offers paperback books in the 8x8 size.
posted by soelo at 11:12 AM on February 23, 2015

Have you thought about compiling box frames or a coffee table?
posted by humph at 12:07 PM on February 23, 2015

I scanned a couple of the documents we want to include to .pdf and then converted them to .jpgs

So scan them to jpg? If for some reason you can't do this, a copy shop can as long as you specify jpg output.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:19 PM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, just take it to a copy shop to get them scanned in the right format if you're not in a position to do it yourself.

Also, if you designed the stationery yourself or have a digital proof, you can use a version of that file as well - that's what I did, and the finished version made me very happy.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 12:37 PM on February 23, 2015

If you like soleo's idea, instead of printing out the book from Shutterfly, just order prints in the size you want to add to the scrapbook. Much cheaper and easier than cutting apart a double-sided book.
posted by sarajane at 1:23 PM on February 23, 2015

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