Here are a few words from our Senior Photo Book Designer Susan Weiss on a recent project that encompassed three separate books. Susan met face-to-face with the client and worked closely with her on each book to capture the feeling of the original materials and honor the content:

Vintage Family Scrapbooks

One type of project we frequently work on in our photo book department is the preservation of old family scrapbooks. Lovingly and painstakingly put together decades ago, many of these family treasures have suffered from the aging process and have become brittle, faded, or are plagued with deteriorating bindings or covers.

Preserving these albums is an incredibly rewarding process that comes with a few added bonuses:

  • Once digitized and reproduced or recreated, they can be shared with multiple family members, avoiding any arguments about who gets to keep the sole copy!
  • These newer versions are sturdier to withstand lots of viewing without worrying about damaging fragile contents
  • They are sleeker and lighter, taking up less shelf space and making them much more user-friendly for all ages.

Recently, we had the opportunity to recreate and rework a group of albums and scrapbooks for a client and her mother. First we remade a charming but crumbling baby album from the 1920s, keeping the original look down to the cover and gray felt gutters.

The clients baby scrapbook from the 1920's before scanning
The clients baby scrapbook from the 1920’s before scanning

Our team has been trained to work with such delicate albums & scrapbooks, utilizing various specialized, white-glove methods of scanning and preserving the integrity of the original. For the oldest and most fragile items, this frequently means full page scans which are also best for preserving the original handwriting and captions commonly found in vintage albums.

The Wedding Album


Next, she tackled an envelope of loose wedding photos from the 1950s that had never been made into an album before, which is a common request we come across. Even when photos are not professionally taken or of high quality, we find that collecting them into a modest and tasteful album still captures the joy and emotion of the event and can bring as much happiness to the family as any traditional leather-bound album could. It was very meaningful to all of them to finally have the wedding album that never was.

A sample page from the clients new wedding album
A sample page from the clients new wedding album

“I am getting so emotional looking at this! I cannot believe she has never had a wedding album . . . This is really perfect!”

A Skidmore Legacy: Turning this fragile collection into a timeless keepsake

The Skidmore scrapbook in its original state
The Skidmore scrapbook in its original state

The largest project they chose to undertake was a scrapbook that contained camp photos and a record of her mother’s life as a student at Skidmore College in the 1940s. Not only did she have a fabulous group of photos that captured this time period, but she had also saved newspaper clippings, dorm registration, class schedules, dance invitations, telegrams, letters, and even the tag that identified the frog she dissected in Biology class. She had programs from her concerts, memorabilia from restaurants and outings, course-offering lists, and we even scanned her diploma to conclude the collection.

A sample spread from the Skidmore photobook
A sample spread from the Skidmore photobook

With projects like these, we recommend using a large scale, lay flat book so it’s easy to read and enjoy all of the writing and fine print. When the original book’s pages are in good shape, we can include the entire page scan so that the feel of the original scrapbook is kept intact. We can then improve on the original by adding anything that has come loose back onto the pages, including the contents of folded items or things that have been enclosed in an envelope or any loose items as well. By placing those on the same backgrounds, we can incorporate these new or additional items with the originals, maintaining the flow seamlessly for a book that combines the best of both worlds in one.

A lay flat book has no gutter at the spine, allowing for thicker pages and full image spreads
A lay flat book has no gutter at the spine, allowing for thicker pages and full image spreads

Each album was handled individually according to its own particular needs and we were pleased that in the end she shared these thoughts with us,

“I love your attention to detail! . . . This is really perfect . . . We love those albums, they came out so beautifully! I want you to know how much I LOVE the scrapbook reproduction! You keep hitting home runs!”

Want a photobook of your own?

If you’re thinking of pulling together a photo book of this or any other type for the holidays this year, now is the time to get in touch to allow plenty of time for scanning and design and to avoid getting ensnared in holiday printing and shipping rushes. We’d love to help you share your memories with your family at this or any other time of the year!
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