I’ve Moved!! [New Brunswick Wedding and Newborn Photographer]

Happy 2019! Just a quick note to let you all know that after **8** years (woah), this little blog is moving over to my website platform:


I will be keeping this blog live for my archives, but for the most up to date posts (starting in 2019), please check over HERE.


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Personal | Our Photobooks [A Review]


I’m a big believer in printing photos. As a former hard-core scrapbooker (ha!), I used to print a lot of our earlier, pre-kid photos (early digital photos and even some film photos!), so I was already in the habit of culling and printing images for several years, but of course once digital photos (and especially cell phone photos) became commonplace and the sheer quantity of photos started to accumulate, I ‘fell behind’ just like everyone else. Victor doesn’t have a photo album or completed baby book that covers his first year, our wedding photos are scattered in a half-finished scrapbook, vacations and events are still waiting to be printed…it happens! But I don’t stress about it. Last year was my first year of coming up with a system of what to print and how, and now that the system is set up, I feel like I’ll be able to stay ‘on top’ of our memories from here on out. So if you are discouraged, don’t feel bad! Let the guilt go, choose a spot to start and just start, don’t feel like you have to go back and cover your entire life, but commit to keeping on top of it from now on, because trust me, there’s nothing like having your actual photos in hand, off your computer, and in your home.


I’ve printed several photobooks over the years, and I often get asked which company to go with or how I do it, so I thought I would write up a review of the photobooks we have so far. In the end, anything is better than nothing, but if you want your photos to last and for your books to be enjoyed, choosing a quality company is important. Of course I use professional labs for my clients but for my ‘at home’ photos, it’s just not feasible (or affordable to be honest), so I use consumer companies just like everyone else. And luckily with today’s printing abilities you can get good quality photobooks done affordably and easily! Below you will find a review of several companies (and multiple books from the same companies), but first I just wanted to write a bit about how I store my photos.


Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 12.35.10 PM

I organize most of my ‘every day’ photos on my Mac with iPhoto. I haven’t looked into all the options on how to organize my photos using this program, but for me the easiest way to do it is to use the “Events” ‘folders’ (they aren’t actually called folders but they work the same way and are what you see in the above screenshot).

My process:

1. I upload my photos from my camera or phone into iPhoto and it automatically sorts them by “Event” (date).

2. Once they are uploaded I simply combine all the photos from the same month into one Event ‘folder’ and rename it (for example “01-January 2015”). One thing that I do is that I keep my camera photos separate from my iPhone photos (so each month has 2 ‘folders’). This makes it easier to cull later on and I like having them separate because I will often edit my camera photos but rarely do I edit the cellphone shots (they usually have an Instagram edit on them anyway).

3. I use an empty Event ‘folder’ with the year simply as a divider (I have photos from 2011-2015 in this program).

4. When it comes time to print and cull my photos, I create actual Folders (you can see them on the left) for each year and sub-albums for each photobook I want to make (so you can see that I have a folder called “2014 FAMILY BOOKS” with 3 albums underneath; those are the 3 photobooks I plan to print this year (plus our vacation photos which are stored somewhere else…any ‘formal’ sessions I do with the kids or events that I blog here are uploaded into Bridge and are treated like ‘work’ sessions.)

5. I go through each month’s ‘folder’ (event), flag the ones I want to print in the book, and them drag them into the appropriate album (I should do this once a month but usually leave it until the end of the year and then sort through the entire year’s worth of photos over a couple week’s time).

6. From there I export all the photos from iPhoto into my Adobe Bridge program (same album names) for editing (which is a step that most folks probably won’t do but I thought it was worth mentioning…I do edit all my photos, even the ‘snapshots’ before printing; this adds a significant amount of time to my process but for me but I wouldn’t be happy with un-edited images in my books.)

7. My photos are automatically backed-up onto a cloud system…please remember to back up your photos! Yet another reason for getting them printed…)

Ok, now onto the books!

(Just for reference, last year I printed 4 books for 2013; a main family book, an Instagram book, a vacation book, and a landscapes book. For 2014 I will do the same 4, plus I printed 2 additional booked for ‘special’ events-my session with Dan and our anniversary book. Four books a year seems reasonable to me, but even if you just get 1 big book printed, that is better than nothing!)


Dan 2014

Company: Artifact Uprising (www.artifactuprising.com)

Size: 5.5X5.5

Pages: 30

Cover: Softcover Paper

Page style: Magazine

Paper type: Recycled, semi-gloss

COST: $14.99 for 30 pages (though it looks like the format has changed, it’s now $17.99 for 40 pages). Shipping: $7.99 to a PO Box in the States (shipping to Canada was absolutely ludicrous, around $50.00! Unacceptable.)

Cover quality: Good, cover is a thicker cardstock than the inside pages.

Binding quality: Good, fairly simple glued together pages, but feels sturdy when flipping through. The text on the first page is hidden a teensy bit under the binding, which means they went over the guides on the design system but it’s not a huge deal.

Photo quality: Was disappointed with the photo quality, despite the shots being all black and white. The photos look like they were printed on a home printer (‘liney’ and not smooth). Brightness was accurate but overall the effect just looks kind of cheap.

Ease of creating: Probably the easiest program I’ve used, very intuitive drag and drop system that made it quick and easy. Was online and not one that you needed to download onto your computer.

Shipping: Like I said, was basically unavailable to ship to Canada because of the insane shipping rates, so I definitely would not have ordered if I couldn’t send it to my sister in law’s PO Box in Maine.

Overall Impression: I expected much more from this ‘hip’ new print company. I’ve seen raves all over Instagram and blogs, but my experience (with the exception of the design system) was mostly negative. I want to give them another chance but haven’t tried them yet. I do love their aesthetic and company values though.

Notes: I made this book with the photos I took of Dan back in 2014, and included the text from the blog post. Another great way to get your photos and words off the Internet and into your hands. I love the small size, perfect for private little albums like this.

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Our Life in Instagrams 2013

Company: Blurb (www.blurb.ca)

Size: 7.5X7.5

Pages: 50

Cover: Hardcover Image-wrap

Page style: Magazine

Paper type: Regular Semi-Gloss

COST: $43.03CAD Shipping: $8.99 to Canada

Cover quality: Matte finish image wrap, I really like this one, the cover paper feels thick and glued on nicely, colours on images came out perfect.

Binding quality: Excellent, no issues or cracks or loose pages, everything is bound really tightly (makes it hard to keep the book open on any page but I’d rather have it that way than too loose.)

Photo quality: It’s a bit harder to tell with this book because the images are cell-phone shots (and not great ones at that), but even with the lower-quality photos, they came out the proper brightness and colour, spot on actually!

Ease of creating: About the same as other companies, it’s a program that you download onto your computer, you upload the images you want to use and then choose a template to work with, drag and drop the images in, add text, etc. Can be a bit nitpicky but once you get the hang of it (and keep your layouts to a minimum), you can get a book done in an evening (Quick tip: when uploading photos, only upload one small batch at a time, then make your pages, it makes it easier to do a bunch of small sets of images-by month for example-rather than uploading an entire year’s worth of shots at a time.)

Shipping: Not too bad (about average shipping cost), arrived within a couple weeks, had to pick it up at the post office, but arrived safe and sound J

Overall Impression: I really like Blurb and have heard great things about them (especially their pro line, which I haven’t used). The only downside is that they don’t seem to have as many coupons and sales so the price can get a bit high especially if you are doing a larger book with extra pages. I like their templates, the feel of the books and the quality. My 2nd choice for a print lab (and 1st for certain types of books like my Instagram books).

Notes: I chose a black cover and with the matte finish you can definitely see finger marks on the cover, but they wipe off pretty easily. I really love Blurb’s Instagram album templates and love the idea of having all my favourite square cell phone shots printed out, these days I’d say about 40-50% of my daily life shots are on my cell phone so printing these are just as important as any taken on my ‘big camera’ (which is used mostly for occasions or specific events, not just for everyday details).

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8 Years

Company: Blurb (www.blurb.ca)

Size: 11 X 8.5 (vertical)

Pages: 28

Cover: Hardcover Image-wrap

Page style: Magazine

Paper type: Regular Semi-Gloss

COST: $41.51CAD. Shipping: $9.99 shipping to Canada

Cover quality: Same as with the Instagram book, I chose 1 photo and a black cover for the image wrap-around. Matte finish, good quality.

Binding quality: When I received it the binding quality was great, but it has started to warp a little bit (there is a worn-seam starting to show on the front cover at the binding), but the inside pages are all secure and the book feel well bound.

Photo quality: This was interesting because this was the first time that I printed a photobook with photos that I did not take myself (they were our anniversary images done by Sean McGrath). I did not edit the images before sending them in, and although the colours came out right, the brightness in some of the images leans heavily towards the dark side, especially the black and white shots (you can barely make out the image in one case). This may have been the way they were edited (Sean uses true black and white), or the printer, but in any case, it’s something to be mindful of when printing darker images. Images are also a bit ‘pixely’ but it’s not anything than an average consumer would notice (I just noticed on 2nd glance, months later).

Ease of creating: Same as with the Instagram book, I chose a simple layout template with plenty of room for text (I love how this feels more like a ‘book’ than a photo album because of all the text).

Shipping: A bit pricier than the Instagram book but I chock that up to the larger size. Quick shipping, no issues.

Overall Impression: I’m very happy that I chose Blurb for this particular book, they had the layout and style that I wanted for it…it just feels cool.

Notes: I LOVE THIS BOOK. It was one of Dan’s Christmas presents and I am so thrilled with how it came out, despite the brightness issue (and my 2 dumb typos!). If you are looking for a gift to give your loved one, I would definitely recommend making them a little love book just like this.

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Seasons 2013

Company: MixBook (www.mixbook.com)

Size: 8.5X8.5

Pages: 43

Cover: Classic Hardcover (Very Glossy), Photo cover on front, black in back

Page style: Magazine

Paper type: Regular Semi-Gloss

COST: 41.49$US but I paid 20.74$US because I had a 40% coupon! Shipping: 10.99$ (to Canada)

Cover quality: Very nice! Super glossy (almost like it’s laminated), but photo on front is vibrant and clear. Well wrapped/glued to book. Different cover options (leather or photo cover).

Binding quality: First page appears a little crooked (can see the glued ditch), but rest of album is solid (a little stiff but will loosen with time).

Photo quality: Good, sharp and brightness is correct (not too dark or light), saturation is good, colour is a teensy bit cool (only noticeable on my Fall pictures), overall very happy.

Ease of creating: All done in their online design program. Chose all-photo layout with full page and page runover, and was frustrated when photos didn’t line up (especially noticeable in one layout where photo was obviously not overlaid), and also when all photos I uploaded automatically turned black and white (couldn’t figure out how to turn it off). Drag and drop with several customization options (or can be auto filled).

Shipping: Cheap and very quick! Best of all the companies. Straight to Canada, arrived 12 days later.

Overall impression: Very good! With the exception of design frustration, this company seems to make good quality book for very reasonable prices (and they have coupons often!)

Notes: Finger marks appearing on back black cover but can be wiped off because of gloss. I love having a book for all my misc. landscape shots and will be making another one this year for 2014’s photos (many of which are of my garden!)

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Flynn Family 2013 (Main family book)

Company: MixBook (www.mixbook.com)

Size: 8.5X11.5 (Horizontal)

Pages: 107

Cover: Classic Hardcover (Very Glossy), Photo cover on front, chevron in back

Page style: Magazine

Paper type: Regular Semi-Gloss

COST: $76.19CAD (original price was $126.99 but I saved 40%-$50.80-with a coupon around Christmas!) Shipping: $12.99 to Canada (not sure why more this time around, maybe because it was heavier due to the page count?)

Cover quality: Same as the Seasons book, very glossy and durable, image is sharp and accurate, came in a fun chevron design in the back. I like the idea of the glossy cover for these books because I want the kids to feel comfortable looking through them and with the gloss I don’t have to worry about it getting dirty/torn.

Binding quality: Good, the pages have gotten a bit ‘fanned out’ after looking through it several times (I tried to flatten them by setting it under a heavy book but it didn’t work), but the pages are still tightly bound and lined up properly inside the book despite the heavy page-count.

Photo quality: Good; these are my ‘snapshots’ of life on my big camera so the settings weren’t always ideal, meaning the photo quality isn’t as professional as my client work, but overall the colours and brightness were good (in a few sets of images I found the colours a bit dull but that could have been editing on my part). Overall though very good consumer quality.

Ease of creating: I used the ‘Modern Family’ template and it was easier this time around, though I still ran into the same issue of the photos defaulting to black and white when inserted, I had to remove that feature in a lot of the photos. The ‘stickers’ and text were optional and took time, but for me added just a little something special to the book. It became more intuitive the more I used it.

Shipping: Still very reasonable for the size and weight of the book, and it arrived at the post office, safe and sound in under 2 weeks.

Overall Impression: I really love our family book and am happy I chose to go with Mixbook to do it. It’s the perfect balance of quality and price.

Notes: I will be using the same printer and template for 2014’s family photos (and all our family albums for the foreseeable future), I want them to be consistent and this company offers the best price point for us right now. It’s still an investment but so worth it.

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Flynn Family Vacation 2014

Company: MixBook (www.mixbook.com)

Size: 8.5X8.5

Pages: 43

Cover: Classic Hardcover (Very Glossy), Photo cover on front, black in back

Page style: Magazine

Paper type: Regular Semi-Gloss

COST: $22.39CAD (I stuck to the minimum page count and didn’t get extra pages), original price was $31.99 but I used a coupon…of course! Saved $9.60. Shipping: $10.99

Cover quality: Glossy, good; photo is a little contrasty/dark, but that could have been my editing, it’s hard to know.

Binding quality: Slight crack when you open it but pages are tightly bound and lined up properly, no seams or binding showing like in the Seasons book (I think they have improved their quality even just in the past year!)

Photo quality: To be honest I wasn’t thrilled with the quality of the photos this time around. Colours seemed a bit off and dull in some cases (brightness was ok). Again, it’s hard to know if the blame lies in my editing or the printer, and most people looking at it wouldn’t even notice, but I did right away.

Ease of creating: I made this one super quick since by this point I was used to the system (the advantage of using the same company over and over).

Shipping: Same as above, super quick and reasonably priced.

Overall Impression: Slight dip in quality in my opinion but I would still choose them for most of my photo books.

Notes: I chose a ‘travel/vacation’ theme for this book and if I could go back I would not do it again. I feel like it takes away from the photos (many of which had to be cropped down to fit in the odd shaped spaces), so the next time I will stick with a more traditional layout with larger photos. I also made a lot of the photos smaller than I would have liked in order to fit in the min. page count but looking back I should have just budgeted more or waited for a better coupon to get the bigger images (something I love in my photobooks). Know your style and stick to what you like!

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Violet’s First Year/Italy and Croatia 2009

Company: MyPublisher (www.mypublisher.com)

Size: 8.5X11.5

Pages: 42 and 48

Cover: Fabric Hardcover w/ photo window, and matte photo cover

Page style: Magazine

Paper type: Regular Semi-Gloss

COST: I honestly don’t remember since these were the first photobooks I bought back in 2010 and 2012! I would guess that they were both in the 50$ range with the extra pages, but I also probably used coupons (they always have coupons!) They are currently $29.99 for 20-pages and $0.99 per extra page. Shipping: 15.99$ for 3-5 business days to Canada.

Cover quality: The image-wrap around is a matte, non-glossy cover (like the Blurb book) and because it’s white, it’s gotten a bit dirty over the past 5 years, but it’s held up, no rips or tears. The fabric cover with the picture window has also held up, the colour is bright but it has also gotten a little dirty over time and it’s not really possible to clean.

Binding quality: Both have good binding . Violet’s book seems much ‘looser’ than the Italy/Croatia book, that may be because of the cover type, I’m not sure. They have both held up to being looked through several times over the years.

Photo quality: Both good, colours were accurate and nothing was too dark (and if they were it was on my end not the printer’s end…this was in my early editing days.) Paper isn’t too thick but durable enough.

Ease of creating: Similar to the rest, uploaded the photos into their custom program that I downloaded onto my computer and made the layouts myself, though they do have several theme/layout options, an auto-fill option (I haven’t used it in 3 years so I’m sure it has improved since I used it last!)

Shipping: Quick, on time, easy and reasonable price for shipping to Canada (not the cheapest but not the most either).

Overall Impression: Like I said, this was my first photobook experience 5 years ago and I think that for the time they were very ahead of the game; now that there are so many companies to choose from I haven’t gone back to them, but I still recommend them to people who are looking for photobooks at a good price.

Notes: This company probably offers the most in terms of coupons, and until I found other companies was very happy with the quality of my photobooks, they were ahead of the game!

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Our 2013 Family Vacation

Company: MPix (www.mpix.com)

Size: 10X10

Pages: 50

Cover: Hardcover Fabric

Page style: Magazine

Paper type: Regular Semi-Gloss

COST: 45$USD (30$ for 20 pages + 15$ for extra 30 pages). Shipping: 7.95$ (to US).

Cover quality: Nice colour and fabric, well glued onto book, different cover options (photo, fabric, etc).

Binding quality: Audible crack every time you open it. Can see stitching in the ‘ditch’ of certain pages and back cover. (Not impressed)

Photo quality: Sharp, proper lightness (didn’t come out too dark) but colours are a bit duller than how they appeared on my screen. Also a bit of a green tint to them but nothing too extreme.

Ease of creating: Upload photos onto website (all done online), then you can choose from different book styles and layouts, then it’s a drag and drop process. Can automatically put in your photos for you, or you can choose yourself (what I did). Not too difficult once you get used to it even though certain of the page layouts with design elements didn’t work properly and I had to manually adjust them. Various text and colour options. Also seems as though there was more white space in between my photos vs what it looked like in the design program.

Shipping: About 1-2 weeks to a PO box in Maine. No issues, shipping to Canada was 30$ flat fee plus shipping and duties (too much!)

Overall Impression: Not particularly happy with the binding or photo colours/vibrance. Shipping was quick and price was reasonable, though shipping was too much (would probably not have ordered if not sent to US). A bit surprised since this company claims that it can used by professional photographers (but maybe MPix Pro does have better quality albums). Not my first choice.

Notes: Grease stain on cover (warning if you get fabric!) Maybe dust cover would be better option. Does not have the company name anywhere on the book (only one like that).

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Don’t get me wrong, these books took a lot of time and a lot of money. I worked on the larger books for several weeks before having them ready to order (usually in the evenings or on slow days at work). The programs are fairly easy to use but if you want to be in control of which photos go where, it will take a long time to custom build each page, but the more you do, the easier and quicker it becomes. The investment isn’t insignificant either, but to me it’s important to have these memories in a tangible form, so we choose to invest our money in it (as well as prints for our walls). Whenever I flip through these books it makes me so happy…it’s well worth all the work.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments! Or if you have a company that you use and love, let me know, there are so many great ones out there!




PS-How I documented our 2012. (Told ya I was hardcore!)

Kandise - This is really cool, thanks for taking the time! I’m so disappointed to hear the crazy shipping cost for Artifact Uprising, as you said they’re ~*all the rage*~ and I’ve been meaning to order something to get a feel for the quality, but phew, I’m only paying that much for something truly awesome.

I have 8 Blurb books myself (7 are 8×10 vertical soft-cover books; 1 is a 6×6-ish hardcover Instagram book) and I’m pretty happy with the quality and colour rendition, except that anything that was shot at a high ISO always gets printed all pixel-y (like I posted on IG awhile back).

Are you going to try one of those Artisan State albums that get advertised on Facebook all the time?

Kandise - I will update as well and say that I ordered the layflat albums from Artifact Uprising, and while they have not arrived yet, the shipping cost was $115 USD.


Jennifer - This is a great comparative post – I’m glad I found it. I’ve made about 12 books so far with 10 different companies myself, and I’m still not sure if I want to try AU or MPix.

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