Photo taken in Mexico | Laurie Ruhlin

helps us share & remember the memories we are making

In addition to trying to take better photos, I create a yearly family scrapbook in InDesign. I’ve recently been using to upload and print my books directly from InDesign. Contact me for a code to get access to seeing my photobook examples online.

Our Memories Define Our Life

I started making photo albums in middle school. Every time I would visit my Grandparents in Iowa, I would pull out the their many photo albums, some with black heavy paper and photo corners and others, a 3-ring binders with magnetic pages. I absorbed the photos and journaling and learned about  life on the farm. Through these pages, I met my relatives in Sweden (many whom I would actually meet later in life), I learned about a love of travel through the eyes of my grandparents, and I learned about my Mom and her family. All this was from sitting on the floor in a little house in Iowa, pouring thru photos and the type written slips of paper explaining each one. No matter if I had read it cover to cover the last time I had visited, it became part of spending time on the farm and in their little town.

When I was in school, I always had a camera and I made my own albums, complete with construction paper shapes and either handwritten or typed out tags which explained each photo. When I traveled to Reutlingen, Germany for a semester in college, my favorite assignment was to make a scrapbook. I saved every ticket stub, receipt and coaster and journaled about my awesome semester. I filled 2 magnetic albums upon my return. I’m so thankful for these books so I can relive the memories and have proof that I did indeed visit the Eiffel Tower! (I had forgotten our short visit, but had proof in a photo of me, in my Land’s End jacket in front of the awesome tower.

When I was married and had children, I started preserving photos with a now defunct method – Creative Memories. I spent tons of $ on books, page protectors, pens, die cuts and stickers, and crafted each page with doubled sided tape and multi-colored fine-tip markers. This phase lasted about 8-9 years, from 1996 – 2004, and the 10+ albums take up about 2 feet of space on my bookshelves. It’s all “acid-free” and each photo is protected with a page protector. The memories of the kids growing up are safe. I’ve told the family that if we have to evacuate, grab those 2 feet of the bookshelf!

In 2003, I purchased my first digital camera. I thought, I teach Photoshop, why don’t I start doing parts of my photo album in Photoshop – I can add titles, journaling and combine photos and print out a larger page to add the the photo album. A few years later, I started creating the entire page in Photoshop. I uploaded each completed page to a online photobook printing web site. I tried to use some of the templates provided thru online sites like Shutterfly, but I found that I wanted more control over each page. This led to the realization that Photoshop isn’t the best place for each page…. and I begin crafting my entire book in Adobe InDesign. My document was multiple page, I had margins and spreads, paragraph styles for my journaling, object styles for my photos and much more control over each photo, as well as a plethora of online digital papers, stickers and fonts to download and add to the pages. Currently, I’ve made 35+ photobooks, printed using various online companies, in different sizes, covers and papers. I’ve made books for vacations, family reunions, memories of passing dogs, trip with friends – printed for each person, and most consistently, an annual album, documenting the events of each year for our family. I’m usually a year behind, finalizing the book in December of the previous year, but at least I have them right?? This shelf, full of 35+ photobooks is also about 2 feet, but i have so many more memories due to the thinner pages and sleeker printing process.

Making photo albums is engraved into my being. Someone can ask me about an event, a car or outfit, and I can usually find a photo within a few minutes on my computer or in an album. I truly believe that my kids and grandkids will do the same as I did in that tiny town in Iowa, and pour through the memories of their lives and learn about those in the family who have come before them.

It’s priceless.

On the following pages, you can see the individual .jpg files from my albums. I provide these pages to you for ideas, as well as a place that I can showcase what it takes to put together a photo album.

For the past 8 years, I’ve printed a 12″ x 12″ album. I like the square size. I feel like I can fit more on each page and spread. I have been printing them lately using and have been happy with the upload method, website, shipping and most importantly, the printing and binding. Blurb has a direct  “InDesign to” process which makes everything easier. Once the book is finished in InDesign you input the number of pages in the Blurb plugin and Blurb will create a cover template for you, which has the spine thickness measured out. I just add photos and text and upload a custom printed, wrap-around cover. Most of my books have been around 100 pages, with a hard cover and they have cost about $120 printed and shipped. I invite you to take a glimpse into my life and how I have preserved those memories.


If you have questions or need consulting help on getting started making YOUR albums using InDesign, please contact me.