i've seen a dragonfly, I've seen a housefly ...

>> Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I’ve even seen a horsefly!!!  BUT …  I’ve not been the same person since I’ve REALLY seen Shutterfly!  ROFL!  I kid y’all not!

ScreenHunter_03 Mar. 16 14.46 
A small glimpse of the share site I have created for my daughter, Joan, in which she and DH will share with
family and friends their journey from a couple, through Joan’s pregnancy and into parenthood.

I have known about Shutterfly for many years now.  However, since  I’ve done all of my own printing for my digital and/or hybrid projects to date, I’ve never had an interest to frequent their site or any other printing site for that matter.  Well, that all changed several months back when I decided the only way I was ever going to be able to put a dent into my 30-40 years worth of photos and to “actually” create albums for all six of my children, let alone work on heritage photos and now grandchildren, without going broke and putting my passion for designing to a halt, was in the creating of digital photo books!

In between projects and life in general, I had spent three-to-four months searching and researching my best option given the size of the families between Robert and I.  Between the two of us, we have eleven children, six grandchildren (two more on the way this year) and countless aunts, uncles, cousins and so on!  LOL!  I am still meeting family relatives for the first time in my life and or reconnecting with some I’ve not had contact with since I was a young girl.

It never fails.  At every family event, I am asked when it is that everyone is going to have the opportunity to see all of the photos I’ve been taking over the years.  I would love to print photos or even burn DVDs for everyone, however, I simply cannot afford to, nor do I have the time as the events are ongoing!  I have been in turmoil over this fact for some time, because my heart wishes to do for everyone and there is just not enough of me to keep up with all that “I” would love to be able to accomplish. 

After making the decision that photo books are going to be my preferred method of preserving memories, it was then a question of which site would best suit my needs with quality of product being at the forefront of my final decision.  Shutterfly won my heart, hands down!  Why you might be asking? Here are just a few of my reasons:
  • Shutterfly is the first site of it’s kind on the web making it well-established and is a one-stop shopping place for photos (they are celebrating their 10th year this month!)
  • Unlimited photo storage
  • Photos are never deleted unless you do so yourself (In their 10-year history, Shutterfly has NEVER deleted a photo!)
  • Photo editing on board for those without a photo editing program with lots of options, such as cropping, red-eye removal (love this one, simple and very effective!), black and white, sepia, speech bubbles, frames and borders and the list goes on 
  • Photos are stored in the resolution in which they are uploaded for optimum print quality (just make sure to upload images at full resolution as you would at Flickr
  • Shutterfly will let you know the largest print size recommended for each photo uploaded, which will ensure a good quality print
  • Organize your photos into albums and then albums into folders if you wish by date, event, etc.
  • You have the ability to share your photos right from Shutterfly to Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, your blog or get the code to embed a widget on another site
  • Order prints (wallet size to several poster sizes), numerous other photo gifts and photo books right from your Shutterfly account and/or share site(s)
  • Create unlimited share sites (public or completely private to only those you invite to become members)
  • Link share sites
  • Post links to your favorite sites from within your share sites
  • Add widgets to your share site (I have created custom skinned mp3 players for all four share sites thus far)
  • Add photos, albums and photo books from your Shutterfly account to any of your personal share sites or share sites that you are a member of where the owner has given you permission to contribute
  • Shutterfly photo book bindings are stitched not glued and are of top quality
  • Shutterfly offers free PSD templates with guides for trimming, bleed issues, etc.
  • Those you wish to share your photos with via your Shutterfly albums or share sites have the option of downloading the photos of their choice in FULL resolution to print on their home printers or they can order prints via Shutterfly (this option alone won me over because most photo sites want you to order prints through them and the photo images are stored in less than print-worthy sizes and resolution
  • Shutterfly has a wonderful community area and gallery where you can share or learn from others
  • Lots of valuable information being shared on Shutterfly’s blog, Picture More, which includes some great tutorials
I could go on-and-on, however, I encourage you to check it out for yourself if you’ve never dug deeply into the Shutterfly site! 
              ScreenHunter_05 Mar. 16 14.53
The custom mp3 player that I
created at Playlist.com for Joan’s baby site!

The last bullet, but too lengthy, would have been about my main purpose in registering with Shutterfly in the first place!  For example, the share site that I am currently working on for Robert’s side of the family will enable us to invite Robert’s seven siblings, their children and grandchildren to become members of our family share site.  Everyone will have the ability to contribute to the site and while I have written up a set of guidelines so as to keep things organized, each member will have their own Shutterfly account where they can create albums.  At the end of the year, I will have everyone start selecting a few of their favorite photos from each family event to add to the family yearbook album on the family share site. 
 
From the share site there will, hopefully, be a team of us working on page layouts and begin creating our family yearbook to have printed into whatever size book or books we decide on via Shutterfly.  This simply cannot be done from a blog, Facebook or anywhere else I’ve been thus far.  If you have found another site equal to what I am sharing in regard to Shutterfly, please enlighten me so that I might check it out! 

Reminder:  working with photos in their original size and resolution is essential for producing quality photo books.

The photo books will remain on the family share site indefinitely so that each family member can order whenever it is convenient for them to do so.  Nothing is ever deleted unless the owner(s) of a share site opt to do so.

Y’all know I am a “frugalista”, so I will wait to order my photo books when Shutterfly puts them on sale for 30-40% off, which is usually the case after the first of the year and will make for the perfect timing for a family yearbook! 

Shutterfly always has something special going on and for every share site I create, they add to my account 30 free 4X6 prints (not including shipping, which is nominal) that I’ve not had time to work with yet and I’d better get a move on it before the the deadline!  LOL!  I even earned free prints for sharing a video on one of my share sites.  These are random offers and if you sign up to receive their specials when registering for an account, you will always be privy to such offers! *wink*

Just for registering at Shutterfly and creating an account, they give you 50 FREE prints with 30 days to place your order.  They are very good about sending reminders in the event they see we’ve not yet taken advantage of our “free” goodies!

I shall keep y’all abreast of my Shutterfly experiences!  I have now created a total of four share sites with more in the planning!  The first was for my daughter, April who was just married, the second for Robert’s family, the third for my daughter, Joan, so we can follow her pregnancy and the fourth for my mother, the Adam’s Matriarch!  Yes, I see even more family yearbooks in my immediate future!  LOL!

Oh, one more mention lest I forget.  You can add pages onto each share site to further customize your personal experience and I shall share a little about one that I have created.  

Robert’s family has a reunion bi-annually and this July we will be having Family Camp!  This is normally planned and executed via emails back-and-forth and I thought, let’s have a page devoted solely to the planning of Family Camp.  Of course, I shall have to wait and get feedback from those that usually head things up but, on the page I have created, I’ve added a forum where each day’s menu can be posted and family members can come in and sign up for the items that they would like to contribute.  There is a map via Google where everyone can get directions if needed and I’ve even added a weather gadget so we can all keep track of what the weather will be like at the campground we will be camping out at!  How cool is this?   And, I was even able to enable an email that will be sent out automatically to all members that will encourage them to upload their photos after Family Camp is over!  I love, love, LOVE my Shutterfly sites!  Everything is all in one convenient place and everyone can participate in some capacity and end of with photos, photo gifts and/or photo books!  WOOT!

A little feedback on photo books versus scrapbook albums from someone’s blog post that I read a while back.  She noted that the family scrapbooks were rarely picked up and viewed by others.  When she created her first photo book, it was constantly picked up by those visiting and looked through!   I, personally, am finding them much more practical in so many ways.  While one may not wish little fingers flying through the pages of a photo book (you cannot simply re-print and replace one torn or fingerprinted page), they can always be kept up high enough to prevent that from happening.  I know that I would not wish to even think about that happening with digital scrapbook albums that I had worked hard on and printed out myself!  SO, there is always a method to our madness, right?  Uh, huh …

Now y’all know where I’ve been and why I’ve not even made a peep here on my blog the past week-and-a-half!  Phew, this girl has taken care of some “family” business!  LOL! *big grin*

I look forward to any and ALL feedback as always.

I shall be back tomorrow, St. Patrick’s Day, to share my new and improved recipe for, *Shimmerin’ Shamrocks* with y’all.  Until then, keep on scrappin’ happy my lovelies!

As always, I thank you SO much for your lovely comments and well-wishes.  I read them all and they touch my heart dearly.  MWAH!

Love and hugs,

Linda :D

P.S.  Shutterfly has not offered me anything for this basic review, in fact, unless they get pinged or something like that, they won’t even know I’ve written this post about them!  Most of you know me well enough to know that I simply love to share a good thing when I find it!

If you might be interested in seeing a wonderful “Layout Printing Review” and have not already viewed it at the The Daily Digi, head on over and check out Stephanie’s fabulous review which, unfortunately does not include Shutterfly, however, she will review them in an upcoming book review.  Stephanie has does an excellent job of covering the most important things we need to know if looking for someone to print out our layouts and/or photos.  I just happened to catch this review while in the midst of writing my blog post last night!  How is that for timing?  Thank you Stephanie!

A few posts back from Stephanie’s review of layout printing, I found a wonderful post from Wendy of Wendyzine Scraps, “How-To Guide: Printing Photo Books and Albums for Digital Scrapbookers”.  I have already purchased some of Wendy’s “toolkits” for Shutterfly at Scrapbookgraphics and look forward to using them in my photo book creations!

Naturally, my choice of Shutterfly has been based on more than print quality (which I already know is excellent) and entirely on my needs to compile photos from many different sources culminating into photo books for everyone to purchase who wishes to do so!  It always pays to read what other’s experiences have been and then do a little more digging on your own until you feel you have found a good fit for your personal and/or family needs.

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