Photo Avalanche: Photo books & Slideshows to the Rescue

Getting it together with iPhoto & Apple TV

NAA_JFO'Reilly 1936
John O’Reilly, Perth. 1936

If you love your photos but find they are taking over your house or will most likely end up in a skip bin when your no longer around, then it’s time for action and revitalization. As Family Historians we perpetually run the photo, paper and space gauntlet, especially if your also the custodian of your family’s treasured photos and documents. As a keen photographer, I must admit to having quite a few pocket photo albums plus scrapbooking albums as well as the family photo archive and even slides. My family will not be surprised to find I must have about 12,000 photos in these albums alone, without including any digital photos. Let’s guesstimate there’s about 25,000 photos! Well, it’s not unusual for me to take a thousand photos a week while I’m on holiday but I do make wonderful photo books. The magic of technology has come to the rescue.

Cycling by Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra

 After a recent overseas trip, I used iPhoto to create an 82 page photobook selected from 570 of my best photos to make a visual diary. Fortunately, all the photos were digital and did not need to be scanned but were clearly labelled with the date and location when I downloaded them so they were already in the correct sequence. More challenging, is a family history, memorial, remembrance or special occasion photo book that covers a longer period of time, especially if the photos are not all scanned or digitised yet. Such special albums are a truly splendid opportunity for the family to get together and share, or even retrieve those photos that have ‘disappeared’ from family albums. One of the greatest advantages of technology is that it enables us to be generous and share our memories with anyone we choose to, and who wants them!

Kiama Blowhole & Lighthouse


I use iPhoto because it suits me. There are umpteen programs and vendors willing to oblige you but I prefer the size and excellent quality of the photos in the book purchased from Apple. If you never get to make a photo book you can still enjoy your digital photos in whatever state of order or chaos they are now in, on Apple TV or easily made into a slideshow on iPhoto. The photos come to life on a big screen TV and are so easy to share and enjoy particularly with some background music. Your photos need no longer be neglected and just gathering dust on a shelf. I have my best photos organised by year in a special Apple TV photos folder on my computer. I can also use these for my phone or ipad ‘brag book’ photos or as a ready reference to find an elusive date, person or place.

Angel, Rookwood Catholic Cemetery

Apple photo books are made using iPhoto and are a minimum of 20 pages with different size options depending on whether it’s a soft or hard cover but are only available in landscape, not portrait orientation. I generally use the Large (28 x 21.5cm) Hardcover option because I prefer that size and like the photo wrap cover & matching dust jacket. I use my desktop computer or a lap top due to the sheer volume of photos. Sorry, but it doesn’t work on PC. Otherwise, you might try Blurb with or without Adobe Lightroom or InDesign which has portrait and square sizes as well as ebooks. Moleskine or Milk Photo Books is similar and is also free on the App Store and can be used on ipads.  If you need to scan your photos many printers include a scanner on top or there are scanners such as Epson Perfection V370 Photo if you prefer a table top scanner you can sit in front of for hours while you scan prints, documents and 35mm slides or films.

Manly Public School c. 1910

Now consider the Who, What, Where and When. What story do you want your photo book to tell? Will it include events, people, places or things? What time period do you want to cover? Will it be months, years, decades, generations or possibly centuries?

Perhaps your photo book will be about a baby, a wedding, a memorial service, holidays, travel, christmas, favourites, family portraits, family history, memories and traditions, a house history, a year book, a diary, a time line, a cook book, a portfolio or to simply preserve your most precious photos for the future. Maybe it’s just for the fun of having a go, to just experiment with some special photos and see how they can evolve into something both beautiful and gratifying. It’s up to you, whatever makes you happy.

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