How do you keep a vacation memory? A great joy of travel is that it expands our sensory experience, allowing us to tap into little pockets of carefree time when we remember the flavor of a lemon pie, for example, or the earthy smell of a sunrise safari.
For most of us, it’s the photos that really bring it all back. But with hundreds of snaps from the summer, what are we supposed to do with all those jpegs? How can we organize them to best serve the memory, to satisfy our nostalgia on a rainy afternoon?
I’m not here to dump on the much-used Insta “photo dump” — or Instagram more generally. Personally, I found it to be a great way to collect small moments that would otherwise be lost to the ravages of time. An easy place to scroll through the archives.
But to research shows that the number of likes a photo receives changes how we feel about our memories; seeing it as a “20 likes post” rather than the great day it was.
Even if you’ve managed to disconnect from this social pressure (or hide the number of likes), it’s flat to just store your photos online. It’s time, I think, to take back the photo album.
How to create a holiday photo album?
While online platforms have been furiously innovating to keep us connected longer, there have been some quiet advancements in the physical world of photo books.
For the past two years I have documented my vacation with a UK book publisher called Bob Books. It has an avuncular sound, as if Bob might be hiding somewhere, smiling to himself as he carefully compiles your “let’s fool around” snaps of Tenerife.
A team of publishing pioneers is behind it, in fact. And while they’re far from the only company out there, I was impressed with their easy-to-use design software and the quality of the finished products. You can add captions to photos and even decorative illustrations.
I’ve wanted to start making my own photo albums for years – and I even got a few beautiful leatherette-bound albums to do just that. But finding the time to select, print, and start gluing (or sheathing) photos was another matter. With photo book software, you can simply drag images into the suggested locations and you’re good to go.
My dad made me and my brother a “Bob Book” after a week on the island of Reflect last year, and it has become a prized possession. As an avid birdwatcher, there were more distant photos of Mull’s avifauna which I personally would have included. And there are some pretty unflattering selfies of the three of us that I definitely didn’t put on my instagram Grid.
But that’s part of the beauty of this one, as an imperfect record of the week – blending understated moments with the highlights into a whole that feels more representative of the journey, more truthful and therefore more transporting as I flip through the pages.
Putting together a book for my mother after our vacation in Croatia this summer, I found them to be even more fun to give than to receive. Two pages were devoted to the many characters cats from Dubrovnik.
Print your holiday photos on these products
There is an unbeatable charm to a book, in my opinion. Turning the pages brings back the flow of days, making it easier to relive your favorite experiences.
But they’re far from the only option when it comes to turning your vacation files into household items.
Calendars are another classic, of course. Fridge magnets, mouse pads, key rings have been around for years. If you really like a particular photo (or several), you can have them enlarged on a canvas as wall art.
But what you might not know – if you haven’t dipped into the world of print in a while – is that the sky’s the limit now. Pretty much anything you want a photo printed on, you can.
Want to own a cup, a mosaic towel, a sock, a pillow or a deodorant for your sun-drenched face? Online retailer Firebox has them. EatYourPhoto lets you print holiday photos onto cakes – although that’s really the instagram history of the world of physical photography, which lasts only 24 hours at best.
There is something for every budget. Bob Books starts at £16.99 (€19.60) for a small landscape book (matte or glossy) and increases depending on size, pages and cover type. Although more expensive, hardback books look perfectly permanent.
Another cheaper option that looks fun on a mantelpiece is a ‘Boomf Bomb’ from Boomf, a photo cube card which, at £11.99 (€13.84), is an ideal (and surprising) gift for your vacation companion.