oh, 2016…

canon HD photobook

What a year! The events of the last week must surely form the icing on a 2016-cake built of bullshit, bitterness and death. I’m increasingly convinced that David Bowie may have been the glue holding our entire world together.

It’s been a toughie on a personal level, too – losing two people to irreparable disagreements, after a lifetime of never falling out with anyone. A diagnosis of rapid and terminal cancer in a treasured family member. A confirmation of early dementia in another.

It’s easy to get very, very down.

But of course, it’s been a year of joyful moments too. Watching this tiny girl of ours grow bigger and brighter and all the more herself. Marrying my favourite person in a barn full of swallows and sunlight. Swooning at Skywalker, smashing my income targets, new friends, warm bread, first snowfalls, fresh adventures.  It’s just, for whatever reason, these moments don’t weigh quite so much.  They’re easier to forget about. That old negativity bias.

It is, as I often say to people, one of my favourite things about Instagram. That the daily discipline of photography, of sharing the good in your day, however hard, records a different story to our minds. A scroll back through the last few months on my gallery never fails to remind me how lucky I am – how much beauty there is, how many days of laughter and light there were amongst the gloom. It’s the greatest defence I can think of for our curated instagram world – a whole bunch of people gathering together to say ‘LOOK at this sunrise!‘ and ‘there’s a bunny on my coffee!‘. I need more of this stuff in my day to day, tbh. I need to focus on joy, now and then.

I’m weird about printing photos because I’m finicky about clutter. I’ve printed favourites in the past and taped them to walls, but nothing since sometime in 2015. Too busy and distracted, I suppose, but lately Orla’s become really, really interested in those older prints. She asks to see favourites again and again. Can she show them to her friends? Can she take them to school today? 
It felt odd to have nothing more recent to share with her.

So when Canon offered me a HD photobook to review, it seemed like my chance to put the year into print. The good bits of the last twelve (ok, eleven) months – the parts we want to remember. Like those Christmas annuals you’d get as a kid (Star Wars, Neighbours, Dennis the Menace), only of our actual, lovely, fortunate life. 

After putting it off for my whole adult life, it turns out making a photo book isn’t half as faffy as I expected. The online software had a combination of layouts which worked well, as I wanted to include a combination of portrait, landscape and Instagram-squares. It let me upload from any of my online sources (instagram, flickr, Facebook, etc), though I mainly used images direct from my Mac to ensure they were full-resolution. It seemed like a waste of Canon’s photo-glossy pages and lie-flat binding not to fill it with the biggest, most beautiful images I could.

I had planned to gift it to Orla as part of her Christmas present, but she was home when the postman came calling, and this girl is obsessed with parcels. She was ripping the cardboard off before I had chance to intervene, so it was immediately hers.

She likes reading it at bedtime like it’s a storybook, which I suppose it sort of is. We talk about the day the cat caught a tiny goldfinch, and how we tucked it into a little box & buried it. We remember days in the woods, trips to ‘Big London’, that treasured pair of summer shoes. 

It’s made me think that perhaps this is what we all need this Christmas. A guide to the good things that are still out there for all of us; a reminder that we can make more of them happen again in the future.  A happily before and – hopefully – ever after.

This post was sponsored by Canon HD books, but, as you can probably tell, is 100% me and from the ❀️.

What would you put in an annual of your last year? What are the happy moments that sometimes escape you?

 

  • Old Fashioned Susie

    Ah this warms my cockles. Totally agree about the Bowie= glue thing!

    • It’s becoming increasingly incontrovertible. We need Bowie back.

  • What a gorgeous idea, I think I might need to make one of these myself. Oh, 2016 indeed… X

    • It’s a helpful thing! All about reframing, I guess. x

  • I do a photo book for every year – I love to have printed photos; I love the rhythm of it being an annual thing; I don’t like the bulk and general tattiness of traditional photo albums. Pulling it together is something I look forward to every January, receiving it in the post even more so. I’m so looking forward to my toddler being old enough to [be trusted to] look at it with me.

  • I love how it’s read as a bedtime story, so lovely. I’ve done a few online print book a now but this year I wanted to do something slightly different and to include my bois. So, at the end of every month, we pick our favourites from that month and using an app, order some prints. The plan is we get to make a scrapbook in the new year.

  • Paula Solar

    My sister made a book like that for my mum’s birthday… I mean she did a lot of research and found photos and clippings of her and then had the album made. It’s my mum’s life in images and sometimes I take a look at it and wonder what life was like back then in a country with very little freedom… and now it seems like were going back to square one in some aspects. Oh the stories you didn’t know you could tell, it’s only looking back that you realize that there was a story to be told. And one day you will tell your stories to Orla, we can only hope that things are so much better when she gets to our ages. And that the stories will be just that, stories.

    be strong in the days to come, my granny, the only one I have left, has dementia although she’s quite old, and it’s so sad. I won’t give you details right now, but if you need to talk, well… I’ll be around. I’m so sorry that you have to go through hardship in your family. Massive hugs to all of you.

    ps. I was telling a friend this morning this thing about David Bowie holding the fabric of the Universe: “He did (hold it) with the help of Alan Rickman and Prince. Who would have thought that Leonard Cohen was in charge of the back up plan?” πŸ™

    • Every word of this comment went right to my heart, Paula. The future feels so uncertain, in a way I don’t think our generation have ever faced before. We always believed things would just keep getting better.

      So sorry to hear about your Granny. Grandparents are so precious and we’re never too old to need them. Dementia is one of the cruellest diseases there is.
      Yes, Cohen and Rickman and Bowie and Prince. Thank God we still have Mark Hamill, is all I can say. Someone should wrap him in bubble wrap and put him in my bed for safe keeping πŸ˜‰ x

  • Alexa Cobbold

    This idea behind this book is so perfect and has made me cry tears of sadness for not making the most of this year, for not taking time to get away from silly day to day conflicts or worries or woes and not having paid more attention to the simple yet beautiful smaller parts of my life. Thankyou for inspiring me to make a change – not a new years resolution that will be forgotten within a few short weeks – but to make a positive change now to cherish the smaller moments of my life before the year is over, and to relish the tiny part of 2016 that we have left. Thankyou, Sara.

    • Alexa ❀️. What a beautiful comment. I think we’re all horribly guilty of doing just that – of complaining about the bad things and taking for granted that the good stuff will be there again tomorrow. Sometimes I think the secret to life is just to pay attention to the right things and learn to let the rest wash over you. A work in progress, very much! xxx

  • A couple years ago I started re-organizing my family photo albums and it’s such a long process, I’m still working on it. When I will be done I think I will start doing yearly photo books! Yours looks so beautiful. πŸ™‚

    agoldenhour.blogspot.com

  • trona

    I am terrible for photo albums. I still haven’t made a wedding photo album and I got married 4 years ago now *oops*. But this sounds like a wonderful idea, I’d love to make a photo album of the moments I share with my son and husband. I’ve been taking comfort in the small moments, quiet but happy walks with my family, lighting sparklers, listening to my son developing his speech -all these things would go in my annual. I might actually start to do this <3

  • This is so sweet. Your daughter sounds like a doll. I’d have a lot of pictures from the trips I got to go on this summer, one with my mom which was really special, and the other was the first long trip with my boyfriend. Thanks for the reminders of the good things in these darker times.

    Odessa Darling

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  • Vanessa

    I love your point about Instagram, I’m pretty new to it myself but you are so right in that the daily discipline ensures you see and feel something good and positive every day.

  • This was so beautiful. The book looks great x

    Erin | beingerin.com