Print Your Photos - Part II | Photobooks From Your Phone | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I take a lot of pictures. (Maybe unnecessary to state. And maybe an understatement as well. ;-)  I've worked out a pretty solid system for organizing most of my images on my computer using Lightroom.  Having a system makes it easier to find my pictures when it's time to order prints or put together photo books (which I look forward to sharing in another post). The exception to my system is my phone pictures.

I've already written about the importance of backing up your pictures, including the ones on your phone. But what about getting them off your phone (where you may never look at them) and into your hands?  I love the pictures I take with my DSLR and I love the photobooks I make with them. But there are so many moments from our life that I capture only with my phone. And these photos don't make it into my photobooks.  At the most, I'm reminded of them by the Facebook or Google popups that tell me what I posted one or two or however many years ago. Otherwise, they live silently on my phone.

I've tried incorporating my phone images with my DSLR images on my computer.  It's a workable solution, but it is time consuming to transfer the files.  Also, while it's possible to take beautiful images with a camera phone, I haven't mastered that skill. Most of my phone pictures are snapshots and I prefer to keep them together with other snapshots rather than integrate them with my other images.  So I needed an easy and quick solution to make sure my phone images and the memories they hold aren't forgotten.

Enter Chatbooks.  I'd been seeing their ads on my Instagram feed for months and when they ran a summer sale a couple of months ago, I decided to try them out. Chatbooks is a phone app that compiles pictures from your phone into a cute 6x6 book that features one picture per page. They start at $8 a book for 30 pages.  There are lots of great features to this service (including an automated series option and the ability to add captions and include dates and locations), but the main draw for me was the ability to collaborate with others.  My husband takes a lot of pictures with his phone as well and I wanted to include both our photos.  Once he downloaded the app, I sent him a code and he was able to begin adding to our book.  Super easy.

One downside I found with Chatbooks was the lack of editing features in the app.  Instead, I edited all the pictures I wanted to include in my book in the VSCO app and then saved them to my phone.  It made the process a little longer than if I had just taken the photos as-is, but it still only took me a day's worth of of spare moments to compile a month's worth of photos for my book.  Another downside for me was that the automated series feature seems to be restricted to use with Facebook or Instagram only.  I was disappointed that I couldn't automate use of photos directly from my phone.  That would be the ultimate convenience.

So I ended going with a custom book, which starts at 30 pages, and adding an additional ten pages for $1. With shipping, my books were about $10 each. For that price, the quality isn't bad, but I was disappointed in the discoloration on the cover once I received them. Perhaps it's more apparent because I used a black and white cover image, but the yellow tinge was pretty noticeable.  I contacted Customer Service and they quickly shipped a replacement which was improved, although still not a true white.  Ultimately, I think the summer heat may have reacted with the paper during shipment, so I'll try again to see if there's any difference.  

Overall, I'm still happy with my books because the process was convenient and quick and now I have at least one month's worth of phone photos printed in something tangible that my son can look through. Bonus points that the books make good gifts for his grandmothers as well. :-)  

Have you tried Chatbooks or any similar apps for printing phone photos?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

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