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What to do with all your vacation photo’s??

We are very fortunate to be able to afford to go on vacation at least once a year. We try to do two things each year:

  1. Go once a year to somewhere in North Carolina (state in which we live) – this usually means the beach or the mountains and
  2. Since half the family lives in Germany and the other half in New Zealand we get to travel internationally often.

This means we have lots and lots of photos, which I never seem to get around to putting into albums – this seems even more true in a digital age.

North Carolina Photos


New Zealand Photos


Here are some ideas, we have been using over the last 12 months to preserve the memories.

  1. I will always send a selected set of photos for the year to grandparents ~10 photos. We provided them albums a couple of years ago, so now they just have to add the photos.
  2. We also have photo albums of our big trips; I have memory albums of France (Paris), Italy (Rome, Florence, Pisa and Isle of Capri), UK (England, Scotland and Wales), Czech Republic (Prague) and Portugal (Lisbon). I mix the photos with other items I collected during the trip – coins, or other currency items; post cards, ticket for rides or museums, brochures; anything that explains or adds to the memories. I will say that it took me a long time to put these together and I took about 5 years before I even started them ;-). I have not yet got around to our Pacific trips.
  3. I have a photo wall going up the staircase of the family. I know this is common in the US – when I saw this I thought it was a great use of space that otherwise would remain empty. Take a look at this pinterest site for ideas for arranging your photos on the wall. I use different frames and sizes on my wall.
  4. I use simple glass frames (9×11) for key photos of vacation areas and use them to add visual interest to my office at work.
  5. I discovered Shutterfly last year, and loaded up photos, and made calendars for the grandparents and aunt. I loved the result and it was so inexpensive, the best thing was I also got 50 prints of photos for free.
  6. For birthday “Thank You” cards, I try to always include a picture from the birthday party, of the child, who gave the present. This way the parents and child also keep hold of the memory.
  7. I think one of the coolest things I made last year, was a collage of our vacation in New Zealand, previously that year. I gave this to my husband for Christmas. I’ll go into more detail how I made this one.

Making Art from Vacation Photo’s (#6 above)

I was searching online one day and came across some visual arts using photo collages and that reminded me of the CSI episode where the stalker had created a beautiful photo collage to preserve the memories, and had given it to his object as a gift (I know weird – but the idea of the collage was cool).

I decided that we had so many cool photos from our trip to New Zealand that year that I photo collage of the trip would make a great gift to my husband. Pictures below show the collage before and after Framing.

Materials I used:

  • 1x white board
  • A paper cutter (I used this one from AC Moore which landed up to be free with coupons)
  • Clean T-shirt or soft cloth
  • 40 Selected photos of various colors (NOTE: I had lots of left overs and could have used only 20 photos but to get the color results I wanted I went with more photos)
  • Glue stick
  • Matt board and foam board for framing the end result
  1. On your white board, draw in pencil (so you can rub out later) a straight rectangle that will be the area boundaries that you will be gluing the photos into.
  2. Decide on the thickness of the strips you are going to cut the photos. I cut my photos to 1 cm (~1/2 an inch) and I cut them parallel with the short end of the photo. This way I got approx. 12 strips per photo.
  3. Start cutting your photos. Depending on your design, if the photo images are going to be random as they are in mine, just throw the strips into a box.
  4. Decide on how you are going to lay out your photo strips – i.e.. the design. In the one I made I used a zen-zag design (chevron design).
  5. Start glueing the strips onto the white board. Start at one of the boundary pencil lines that way you can ensure your strips are straight. Also, leave a slight consistent gap between your photo strips for visual effects.
  6. As you glue use the cloth to smooth each strip down and wipe off excess glue. I use a glue stick with photos since it is a solid – it won’t destroy the photo, if you use wet/liquid options the photo ink will be damaged.
  7. Continue until you fill in your area.
  8. At this point you can either – buy a frame with a matt board if it’s the right size; if it’s a custom shape you can use matt board and foam board to frame out your picture (this is what I do) or you can get you custom framer to do this for you. I use the custom framing, option to only do the glass and frame as it saves money (~$50-$120) to do the matt and backing board yourself

I would love to know ideas on what you do, so leave a comment and let me know.