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How do you remember a holiday? A great joy of travel is that it expands our sensory experience, allowing us to tap into little pockets of carefree time when we recall the tang of a lemon tart, for instance, or the earthy smell of an sunrise safari.
For most of us, it’s photos that really bring it all back. But with hundreds of shots from the summer, what are we supposed to do with all those jpegs? How can we curate them to best serve memory, to indulge our nostalgia on a rainy afternoon?
I’m not here to dump on the much-used Insta ‘photo dump’ – or Instagram more generally. Personally speaking, I’ve found it to be a good way of collecting little moments that would otherwise be lost to the ravages of time. An easy place to scroll back through the archives.
But research shows that the number of likes a photo receives changes the way we feel towards our memories; seeing it as a ‘20 likes post’ rather than the great day out it was.
Even if you’ve managed to tune out from this social pressure (or hide the likes count) there’s a flatness to just storing your pictures online. It’s time, I think, to re-embrace the photo album.
How can you create a holiday photo album?
While online platforms have been furiously innovating to keep us logged in longer, there’s been some quiet progress in the physical world of photo books.
For the last couple of years, I’ve been documenting my holidays with a UK book maker called Bob Books. It’s got an avuncular sound to it, as if Bob may be tucked away somewhere, smiling to himself as he carefully compiles your “let’s do a silly one” snaps from Tenerife.
A team of publishing pioneers are behind it, in fact. And while it’s far from the only company out there, I’ve been impressed by its easy-to-use designing software and the quality of the finished products. You can add captions to photos, and even decorative artwork.
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I’d been wanting to start making my own photo albums for years – and even got a couple of beautiful faux-leather-bound albums to do so. But finding the time to select, print and start sticking (or sheathing) photos was another matter. With photo book software you can just drag pictures into the slots it suggests and you’re ready to go.
My Dad made my brother and I a ‘Bob Book’ after a week on the Isle of Mull last year, and it’s become a treasured possession. As a keen birder, there were more distant photos of Mull’s birdlife than I’d have personally included. And there’s some quite unflattering selfies of the three of us that I definitely did not put on my Insta grid.
But that’s part of the beauty of it, as an imperfect record of the week – mixing lowkey moments with the highlights into a whole that feels more representative of the trip, more truthful and so more transportive when I flick back through the pages.
Putting a book together for my Mum post our holiday in Croatia this summer, I found they’re even more fun to give than receive. Two pages were dedicated to the many characterful cats of Dubrovnik.
Print your holiday photos up into these products
There’s an unbeatable charm to a book, in my opinion. Turning the pages brings back the flow of days, making it easier to relive your favourite experiences.
But they’re far from the only option when it comes to turning your holiday files into household objects.
Calendars are another classic, of course. Fridge magnets, mouse mats, keyrings have all been around for years. If you really love a particular photo (or several) you can have them blown up on a canvas as wall art.
But what you might not know – if you haven’t dipped into the world of printing in a while – is that the sky’s the limit now. Pretty much anything you want to get a photo printed on you can.
Fancy owning a mug, mosaic towel, sock, cushion or air freshener of your sun-kissed face? Online retailer Firebox has them. EatYourPhoto enables you to print holiday pics onto cakes – though that’s really the Insta story of the physical photo world, lasting only 24 hours at best.
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There’s something for every budget. Bob Books start at £16.99 (€19.60) for a small landscape book (either matte or glossy) and go up based on size, pages and cover type. Though it’s more expensive, the hardbacks feel fittingly permanent.
Another cheaper option that looks fun on a mantlepiece is a ‘Boomf Bomb’ from Boomf, a photo cube card which, at £11.99 (€13.84), is an ideal (and surprising) present for your holiday companion.
Do you have a favourite way of preserving your holiday memories? Let us know on Twitter or Instagram.