For Father’s Day, I partnered with Artifact Uprising to create a photo book for Mike out of the gajillion photos that are currently stored on numerous hard drives around my apartment. It’s amazing how much importance we put on photos in this day and age, yet so few of them ever get printed out. Remember getting your printed photos? You had no idea what was going to turn up in that little white envelope. Would there be 24 photos with a thumbprint in each corner? Would half the pictures be blurry and the other half have everyone’s eyes closed?

Usually, there were two or three pictures that were worth saving in the bunch. You’d set them aside and wait until you developed 40 more rolls of film before you had enough good shots to create an album. Or maybe you’d buy an album and put in the pictures as they came in. And then years later, you would discover that album with only the first three pages filled out and think— what was the point of this???

You know what albums I always loved best? The ones my mom made of our baby pictures. I would look at those over and over again, as if something might have changed or I’d find a new photo or moment that had renewed significance.

We’d save the negatives in case we ever wanted to reprint something, but that never ever happened. And if a printed photo went missing? It was lost for good. It wasn’t lurking in an old iPhoto library or in a portable hard drive in the back of our closet waiting to resurface. The printed photo was the photo. That was it.

For the most part, my selection of favorite photos are on Instagram. I find it to be an excellent way of culling down the 40 million photos I take a day to the one or two that make the cut for saving. But my kids don’t have an Instagram account and so, they rarely see the photos I have carefully curated together of their lives.

My husband is probably the most old school person I know (he has begged me for years to make family albums), which is why this was the perfect Father’s Day gift for him.

There are a lot of companies that make photo keepsakes, but I love Artifact Uprising because their products are simple, high quality and beautifully designed. Plus, their photo books are printed on 100% recycled paper. Their tagline is “inspired by the disappearing beauty of the tangible,” which is sad and so true. When our album arrived, it felt amazing to pick it up and hold it in my hands. The photos (all taken with an iPhone) looked sharper, more colorful and way better than I expected. I think they look better than my photos ever looked on film.

I also had a few photos blown up in their gallery frames, which looked equally as beautiful.

A family photo for us to hang:

One of my dad and me at the top of One World Trade that I gave my father last weekend:

And a huge group shot of both my sister’s family and my own to give my stepdad Sam:

But the hardcover photo book was what really made the biggest impression.

Before I get to the photos in the album, let me talk about the process, because it was really simple. Everything was drag and drop, including the page templates, which made it super easy to put together. You could add pages, delete pages and move them around with ease. You could take photos from your photo library, your desktop or connect your Instagram account. (Note: I edit everything in an app called Pictapgo, which creates a folder on my phone, so I’ve realized the easiest way to find my favorite photos in high res is to just look through that folder, totally ignoring the endless stream of photos in my library.)

It’s important to note that Artifact Uprising photo albums are less about playing with colors and shapes, and more about simple templates, designed to keep things streamlined and focused on your photos.

Since I have so many photos, I thought it was be easier to put together my album based on a theme, and since this book was for Father’s Day, I included only photos that would be meaningful to Mike. That meant our family vacations (grouped by location), our birthdays, holidays and our time spent together at the summer house. I also included every full family shot I could find and made sure Mike was present in at least half of the photos. Having such strict guidelines made it easy to choose which photos to use and which I could lose. The whole thing took about an hour to put together.

The book arrived earlier this week, when Mike was away for work, which allowed me to take it out and show the girls.

“Is that a book???? Filled with OUR photos??????” Mazzy asked incredulously.

“Am I in there?” Harlow asked.

“Of course!”

“Did you make it, Mom?” Mazzy asked, still unsure of how this perfect specimen of memories landed in our mailbox. A tangible album being so foreign to my children.

“I did.”

Then my girls opened it up and flipped through the pages, talking about which trips they remembered and which they didn’t.

Harlow didn’t remember Copenhagen and Norway at all, and Mazzy was convinced that the photo with the balloon was photoshopped.

“No, Mazzy. That’s a real background. You were there!”

“Really? It looks fake.”

“I know. It was so beautiful it looked fake in real life too.”

Then Harlow’s eyes lit up when she saw the pics from LA. “I remember that trip, Mom!!!!”

“I hope you do. We went this past January.”

“What is this photo?? Why do we all look so unhappy???”

Ah, yes. That was when we were on a boat trip in the fijords; one of my favorite photos ever.

Mazzy and Harlow also loved looking at the ski trip photos, the birthday photos and most of all, the photo of the football birthday cake they made for Mike a couple of years ago. “We really made that cake, Mom!”

“I know. Who do you think took the picture?”

Mike is going to love the album. I know he will. It’s the perfect Father’s Day gift. But I think it was the girls’ reactions that really brought the power of the printed home. When we were younger and used to printed albums, seeing our photos on a computer seemed revolutionary. Now, to our children, it’s the other way around. Digital pictures disappear into the ethernet. Even the ones we post to Instagram eventually disappear on our feed, requiring hours of scrolling back to find them.

Becoming tangible is what makes a photo special to our kids.

Giveaway: $150 Artifact Uprising gift card

Are you searching for the perfect Father’s Day gift for the dad in your life? Today’s your lucky day! I’m giving away a $150 Artifact Uprising gift card code. To enter, you must enter your email in the widget below which will sign you up for both the Artifact Uprising and Mommy Shorts newsletters. Once the contest ends, all giveaway entrants will receive a 10% off code via follow up email, valid for 1 week. Winner will be drawn at random on June 11th! Good luck!


Congratulations to Kim Strait! Please email to claim your prize!