What is the best way to create a collection of family pictures for the church's book?


For as long as I can remember my parents' church has put together a book with pictures of every family every 3-5 years, and the process always goes something like:

-Choose a national company to take photos (they don't charge for the session or the resulting book)

-Family schedules a time to come sit in front of a neutral screen, all lay their hands on eachother's shoulders or arms and smile for the camera.

-The national company tries to sell them photos beyond what will go in the book.

-Several months later everyone in the church receives a book.

I understand that this is a very cost effective way of creating a picture book, but I also know that the process and result can be problematic.

Has anyone found a different way of creating these? What have your results been?

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Community Builder


It's funny you should ask this. We just decided to do the "usual" thing that you describe - hire a company to make a pictorial album - because we hadn't done that in a long time. However, like you said, the experience wasn't necessarily so great. The photographer sometimes posed people in weird positions and the participation wasn't as high as we'd hoped. It all took a lot of work and I'm hoping it was worth it (we don't have the book yet).

Looking back, I was much happier with a different method we used a couple years ago. A church member with a good digital camera (SLR) volunteered to take photos and make an online album. We posted announcements in the bulletin and he would just catch people after church, during coffee hour, have them come over to a place with nice green leaves growing up the fence, and took their photo. It turned out quite nice. You can see it here. If I were to do it over, I'd choose a better site for hosting it but still the photos are very nice. People got to choose the pose they liked right there on the spot. Also, it even looks quite good when just printed right off the web, so people with no computer can enjoy it, too.

I'll be interested to hear what other ideas people may have.


When you published the photos online, how did the congregation feel about not having a physical product?


Community Builder

Hi Denise,

I think a couple of them asked for the digital file, which was easy enough to give them, but we published it as an "online photo directory" from the beginning, so they knew it was for that purpose. I did print it from the web for new people as they started attending, and that worked out fine.