With CDC guidelines explicitly recommending you stay put this Thanksgiving, many people are opting to celebrate the holidays away from family—for the first time ever, for some (i.e., me). That means it’s a good time to begin investing in a sentimental gift to help bridge the distance and homesickness this December.
One of the most thoughtful gift ideas is a custom photo album. You can create one through services such as Artifact Uprising and Papier, which both offer a slew of different album layouts and designs. But what if your best photos were taken before the arrival of digital cameras?
Co. Design Senior Writer Elizabeth Segran had a perfect solution: Legacybox, which she recently used to revive and preserve precious family photos featuring her late father. She went to Legacybox with a literal box of decades’ worth of photographs—ones that had been tucked away because they were too fragile to handle—and entrusted their care to the service’s technicians. Legacybox specializes in taking analog prints, videos, audio, and slides, and transferring digitized versions via cloud, DVD, or flash drive.
While LegacyBox does not technically “restore” images, Segran said she saw quality improvement in some of the photos she sent for processing. For example, one photograph from a dark Swiss church taken in the 1980s suddenly appeared intricate and detailed in its digital form.
While shipping 750 priceless family photographs was daunting, the service takes a systematic approach to organizing submissions—bar codes label almost every asset in your trade-off—and customers can follow along, step-by-step, as their photos are received, processed, and shipped back. The company is currently offering an unprecedented 60% off its services during its Black Friday event.
Once the digital versions were in ‘s possession she turned to Artifact Uprising, which offers a wide variety of custom photo books, everything from leather-bound, heirloom-quality Layflat Photo Albums (from $289) to mini photo books (from $15). The service relies on recycled, lustre satin finish Mohawk Paper to print its signature Layflat Albums, with the option to tap their Design Services to plot an organized, aesthetic layout for your collection. Segran now owns two.
I used Artifact Uprising to preserve my Instagram photographs when I went off the platform a year ago. The Everyday Print Set is inexpensive and equally archive-worthy; printed on heavyweight, matte, or satin paper and cut into crisp bordered squares, they’re perfect for framing or tacking on the wall on their own. I often use the prints as note cards and have a stack (mostly featuring my cat at various life stages) that have become a signature add-on to gifts and parcels.
It take eight business days for Artifact Uprising to print and ship custom albums, so advance planning is necessary. Right now you can get 20% off orders with the code VERYMERRY.
Another great album service is Papier, which makes a fine selection of affordable photo books and keepsakes (along with beautiful bullet journals and notebooks). Their personalized books are handheld and as stylish as their stationery counterparts. The simple-to-design interface makes it easy to drop your favorite photos into customizable layouts before the book is printed on Mohawk Superfine paper and bound in soft- or hardback covers. They’re extremely gift-able and even come in the Christmas Mini size, a perfect, pocketable keepsake for only $25.
Segran called her photo journey an “emotionally powerful experience,” remembering when her mother came by to dig through the family archives and assemble her selection for Legacybox. While an album may not replace the warm fuzzies of coming home for the holidays, they can certainly help re-create memories from afar.
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