Legacy photobook

The Legacy of the Doyle & Molloy Families Photobook

Family Legacy Photobooks are one of my favourite projects to work on with clients. I love hearing their stories and helping them make their dream of sharing their family history a reality.

This book begins with a family tree spread of two generations. It shows my client’s parents and their parents with a touch of the “Kelly” green and a Celtic pattern to celebrate their Irish roots.


My client and I discussed her preferences for the design after she saw the family tree that I had created. We agreed on a simple and tasteful style with only a few design elements to embellish the pages, and a colour theme for each section. She wanted to include over 500 photos so the backgrounds were kept subtle. For the spread about her mother’s love of her grandchildren, I got more creative and designed a soft, dreamy background. I screened back a sweet image of her mother holding her 4-year-old granddaughter’s hand at the beach for the background, and then placed the other photos around it.

This page features the grandchildren

My client collected photos, newspaper articles, historical documents, memorabilia and obituaries and we shared all our files on Dropbox. She created subfolders for the chapters in the order that she wanted them in the book which saved us so much time.


The history of Molloy’s Bar, which is South of San Francisco

After I reviewed all of her materials, we had a couple of long phone calls. We talked about the scope of the book and I asked some interview-style questions. I talked to her mother, who was understandably shy to disclose more personal things to me over the phone, but it set the tone to build trust and she opened up as she saw the initial pages. I was able to convey that I cared about getting their stories correct, in a truthful and tasteful way.

I love photos that show the hairstyles of the 1940s and 50s!

It was such a delight to have so many great stories to tell about this large Irish family. The book is told from the point of view of my client’s 87-year-old mother who has 7 children and 20 grandchildren. We kept the text in her voice. She lost her husband in 2012 so the photobook is as much of a tribute to him as it is a retelling of their family history. It took us 90 pages and many months of emails and phone calls, but we did it!

A tribute page to Lanty Molloy, the patriarch of the family

On a technical note, my client had not done a lot of scanning before this, but knew to set the dpi larger rather than smaller for better quality. I reduced the files that were too big down to an 8×10 at 300 dpi since her book was 12×12 inches. In some cases, the only available option for my client was to take a photo with her phone of a framed image, reflections on the glass and all, and send that to me. I was then able to fix and edit the image so it looked as good as the others when printed in the book.

I am so grateful to have had this incredible photobook project to work on during Covid. It gave me a sense of satisfaction that is hard to describe because we were creating a book for future generations in a time of so much uncertainty. I would love to meet Deirdre the next time I am in California and to have a pint at Molloy’s Bar. She dedicated a lot of time to this photobook as a precious gift to her mother and is an inspiration to me and my future clients.


About the Author:

Marilyn Gillespie is a professional photographer, who creates custom-designed legacy photobooks for clients worldwide. She also offers photo scanning, retouching and photo restoration services. Marilyn can be reached by email and loves chatting to clients about how best to archive and preserve their family history or life stories.

My new Legacy collages


Reta Smith (nee Roe) loved fashion, enjoyed drawing and painting and appreciated all the arts. She bestowed this sensibility on her daughter Karrie. Karrie wanted to honour her mother and create a multi-image print to frame for their hallway entrance where everyone would see it every day and smile.

I love my repeat clients so much. Karrie Smith has bought so many sets of floral cards from me, that now she can make requests and I will produce them just for her. Last year I carefully scanned an oversized scrapbook that her mom had made for Karrie’s son. This woman, in her late 60s, made 6 scrapbooks, 2 for her children and 4 more, one for each grandchild. We should all be so lucky to have scrapbooks lovingly made by hand by our mother! She left her legacy for generations to come with personal stories related to each person.

When she called me to discuss getting something printed to hang on the wall I already had most of the images I needed. Since I have these 300 dpi scans of this scrapbook on file, we could produce this request quickly. I told her about my new Legacy Tribute Collages. These are like a summary page of a photobook, formatted to frame on the wall, with a selection of photos and some text.

We decided on a theme and started planning. These days, most people have access to a scanner, and I can also work with phone photos, because when they are done properly they can be perfectly fine for printing. I can send you directions on how to make a good copy of a photo on your phone. I can also scan your prints, slides or negatives for you.

I also know that my client loves William Morris wallpapers as much as me, so in behind of her piece is a screened back classic one with roses and his signature swirly leaves.

I will be building a collection of samples over the next few months. I have a Special Offer for you at this time. Legacy Collages that are 11×14 inches in size are $75.00, with up to 8 images, like the sample shown here. I estimate approximately $95.00 with tax and shipping within Canada and the US. Call me for a quote on other sizes or formats.

I look forward to hearing from you and discussing your ideas. These tribute collages make a perfect Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or birthday gift to honour your family’s matriarch or patriarch. If we are organized and I am not too busy, I could ship your 11×14 print within 2 weeks. If it’s more convenient, I can also send you the file instead to print locally for $95.00.

We can make a Gift Certificate in any amount and send it to you.