Recently I received this question about pictorial directories and after the question are responses that were sent in and below them is a suggestion of a commercial product that I’ve had a number of folks in my past seminars tell me they really liked. Please put any additional comments or ideas that you have in the comment section below the article.
Question: Do you have any samples or ideas on how to put together an in-house pictorial directory?
We don’t like the traditional 8×10 size like Olan Mills for example prints. We’d prefer the 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 size or 4 1/4 x 11. We want to use photos, names, addresses, phone numbers (home & cell), emails, birthday & anniversaries of each person. All this information is preferred in the same area with the photo, not seperate. But where you can find ALL the information in one spot, but have it large enough to be read.
Looking for ideas. Any you have would be appreciated.
Thanks for all you hard work in making this such a fabulous informative website for church secretaries!
Lord of Love has a membership-managing software program, Servant Keeper, which offers formatting for regular & pictorial directories.
I'm not able to export that information to send to you, since it is copywrite-protected, but basically, you can lay out the page with 3 large pictures on the right, with the families' information to the left & horizontal lines separating the 3, or lay out 10 to the page with smaller pictures, photo to the right, info to the left, basically making 4 columns on the page (info, phot, info, photo L - R) with horizontal bars separating each pair of families from the ones above & below.
I've even heard the suggestion that in a smaller church, each family can have its own page & add a short autobiography & candid snapshots. It would really take a small church to get all this information gathered in a timely manner!
We put out a pictorial directory in-house about three years ago, but unless some technology changes, I won't be doing another one again any time soon, at least not a printed version. The reasons are below:
1) Printing issues: To effectively print them on a color copier (our color copier was brand new at the time), we would have had to photoshop every single picture because photos output much darker on the color copier than they do on a color laser printer or ink jet. In the end, I couldn't get some of the photos light enough to render the people in them recognizable, so I ended up printing them all on a color laser printer.
2) Cost: The color laser printer I have is about twice the cost of printing on the color copier. When it was all added up, the cost PER DIRECTORY was almost $6. (It was 40 pages, 8.5x5.5 booklet format, with approx. 120 families.) We printed about 150 directories, one for every family, plus extra copies for staff and to give to newcomers, for a total cost of nearly $900.
3) Time cost: I had to spend literally HOURS gathering, cropping, sizing, tweaking and importing photos, not to mention the normal updating, merging, etc. of the data itself. It was way more work than we usually do to put out a directory.
Now, for a positive take:
1) If one has a church management system (CMS), where the congregation can log in and upload their own photo, and update their own info, then there is usually provision for printing a photo directory, and it would be somewhat easier, though still costly to print.
2) Taking it a step further: If we were to do it again, I would convert it to a PDF document and hand out CDs, then each individual family could absorb the printing cost if they even want to print it out at all. In this day of iPads and smart phones, I can see PDF being the preferred format at some point. I have a smart phone, and I think it would be great to be able to access it wherever I am. (Until we have a secure, member-only section on our website, I can't put it online for download.)
Rona Heenk, office manager
East Renton Community Church
Yvon's note on this:
Though I understand the value and impact of color, the most important thing about the directory is to simply see and identify the people and black and white might work nicely to do that. I recently saw a demonstration of a newer digital duplicator from the RICOH corporation and I was astounded at the quality of the photos. Check it out if you get the chance, it would be interesting to see how that might work out, especially if you didn't do something really formal, but maybe a more casual one.
Utilizing a local photographer or one in your congregation to take the family photos, you could then use a publisher such as Creative Memories or Blurb.com to produce an incredible book in whichever size you’d like. Blurb will even offer you the ability to have members purchase the books directly through their website, rather than ordering them in bulk. The downside, is that anyone would be able to see said directory. Once you find a good solution, please let me know. We are planning to do this on our next go round as well.
PS, last year we had our church photographers take photos of each family on Easter Sunday, just as a fun service to them. That may be a great time to catch most of your members dressed in their Easter best!
In Christ's Love,
Administrative Secretary | Clear Lake Baptist Church
The above link is from Microsoft. I didn't take the "course" as I'm off to work in a few minutes but it looks like you can sit back and watch it or you can keep clicking Next at the bottom and it walks you step by step thru a Catalogue Merge.
If they create a data file (excel, access) with the information that they want to appear in the directory, they essentially do a mail merge with Publisher... except, Publisher lets you merge photos in too... so as long as they sorted their data on last names, and saved their photos by last name, so they would merge in. So as long as they sorted their data on last names, and saved their photos by last name, so they would merge in the right order, it would be (hopefully) fairly simple to do.
Secretary - Dundas St Centre United Church
Communications Committee Chair - East London Anglican Ministries
Idea from Yvon
In the past I have gotten some very good feedback about this product:
They are the same people who make the clip art resources for churches, Communication Resources.
I'd love to hear from any of you that have used it, good or bad--just put your comments in the comment section below the article.
Here is the link to their latest version:
And an updated description of what it does:
The new 2011 version of Instant Church Directory offers you all the same ease of use as the 2008, but now with five brand-new features. Now you can provide your congregation with an updated photo-directory every year – or as often as you like – without dealing with a photo-directory company.
You can do it yourself, right in your church office, with the equipment you already have. And you’ll see the results in hours … not months!
All you need to do is recruit a few members with digital cameras to stand near the doors on a few Sundays and take “head-shots” of families and individuals as they arrive or leave. The Instant Church Directory™ software will walk you through the process from there.
Instant Church Directory™ automatically prints your members’ photos and roster in alphabetical order.
Once the directory is on your computer, it’s a snap to make changes and keep it current. Simply print out updated copies anytime on request – as many or as few as you need (Instant Church Directory™ is designed to print on 8 1/2 X 11 portrait format only).
It’s like having a professional photo-directory without the hassles of a directory company. Or without obligating your members to buy expensive portraits.
And just like a professional photo-directory, Instant Church Directory™ will help your members get to know one another better, help build a sense of community, and strengthen member care.
Don’t expect your members to tolerate an outdated directory or loose supplements. Put an updated photo-directory into their hands that they’ll appreciate … and you’ll be proud of!
Instant Church Directory™ is also great for producing photo-directories for your Youth Groups, Choirs, Sunday School Classes, Pre-school, Women’s, & Men’s Organizations, Fellowship Groups, and other ministries of your church.
New Features for 2011!
New! Birthday Page - Quickly add birthdays to any member. The ALL-NEW birthday page displays member birthdays by month.
New! Custom Pages - Insert any PDF page right into the directory.
New! Custom Information Fields - Two new custom fields allow you to add any special information.
New! Reorder Pages - Now you can tell the software which order to print your pages.
New! High-Quality PDF Directory - A high resolution image quality option for printing
Below are the websites of the companies that produce the professional directories.
I am not crazy about either of these companies, but I included them as something to check out for ideas or to compare options. Any directory is better than no directory at all and they do provide a useful service for busy church staffs.
Please add your comments, ideas, input and information in the comment section here. Thanks so much!