The 'For Sarah' Book


The Brief

A unique handcrafted book was commissioned as a surprise gift from a husband to his wife for her 50th birthday, to capture their lives in the three months leading up to her big day.

The husband told his wife in advance that he wanted to photograph their three teenage children and pets to mark her landmark birthday, but behind the scenes other elements of family life were captured in secret to create an irreplaceable portrait of their life together.  This included her herb garden, favourite roses and sunflowers, the housekeepers cottage and garden, the housekeeper with her family, the gardener, the house and garden.  On top of this, a farm that the family owns, the farm workers and the business she runs were also included in the photo shoot. 

The Process

Time was extremely limited, given the scope of the requirements and the need to have the book ready for the 50th birthday, and so the process had to be seamless from start to finish.

Stella worked closely with the client to choose the appropriate photographs and curate each individual part of the story. Each photograph was cropped and finished ready for the design and artwork, incorporating coloured pages to connect selected photographs. This ensured the final result was a sensitive portrait of their individual story.

Stella collaborated with designers, book printers, binders and other craftsmen to work on the book production.  At the same time, she discussed and arranged with her copywriter any words to be incorporated in the book.

The small touches on this project were critical to its success. Stella selected a linen cloth especially for the recipient in her favourite colour for the cover, and a gold foil lettering for the text on the face and spine.

The family were thrilled with the finished product.


"Stella has been a pleasure to work with, she suggested ideas that I hadn't thought of that worked well, the book has surpassed my expectations, I was over the moon, I couldn't stop looking at it.

Stella's natural ability to put people at ease and manage different parts of the project meant I trusted her judgement and experience, her creativity and efficiency made the process stress free. 

The morning of my wife's birthday I presented the book on a tray with breakfast, it was a change from the usual daily newspaper! She cried tears of joy when she opened it, she was overjoyed, she'll be in touch to choose some of her favourite photographs to hang on our wall at home, thank you". John Thomson - Surrey, UK