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How to Make a Photo Book

Easy Guide to Help You Create the Perfect Photo Book

By Rachel ArbucklePublished 3 months ago 7 min read

All those photos you have gathered from numerous life events, like family trips, reunions, birthday parties, weddings, or graduations, can be effectively safeguarded and shared by turning them into personalized photo books that adequately reproduce your digital photos and make great gifts for any occasion while preserving the memories that you can cherish for a lifetime.

1. Gather Everything Together

Collect all your photos – digital ones, as well as physical paper items (certificates, artwork, mementos, etc.).

  • Add your digital photos (taken on a camera, on your phone, and from social media) all together in one place, and try naming each photo by something that will be a reminder of the event they were taken at.

  • As for your physical paperwork, take everything kept for that month together and scan it to your computer to have a digital copy so that you can add it to the same file as the digital photos. Make sure to do this step for diplomas/certificates, greeting cards for special events, children's artwork, various letters, and special items you want to keep photos of (like outfits or toys).

2. Give New Life to Old Photos

Now you have a master set of photos to keep safe and secure. But those precious old negatives and pictures you found scattered throughout your home, in envelopes, dusty storage boxes, or at the back of a drawer can also be scanned. Bringing them to life and adding them to your photo book allows you to tell a deeper story.

If you get overwhelmed by even the thought of sorting through your memories, there's no need to worry; you can hand the photo book project off to a professional photo organizer. Knowing your photos are safe, secure, and at your fingertips will save you time, money, and worry.

3. Organize Your Photos

An essential step in the photo book designing process is organizing your photos in advance. Even if it might seem daunting, spending a few more minutes organizing your photos after collecting them will prove useful. An additional benefit is that you may find photos you might have forgotten about:

  • Save all your digital photos in separate folders on your computer labeled by year. You can add identifying information in the filenames to make it easier to identify specific events and people. You can also use keywords if you are really motivated!
  • Copy the photos you want to include in your photo book into one folder. There, you can categorize them by specific day, location, theme, or any system that helps you arrange them to tell your story. Remember to label the folder something descriptive, like "Italy Photo Book Images."

4. Upload Your Photos to Your Software of Choice

Review the photos to check their quality and confirm you aren’t missing anything you want to include in your photo book. With the help of online platforms like SmugMug, you can upload your content from anywhere.

Functioning as photo hosting services and image-sharing websites, such video platforms are convenient and reliable ways to store your content. They result in a curated and comprehensive collection for each event or year created. Ultimately, you will be able to view and share your content organized within SmugMug instantly.

5. Highlight Your Favorite Photos to Be Displayed in the Photo Book

Once you've gathered and organized your photos, it's time to choose exactly the ones you wish to display. Focus on the subject matter and image quality, but keep in mind that you are telling a story through your photos. Even if your photos are imperfect, you can enhance them by cropping, resizing, adding backgrounds, and enhancing color and contrast. Avoid using photos that are out-of-focus - higher quality photos work best for print photo books.

If you are having trouble curating your photo collection, consider partnering with a friend and helping each other select the photos that are best for your book. Getting a second look can help relieve the pressure and can generate fresh new ideas.

Always go for quality over quantity, and avoid trying to fit all your photos in one book. It's much better to have a clean design with a select group of images versus every photo from your event that just clutters the pages.

Customization Guidelines for Making a Photo Book

Photography has become an integral part of daily life for everyone who uses digital technology. Our precious memories live through the tens of thousands of photos on our phones, cameras, and hard drives. Learning how to make a photo book is an excellent way for those moments and milestones to be enjoyed and shared with loved ones. Regardless of your creativity level, the key is sharing the story to revisit memories.

6. Create Your Story – Pick your Photo Book Theme

Personal and meaningful stories are at the heart of every photo book. You can celebrate your favorite moments and create unique gifts to share with your loved ones. A theme gives the photo book a narrative; it is the first step in the customization journey.

There are countless options when it comes to photo book themes and styles. Shutterfly's photo book maker feature allows you to select different layouts for each album page that can include five or more photos on a page. You have the freedom to choose:

  • The number of pages you want in your book
  • The number of photos on each page
  • The overall layout of the pages (background design, color)
  • Text options to further tell your story (font, color, size)

You can approach each photo book uniquely to bring your vision to life or create a template that can be duplicated to keep the same design and general layout. You should select a theme that aligns with your story and complements your selected photos. You can either search for a premade template or let your creativity flow!

Popular photo book themes include:

  • Traditional photo books – Focus on your life narrative following a chronological sequence.

  • Year in review photo books – A recap of your year through photos of memories you made with your family and friends.

  • Baby photo books – May include ABC books or stories about your baby's first year and those adorable milestones. Baby photo books make an excellent gift for proud parents and grandparents.

  • Family history photo books – Celebrate your family's heritage and preserve it for future generations to enjoy - share your legacy.

  • Wedding photo books – These make for beautiful keepsakes that present the story of your wedding day, honeymoon, and the many firsts that follow.

  • Graduation photo books – These are great reminders of academic experiences and successful journeys toward adulthood.

  • Travel photo books – Highlight vacations abroad, cross-country road trips, or special adventures with family. A custom travel photo book will allow you to revisit your travels time and again.

  • Memorial photo books – Keep old memories alive and commemorate the lives and stories of your loved ones.

7. Add Text to Better Tell Your Photo Book Story

Text plays a significant role in the photo book personalizing stage, making the end result more detailed and meaningful. Preserving such details over the years will help you remember more than the image evokes, securing your memories and painting the picture behind-the-scenes:

  • Add titles and subtitles with locations and dates.
  • Insert your thoughts, story, or quotes.
  • Add stickers or a splash of color for a more creative touch.
  • Insert captions to describe the photo.

8. Decide on the Size of Your Photo Book

Make sure to choose the size of your photo book, taking into consideration how you're planning to display it. For example, if you want to place it on a coffee table, be sure it fits nicely and doesn’t overwhelm the table. If you’re going to be storing it on a shelf, be sure to confirm the measurements before ordering.

9. Choose the Style and Material for Your Photo Book

First impressions matter, so make sure to come up with a meaningful title for your photo book. Select a title that will set the tone for the experience and adequately represent the journey inside.

There are a number of options available for photo book covers. Select one that fits your needs best:

  • Types: hardcover, softcover (recycled paper)
  • Materials: fabric, leather, linen, custom image, acrylic, metal, silk
  • Finishings: luster (a hybrid of gloss and matte), glossy, deep matte

Photo books can be printed in different orientations:

  • Landscape: this canvas accommodates multiple images and layouts.
  • Portrait: this popular vertical form is best suited for images of people, single-focus subjects, or full-length photos of people.
  • Square: this form is highly adaptable to any topic or photo style.

There are also various binding alternatives, each with its own benefits:

  • Section-sewn binding: traditional method; extra strength and durability; near-flat opening

  • Lay-flat binding: completely flat opening, ease in turning pages, amazing viewing experience

  • Spiral binding: economical, durable, fit for smaller photo books

Keep in mind during the process that this photo book is for you to enjoy – so pick what inspires you, and most importantly, have fun doing it.

10. Bring Your Custom Photo Book to Life

Before submitting your photo book for print, save a copy on your device and be sure to review it for misspellings or other possible issues that may have been overlooked. This will ensure a great print result, helping you get the most out of your personalized photo book. Here are a few tips:

  • Check the placement and formatting of the photos.
  • Verify that your text accurately tells your story, is the correct font size/style/color, and is spelled correctly.
  • Confirm that you're not missing any content that you wanted to include.

Now you’re ready to order your photo book! Enjoy it to the fullest, appreciate all your hard work in putting it together, and share your precious memories with friends and family. They will be preserved and enjoyed for years to come, holding a place of honor in your family for generations. Photo books give you the opportunity to tell a story about your journey and celebrate special occasions and milestones in an elegant and pleasant way.

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About the Creator

Rachel Arbuckle

Rachel Arbuckle is the founder of 2000 Paces Photo Organizing, providing authentic, compassionate solutions to transform the chaos of photos and memorabilia into an organized collection that can be easily shared and enjoyed for generations.

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Rachel ArbuckleWritten by Rachel Arbuckle

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