How to Make Your Own Digital Photo Book

How to Make Your Own Digital Photo Book


A Guest Post by Photo Book Girl.

Since jumping into the world of digital photography – like most folks, I rarely ever printed out my photos anymore. Slipping photos into plastic sleeves had long lost its charm and my photos gathered virtual dust, hidden away in some long forgotten folder. My poor mother lamented that she never saw any family photos, and squinting at a tiny LCD screen wasn’t very satisfying.


Hence, my first foray into digital photo books back in 2005 was of a family trip to Hong Kong – a gift to my mother, motivated by my never-ending quest to make my mother happy.

Some 50 books later, I suppose you can say I’m seriously hooked (and so is Mom!)


If you haven’t made a photo book online yet, the advantages of digital photo books over traditional slip-in album are numerous:

  • Digital photos books tend to be much lighter in weight. Mine take up less than a fourth of the space of my traditional albums;
  • Digital photo books are easily duplicated, making them great to give as personalized gifts for the entire family;
  • Creativity is limitless – you can create a very clean composition of photos – portfolio-style or utilize a variety of themes, embellishments and borders for a scrapbook-look;
  • You can share and even sell your creations online, allowing you to test the market without the expense of printing mass copies;
  • With the number of companies providing online print services increasing every day, so have the options – from affordable $8.00 softcover books, to higher-end flush mounts and premium pro options for $250.00 or more.


Here’s some tips on how to get started:

  1. Narrow down the photos you plan to use to a manageable number so it doesn’t become overwhelming and you don’t waste time uploading photos you aren’t going to use. For a 20-page photo book, I average anywhere from 1 to 5 photos per page (assuming a standard 11″ x 8.5″ sized book), so 80 to 100 photos should provide a good selection from which to choose;
  2. Edit your photos using your own photo-editing software. The editing tools provided with most free book software are not very sophisticated, and are generally limited to the basics such as converting to black and white, rotating and brightening;
  3. If in doubt, err on the side of brighter. In my experience, photos tend to print darker than on screen. (Calibrating your monitor and obtaining printer profiles from the printer can also be very helpful.)
  4. Duplicate and save all the photos you plan to use in a single folder for easy upload;
  5. For a quick and easy book, most companies have preset themes, easy drag and drop templates and also “one-click” options that automatically place your photos for you;
  6. For complete customization, use your own design software such as Adobe Photoshop, Aperture 3, or Adobe InDesign (free trials are available for download at the company’s sites). However, having your own software isn’t necessary to make a customized and professional-looking book. Look for a photo book company that allows you to edit and create your own templates.

The author is the blogger behind Photo Book Girl – a resource for finding the best photo book companies, the latest photo book deals and helpful tips on designing your own photo book. For more tips, check out her ongoing series: “How to Make Your Own Digital Photo Book“.

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Some Older Comments

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  • Rose March 28, 2012 09:47 pm

    great write up!!!...really informative!!

    I would like to know whether there are any free photo book templates available like I want to create the Photobook using a software and then i want to have the freedom to get it printed from my local store(instead of the company doing the printing and shipping).is it possible?..any idea??

  • Jason Ross January 3, 2012 11:29 am

    Good read, should be helpful to anyone looking to create a book. I wanted to also pass along my own guide for creating a good photo book and I thought you and your readers would enjoy. Thanks!

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  • Photo Book Girl May 6, 2011 03:25 am

    Sorry, I don't think the link I provided worked - for the Photo Book Software Wizard:

  • Photo Book Girl May 6, 2011 03:23 am

    @vikramaditya There are several photo book company sites where you can customize your designs. I have a database of nearly 30 companies on my site with more being added over time. If you go to my Photo Book Software Wizard, you can plug in the features you want the company to have and it will narrow down which sites offer those features. You can then click on the company's logo to see my review on the company and other reader's reviews to learn more. Some companies are more customizable than others - off the top of my head, I've found that AdoramaPix, Picaboo, Blurb, Mixbook, Photobook America (aka Photobook Canada and Photobook Australia etc.), MyPhotoCreations are some of the more customizable companies if that helps! If you have your own design software you can upload your completed layouts as jpegs and then use any company that is running deals or promos.

  • Simone May 6, 2011 03:01 am

    Great article

    one important thing to note is to TAKE lots of photos, create your OWN photo stock.

    My family is always ridiculing me for snapping random pictures in and outside the house, or of what I eat. However, you never know when you may want to use that photo for a cookbook, a calendar, or anything..

    There is no such thing as an insignficant photo.

  • Nancy May 6, 2011 02:55 am

    The Daily Digi did a photobook comparison of 12 different companies and ]published the results here>/a> . Steph paid for them all herself - none of them were freebies from the companies - so it's a really unbiased article. She also has a lot of great tutorials on putting pages together and a monthly subscription program where you can get lots of great artwork from digital scrapbook designers to help you build your photobook pages. I've been a member for a long time. ;-)

    @Annie: I'm putting together a P365 album from 2009 (I'm a bit behind - LOL!). I'm putting a week on each 12x12 page. Here's one of the pages (posted on my blog) so you can see what I mean.

  • Jessica May 6, 2011 02:55 am

    Great article, I truly agree.

    My photos were either stuck in my computer or in some ikea organization box or bin.

    I made my first photobook as a Christmas gift to my father-in law who has never seen his great-great daughter and from there I became hooked. Now instead of costly unused gifts, I create photobooks for my family.

    I recently made a book for my daughter for this coming Mother's Day. They are great gift and also great update to the traditional photo album, hopefully, they will withstand the test of time, so that my granddaughter will be able to appreciate them and share her baby pictures with her family.

  • Vikramaditya Bagri May 4, 2011 06:10 am

    I think this was a great article. I will be making my own Photo Book soon. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

    Is there a website where I can completely customize the design for each page? I read the above posts but none of it mentioned it specifically.

  • Photo Book Girl May 2, 2011 10:52 am

    @dumb kid - that's a really unique book and I love the personal touches. Did you use a tablet to handwrite your entries for the book? @Lance - I've also seen several places online who will take your personal handwriting and send you a ready to use font and it's pretty affordable. I've been planning to do that but haven't had a chance yet, so that is another way to customize your book.

    I scan in ticket stubs, maps, brochures from my trips as jpegs and then have either laid them out in QuarkXPress or Photoshop and then used the shadow tool to create depth. I then save the whole layout and upload as a regular jpeg to the company's program. I've done some books where I've scanned in the stub and then uploaded it directly to the company's software and just laid it out like a regular photo and added a shadow within the program itself. Offhand I can recall Mixbook and Artscow having that feature built in and I'm sure there's others. I'm not as artistic as dumb kid though so I don't have any sketches :) I have a link here if you'd like to see my article on using outside programs to create custom photo book layouts. I have a tutorial planned in future but haven't had a chance to write it yet. Thanks for everyone's comments!

  • Lance May 2, 2011 12:49 am

    Hey Dumb Kid, I love your book, Can you share some step by step tips on how you made that? software? how to make the handwritten text effect, the clipping, sketch and all that.

    I am not a photoshop god but can do some basics like textures, layers, etc. If you do need to be a photoshop god to make what you did then oh well...

    Thanks in advance.

  • Jason May 1, 2011 11:32 pm

    Love the do it yourself books have a few at home now and have handed a few out for different occasions, another way i like sharing my digital moments is with the new digital photo frames available loaded several shots of the family on one for Mums birthday. She loved it.

  • vinod mali April 30, 2011 02:31 pm

    Thanks for join me your nice & knowledgeble article. i like this article

    thanks again...!

  • Dumb Kid April 24, 2011 04:42 am

    A great way to share photo books online with friends and family is by using All you need to do is safe off your book as a pdf .

    Here's of one mine:

  • Photo Book Girl April 22, 2011 01:12 pm

    Hi Lisa, Thanks for your nice comments! Yes, the Barrier Reef was so amazing - we went there on our honeymoon and it was the first time I've ever used an underwater camera. The places we've gone snorkeling since have paled in comparison. I'm jealous that it's in your backyard! :) Yes - photo books are awesome - you have to try it!

  • Lisa April 21, 2011 10:18 pm

    Thanks for a great post! I have looked at producing photo books a number of times but have been put off by the less than inspiring examples shown by the photo book companies. Now that I've seen your books I'm definitely inspired! By the way, being an Aussie I love the pic in your post of the Great Barrier Reef photo book. Good stuff!

  • fotomate April 21, 2011 12:40 am

    Nice book, but I prefer old-style photo album :)

  • kim April 13, 2011 04:07 am

    I am hooked on photo books. I made one for my parents with photos of each grandchild thru the year, one for my bro/sis in law for christmas of the pictures I took of our trip together in france, and just finished one for my neice of the engagement pictures that I took for her as a shower/wedding gift. Love them! I use Picaboo and have loved everything that I've got from them!

  • Tammy April 6, 2011 05:34 am

    I love photo books and make one every year for my family. I actually build it along throughout the year so it's not a daunting task all at once. By adding my favorite photos each month, the book also goes in a chronological order which makes it easy to see how much my little ones have grown from the beginning of the year to the end.
    Great article. Photobooks are the only way to go these days. Love them!

  • CJAYJR April 6, 2011 03:29 am

    I have to agree with Photo Book Girl that creating a photo book is the way to go and can become very habit forming. I created my first book for my mother-in-law 6 years ago using all the old photos my wife had and uploaded them to I'm now on my 14th book and plan to do some free for kids of umemployed single parents. I'm a cancer survivor and creating these books and learning how to use PSE 9 have given me the creative freedom I've been looking for with my camera. One person mentioned they were looking for a website that could handle their 365 project. Well I published a 440 pages book for less than $100 that covered over 60 years of my life with photos going back to when I was a baby. I find to be very reasonable in their pricing and their software is constantly being upgraded (and it's free).

  • Bug23 April 4, 2011 08:02 pm

    I love photo books and use the apple version.
    The first book I did was from iPhoto, and the second from Aperture.
    There are so many themes, settings etc it is easy, and a lot of fun.
    Makes for great gifts.

  • Charlene April 4, 2011 05:44 am

    Great article!!

  • Macy April 3, 2011 09:39 pm

    I like your idea. Creating your personal photo book can become a hobby and leisure. I'm so old school and printing your pictures is for keeps.

  • jessica April 3, 2011 05:14 am

    edit photo book important. because it is the end result a masterpiece photo. become memories, for the future.

  • Courtenay ( April 3, 2011 01:46 am

    We, too, made our own photo book for our wedding last year and it turned out great. The best part, and the main reason we wanted to do it ourselves, was that we were able to use photos that a lot of our friends and family took that the photographer didn't get. Really, who knows you better than friends and family so, aside from the formal posed shots, we thought the F&F photos captured more of the quick moments that they were probably looking for. Especially their shots of the nieces, nephews and other little ones running around.

  • bycostello April 1, 2011 07:32 pm

    I'd echo the brighter comment.. even though my monitor is calibrated, prints tend to be a bit dark..

  • Cliff April 1, 2011 02:19 pm

    Great post Photo Book Girl! I work at a small photo book place on the east coast in the states and can ship WORLD WIDE if need be. The printing is TOP NOTCH and the binding is the best around. I love DPS and just found Photo Book Girl and hadn't checked my RSS of DPS and found this article through PHOTO book girl. Crazy!

  • Photo Book Girl April 1, 2011 10:28 am

    @Annie - so it sounds like you were looking for a company that would allow you to print at least 365 pages right (1 page for each photo)? I have a tool on my site with a searchable database of 29 (and more added from time to time) photo book companies (there are a ton out there!) I found two companies that will hold that many pages: Blurb and Viovio. The tool is called the Photo Book Wizard Select "High Capacity Books Only" under "Page Capacity" and you'll see the results and you can compare prices if you put in the number of pages you want.

    I also have a Photo Book Software Wizard which you can use to sort through software features. Hope you find them helpful.

    @Peggy - I have all my photo book reviews here so there's plenty of companies to check out.

  • George Morris April 1, 2011 05:54 am

    I very useful article. I print my own photos and insert them (Glueing) into an albulm.
    This photo book idea I know is becomig more popular, and maybe it is time to review my practice and move on.
    Thanks for the article

  • DC Runographer April 1, 2011 03:58 am

    Great write-up, I will definitely be making a book soon. Thanks so much for the info and resources.

  • Photo Book Girl April 1, 2011 03:51 am

    @Celesta - we did too (in fact, I've made lots of photo books of our wedding and honeymoon - I can't remember how many LOL). I wrote so many blog posts about my wedding photo books, I consolidated them all here:

  • Photo Book Girl April 1, 2011 03:49 am

    Thanks everyone for the comments folks and great suggestions!

    @Jim I completely agree with turning off auto picture correction - I do take the time to process my photos so, turning that off is important to remember. Some companies have that option show up when you upload your photos to their service, while others have you select it at checkout.

    In terms of cropping, the book orientation/shape you choose (portrait/square/landscape) can have a big effect on layout options and how full-page bleeds turn out. For instance I've become a big fan of portrait oriented books (the most common orientation offered by companies is landscape). I can do a two-page spread using a single photo with very minimal cropping. I've also gotten around the cropping by using the company's built in zoom function to zoom out a bit to eliminate crop (though you do lose the full page bleed).

  • Celesta April 1, 2011 03:19 am

    We chose to make our own photo book for our wedding, to send it to all the relatives and friends who did not make it to the event, and it worked out absolutely great.
    Also, some services such as Blurb offer to sell your books online. A great option for travel books.

  • Peggy April 1, 2011 02:30 am

    Can someone please suggest some good websites that offer photo books? I've only tried once with KodakGallery and to be honest I wasn't very happy with the results.

  • Jim April 1, 2011 02:08 am

    Thank you for the article. I'd just like to add a few things.
    First, you should turn off the automatic picture correction because if you've already sharpened the picture or processed it at all, it probably looks like you want it to already. The software will over-sharpen or over-saturate your pictures in this case.
    Second, get the photo papier version rather than the offset-printing version. The photo papier looks better, is more robust (no finger prints, you can wipe off the saliva of those who drool over your pictures - really!) and is worth the little bit extra that it costs.
    Third, with the one-click placing options using the templates provided, your pictures will be mercilessly cropped. What I do when making a big book is to print out contact sheets and place the pictures on the floor according to where I want them to go in the book. Then I simply drag them over to the page where they belong. That's the simplest solution I've found!

  • Danny April 1, 2011 01:48 am

    Good article. One thing I learned in making photo books, as compared to printing your photos and keeping them in albums, is how less expensive it is. My annual family album has about 100 pages, of which, there will be at least 30 full page pics. Just the cost of printing the 30 pics at Walmart would be over $100, which is double what the whole book costs!

  • Terri Ann April 1, 2011 01:37 am

    Photo books are great. They're often just a tad more expensive than printing 4x6's of the digital prints and they are much more interesting.

    I created one for my cousin's wedding shower and gave it to them as a wedding gift. Same for one of my girlfriend's wedding shower, though for her I did a bachelorette party mini-book for her and gave it to her with all the girls the night before the ceremony.

    I've also made memory books with my boyfriend's son where I'll let him use my digital camera at the zoo or aquarium them instead of getting some overpriced book he always wants to help me create a book and add words and a story to the adventure.

    I especially like that most services I've used offer, not only templates and customizations to use but also full page options if you want to create a more creative layout in Photoshop first then import that as one big photo for a full page. Plus you can find great free template downloads (psd's) for photo books thanks to all the photography and digital scrap booking blogs out there.

  • Annie April 1, 2011 01:36 am

    I wanted to do this for my 365 project but could not find any photo book that would accommodate 365 pictures. I had no choice but to print them and insert them into the plastics sleeves and I had to find a 500 photo album to do it and that was also hard.

    There is definitely a market for this. I hope someone fills it. I would order one. :)

  • Chuck April 1, 2011 12:42 am

    Terrific article, and a great idea. Always wondered where folks got their photobooks made up and how.

  • Darryl Yee April 1, 2011 12:34 am

    There are also quite a few companies that have software that you download and create the photo book on your computer instead of uploading your photos to them.