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:
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;
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;
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.)
Duplicate and save all the photos you plan to use in a single folder for easy upload;
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;
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“.