In my childhood, I adored going through the old photos which were carefully arranged and placed into the large photo albums with soft paper pages. Things changed today and we rarely print our photos, leaving thousands of them in the laptops and telephones… Personally I find that a pity. May be it’s my passion for photography which determines my attitude to the idea of having the photos printed, but I really think it’s a good way to filter and systemise one’s photo collection. And if we don’t have time to glue photo corners like in good old time, there is a new option: a photo book.
A good thing about photo books is that you can order them on Internet and be delivered at home. This is also a bad thing: you have to use special programs to create your project, choose and place the photos, and you can’t see how the photo book looks in reality before you get a parcel! Since I’ve recently ordered my first ever photo book and I’m really happy with the result, I decided to share my experience with you.
1. Choose a reliable photo book publisher
The first and hardest thing is a choice of the photo book services. I made lots of research on Internet, read some “top 10” and “top 50” on different sites and spent quite a time on this topic before finally making my decision. The most important criteria for me is the concept of the company. A photo book for me is almost an object of art and I care not only about the quality of paper, cover materials and printing technology but also about the style. If the best materials are used tastelessly, you will never get really great stuff. I love aesthetic style, clean and laconic, pastel colors and natural materials, that’s why I letterally fell in love with Moleskine + MILK Photo Books, a collaboration project of a New Zealand based publishing company and a famous Italian brand. They definitely have their own recognizable style and pay attention to the details. I opted for an archival photo book made with special materials which will last at least one hundred years! This idea fascinates me and makes me think about generation connection and family heritage…
2. Choose an interesting topic for your photo book
Traditional topics such as a vacation, a birthday party or a wedding photo book are always great, but remember, you are not limited by them! Let your fantasy inspire your project. A good idea is to create a photo book dedicated to your hobby – sports, painting, cooking, fashion… The list is long and everyone has things to add. As for me, everyone who has followed my blog for a while knows that I’m fond of sunrises. This hobby is relatively new, I started it about two years ago and during these two years I saw more sunrises than in my whole life! The quantity of sunrise photos becoming rather important, I decided to arrange my favorite shots in a photo book called “Sunrise Collection”. This book is a meterialization of the most beautiful moments caught by my camera and the cameras of the other people who shared those moments with me (since photo shoots often take place early in the morning, many of the couple photos together with my sweetheart are taken on sunrise).
3. Text matters!
Don’t try to put in your photo book as much photos as you have – leave space for the short comments or even long texts. It may be just a reminder of when and where the photo was taken, a story related to the shot or just thoughts, a kind of notes on the margin. In several years these details will disappear of your memory, and you will find a pleasure in rediscovering them – and making the others discover them with you. Some photos tell a story themselves, but it’s always interesting to know the backstage. And if like me you make a photo book together with your beloved ones, it might be a good idea to write texts together and share different vision on the same moments. And a small but very important detail: save your texts in Word before copying them into the photo book creator program. This will avoid disaster if your computer suddenly freezes (like it happened to me).
4. Quality is the key
Better to spend time on editing your photos before printing them then feeling disppoited because of the result. Light, brightness and contrast are extremely iportant and you can adjust them manually or even automatically in almost every photo editor software, such as Lightroom or Photoshop. Crop the photo to create a better composition and don’t forget to straight the horizon! Among thousands of digital photos these details might seem insignificant but in the photo book each single photo will be showcased and become itself an important element of the whole project. When we take in our hands a good quality photo book we want to go through it slowly and pay attention to the details of each photo, so editing your photos isn’t a luxury but a necessity when you decide to print them out.
5. Don’t try to fit all your photos in one photo book
You should prefer quality to quantity, which means that it’s better to have only a limited number of photos and a good design than hundreds of pictures occupying the entire pages. Some white space around the photo creates a matting effect which is necessary for the effective visual presentation of the image. Several shots on the same spread should stay in harmony and complete each other. They can be a part of the same story or just well matching pictures but they should stay together for some purpose and not only because it’s a pity to leave empty space on the page! An interesting effect can be created when using slightly different photos taken at the same place or of the same persons… And of course use a possibility to have the most beautiful photos printed on the whole spread – it works particularly well for the landscapes.
The last, but not the least important thing about creating a perfect photo book – don’t try to make it perfect! As a perfectionist I could hardly follow this advice and spent almost two weeks adding and removing the photos, changing texts and page design… Finally I understood that there are no limits to perfection except those that we determine ourselves. The process of making a photo book shoud be a pleasure, even if taken seriously, so enjoy your creativity and have fun!