4 Steps to take before designing a photo book

Photo Book Tips

I want you to think of designing a photo book as a new ‘photo-finishing’ option. When you took photos using film it was never a second thought that you would have them developed. That same thought should apply to your best digital photos. I am not referring to printing photographs, which is part of the definition of photo-finishing, but instead to use photo book design software to print your photos within a story book fashion. The result is a hard-copy book with your favorite photos combined with your choice of text (no more writing on the back of photos) and a personal way to share your memories with your family and friends.

Here are 4 steps in preparation to designing your photo book:

  1. Identify a specific theme – a milestone birthday, a family reunion, a vacation, an annual yearbook capturing your favorite memories from a specific year.  The list could go on and on, but the key thing to remember is to pick a theme that is memorable and personal to you.
  2. Identify your photos – once you choose your theme you will want to identify the photos to include in the book.  A standard photo book allows you to have 20 pages for a set price (you can add more but the price will increase per page added). With this in mind I suggest identifying about 110 photos.  This is an average of about five photos per page, but it also gives you some leeway if you decide not to use a certain photo or you have picked a couple that are more similar than you originally thought.  It is much easier to over identify photos then to have to go back and find more after you have started designing your book.
  3.  Edit your photos –  I always recommend editing your photos in your software versus the book software.  Most book software provide you the option to fix a photos brightness, contrast, saturation and opacity. However, their core competency lies in their software design and not in editing, so use your own design software to make needed adjustments to your photos.  Some options are Picasa, Lightroom, and Adobe Elements.
  4. Select your photo book software – There are many companies who provide FREE photo book software.  I have been using picaboo since 2007 and have always been very pleased with their book quality and customer service.  You might also visit this site Photo Book Girl.  She provides a good review of photo books along with their features and benefits.  My vendors of choice can be found here – Rita’s Recommendations.

I design about four personal photo books a year.  It is my favorite way of sharing my family memories.  The best part however, is when I find the kids (sitting together) looking at the books from the past years.  That is a memory that I have as a child (sitting together looking at photos) and I am happy that even with all the changes in technology I can give this same memory to my children.

As a life long photo enthusiast I have experienced and heard stories about photo loss. I am here to make sure your photos are preserved and shared for all of your family to enjoy. I can help you sort, secure and tell stories with your photos. I also consult, train, and offers workshops for those who want to learn the skill set to keep their photos organized for future generations. I look forward to helping you connect, share and re-share your family memories through the care and management of your photos.

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  1. Photo books are such a wonderful way to preserve the stories that go along with your pictures! I love watching my family sit down and read them too!

    • Michelle, thanks for your comment – in my opinion they are indeed the best way to consistently share and preserve the stories!

  2. I love this logic Rita….”I want you to think of designing a photo book as a new ‘photo-finishing’ option. When you took photos using film it was never a second thought that you would have them developed.” well said!

  3. Isabelle Dervaux says:

    So interesting, I came up with the same ideal number. Between 100 and 120 photos are just perfect for one book. For yearly books it amounts an average number of 10 photos per month which makes it manegeable.

    • Isabelle, thank you for your comment. I like the correlation to an annual book. Picking your favorite 10 photos a month is an easy and manageable task and what a wonderful reward at the end – a keepsake photo book!

  4. What a great idea and post. I have tons and tons if digital photos. I just need to get the time together and actually make the photo books. I know it is something we will treasure forever :) Enjoy your SITS day

  5. Great tips! I make a photo calendar for my mom each year, full of photos from the year before, but I’ve never made a book. Might be a great way to finally get some of the millions of photos I have printed!

  6. I love photo books! I try to make each of my kids one per year to recap their yearly highlights. Then I try to do one for every vacation, and one for our everyday moments. It’s so fun to review them as the years pass!!

  7. Great tips! I normally get my pictures printed but the photobook looks like a great idea and worth doing. Viewing images on screen just isn’t the same!

  8. Thank you for this!!! I definitely needed help with this!

    Visiting from SITS!

  9. Photo books are on my “Back to School” list of projects to do once my little one heads back this fall. Thanks for the great tips!

  10. I recently designed a photo book for my last year of traveling, it came out great. I had about 200 photos but they were resized and some were pretty small, will be using some of your tips for my next one :)

  11. I love using photo books! I’ve pretty much stopped making prints unless I want to frame them or do a project. Great tips!

  12. I have been thinking about doing this for my little girl lately. Make a book of photos of her first year with us. thank you for the tips 😀

    • Keia, Thank you for stopping by. Photo books are fabulous, however, be sure to print photos out too – especially since your little girl is so young. Put them in a soft sided photo book – she will love looking at herself and others.

  13. I didn’t even know things like this were available. It looks beautiful. What a fun way to keep memories. Thanks for sharing.

    Congratulations on your SITS day. I hope it’s a great day for you.

  14. I designed a photo book once so far to send to my husband during a deployment so he could see what the Kiddies and i were up to why we were waiting for him to return home…he loved it. These are tips I wish I knew then. I will definitely use these in the future. Great post!

    • Tiffany, thank you for stopping by. I am glad you found the tips useful – be sure to keep making photo books – they are priceless keepsakes!

  15. The only time I have done photobooks is for the birth of my two children. I am so glad I did. I take so many pictures that I have a hard time narrowing them down. Happy SITS day.

  16. I have so many photos I need to organize into photo books. I like the idea of choosing themes and going from there.

    Happy SITS Day!

  17. Good timing. I am working on a photo book right now for my son’s Scout trip to the Jamboree. In fact, I just posted a tutorial yesterday on how to downsize your pages from 12 X 12 to 8 X 8. It’s lower cost and easier to store. I think these photo books are a great way to share photos. My question would be downloading photos from Facebook. They posted a ton of pics during the trip and I was thinking I would just grab them from the FB feed and put them into the book, but I discovered the Save As option didn’t give good enough quality. So I switched to the download option and they look better, but I’m hoping they won’t be all grainy when they print?

  18. I am addicted to photo books! They’re my favorite personal holiday gift for our family. Thanks for a great post on how to make them better. Stopping from SITS!!

  19. Great tips! Photobooks are how I have been organizing our vacation photos for the last few years – and everyone loves looking at them. It’s so much nicer than hauling out 200 photos in envelopes (or on slides) – you just spread them out on the coffee table and people are just naturally drawn to them. I hope to eventually get books make for my kids (they’re 22 & 23 now)!

  20. I love having photo books and my kids love flipping through them. I also love the process of creating a book. My only problem is finding the time to go through and organize and choose the pictures and then edit them for the book. I guess I need to rethink my photo organization! Happy SITS Day!

  21. Great advice! I haven’t tried picaboo yet, definitely going to try that next. Hope you had a great SITS day! :)

  22. I’ve never had the opportunity like I do right now, to make my own photo book! Thanks so much for this great post!

  23. I love photo books! My first one I made was for our engagement photos, then for my mother-in-law I made a photo book of my son’s life until the point that her son came into our lives. It was such a special book to her since she felt like she’d missed out on the first 2 years of his life. Then one for my grandma with alzheimers; I labeled every picture with our names..a sort of adult flash card to help her memory. Then one for our wedding. But my favorite of all is the yearbook I did last year and will make another for this year. They are so awesome and much better than shuffling through all those bad 4×6 prints to get to the few good ones! I use Shutterfly for my books, though.

    Stopping by from SITS.

    • Heather, Thank you so much for stopping by from SITS. I love that you have made all those photo books. I really like the one you did for your Grandma – I have heard photo books and photo flash cards are wonderful forms of therapy for Alzheimer patients – kudos to you for being so thoughtful!

  24. I doo believe all of the concepts you’ve introduced to your post.
    They are really convincinng and will certainly work.

    Still, the posts are too short for beginners. Could you please prolong them a little from subsequent time?
    Thanks forr the post.

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"People are taking pictures at a record pace, but many are discovering they lack the time to sort, organize and print these images. The need for the services of a personal photo organizer has evolved as consumers seek out effective solutions for preserving and enjoying their precious memories." - The Association of Personal Photo Orangizers