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Making Your Own Photography Book

Photography books, are as the name suggests printed and bound books that are based around photographs. They can be hardback or softback, various sizes, have printed covers or dust jackets, bound in different ways and have most of the other variations that you would find amongst other books in a bookshop. They can be produced in number through a traditional publisher but today with print on demand services you can also produce a single copy.

Photo books are an ideal way of presenting your photographs to others, either in a general format or specific to a project or place. They allow you to present them in such a way that makes them enjoyable to look at, and they can lay around on your coffee table for friends, relatives, visitors and colleagues to pick up and put down when the mood takes them. So how do you go about creating a great photo book.

Firstly you need to think about what is the purpose of the book you are trying to make. Is it merely to allow you to show off your work and abilities, like Portfolios, or do you want others to be able to share in your pleasure of having that fantastic holiday or life changing experience. Photo books are different in that their main purpose is to show off the images with minimal text, the text being there either, as a caption or small paragraph to tell the reader what it is or who it is they are looking at. Then you need to determine how you are going to achieve this and how many you want to print. Is it going to be a one off publication that you'll keep and show off, or do you want to share it with others, either on a small scale with family and friends, or on a larger scale by selling it to the public.

The stages in building a photo book are:-

Decide the theme of the book.

Sort out how you are going to get it produced. There are currently three ways, you could use:-

  1. One of the many online on-demand digital photo book producers who use a standard template format for the images and have a base number of pages in their initial pricing and then charge for each additional page above, and have set sizes. Most of these have a free software program for you to download onto your computer to be able to build the pages and you upload via their instructions when you are ready, some do have direct web templates with no software to download. This method is for those who feel they don't have the skills to create the book from scratch, however one downside is they can be more expensive, but if you are only producing one copy this may be an option.

  2. One of the internet based services that will take your print-ready file and send you back a printed book. You have greater control with this method, normally you can put together the pages within another software package you are used to using and already have on your computer such as Apple Pages, Word, Photoshop, QuarkExpress, Adobe InDesign etc and then upload a PDF to them to print. There are also companies, particularly aimed at the Wedding market place who have their own software with templates already included, some you buy the software extra with others the software is free.

  3. Producing the book yourself and using a Print On Demand Service. This is usually a more cost effective way when you want to sell the photo book to the public. We will take a more detailed look at this method another time.

With options 1 and 2 above, once you have uploaded your completed book they will then get it printed and posted to you usually within 7-14 days. Although some in the wedding marketplace can take longer depending on where they are based. We have put together a listing of some of these companies - Suppliers of print your own Photography books.

If you want to produce just a single high quality copy then you could consider buying one of the blank albums provided by Innova, Lyson, or Hanhemule and print it yourself on your inkjet printer. We have a separate article on this, Printing Photo Books Yourself

Once you have decided by which method you want to get it produced, which may have been decided by design, cost and speed of delivery, then you can start planning on how to put it together and what to include. The stages for this are:

  • Decide on your theme for the book.

  • Decide the book size and other production variables.

  • Decide on the number of images you want to include. This will be determined partly by the method of printing you are using, which in turn has probably been determined by the size of the book and cost of production.

  • Select those images from the many that you have, that you want to include. This may involve using a star rating system initially to indicate those that you want. Your first selection pass will probably end up being more than you need, so using the star rating will allow you go back through again and slim it down to the number you need.

  • Edit the selected images, using your profiled monitor to make this task easier. The edited pictures need to be output at 300dpi and for most systems need to be JPG, although some will ask for TIFF (these are higher quality and larger files).

  • Once all the images you want to use are edited then you need to place them within the page layout. If you have selected one of the many online photo book printers you may have to download a piece of software onto your computer. The templates will have areas for the pictures to go, as well as areas where you can add a text element if you want. Don't be in a hurry with this task, take your time, if necessary move things about and try different layouts. Make sure you spell check any text elements, if the software doesn't have a spell checker then type it first into a word processing package with a spell checker and copy and paste it into the template. Also ask another person to read it through for you, as even the best of us will make mistakes and you don't tend to spot them as you read what you expect. You don't want to let your book down with sloppy text editing.

  • Once you are happy with what you have produced the next stage is to get it printed.

  • With options 1 and 2 this will involve uploading it to their system and make payment and wait for delivery - which is typically from 7-14 days with option 1 above, or anything up to 6 weeks for those dedicated to the wedding market place. Many of these printers are printing overseas and mailing it to you.

Whichever method you choose enjoy the process. It may be if designing and producing a photo book seems a bit daunting then you could choose one of the online options to get one done and try out the process. We hope to come back to this subject in 2009 and take a look at some of the services on offer in more detail.


Also see:

Printing Books Yourself


ISBN numbers - the numbers and barcodes you see on books for sale.

Copyright Libraries - an obligation to give 6 copies to various libraries if you are offering books to the public.

Photography book suppliers

By: Tracey Park Section: Photography Section Key:
Page Ref: making_photography_book Topic: Editing, Printing and Publishing  Last Updated: 12/2016

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