Making a Photo Book

-Percy Parry

image credit: good stock
image credit: good stock (flickr)

Searching for a photo that you’d clicked some months back? It must be painstaking to go through all those photos on your laptop or smart phone, just to show some friends or family that amazing moment that you had captured through your camera. But alas, the moment you found it, the photo displayed on your gadget’s screen just doesn’t seem to have that spark in it anymore. What happened to the feeling ‘Oh that was an awesome moment!’ or ‘awwwww…that’s so cute!’ How is it, that it no longer is as exciting as it was the first time? Isn’t ‘Capturing the Moment’, and ‘Reliving it Later’ the whole point of clicking photos? Oh don’t pout…if you have been facing this problem like many of us eventually do, then I have two words for you that will definitely make you smile-Photo Books!

A Photo Book is generally a book in which photographs make a significant contribution to the overall content. And the best part about it? It’s your book and it can have as many photos as you want, of you or anyone else of your preference. The book is about you and your life!

Yes, you could make a scrapbook– printing out individual photos and storing them in files labeled by event and date, then scouring stores for the perfect papers, embellishments, and archival glue (and spending a fortune in the process), then blocking out time to painstakingly crop, round corners, arrange, and glue…and maybe in 3 hours you’ll have a beautiful 2-page spread about how you cried on your first day at the Play School.

But if you spend so much time and money on documenting every little moment, how do you plan on capturing the moments that are happening at this very moment right around you? There are always better ways to do everything and anything. So let go of that scrapbook! A Photo book is the ‘Better Way’!

There are ‘n’ number of websites out there like shutterfly, that will help you digitally create a photo book, print it, professionally bind it and then send it to you. Some even let you control the every minute aspect of the layout. Others have a “make the book for me!” option, where all you need to do is upload your photos and suddenly they’re arranged in a book, complete with backgrounds, borders, and a consistent color scheme.

Besides photo books take up much less space as compared to scrapbooks, are much more fun to go through than your hard-disk files and in case of any natural disaster or man-made (like a toddler tearing the pages or colouring it!), you can always have more copies made again and again.

Are you convinced yet? Well then now let’s see what we need to do.

Click photos: If you don’t want to use the old photos for your photo book and instead want to click new ones…then here are some tips on how to get the perfect snapshots.

·         Be Creative: Everybody has seen photos of Uncle John standing upright with Aunt Martha by his side, staring intently at the camera. That’s old school! Try something new! Yes, if needed you can take a ‘serious’ photo with mom and dad sitting, with everyone else standing around them smiling. But then after you’ve got this photo, why not play around and capture memories as and when they happen. Ask your family to pose in a manner than looks natural, and then ask them to talk, with small gestures here and there. So when you capture this image, it won’t look like a set up, instead it’ll look like they were having fun and were completely oblivious to the fact that you were clicking their photos.

·         Use Props or Family Activities: Props and Family Activities help in clicking candid photos, as people are less likely to be conscious of a camera when they’re busy with a prop or in an activity. E.g.: clicking photos of your family seated around a campfire with their marsh mellow sticks over the fire.

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image credit: Fovea Centralis
image credit: Fovea Centralis (flickr)

There is nothing wrong with a Silhouette: Silhouettes are a great way to show less but have the photo mean more. Let’s say you have a person who is not happy with their new hair cut or how dirty they got while hiking, if you shot a silhouette, those details won’t appear in the photo, leaving that person also happy.  Also families purchase the enlarged copies of their silhouette as they look good on their family room wall.

·         Take time to step Back:It’ll take a while before you get the perfect candid photo. Pretend to change your batteries or start up a conversation with someone to look busy and let them relax. Just when someone does something unique or different, capture that moment on camera and see how good it looks as a photo.

·         Let them Play:Clicking photos of toddlers or infants is like going fishing. Let them play around, you, can join them too. You’ll have to click ten different photos of them running around before you get the perfect one. This also helps in capturing their natural expressions and innocence on camera.

Now that you’re done clicking photos…

Choose your favourites:Some people NEVER delete a single photo, while some do it on a regular basis to save hard-disk space. For some people, deleting ‘not so good’ photos means saving the best 4 photos from any event. While for others, it means narrowing down 1000 photos to 150. What I’m trying to say is, JUST DO IT. You’re never going to enjoy 250 photos of your baby just sleeping on a blanket. But 3 or 4 with different facial expressions might be worth keeping.

Choose a Theme for you Photo Book: Pick a theme for your photo book with the photos that you want to print in it. It could be like a ‘Family Year Book’ with all the photoss placed chronologically. Or maybe a trip to a Hill Station or baby Nadia’s first day at preschool. All you need to do is pick one. You can make the others later. Choose the one that means the most to you FIRST, It will help keep you on track.

 The Binding matters: Don’t forget to label your book’s spine. If placed on a shelf, you’d want to be able to find it easily from among the others, in case you wanted to flip through it. Make sure the label on the spine relates to what’s inside the book.

image credit: Richard.Fisher (flickr)
image credit: Richard.Fisher (flickr)

A killer cover: It will be your book’s cover that will arrest the attention of your family members while it is lying on the coffee table. Choose photos that will help make the cover look good. (Horrifying photos can do the trick too, but you don’t want your book to be remembered for the severity of its cover).

Let the Best Shine: You will want to include a lot of photos to help tell the story of that particular event. From amongst these, there will those photos which you love the most. Let these photos SHINE! Let each of these spread over a whole page. So the next time you go through the book you can linger over your favorites reliving the memory.

Be concise: I understand, you want to share all your personal experiences, memories and stories. But keep in mind, no one, not even you, would want to go through 30-40 photos of Aunt Phyllis posing with her nieces and nephews. It’s okay to make a collage out of SOME of these by cramming them together (in a neat manner though). Believe me, less is more in such cases.

Dealing with a series of photos: In case you’re dealing with a series of photos, you don’t have to force yourself to be choosy. If they are different enough and each of them have their own little thing going on, then don’t feel shy…put them all in. take the entire page if you like, spread them across to depict the chain of events taking place. Also, highlight your favorites, it’ll make the series look better.

Writing something isn’t mandatory: Just because every other person writes something about the photo, it  doesn’t mean that you have to do the same! The photo can speak for itself, after all it is worth a 1000 words right? If you’re really itching to write something then there is no harm. You can use texts to mark the beginning of months, or title special events, or maybe you could write down the family recipe and place it alongside a thanksgiving photo. It’s completely up to you.

Get it done: The final and most important step in getting your photo book ready?…Publish it! Go on, there are countless number of printing company out there who will do this for you. You’ll just have to pay a few bucks for the printing, and then some more for the shipping and VOILA! You’ve got yourself your own Photo Book. Complete with pictures of little Jeremy crying when he fell off the swing!

Things to ponder upon…

Remember, High quality paper is used in photo books. There is a variety of papers used, but most publishers use 100# paper stock in matte, glossy, or coated. Some of the higher end books will use 100# coated card stock (Digilabs) for a higher quality and thicker book. Use only such papers to make your photo book, it’ll help give your book a glossy shine and look better in terms of presentation.

For those who are still in two minds, here are some reasons why you should make a Photo Book.

image credit: (^-^) SUE (^-^) (flickr)
image credit: (^-^) SUE (^-^) (flickr)

It will make you happy! Isn’t that why you click photos?…reliving the fun moments from the past makes everyone happy .

Got nothing to do?…Flip through your Photo Book. It’s a fun pass time. Everyone loves doing this. Flipping through old photos…laughing at them with your family.

It helps tell your kids how there were when they were younger in a more interesting manner. Children love going through books which have a lot of pictures in them. So a Photo Book is a way you can get them to know things about themselves they didn’t know they did. They’ll ask you, ‘what was I doing here?’, and after telling them the story once or twice, they will repeat it to you the next time they open the book. This can also be an effective way to get them to know some of the family’s relatives. It’s especially helpful if your child is in the photo with that relative so that the child realizes that he has a connection with that person.

It’s more flexible as compared to a traditional photo album. How?

    • Photo books can store a lot more photos per page since page layouts vary.  Some layouts will allow photos as small as 1″x1″.  Traditional albums have preset photo sleeves.
    • Photo books can have as many pages as you’d like so you’re not limited to a certain number of pages like a traditional album.
    • Photo books allow you to change photos along the way. E.g.: what if you want to swap out a photo once you’re in the middle of your project?  If you already had print-outs, this means you have to go through the effort of getting another print-out. But if you are working with an on-line photo book it only takes a matter of seconds to upload a different photo.
    • Photo books allow you to change book sizes along the way.  For example, half way through your project you may realize you want to include more photos than you originally thought. Many sites will allow you to easily switch from a smaller book to a larger book.  You may have started with an 8″x8″ book.  With an online photo site you can change to an 8″x11″ photo book which has larger pages and can therefore hold more photos.
    • Some websites allow you to use personalization tools which help you be creative and design your photo book in a unique manner.(gimp, inkscape)

Percy Parry interns with CinnamonTeal Publishing.