Top Photographer Tips for Designing Photo Books


You're probably are like me and several thousand personal images on your phone and/or a library of double that sitting on your computer. Milestones are the big moments we tend to make a real effort for printing-

but the everyday messes, the day-trips, the holiday photos, the silly faces, they're part of your heritage, too.

It's just inevitable that this growing number becomes overwhelming and all the memories we were so intentional about capturing, never actually make it into our hands, and instead, get lost in cyberspace. 


Here's the problem: in 50 years, when your kids ask to see pictures of themselves as babies, do you want to say, "here, huddle around my facebook page?" 

Or would you rather pull a stack of books off the shelf and say, "let's look together?"

I don't think many people would argue that they don't like or want photo books and/or prints - it's just the process of making them that intimidates us. With so many choices, we default to the most popular, the cheapest, or nothing at all.

So let's break it down into a few top tips for getting all those special in-between moments off the screen and into your hands. 

**Pin this image as a resource for later!

**Pin this image as a resource for later!

1. Understand why quality is about practicality 

Often, we forgo higher quality products because of price and we make the mistake of assuming that number is based on vanity or popularity. In other words, those books are "nicer" but we don't really get why they're nicer, so we opt for a cheaper product that looks (at first glance) similar.

But there are some qualities of those higher quality books that should be non-negotiable's because of practicality. When choosing your lab, it's super important it has these quality standards at minimum: 

  1. Archival - not all paper and ink is created equally. You get a photo book to have your images in print for generations, but if your book is not archival, that won't be the case. Archival papers, inks, and finishes ensure that the pages of your book will not deteriorate from the oils and dirt of flipping fingers, and that the construction will not fall apart with wear and tear (you do want to look at these right?!). Archival means no fading, stronger materials, and finer product that will last. It's important.

  2. 100% color correct - Beautiful images can be ruined with bad printing. Even if you're just printing cell phone photos, be sure your lab has accurate color matching and finishes that will translate your images correctly without weird tinting or super glossy glare.


2. Narrow. It. Down. Seriously. 

You may have 50 pictures of your lunch plate and 365 selfies, but let's be honest -- do you need those? Sometimes we take pics just for fun-zies, but when you're printing them in books, use discretion and choose the images that really tell your story and the things you want to reflect upon down the road. I use these questions as I flip through every image: 

What does this say about our life?

Does this show qualities or behaviors relevant to a life stage or inherent personality trait? 

Does this make me feel something? 

If answer 'yes' to any of these, it's a keeper- move or copy it to a separate folder and carry on to the the next!!

Also, if there's more than one 'yes' in a scene or series that you love, pick just one! Yes, one (maybe two!). If there are tons of images from a particular event, day, or activity you love, see the next tip


3. Break up your books. 

If there is an event or special milestone or trip that you have tons of great photos of, don't feel like you need to cram them all in one book OR narrow them down! Make a separate book! My husband and I took a 3 day trip to Puerto Rico earlier this year and I wanted to have the story of  our little adventure in print so a 5x5 softcover book was the perfect way to get them all in one place and have as a keepsake for down the road.

Birthdays, reunions, holidays, and day trips all make great mini books! 


4. Simplify your layouts. 

You want your books to stand the test of time, to be classic keepsakes for future generations to look at these images and learn about their heritage, country, family, etc. Busy layouts with tons of images on one page, clip art graphics, and endless text descriptions simply distract from the actual story. Do you need to describe it with a cheesy caption if a picture says a thousand words? 

Keep. It. Simple.  Less. Is. More.


5. Make it a habit. 

Whether it's mini books throughout the year or an annual yearbook, the more often you make books, the easier it gets! And when you've found a book style and lab that you love, you can stick to the same template over and over. Consistency is a beautiful thing! 

And yes, to address the elephant in the room, purchasing quality photo books through the year can add up the $$$, but if asked what you'd save in a fire (aside from people, obviously), I bet "photos" is near the top of your list.

I bet photos from your own childhood are valuable to you.

I bet you wouldn't take so many of them if you didn't cherish the season you're in and want to remember it forever.

So isn't it worth the investment? 

Just something to think about.  


To put a cherry on top of this post, here are my top three recommendations for consumer-facing print labs that will do a great job preserving your every day memories. 

Nations Photo Lab  //  MPix // Artifact Uprising

I hope this was helpful! I always love to see how you're preserving your everyday memories, so if you use one of these labs or any of these tips, snap a pic of the final product and share it with me on my Facebook Page or tag me on instagram!