I recently discovered photo books as a new hobby. I wouldn’t call myself a photographer and would never think of going out just to take pictures. But I love snapshooting, and since I started with these photo books, I’ve found that there are a few very beautiful shots among them. I also discovered that putting photo books together is an art form in its own right that deserves some attention. As I’m learning, I’d like to share my adventure. Allow me to start by sharing the story of how this topic grabbed my attention …

Starting Out

Photo albums are a form of art. You can do all sorts of things with them. Just type “scrapbooking” into the search engine of your choice and be amazed at the variety of styles and cool designs.

Two or three years ago, I got warmed up for the topic. My goal was to do more with my photos than to have them sitting on my hard-drive. So I decided to try my hands at a glue-in picture album. Since I couldn’t find any album that even resembled the one I wanted, I went to the local arts and crafts supply store and bought construction paper as pages, two metal rings that you could open and close to hold the pages together and thick transparent plastic sheets to protect the front and back. I had a larger number of photos developed, got little adhesive strips to glue them in and a silver pen to note when and where the pictures were taken on the black construction paper.

Getting Frustrated

However, I found that my lack of talent to craft beautiful artwork by hand was a bad foundation. The result was satisfying, but hardly exciting. I was just about to accept that my photos were doomed to lead a dull existence on these pages …

Enlightenment

… when a friend showed me a photo book she had created using free photo book software.

I was fascinated at once, but was shocked when I looked at the prices. It took me several months until I did some calculating and reached the conclusion that—all in all—my home-made albums were not really less expensive.

What had also kept me from trying out printed photo books right away was the idea that an album was more flexible. I can start anytime I want and always add to it as new pictures are taken. However, it was my friend again who pointed out to me that I could make books about specific topics, be it a single trip, one year in retrospect etc. And I can start with the album anytime I want, only I have to wait a bit longer until I have something to touch.

So I tried it out. I used the pictures of a one-week holiday trip I took with my guy, so enough there to fill an entire book. Since I’m quite fit with computer programs—for a woman, I guess ;-)—I got the handling of the program quickly. I tried it all out. A fancy background, frames, effects, turning pictures this way or that, passepartouts, fitting cliparts … You name it.

It was fun. And once I held the printed result in my hand, I was very proud. It’s a matter of taste, I guess: Many people might feel that a hand-crafted album is much more personal. And maybe it is. But isn’t it cool to hold a professional, printed book in hand that you yourself have created? 🙂

My Perfectionism Strikes Again

Although I was satisfied with the book and still am—and my family likes it, too—my perfectionist streak got the better of me again. There had to be more one could do with the format. I started researching on the net, bought two handbooks about the topic, and now I’m beginning to learn …