Since there was a demand for some examples, 😉 here are a few pages of my very first photo book. I’ll use the opportunity to say a few words about layouting along the way and share a few things I learned.
I started out using a relatively simple photo book program, i.e. not that many functions. I’m trying out a more complex one now for my second project, but couldn’t really say that I favor one over the other so far. They both have their advantages and disadvantages.
To be honest, I’m still secretly fond of the first program because it has nicer backgrounds and passepartouts and cliparts. But I’m still excited with the functional range of the second software. It just gives you so many more opportunities to create an actual magazine-like layout.
I’ll be sure to continue using both, depending on the project I’m working on. Maybe I’ll even try out some more providers of photo book software.
So my first tip: Try out different software programs and find out which one is particularly suited to your current project.
The first step is usually to choose a format. There are so many sizes, shapes, printing and binding methods it can make your head spin. I was impatient to start, though, and just chose one without much initial research, thinking that I could still change the format later.
So my second tip: Don’t do that. 😉 It is a lot of work to switch from one format to the other because—if the software allows for that at all—it will mess up all your carefully placed pictures/texts and you will have to go through everything again.
I found it very helpful to actually go to a store selling photo books and look at the example books they have there. Look at the sizes and what effect the format has on the appearance of the pictures. Touch the pages and compare hard- and soft covers, matte or glossy finish etc. Everyone has a different taste.
I went for an A4-like format with a hardcover and digital offset printing. I prefer offset prints over photobase paper, but that’s entirely a matter of taste. Just as everything else. 😉
The first difficulty I encountered was that I just couldn’t find out how to deactivate the so-called “photo book assistant.” I still haven’t, although I’ve been told it is possible. Problem is that this assistant ‘suggests’ where to place your pictures in the book. I did a lot of rearranging on a page or double page, but it is a pain to move pictures to the next double page or add new ones with this software, so I didn’t.
I had a lot of fun moving the pictures around on the pages, making them smaller or bigger, adding texts or funny and fitting clip arts (like the little map in this example that I found matched the city tour shown on the pictures).
I ‘planned’ my first photo book like an album. I selected all the images I liked from among all the snapshots taken and tried to arrange them chronologically on a page. Nothing wrong with that. I think the album is nice and homey and a nice souvenir of a great trip.
Since then, I developed the ambition to make photo books look like professional (published) photo books or magazines. But I think there is a very personal appeal to the album approach. I think each has its place.
So my third tip: I find that an album-like look is good for personal events such as trips, weddings and other family celebrations etc. If you want to go for a more professional-looking style, look on the internet for layout examples. Many providers even have suggestions on their websites and offer customers to upload their photo books. These are a good source of inspiration.
Sometimes, we have to remind ourselves that less is more. Not too many pictures on one page are a good start. There shouldn’t be too much overlapping.
It is easy as well to get carried away with all the crazy and beautiful backgrounds, passepartouts, and cliparts we have at our disposal. It is such fun to see what effects you can achieve by just inserting one of these. However, make sure not to use too many different passepartouts on one (double)page. Use cliparts sparingly and only where they fit. Otherwise it will look cluttered and the one thing that this is actually about—the pictures—will go unnoticed.
So tip No. 4: Don’t clutter and remember that less is more.
Just a Matter of Time
But beware: 😉 It is already a lot of work to style pictures that a photo book assistant placed on the pages for you. It took me several entire evenings to get this book the way I wanted it. Now that I’m experimenting with real layout, it is taking me hours to put together a few pages! Of course I will be quicker when I have some practice, but still …
And yet, it is a lot of fun and it can be a really creative activity if you make it so. So what? 😉
So the final tip for today: Have fun and enjoy yourself. Dare to go wild and try out anything you feel like on the page.