10 tips for creating an online photobook

We’re in the middle of summer, and soon you’ll get back home with many own made pictures on your phone or camera. A way to make it a summer to do is creating a printed album. But why do some look really good and others just.. not.. Here are 10 tips to create a better photo book.

1. Tell a Tale

Just as with any other book, your photo book is meant to tell a story, especially when making a photo book of your vacation photos for example. When you show off your vacation photos, you’re sharing your experiences with your family and friends. You want to make them feel like they were on the trip with you – seeing the sights, taking in the picturesque views. Think about how you want to tell your story. The typical event-based book will likely be chronological. But don’t be afraid to break from that, by grouping photos that make sense together for impact. For example, the following layout highlights all the delicious food we ate on vacation!

2. Do your Prep Work Ahead of Time

Designing your pages will be easier if you haven’t uploaded all 1000 photos from your event or trip into the photo book design software. You’ll easily lose your mind going through all of them. I’ve found that in a 100-page book, about 300 photos are more than enough and even then I don’t end up using all of the photos. Edit down the number of photos to the best ones, or the ones essential to telling the story you wish to convey. Also make sure you’ve done your post-processing using your own software before uploading, as there are typically very few in-program photo-editing tools.

3. Choose a format

Which type of book suits your project? Whichever publishing platform you use, you’ll find a huge variety of hardback and paperback options, with different paper types and sizes to choose from.

4. Choose your design tool

Online photo book publishers offer their own simple software – usually for free. Some also let you use traditional design software – such as Adobe InDesign – on their site too. Many companies also offer bespoke design services, although often for a fee.

5. Less is More

Don’t try to crowd in a lot of photos in a single layout, give your photos some breathing room. In fact, consider placing a single photo per page. It allows your photo to take center stage.

If you are planning to create a whole spread with several photos, think about the end size of your photo book. A very common size offered by photo book companies is an 8 x 8-inch book. How many photos to put into a spread should correlate to the size of the book. For example, laying out 12 photos on a single spread (two facing pages) of an 8×8 inch book is going to print very differently from 12 photos on a single spread of a 12×12 inch book. Doing the former may make each photo appear rather small in the final product and you don’t want folks squinting at your layouts. If you don’t have the benefit of a large monitor, so you can zoom to actual size, many companies display the measurements of your photos so if you have to, grab a ruler so you can see what end size you’re going to end up with. I typically don’t try to place more than 6 to 8 photos on a single spread of an 8 x 8-inch book and even then, you probably don’t want to do that for every page.

6. Set a Focal Point

If you have a beautiful photo of which you’re especially proud, as mentioned in #1 above, highlight it by letting it have its own spread. Place it in a full bleed spread, or if the book size you’ve chosen is going to cut off key areas of your photo, then choose a container size smaller than the spread.

Another way to establish a focal point when you have more than one photo in your layout is to display one or two larger photos with smaller supporting photos.

A big pet peeve is when companies provide very boring, unimaginative stock layouts based on the number of photos you want to layout. If you place your photos into a layout of eight equally sized photo boxes, which photo is the focal point? Not to say that a layout like that would never work, but picking one or two photos to highlight tells your viewers the focus of your design.

7.  Look around

Don’t be afraid to borrow design ideas. Look through other books taking note of designs you like. Look online, and in the photo book section in your local bookstore or library. Take note of how fonts and layouts have been used in the books.

8. Mix it up

It could make sense to show just one image per page if you are designing a portfolio book, but you might want something a little more dynamic. Photobook publishers offer lots of themed layouts, and you can usually design your own themes too. Find a set of 4-8 different page layouts that work well together, and use them throughout your book. This will keep it interesting and cohesive.

9. Include some writing

Some photo books really benefit from a bit of text – is there a story behind your photos? There’s no limit to where you put it and how much you can add. Captions, locations, names, dates and other details can enrich your book and keep the story flowing. Opt for a classic font and make sure it is legible, but that it doesn’t overpower your images.

10. Publish and distribute

When the book is ready and you’ve hit the order button, now it’s time to share your hard work. If you’re using Bob Books, publish your book in the online Bob Bookshop (for free!) and pass around copies to your friends and family.