How to Make a Photo Book from your Photo Collection

A stack of 8 linen and photo wrap photo books viewed from the spine side on a table

Do you want to make a photo book but aren’t sure how?

Are you wondering what images from your collection to use to make a photo book?  Are you unsure of what to look for in a photo book service? If so, read on!

Choosing a Theme

Photos of people, places and events will play a large part in how you make a photo book. But first, you should chose a theme. Is the photo book marking a celebration, vacation, graduation, or personal milestone? Once you have a theme, choosing the appropriate images will be much easier.

Will the photo book have a narrative or documentary focus? Either approach benefits from the inclusion of some text. A storytelling approach works well for these photo books, with a focus on building a visual plot. For example, the random placing of photos in a spread will leave the viewer confused. But consider another example – a wedding book. The photographer lays out the images in chronological order, building the suspense. The visual pacing is deliberate and thoughtful. The story of the wedding, the happy couple and the events surrounding it make a compelling photo story.

Choosing your Photo Content

While your photos of people, places and things are the obvious choice, there are other visuals to consider including. Scanned letters, documents, memorabilia, and artwork are some other options to include. These images will add visual interest and texture to the story and make your photo book more compelling.

Letters on their own can be the star of their own photo book. Some of my clients have correspondences from their grandparents and great-grandparents and other ancestors. Creating scans of these letters, along with any related photos for context, is a great way to tell a family story. This type of photo book will preserve these fragile items while sharing the content in a tactile way. You can even translate hard-to-read handwriting on a separate page, or leave as is.

Grouping the Photos

You can arrange your edited photos in various ways. Using a chronological structure is one option. A thematic or geographic approach (like for a travel book) are other ideas. Allow for some negative space as well as room for text if desired. Or you can add an index at the end of the book – but make sure your pages have numbers!

Considerations when choosing your Photo Book publisher

The first thing to consider is length. The longer the photo book, the more it will cost. Lay-flat books are more expensive. Luxurious materials for covers like leather and silk can add up in price, but are perfect for heirloom books. Photographic printed pages cost more than press printed pages. Thicker pages cost more than thin paper pages, and the binding can also add to the cost. Are you comfortable designing the photo book yourself? Or do you want to hire a professional? These are all important questions to ask yourself before moving on to the creation part.

A final word on Photo Books

Making Photo Books from your photo collection is a great way to share your photos and memorabilia. The creative possibilities are as vast as the publishers. I’ve used Zno, MPix and AdoramaPix with great success. Low-cost options also abound, but remember you get what you pay for. Blurb offers magazines which can be a fun, budget friendly choice. Heirloom luxury brands are available as well – and the prices reflect that. But no matter which type of book you choose, getting your photos off your screens and into print is well worth it. And if you’d rather have someone do it for you, get in touch!