This is my first new post of the year! Happy 2015!
It’s been nearly five years since I started this blog, and from the beginning, I’ve enjoyed hearing from my readers and fellow photo book enthusiasts. Very commonly I get e-mails from folks who are new to photo books and don’t know where to start. I usually point them to my “newbie” section where I’ve posted my Top 20 popular “how to” posts to hopefully get them on the right track, but I know it can be overwhelming. As I’ve followed the world of photo books for the last five years now, there have been new companies offering photo books, as well as an ever-evolving line up of new products and features to choose from. It can be hard to figure out where to begin. My own journey and research into making my own wedding album is what prompted me to start this site.
A very typical question reads something like this:
“I just got married/My son just got married/My husband and I are celebrating our anniversary/It’s my father’s 80th birthday/I took a trip to Europe etc. and I want to make a very special photo book, but I’ve never made a photo book before and I read some reviews and posts on your site but I’m not sure how start.”
I think the pressure of making your very first photo book and expecting it to be a masterpiece is probably what keeps a lot of people from making photo books in the first place. I think it’s best to start small and easy and minimize your initial time commitment.
Here’s some of my best tips for folks who are new to photobooking:
1) Photo book companies provide access to their photo book making software for free. All that’s typically required is to sign up for a free account. When you’re trying to decide on a company (hopefully my photo book reviews have helped you narrow it down to 2 or 3 options) grab about 10 of your photos and give the software a test run – if you don’t like the software interface you probably will not enjoy the process and this way you’ll find that out before you invest a lot of time using that software. Each company has their own take on the process and you may find you like one company’s software more than another’s. As a side note, you may not know that most companies also have a free online share function, so even if you don’t decide to print out that photo book, you can share an online version of it on Facebook and other social media, or via an email link for free.
2) Make a sample book first before spending a lot of money and time. If you are making a special occasion photo book or a big book of thousands of photos from your recent trip to Asia and anticipate spending a lot of money on it, you might want to start off with a less intimidating project to get your feet wet.
- Choose around 50 photos and keep it to around 20 to 40 pages for your first book. It’s easier if you keep a separate folder of just the photos you intend to use instead of having to dig through all your photos while you’re putting together the book.
- Make it an easy book – perhaps a single event like a birthday party, a short trip, a day at the zoo. If you’re a bride or groom, why not start with an engagement photo book, or a photo book of your bridal shower or bachelorette party first before venturing into making a high end heirloom photo album of your wedding;
- To get a big discount on a photo book, look for a FREE photo book deal from one of the photo book companies which pops up from time to time on my deals page, or buy a Groupon with 70% off savings and stick to the value of the Groupon to make the most of a deal;
3) Try a company’s auto-placement function. For more details see my recently updated post on “How to Make a Photo Book in Minutes.”
4) Use a pre-made book template. While most companies allow you to create your own layouts from scratch, an easier way to start is to use a pre-designed layout. If you like a scrapbook type look, Mixbook, Shutterfly, Photobook America and Picaboo in particular have a lot of ready-made themes and lots of clip art and embellishments. If you prefer a clean streamlined look, MyPublisher, AdoramaPix and Blurb may be more your style.
Here’s to a great year of photobooking!