We’re all looking to save time in all areas of our daily lives and it’s no different when it comes to making photo books. When friends see my photo books, I commonly hear about that wedding album that was never made, photos languishing on hard drives and scattered family photos in shoe boxes.
You don’t have to be crafty or an artistic person to make a photo book and the process can be as quick (or as time-consuming) as you want to make it.
To help you navigate through the various photo book companies, I surveyed a group of popular photo book companies: MyPublisher, Mixbook, Blurb, BrideBox, Picaboo, Shutterfly, AdoramaPix, Snapfish and Photobook America to see if they have the time-saving feature listed below. You can check out each company’s individual review pages with lots more info on each of them on the main Photo Book Reviews page.
Here’s my best tips on how to save time making photo books!
#1. Automated Photo Placement Function
When making a photo book the software typically asks if you want to place your own photos or if you want the computer to auto-place them for you. With one click the software will place all your photos into a layout. Done and done! You can still do any tweaks from there.
Which company has it? All of them.
#2. Use a Template
Many companies know your time is precious and that not everyone wants to make their own design, so they’ve hired designers to come up with various themed book layouts for all sorts of events, topics or occasions such as wedding, baby, Mother’s Day, family tree, cookbooks etc. All you do is just drag and drop you photos into these pre-made designer layouts.
Which company has it? All of them – but Mixbook, Shutterfly and Photobook America have some of the more creative designs.
#3. Duplicate a Previous Book
Have you spent hours custom designing your own pages and laying things out just right? Well, there’s no reason why you can’t duplicate that whole book and then replace the old photos with ones from your new project. Many photo book companies have that function – look for “copy project” or “duplicate book”.
Change up the backgrounds and clip art a bit, or maybe the fonts. Maybe move around a few boxes or change the page order and voila – you’ve got yourself a new book! I have recycled book designs many, many times and that has been a huge time saver for me.
Which company has it? Blurb, Shutterfly, Mixbook, BrideBox, Photobook America, AdoramaPix, Picaboo
#4. Duplicate Page
One awesome software feature is the ability to duplicate a whole page. This is really useful when you want to retain some basic formatting like text size or font choice, or a photo box that has certain shadowing, border or background. It can be tedious to reselect all of the same options for every page in a book, but if you can duplicate the page, you can easily move individual items around if you want, rather than redo each element for a similar page. I’m a big advocate for reusing your layouts like you see in the three examples below. If you’re worried about them looking too similar, just don’t use the same layout for consecutive pages – spread them out throughout the book. These spreads are from a book I did of our Hawaii vacation.
Which company has it? Blurb, Mixbook, BrideBox, Photobook America, AdoramaPix
#5. Save Your Layouts
Some companies allow you to save your layouts as templates for future books. If you’ve created a layout you’d like to reuse, you can save it. The program will create a blank version of your layout and save it under your account – ready to be used over and over.
Which company has it? Blurb, BrideBox, Photobook America
#6. Copy Item
Some companies may not have a specific “duplicate page” function, but some software may allow you to “select all” objects on a page, or individual items like text boxes, clip art etc. and copy them. It’s acts much like a “copy/paste” that you’ll find in your average word processor. You wouldn’t retype a whole section in your letter. You would just copy and paste it right? Same thing with photo books. It’s a time saver to not have to reselect basic formatting that you want to retain through your whole book. Always try right clicking on everything to see what options pop up. When I first explore any new software, I test out things like crazy to see what features are available. I click on everything and anything. Remember most if not all companies have a “UNDO” function, so you don’t have to worry if you don’t like something – just undo the last thing you did and move on.
Which company has it? Blurb, Mixbook, BrideBox, Photobook America, AdoramaPix, Picaboo
#7. Look for Global Change Options
Some book companies allow you to change all the backgrounds in a book to all white or all black for instance or to change the font and font size for the whole book. Some even offer the ability to change book sizes and or formats midstream. One important caveat is to go back and check the preview to make sure that your global change doesn’t result in an unintended design or errors. It can be an incredibly useful tool.
Which company has it? Blurb, MyPublisher, Picaboo
#8. Go Custom (Just Not on Every Page)
You may be saying to yourself, I do want to have a custom look but I don’t want to do that for all the pages. Easy, have you ever thought of making a chapter page or title page? These pages can be used to divide up sections in your book, like “Day 1”, “Day 2” of a vacation book or “Getting Ready” and “Ceremony” for a wedding photo book. Again, you can duplicate these pages with a single click and then just retool it for that section.
Then just use the standard templates for the remainder of the pages. The following spreads are the chapter pages from my honeymoon photo book.
#9. Make Your Book in Advance
For many of us, most of the rush in making photo books, is when an awesome photo book sale comes up and then we’re scrambling to finish the book within the week timeframe before the promo ends.
Go ahead and make that book ahead of time with your favorite company and then just hold it until a sale pops up. All the companies run a promo (or several) at some point or another during the year – so if your project is not time-sensitive, just make and hold until you get the right deal.
I’ve heard from some Photo Book Girl readers that this is how they do their Year in Review photo books. They work on them in small bits throughout the year then at the end of the year their book is done and ready to print! Great idea!
By the way, Mother’s Day is one of the best times of year to find photo book deals, probably second only to Christmas! Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter or fan my Facebook page so you don’t miss out on any of the latest photo book deals.
#10. Buy Your Own Software
If you like to make photo books, one of the best tips I can give is to buy your own software. For as little as $30.00, you can have your own design software on your own computer. You can make and save your own designs and then export them as jpegs or pdfs and upload them to any photo book company. You’ll be able to keep your designs and not have to worry about them being deleted over time (some companies will delete projects after a certain time frame to free up their storage capacity) or that a company will go out of business. Additionally, when you buy your own software, you can make sure to choose a product that has all of the features you want and once you become familiar with it, your photo book making process will be much more streamlined.
I have several go-to book layouts for the main sizes I like to print and I almost always go back to those templates to start off any new project.
If you like a particular company’s clip art or themes, even after you upload your full page bleed, you can still easily overlay stickers and type over your pages. It’s the best of both worlds! Check out these posts for more info on buying your own photo book software.
So, you may be wondering which company had the most time-saving features? Blurb came out on top with all 7 of the applicable features, tied for second at 6 out of 7 is BrideBox and Photobook America, and tied for third place with 5 out of 7 features – Mixbook, AdoramaPix and Picaboo.
Please note this post was not sponsored by any company, but contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a referral fee. Regardless of affiliation, all my reviews are my honest opinion.