In Praise of Photobooks

What do you do with your photos?A pertinent question if like me over the years you have taken tens of thousands ,if not hundreds of thousands ,of photos .My first recommendation is have a good clean out . Most of us hold onto photos which are just not worth keeping .Flickr is full of them .Be your own harshest critic.Junk all bad or indifferent photos unless they are of significant historical or sentimental value.Bad photos take up storage space, physical or computer memory , but worse still they mean that you cannot see the wood for the trees-- they obscure your great photos .
After clearing out all the junk and making sure that going forward you don't accumulate more think of ways of showcasing your remaining great photos .Photosharing sites –Flickr etc are OK but they a have a real yawn factor about them .Putting photos up onto a photosharing site does not involve much effort and really presents the photos in a bland manner.
Years ago photographers ,serious and not so serious, used to put their photos into photo albums . We all have seen them-- books with small prints lovingly positioned and held into place by little mounts in the corners . Whilst we may find them very staid they have resulted in many photos ,which otherwise would have been lost ,being preserved .
After years of making prints and storing slides I discovered photobooks and they have allowed me to show my photos physically in a way where I feel that they are more appreciated.and whilst they are now called photobooks they are in fact only a modern version of the old photo album . The same idea with a modern twist .
There are numerous companies now offering photobook publishing services . There are three basic systems-- the simplest involves you uploading your photos to the publishers site and the software creates the book for you (often called autofill) -crude , easy , the least creative and the least satisfying . The second allows you to upload the photos to the publishers site and you then place them into the design software and create your own layouts within the templates they provide. This is a lot more creative and satisfying but is less flexible than the third system which allows you to download the design software onto your own computer and then create the book on it and then upload the finished design to the publisher for printing.It has the benefit of using more sophisticated software with more options and is the most creative and satisfying option in my experience.
I have used both the second and third options and have had great results from both .Blurb is one of the biggest photobook publishers – they offer all three design options and their software allows you to be very creative . Blurb and many of the publishers provide various options of paper quality ,covers , binding etc.If you visit the blurb site Make your own book. Make it can see hundreds of examples of creative photobooks created by amateur and professional photographers.
I have been through my old slides and scanned in many of them to make photobooks of my children growing up and given them to them as presents at Xmas .I have made photobooks of overseas trips , my cars and of course my grandchildren. My most recent effort from a week in Paris can be seen at J'AiME PARIS | Book Preview
So if you have not considered making a photobook give it a try . You will enjoy the creative process -much more satisfying than merely uploading your photos – and I am sure you and others will enjoy the finished product . Just remember to junk all those bad photos first .


betwixt and between
John, thanks so much for writing this up and for your links. I had the pleasure of looking at your "J'AIME Paris" book preview the other day and thought it was beautiful. I really enjoyed your photographs and you only instilled my desire to visit that renowned city of love - and a photographer's paradise!

I've been talking about doing one of these books for about two years.:redface: I'm going on the record here to say that I shall get my act together this winter before Christmas! :th_salute: Get ready for lots of questions as I do!

As for junking all of those bad photos - I have way too many... In some ways, I like to keep a few to remind myself of how far I've come.;)

Again, many thanks!


Top Veteran
Hey John - snap!
[/url] Radish by heather_t_vet, on Flickr[/IMG]


Liverpool / UK
John... You're so right (especially with digital) that we tend to keep what could be considered DROSS.... What a great way to preserve those truly 'special' images.
Mal . yes I was going to use the word dross but was unsure whether it was used in the US and elsewhere .Digital cameras encourage the generation of dross so you need to be disciplined to junk the dross .But a word of warning best to delete camera images when you are in the mood for it . Don't do it in a bar after you've had a few drinks -- particularly with an X1 -- one fat finger and you erase the whole memory card .That's overdoing it .
The Rolling Road
Dear shinglj,

I couldn't agree more! Making a photobook can be extremely satisfying. I have not tried BLURB yet, but will following your glowing comments and a quick visit to their site. I have tried several other publishers and particularly like ADORAMAPIX, MYPUBLISHER and SHUTTERFLY (probably in that order). I was less impressed with books I made using Snapfish and Lifepics.

Adorama offers lay-flat Leporello binding as standard. This allows photos to run seamlessly across pages and their makeup software features true "drag and drop" operation. The inside surface of the hard covers are printable "pages" and there are no "endpapers". They offer many cover sizes - page count must be exactly 14, 26, 38, 50 or 76.

Mypublisher offers more formal looking books bound conventionally with fine endpapers. You download their make-up software to your computer and then upload the book when you are ready to publish. Their software is now in its 7th iteration and it has become far more flexible and easier to use with each edition. Their books are offered in many sizes, each with 20 pages standard. You can add additional pages.

Shutterfly is possibly the most popular source of photobooks. The offer a good range of cover sizes, each with 20 pages or more. Their printing/binding work has become very first rate and their once querky software has evolved considerable. I find few 4/3 proportioned frames in their ready-made templates, however.

All three of these sources offer sales and specials quite regularly. These are really worth shopping for! I've enjoyed "twofers", free shipping and special prices on certain sizes from all of them. They also offer various mechanisms for letting people share a preview of your book from the internet.

Here is a link to an interesting comparison of many photobook publishers: Digital Home Thoughts: The Great Photo Book Round-Up Review: Who Makes The Best Photo Books?


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Hall of Famer
I think you're absolutely right about relating to photos more strongly and photos having more impact when they are physically in front of you, and a book is a great way to do this indeed! I'll definitely put together some books once I have the suitable photos, it's also a great way of telling a story.

Love your J'AiME PARIS book, you have a great eye! It gives a lovely feel of the city!