Four things to decide before making a photo book

Your parents have been married for eons, your grandmother is really old, your mate is getting married – whatever the reason, someone’s suggested putting together a photo book and you’re in charge. Where do you begin?

We thought we’d help you out with some pointers, so you can give your old photographs a breath of fresh air and get the best photo book in the history of photo books ever*.

Before you even start choosing which images to use, you need to work out four things:

Who’s it for?

This is probably the easiest question to answer. Photo books are often a go-to gift, because they’re super easy to make AND they make the giver look thoughtful. A book to mark a special occasion should really be hardback and have a flysheet to make it look fancy. With all the pictures together, it’s straightforward to make duplicates in soft cover to share with everyone, and they take up less space than traditional photo albums. You could remake old albums for everyone in your family, as well as sharing them online, and using them in other photo books, without having to mess around with negatives or expensive reproduction processing. Who it’s going to be used by will also help you decide paper quality, for example, if it’s going to be opened and looked at a lot you might choose a matt or silk finish instead of a gloss to avoid greasy finger marks. If you’d like to accentuate on the colours, on the other hand, gloss is a must as it makes your images stand out in terms of saturation, contrast and general colour quality.

What’s the best size?

Getting the size of your book right is crucial if you want to do the images you’ve chosen full justice. For example, if all the pictures are dramatic, they’ll need big pages and lots of space to shine. On the other hand, if it’s a collection of fun family pictures, you might want something smaller and easier to flick through. Working this out will also help you decide whether you want your book to be portrait, landscape, or square.

What’s the story?

There are times when you just need to put a series of pictures in chronological order to tell the story, say, of a relationship in the order in which it unfolded. Or you might want to showcase a particular series of photographs, like a portable gallery, to make a big statement with a strong impact. Deciding the story you want to tell, will also help you settle on what experience you want to give the viewer, and therefore whether you choose a coffee table style hardback book with lots of pages, or something smaller.

What’s the theme?

We’ve all got boxes and boxes of old photos, and since the world went digital, we’ve added thousands and thousands of images to that on computer hard drives. Having a theme will help you curate which images you choose. Obviously we can help with the digitisation process, and scan in your vintage photos in our lab so you can put all your shortlisted images together in one place ready to start curating and compiling.

Now that you’ve had a good think about your photo book project, have a read of our next blog post to learn how to put it all together: A beginner’s guide to making a photo book

*well maybe that’s a stretch, but take our advice and it will be a very good one!