Photo Books Making and Reviews

IMG_5136I have made a few photo books and I think it’s fun, so I decided to do a short write up about my experience making photo books.

From Photos to Photobooks

Photo development used to be big back in those days when Mike Jackson was still cool, now the business is very much done. Most people either keep their photos in their computers or they choose to upload a chunk of photos to the social network website hoping that their friends take a quick glimpse at them and reward them with likes.

Photos are no longer something physical but rather some digital files that are made of bits and bytes and meant to be kept in the computers. This is usually the case until the hardisc eventually dies off and everything inside is gone. Alternatively you could preserve photo files on digital archive like the Clouds, Flickr and some social networking sites. Then again sometimes those websites go out of business and they close up their servers immediately after they run out of operating funds. To survive in these difficult time, some photo labs evolved into selling photography equipments, and some turned photobook makers. For the last few years, we have seen a steady rise in photobook making business.

We do need to know that, the conventional photos are done with chemical process while photobooks are printed in offset process and both can be very different. While the color will not turn out as vibrant as the chemical processed photos, the color for photobook will last much longer, at least theoretically they will. With this method, we no longer have to worry about the media decay, the stuck hard drives, and the scratched discs.

IMG_5143Before there’s photobook, I was keeping my 8R+ photos inside the black folder called the portfolio. Viewing the photos inside the portfolio is not the best experience. There’s no definite way to archive your photos, but I do think this is how it was traditionally done, the big photos will be kept in the portfolios and the smaller photos, the sub-4R will be kept in the photo albums.

The Encounter

I stumbled upon the idea of photobook when I came back from a tour some years ago. Rather than developing many 8R photos that are hard to keep and expensive to produce, I decided to give photo book a try. Here’s a quick look at how fast and easy a photobook is made, if it’s done the right way.

The Procedure

1. Determine how many pictures you wish to include then estimate the photo book pages and size.

2. Collect and consolidate pictures into a folder for screening and filtering.

3. Download the photobook making software and then install it on your computer when the download is done.

4. Import your folder into the project and drop the photos into places or let the software do it for you. Also do not fear the software, it is just the basic drag and drop!

5. Tweak, refine and review your photo book.

6. Foot the bill, upload the book to the sever, and wait patiently.

IMG_5118…and Tada!  This particular photobook arrived at my doorsteps 32hours after I placed the order. Just so you know how big the 6″ X 6″ coffee table book is, I place a coffee mug next to it so you can visually compare them.

Difficulty Level

The photobook above is with glossy paper 157gsm.

I have heard peoples complaining how tedious it is to make a book of your own but hey the process of making of the book is what you are supposed to enjoy the most. This is when you hold the power to create, to configure and to control how a book, how your book will look, so stop complaining!

Back then when photos were developed by photo labs, there’s peoples who always complain about the color is too red or if something is not right but now you are left with yourself to blame if the book din turn out the way you want it to. Of course, printing and binding still matter a lot to the end result but the variables have been greatly reduced.

IMG_5131The book on top is a 11″ X 8.5″ while the 3 larger books below are 15″ X 11″

Okay, just to show how easily photobooks can be made, my mom is 60 years old and she had made like 6 photobooks on her own. Its easy, its fun, even a middle age lady enjoy doing it!

Ya, you don’t need 20megapixels photos or the latest DSLR to produce a photobook. Photos from a decent smartphone camera are sufficient because if you are to arrange 4 photos into a 11″ X 8.5″ page, I think a 4megapixels photo would be more than enough.

The Photobook Companies Out There

I have tried the services offered by Photobook worldwide and Photobookmart, quality does vary from time to time, from batch to batch, from company to company, so there’s no way for me to say which is better or if you should use this or that. Also the cost of making photobook is a factor to consider as well. With the reasons mentioned above, I really don’t wish to say which company offers the best services and product quality, but one advice from me would be to brighten up all the photos by a bit before you place your order. This is because LCD screens are back litted, photos displayed on an LCD screen will always look glowing compared to the one printed on paper materials and you need to compensate that with your own instinct.


One notable photobook making company is Blurb, they offer a seamless integration in between Adobe Lightroom and photobook printing. Do give the official site a visit if you are interested.


The Sizes and Variants

IMG_5126Here are the various sizes offered by various photobook making companies.

Upper left photobook is 6″ X 6″ with soft cover
Lower left photobook is 13″ X 10″ with sleeve
Right photobook is 12″ X 14″ with imagewrap

IMG_5139The photobook above is with Matte paper 170gsm.

Me, my personal preference is the square format, mainly because I am a portrait shooter. With a square layout, I can easily drop in both landscape and portrait photos and they will fit just fine. Just so you have the idea how big a 12″ X 14″ photobook will turn out, I placed a sharpie at the top right of the photobook, and yes the 12″ X 14″ is pretty damn big!

Okay, now my only advice for you is to just go on and make a photobook!

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