A real, physical printed photo book can be a beautiful, personalized special gift for a friend or family member — though it can also be a special way to hold onto memories for yourself. All you need is a digital camera, a little bit of imagination and time to devote to its creation.
Step 1: Figure out what you want the book to be
Decide on what your book aims to accomplish. The beauty of this type of project is the finished product is a complete reflection of your creativity. You shoot and select all the photographs. You write all the text and captions. You decide on the style, colors, theme, layout and overall design of the book — see some examples to the right here.
Step 2: Decide who it’s for
Is this a one-shot book, or are you making 20 copies for a family reunion? Answers to these questions will affect both what you put in the book, and how much you’ll be paying. (Note that there are usually tiered discounts available for bulk purchases.)
Step 3: Get your photos
Take or gather together your digital pictures. They should be good quality, high resolution, crisp and in focus. Non-digital photos (prints from film) must be scanned into a high-resolution format — and you can find out how to do that here.
Step 4: Organize your photos
Decide what pictures you need. Perhaps you want to go with putting them all in chronological order, or maybe by section for each person featured — or what about before and after shots? Now’s the time to choose.
Step 5: Put it into words
Once you know what pictures you will be using, draft how you would like the photo captions and text to read. Also decide on a title and any byline/dedication information to include.
Step 6: Pick a publisher
There are lots of options, so get more information and a list of book publishers here.
Step 7: Create your photobook
Follow the publisher’s step-by-step directions for creating your book. It’s usually as easy as dragging and dropping images into the layout and typing in your text.
Step 8: Proofread
Have someone else proofread your text for typos, grammar goofs and spelling errors. (It’s always easier for others to find our mistakes.) A special book like this is likely to be shared and kept for decades, so it would be nice if your great-great-great grandchildren don’t ever wonder why granny didn’t know the difference between their and they’re.
Step 9: Take one last look
Flip through all the pages and make sure your book looks and reads exactly the way you want. With most all of these book publishers, changes after ordering can only be made for the price of a new book.
Step 10: Check out
Finalize your transaction, and be sure to use any coupons you’ve found.
Step 11: Wait for your book to arrive
This is the hardest part. Waiting for your book to come in the mail can feel like an eternity, but the wait really won’t be too long — and it will be worth it. In fact, once you see how easy and cool it is to create a photo book, you’ll probably be looking for excuses to create more!
Publishers for the photobooks shown above, from top to bottom: MyPublisher, Kodak, Photoworks, iPhoto (Apple), Photoworks, MyPublisher.