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How to design a photo book

A photo book opens up the opportunity to express yourself creatively, to tell your photo story. The theme can be anything. This is the story of your baby for a year, and vivid impressions of a summer vacation, and photos with your favorite grandparents, collected specially as a gift. It’s a matter of your imagination. There can be large and small photos, full page photos, comments and memorabilia. A photo book is a flight of fancy!

Here are some tips on how to make a spectacular concise photo book easily and simply.


When creating my photo books, I adhere to the principles of simplicity and contrast.

For example, you can put a half-length portrait of a child on one page of the spread and a full-length portrait on the second. This creates a “big/small” contrast. Another option is to place a color photo on one page and a black and white photo on another. Or one page has one big photo, another has a series of photos of the same theme.

I also like simplicity in design. That means I don’t use all sorts of patterned frames, extra pictures and backgrounds. In my opinion, all of that detracts from the point.

A photo that is placed in the full spread will not leave anyone indifferent. The bigger the size of the picture, the bigger the effect it has. A group portrait, a single portrait, a landscape are all great options for the spread of a photo book.

When framing, pay attention to the principle of sufficiency: so in this case the child’s bangs are “left”. If the bangs are “cut off” when framing, the photo will look out of harmony. Harmony arises from the fact that we have the opportunity to “think up” the girl’s hair. That’s why always make sure your framing leaves some room for “finishing off”.

Typical mistakes when designing a photo book:

  • Placing two identical photos on the same spread. For example, one photo shows a child looking directly at the viewer, while the other (with similar cropping) is to the side. At that, the photos are placed in the following way: one on one page and the other on the other. The principle of contrast in this case is not respected, and the viewer will not be interesting and bored looking at this spread.
  • Placing a large number of photos of the same size on the spread. Again, the principle of contrast is lost. The viewer does not understand what to focus on, and his/her eyes begin to wander incoherently.
  • The use of a large number of different “decorations” – frames, pictures, colorful backgrounds. All these distract the viewer from contemplation of your photos and, most importantly, from the heroes of your photo book.

The layout

Nowadays there are a lot of companies that produce photo books. As a rule all of them have their own comfortable and easy-to-use photo book layout programs. Such programs have options for page spread templates that allow you to quickly and easily select the desired option for the arrangement of photos.

Template for photo book spreads

At the same time you can prepare your future photo book spreads by means of graphic editor, for example, in Adobe Photoshop having previously downloaded templates for making-up on the site of publishing house.

Cover page 

Most often manufacturers offer several cover versions to choose from: a photo cover, a cover of leather and imitation leather, and a cover of fabric. It is also possible to insert a photo into the cover of leather (both artificial and natural) and fabric. I like the faux leather version with the photo insertion, as well as the book in fabric with embossing, because of its practicality and individuality.

When creating the cover design, I also adhere to the general principle of simplicity.

For the variant with a photo cover, you can put a photo in the full size of the cover. Most often, the photo cover can be made either matte or glossy. As practice shows, a glossy cover is more likely to have scratches. A matte cover is more practical and makes the photo visually “warmer.

The size of the photo book

My choice is a book in the form of a square 30×30 centimeters. This variant has the possibility of placing photos on the entire spread (30×60). It is also possible to place both vertical and horizontal photos on one page, as well as several photos on one page. Besides, 30×30 is a rather big size of photobook with possibility to show large size photos.

Number of spreads and paper

The number of spreads directly affects the type of paper chosen. If it is 25-30 spreads, it can be matte or silk paper applied to a dense cardboard base. In this case the sheets will be thick and dense, and the book itself is quite weighty. In the case of silk paper you will have extra protection of the pages from fingerprints.

For more than 30 spreads, it is better to choose thin, dense matte or designer paper. If you use designer paper, you will be tempted to touch the pages of your future photo book.

photo book

Selecting Photos

Selecting photos for a future photo book can sometimes confuse anyone. There are so many photos, and the number of spreads is not infinite… First of all, call your original idea for help. For a photo album for the year, you can group the photos by months, and choose 10 key ones for each month.

By the way, there are special programs (like Adebis Photo Sorter) for grouping photos by period. You collect all the photos in one folder and run the program, setting its parameters:

  • where to put the sorted files,
  • the interval for sorting the photos (day, week, month),
  • naming rules for the folders.

In the output you get a catalog with photos sorted by period in folders. It takes about 15 minutes.

For a photo book about summer vacations, you can mark the key events and based on them to make a selection of photos.

When choosing photographs listen to your emotions and feelings. If positive emotions and a feeling of harmony arise inside you when looking at pictures, it means that the photo is important for you. Listen to yourself.

Copies of books

You can order a photo book in several copies as a gift for your family and friends. You can have the original size or a smaller one. It is hard to think of a better gift for the loving grandparents.

Perhaps the most pleasant and joyful moment of creating a photo book is the final one, when you take your brainchild in your hands. You physically feel your favorite photos, the cover material, the pages… You can only feel it all. Photos should be tangible, and warm us with their warmth and mood.