with Courtney Slazinik
5 Tips for Creating a Better Photo Book
5 Tips for Creating a Better Photo Book

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Recently, I have fallen in love with photo books. I love that the kids now have something tangible to remember the adventures we have had as a family. And now, when we travel, I have the photo book in mind as I’m shooting. It helps keep me focused and I end up shooting much more purposefully. Today, I would love to share some shooting tips on how I create my family photo books.

I love these photo book tips! I am going to keep her shooting tips in mind before our next trip. Read - 5 Tips for Creating a Better Photo Book

Read more: 3 Steps to make a Photo Book in Lightroom

  • No.
    Plan Your Photo Book

    Visit a few photo book sites and think about the style of book you would like. How do you want your images displayed? Simple and modern or collages? Use of backgrounds and color, or simple white pages? How many pages do you want to include? What size and shape book do you want? Hard or soft cover? If you choose a hard cover, do you want a book jacket?

    It sounds like a lot to think about, but most photo book sites make it pretty simple. I knew I would be using Artifact Uprising to print these particular books, so I took a look at templates to get an idea what to shoot for before my vacation. Planning ahead means you’ll already have a great image for the cover!

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  • No.
    Know Your Story

    What kind of story do you want to tell? Because I’m documenting our travels, I’m telling the story of our vacation. My preference is for my book to have a beginning middle and end. My book is a story of what we did, who we saw, and the place we were. I include the who, what, when, why, where of our story. And not just for the book’s entirety, but for each transition in the book.

    Each activity should tells a story because a photo book is just photos, the progression of the book should be your voice. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

    Another concept to making a book is to match images by their moods, tones, or images that simply look good beside one another. I agree with this if I am photographing a single event, but as for our vacation, mixing putt-putt images with beach images simply wouldn’t make sense. Do what makes the most sense for your own story.

    If shooting a session, and planning for a book, these tips can also be applied. Think about the story you want to tell and make sure that you have the images you need to make your story cohesive.

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  • No.
    Shoot with Pages in Mind

    Pages can come in many forms. From a one image spread over two pages (with lay flat options) or 5-6 images over the two page spread depending on the type of collage. While shooting, I’m thinking about what I want the spread to look like. Some activities can be summed up in a couple of images, while others take many to include all of the story. I make sure to have enough “good” images so I’m not struggling with where to place it in the book.

    I usually allot two pages (one spread) to four pages (two spreads) for any one activity or scene. Rather than having multiple locations and ideas on the same spread, I like to turn the page and have a new idea or mood in front of me. The books flows more easily and it feels more cohesive, especially when photographing a week’s worth of activities.

    Sometimes one image can’t stand alone. Combining several similar images in a collage, with a single image on the opposing page, makes for a cohesive story.

    Shooting with diptych in mind helps to create a cohesive page. I like to combine the image I have in mind with a detail shot for an interesting diptych.

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  • No.
    Shoot with Variety

    Shooting for a book is no different than shooting for any other activity. Tell the story through images of variety. Get down low, get close, pull back, try different angles and perspectives to tell the story and make the images interesting. The same shot over and over will make for a really boring book. Adding variety helps to keep things diverse.

    Although shooting with variety adds interest, editing with variety does not. Try to keep your images consistent throughout your book. I do tend to add iPhone pictures to my books, but I edit them the same way I would my DSLR images by bringing them into Lightroom.

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  • No.
    Remember the Details

    Don’t forget to take pictures of the details! Detail shots make great filler images and help add to the feeling and emotion of the book. Images such as a big blue sky with puffy white clouds on a day at the beach, or a dripping ice cream cone on a hot summer day can help tell the story and provide a visual break from busier images and pages.

    Occasionally, I’ll need a “filler” image to complete a two page spread. These detail shots from throughout the trip are great for that. Out of focus bokeh images are also a pretty and interesting way to fill a spread.

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  • No.

    My favorite place to print is Artifact Uprising. The page templates are simple and match my style. The photo book itself is very easy to make using the software provided within the site. I love the choices in fabric colors and the print quality is really top notch.

    Another great company to print photo books is Blurb. I like that I can use Lightroom and upload my finished book to Blurb. The process is really made simple and streamlined. If I don’t like the way a photo is edited, I can make changes and place it right into the template without any extra steps. The quality of the books are also great. There are fewer choices for fabric colors than with Artifact Uprising, but not a deal breaker.


I love shooting with a photo book in mind and I hope these tips help you to enjoy it as well! No matter what form your images are printed, off the camera and into your hands is the best way. Let other’s enjoy your hard work!

See more about photo gifts:

8 Easy to Make Photo Gift Ideas for Everyone in Your Life

  • #woctxphotog
    July 1, 2016 at 9:18 PM

    Good Tips, just wondering in general. As I have seen many photobooks and services for printing. Other than family, not even a client. But more for the general consumer that may by my photobook. Image size, crop and placement does it truly matter? I have searched a little but not found very sound advice, your post gives my the chance to ask again. I have a range of content, that if I create sections or chapters as you will, will flow nicely. My concern is this. 4:3, 9:16, 5:10 landscape and portrait ect. Aesthetically does any of that matter as long as the content has a flow subject wise through out the book? Hope I asked in a way that is understandable.

    • Laurie
      July 2, 2016 at 1:17 PM

      I don’t think it really matters. I shoot all of mine the same, then pick a few different crops per whatever company/program I’m using for print, and try to stick with those throughout the book. For example a two page spread will have different ratios than a one page spread, so while the ratios will differ throughout, try to keep the pages consistent…several different layouts and repeat those. Otherwise, it might start looking scrapbook-ish. I have used square, one one side, full page on another, but I shoot them all the same and just make sure that crop works with the images I pick. Hope that makes sense.

  • Teri Prichard
    July 5, 2016 at 10:52 PM

    Hi Where is your favorite place to print books from. I have printed many places just looking for recommendations from our latest beach trip. Thank you Teri

    • Laurie Flickinger
      February 20, 2017 at 6:55 PM

      I updated the post to include favorite places to print :)

  • Kate
    July 6, 2016 at 1:38 AM

    Photo boks are ok but i love photo albums more the are more exclusive, i found that one of the best for me have baby sweet stories etsy.com/uk/shop/babysweetstories

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