Tuesday, 1 February 2011

book making tips

I recently had a clear out of my Hotmail inbox and I found a blog comment that I had saved. It is a comment from Ingvild on this post. She says she likes the way I put my photos together and she asks if I would mind sharing a few tips on how I choose photos for my Blurb books.

Click on the image to view it bigger.

So far I have made 26 books using the self-publish service Blurb. Most of my books are filled with memories of everyday life and special occasions, like our wedding, a trip to Paris with our friends, the celebration of my in-laws' 40th wedding anniversary, hiking with my parents and girlfriends' hen parties. (You can see glimpses of a few of these books here.)

Note: These tips are from a happy photo book making amateur; I'm sure a book making professional will give you different tips. Blurb has some tutorials you can watch (I haven't seen any of them).

Choose a theme
Making a book starts with choosing a theme or a concept for your book. For example The Dinner Project, Look Down or 2010: from summer to winter, where the examples below are from.

Book size
Now you have to choose the right size for your book. For small books (up to 80 pages) I like the square format, and for bigger books (up to 200-250 pages) I prefer the standard landscape format.

Organize your archives
The next big job is to sort through your photo archives to find the photos you want to include in your book. If your archives are a mess, this will be a time consuming job... As I've mentioned before I'm an organized girl, so this job is rather easy for me.

Choose photos and layouts
The content in most of the books in the photo above are sorted chronologically, which in my opinion makes the whole book making process easier. (It's not the right way to do it for all books. Neither of my public books, except The Dinner Project and Everyday Stories, are chronologically organized.) But then comes the hard part; how to choose photos and page layouts. I use the layout templates provided in Blurb BookSmart and I'm happy with that. I like a clean and simple layout; the photos are the main focus.

I choose layouts according to the photos I want to display on each spread, and I very often choose photos for each spread according to colors and light.

Did that make any sense to you?

I think this is hard to explain, as this process has become kind of natural to me. So I'm not sure I will be able to explain this in an understandable way. Hopefully the examples below will be a bit helpful.

Matching colors. I like these shots a lot, so I chose to have them big. Another example. And another one. Even another one.

Matching colors and light. These are taken with the same kind of film. Another example. And another one.

A batch of photos taken the same day. I like how they tell a story of the day when grouped together like this. Another example.

This is a layout I use a lot in my annual everyday life books. The size of the photos are not too small. These photos are from within the same month. I think they work pretty well together like this when it comes to light and colors. Another example. And another one.

This is also a layout I use a lot. Big is sometimes better. When choosing the full bleed layout (to the left) make sure there are no important details where the two pages meet. Another example.

Instead of full bleed I often choose this layout, with the white border around the image. That way the whole image is "safe", if you understand what I mean. Another example. And another one.

As I said; big is sometimes better. Another example. And another one.

Sometimes a group of photos are better. When choosing layouts with several photos on one page, I try to keep the balance by having a simple layout on the other page - ideally just one medium size photo.

These examples are from my newest everyday life book; 2010: from summer to winter. It is a standard landscape book with 250 pages. You can see some more glimpses in this set on Flickr.

For some reason I try to limit myself to 200 pages for these books. In 2009 that resulted in 3 books á 200 pages (one of them was mainly our honeymoon), and last year I made one with 200 pages + this last one with 250 pages. I'm however not yet done with 2010; I plan to make a book from our New York trip. I love having my photos in books like this instead of just on the computer.

So, any questions on making Blurb books? I will try to answer the best I can, but you might want to check out Blurb.com too.


  1. thank you astrid for sharing!
    your books are always so beautiful.
    kram bb

  2. Ohlala. Jeg skal lage bok av turen til New York, så dette kom godt med!!!! :)

    Blir så utrolig inspirert av å se bøkene dine. I går bladde jeg meg gjennom flere av de på Blurb, og jeg bare woooow! :) Haha.

  3. Astrid, jeg fik din smukke smukke bog igår. Tusind tak, den er bare så fin (og ligeså flot sammensat som denne post :-) )

  4. This is very helpful and interesting. I'll come back to this post next time I make a photobook. Thanks!

  5. Your page layouts look lovely! I should look into also making books just for my own photos.

  6. These look so beautiful. I think you explained it all really well, thanks for the insight :)

  7. wow, your books really look wonderful! thanks for sharing your tips!
    viele gruesse, Kristina

  8. This is really motivating and encouraging for me. I have a gazillion photos that I want to make into books, but the problem is, I get defeated with the organizing part. I am making a goal to organize and make a few books this year. My hard drive will thank me and I can look at all the memories I've captured all these years.
    Thank Astrid!

  9. I have thought about making a Bloor book from more than year. Your post makes me think much more seriously.

  10. this is great. thanks astrid!

  11. Wow! 26 Blurb books. You are a Blurb hero! Thanks so much for posting this. Your design and photography are top notch.

  12. Hello,
    Nice post! I am making a wedding book myself at the moment. I haven't ordered yet. Still working on the lay-out. I was wondering what your experience is with spread pages. Is it tricky? I am afraid that too much will disapear in the middle?

  13. Great picture books.. Thanks for sharing such a nice post with us... I will try to make my own book..

  14. Hi, beautiful books! Did you use the blurb templates or import from another designer?



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