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How To Create A Photo Book – [Step By Step Guide]

WRITTEN by CHRISSY, LAST UPDATED ON February 14, 2022

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A Photo Book is a great way to collect together photos and other memorabilia from you and your family each year. Here you can learn exactly how to create a photo book step by step. It’s truly a great way to organise photos so you actually get to see them more often (and so that they take up less space!)

Photo Books with words in front saying - How To Create A Photo Book - Step By Step Guide

I really do love Photo Books!

They’re a great addition to a bookcase or a coffee table in your home – allowing easy access to all your photos that could have long since been forgotten on your computer.

As such, I thought it was about time I showed you how to create a Photo Book (or at least how I make my own Photo Books!) so that you can see what’s involved, and work out if it’s something that makes sense for your own photos and other stuff as well….

Why Photo Books? Where Did It Start?

One of the first photo books I received was nearly 14 years ago at time of writing.

When my daughter was born we created a folder on DropBox (which we use as a family to keep our digital photos safe). We were able to share access to this folder with our family and close friends so that they could see photos of her if they wished.

This was a great idea as it meant we didn’t have to email everyone individual photos which took time that, as new parents, we definitely didn’t have much of!

But that folder had another advantage that we had no idea about at the time.

My best friend decided to use some of those photos to create a personalised photo book for us showing our daughters first few days – and it was the best baby present we received.

After all – we were in no way ready to create anything like this ourselves, and it was a really unique and precious gift.

It collected together all those memories, and was something we could look back at again and again over the years – easily.

Having this made me start thinking about using Photo Books as a way of preserving our memories ever since – and in 2010 I started to create a yearly photo book with all the highlights (and sometimes low lights!) of the year.

They all live in a section of our bookcase, with the most recent one on the coffee table so we can look at it a little more often – and it’s become the perfect way to make looking back easy, without it taking up too much space.

In fact, I think they’ll be great for my daughter to look at in years to come as a keepsake she can treasure as an adult without it being too overwhelming for her at all.

So – each and every January, I get started on making a year book for the past 12 months…

I love the tradition of spending some time just after the new year starts, looking back over the year just gone and creating a lasting memory of that year – warts and all!

Let’s dive in to exactly how I go about making a Photo Book from scratch, along with some more info about photo books – and hopefully this will help you to make yours should you choose to.

What Are Photo Books?

  • Photo books are physical books created by you that contain a collection of your digital photos inside.
  • They come in a variety of sizes and shapes. You can have them with dust covers, hard cover, spiral bound, book bound etc… – the list really is endless.
  • You can create lots of different layouts on the pages – in fact, on every page you can choose something different – dependent on the photos that you want to display, and you can also usually write words around the photos too to create a proper book and to add notes as well.

A custom Photo Book is a great way to create a very personalised way of collecting together your memorabilia, and actually makes use of some of those stored away digital photos.

Creating a photo album and memories

Why Would You Use A Photo Book Instead Of A Photo Album?

A photo album is your standard way of displaying photos in a book style – but there are a few issues with these that make them less than optimal choice for photo storage:-

  • If I wanted to create a uniform look for the albums (especially nice when displayed on the same shelf in a room) – they need to be bought in bulk – so I can have the same album year by year. This can cost a lot – and where do you stop as to how many to buy!
  • Photos can look messy in the album quite quickly – the plastic over the top of each page can create bubbles, and can make the photos look less crisp when you look at them.
  • Writing on each page can also look messy – and you can’t write straight onto the page, so you have to cut out extra paper to size etc… which can be time consuming.
  • The process of printing out the photos, in the right sizes, and planning the album takes a lot of time – and there’s nothing more frustrating than sitting down to put an album together only to find that you haven’t got all the photos you wanted to display.
  • Although a Photo Book can be expensive – you’ll have spent around the same amount on getting photos printed, a nice album etc…. and the extra time it takes – so they balance out financially.
  • Photos fall out of albums which can be frustrating, and feel less professional
  • Physical photos can be torn, damaged, fade etc… – which means that if they are your only copy, you could lose that memory. Using digital versions in a Photo Book means you’ll also have a backup on your computer in case.
  • When you start adding photos into albums, they can start to bulge – which makes it look less nice on a bookshelf – a photo book is very slim and takes up far less room
  • You can print off more than one copy of a photo book so you can send it as a gift etc…. – which is a great bonus!
  • Most places where you buy photo books from will keep a copy of the book digitally so you have a copy of photos should anything happen to the original book (I wouldn’t advise using this for your copies only – but it is a nice extra! – think of how long it would take you to recreate a photo album if you should ever lose it….)

In fact – the only reason I delayed buying photo books rather than albums was that I like to add in other memorabilia such as tickets and cards etc….. so that a family yearbook has everything in one place – and it was really easy to stick anything and everything straight into an album.

However, the albums became very bulky very quickly, but I thought that this couldn’t be bettered by a photo book as they wouldn’t be able to accommodate other such memorabilia.

I finally realised that of course it can if you simply take a photo of the item instead! #lightbulbmoment!

Simple, but very effective!

TIP – Take photos of anything you want to keep as a memento – such as tickets, certificates, even items such as your wedding dress or babys first outfit etc… – they make great keepsakes and may also mean you are more able to give the items away should you need to declutter and make space ever. You could scan paper items as well if you have a scanner as this works just as well.

Ideas For What To Put Into A Photo Book

  • Family Yearbook – create a chronological series of books that show your family growing up – and favourite memories
  • Giving albums of your Childrens Pictures to their grandparents for Christmas makes for really special personalised gifts.
  • Life story picture book for a significant birthday
  • Recipe book – create your own!
  • Baby photo book – great for storing precious memories of their first year
  • Photos from a special holiday or event that you want to treasure
  • A personalised diary with a special picture for each month
  • A wedding – make your own album
  • A portfolio for business to show prospective clients your work
  • A great way to keep old photos alive (scan them or take a photo and add them into a book so you have a copy safe and sound)
  • Your first novel!
Close Up Of A Pile Of Photo Books

How To Create A Photo Book – The Steps:

So – now you’ve got the idea of what a Photo Book is, and how you can use it – here are all the details of exactly how to create a Photo Book – using my annual Photo yearbook as an example…

Step #1 – Gather Everything Together

As with everything in life – putting in a little bit of effort in prep can make all the difference, and nothing more so in my opinion than with a year book.

Trying to collate everything from the previous year together at the end of the year can be torture – so my way of doing things breaks it down into much more manageable chunks – and that is to tackle it at the end of each month while things are still fresh in your mind.

There are 2 ways of collecting everything together – digital photos and physical paper items (certificates, artwork, mementos etc…) – so here’s what I do with both:-

Digital Photos

Every year I start a new folder in DropBox labelled with that year – and then under it I create a folder for each of the months.

Each month I then put all digital photos from that month into the right folder.

These can be photos taken on a camera, on your phone etc… – just get everything together in one place.

TIP – Whether you use DropBox like me, or some other system like Google Photos or Apple Photos, It’s also worth naming each photo (or set of photos) something that will remind you of the event they were taken at – should you want to find them more easily.

File Directory For How I Format My Yearly Photos For A Photo Book

Physical Paperwork

Again, at the end of each month I take anything I have kept for that month together, and scan it into my computer so that I have a digital copy.

I then add to the same file as the digital photos, and either recycle/shred/keep the physical items depending on their importance (usually this is a great way to get rid of paper clutter, as the scanned copy is just as good a memento).

TIP – if you don’t have a scanner, or if you prefer, you could simply take a photo of each item of paperwork – this works well too

I do this for items such as:-

  • Certificates / Reports from swimming/school/clubs etc….
  • Greetings cards for special events
  • Artwork from my daughter
  • Writing my daughter has done that we want to keep
  • Letters
  • Physical photos that I have – which I don’t have the digital version of (I may have been sent a photo by a family member or friend)
  • Items we want to keep photos of (special outfits or toys etc…)

Step #2 – Create a set of pictures for the Photo Book

Once I have everything in a folder for that month, I now have my MASTER set of photos that we simply keep safe and secure in DropBox.

You could easily stop here and wait until the end of the year to pick your photos for your yearbook – but as you can imagine this would take a lot of time to go through a years photos in one go – so over the years I have decided that the following step is also needed at the end of the month.

Simply take a full copy of your monthly set of photos and add to another folder in that years file called YEARBOOK PICS (you can see this at the bottom of the picture above).

Taking a copy means that you can simply go through your pictures in your YEARBOOK PICS folder and delete any photos that don’t make the grade for your yearbook, and just keep the ones that do.

That way, each month I create a full set of photos, and have an edited set within my YEARBOOK PICS file ready to create my Photo Book at the end of the year.

Simple!

PLEASE REMEMBER: Add numbers to each photo in the PHOTOBOOK file – so that they stay in chronological order – as this will make life a LOT easier later….

Honestly – I know this sounds like a lot of work – and really it is – but you will always be organised with your photos, you will know where to go to look at any photos you need at any time, and you will be ready to create a fantastic year book with very little stress come the end of the year.

I also love the idea of doing your photos monthly as it makes you more aware of taking photos, so you get more memories, and you do get quick at getting it done once you’ve done it for a couple of months….

So – you’re all ready, with lots of great photos of the year and scanned items – what next? What happens when the end of year comes around?

Let’s see, shall we!…

Step #3 – Wait Until The Start Of The New Year

(or After Whatever Event You’re Creating a Photo Book For)…

At the right time you’ll want to create your Photo Book. Usually this is as soon after the last date you want to include (I do it in the first week of January usually for the past years album).

The easiest program I’ve found to make Photo Books is PhotoBox. Their system works well for what I need, and they usually have good deals on which means I can get the photo book for a lot less than their usual price .

TIP – Make sure you get on your chosen company’s eMail list – as they will send you details of voucher codes and offers that you could use. Usually I find a 40% or more discount for a Photo Book voucher that will last 3 months from when I buy it – so if I time it right – I know I have that ready for when I will be making mine.

Step #4 – Upload Your Photos To Your Chosen Software

To use PhotoBox, all you need to do is create an account, and then you can load all your photos from your PHOTOBOOK folder into their site.

Just before doing this though, I make sure that I go to the PHOTOBOOK folder on my DropBox (you can go to your computer or wherever you keep yours) and check everything is ready.

By this, I mean doing two things:

Firstly – Go through all the photos to check they’re OK, and that I’ve not missed anything obvious out.

Secondly – I make sure that they’re all in chronological order in the file – so that when I load them into PhotoBox they load in the order I want to add them to the photo book.

TIP – PhotoBox keep a copy of all your photos which is a great extra copy in case you ever lose your own – and you can make as many copies of your photo book as you like so it’s again useful if you ever lose or damage your original copy.

Then you choose the photo book size and shape that you want.

My advice here is to think about where you will store your photo book, and ensure the size you choose will go there easily. I like using the A4 size as this makes for an easy to read book.

TIP – If you’ve created a Photo Book before, then try and make them the same size and shape as they look great all lined up.

Step #5 – Create Your Photo Book

Once you’ve decided on the type of book, and you’ve loaded your photos to your chosen photo book service, then it’s time to start the book:-

With PhotoBox you have 2 options in how to create your book – you can either let them create the photo book for you – or you can create it from scratch.

I would advise that you get PhotoBox to create it if you are a little unsure of anything technical, as creating from scratch can be quite fiddly – but once you have got the hang of it, creating your own gives you so much more say in what the look and feel of each page will be.

Have fun with Your designs…

Once you go into the editor you can start to have some real fun!

For each page you can choose lots of different things:-

  • How many photos you want on the page
  • Whether you want to add words to the page (and you can choose font, colour and size)
  • What the layout of the photos will be
  • What order you want the photos to be in (chronologically or random)

You can be as creative as you like – but what I would say is that it is easy to create a LOT of pages very quickly – especially with a year book – so just be aware of how many pages you are having. A trick to creating less pages is of course to put more photos per page – but I do like having some pages with just one large photo when it’s a particularly nice one!

I love to have the photos in date order so that it’s a true year book – and you can also have notes within the book to show things like childrens 1sts (tooth, words, walking, school etc…) which can help you remember when they happened. However, lots of people like to have a very random feel to their yearbooks so that it’s just a sample of what happened that year, and that can work really well as well.

You can see (only just, sorry it’s a little small!) in the picture above, that the pictures you have loaded are all in the bottom part of the screen, and then you create your pages in the main part of the screen and simply drag and drop the photos into each page – dead easy!

Always remember – it’s YOUR book – so you do what you want – make it as complicated or as simple as you like, and have fun doing it!

Step #6 – Order Your Photo Book – Get it, and Enjoy!

The very best part of all this is when you get your photo book in the post, and can sit and take a look at all your hard work.

Having it to hand for the following year (we put ours on our coffee table) means we really get to enjoy looking back and seeing exactly how much we’ve done, re-live past events, and just reminisce a little. Great when friends and family come over as well, as it’s always a talking point (especially when they find they’re in it!)

It makes everything you’ve done worthwhile, and will give you momentum to make one each year from now on. You won’t want to miss a year once you start!

TIP – One unexpected benefit is that it’s made us so much more aware of what photos we take over the year, as there have been times when we haven’t had any photos to add to the album of certain events, and it’s been a shame to not be able to include it (unless asking someone else for any they may have).

Photo Books with words in front saying - How To Create A Photo Book - Step By Step Guide

And that’s the quick step by step as to how to create a photo book

I really hope it’s made you think about using them to keep track of your own photos and other memorabilia, and that you can see how well they do just that.

Less space, more style, and LOTS of memories – perfect!

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