“Without photography, a moment would be lost forever, as if it never existed,” said legendary photographer Richard Avedon. To keep the most important memories going strong, you can now immortalize them in a WhiteWall Photo Book. Here are a few inspiring tips for planning and designing your Photo Book to make sure it meets its full potential.
Step 1: Come up with a Concept for the Photo Book
Before you can start designing your Photo Book, you should come up with a concept. This will serve as a guideline and help you create a fantastic book. To get started, simply answer the following four questions:
1. What story should the Photo Book tell?
Planning a Photo Book starts with determining a theme. Photo Books with a narrative emphasis, such as special moments in a friendship or relationship, often depict memories in an emotional and moving combination of text and images. For more of a documentary focus, like a travel journal, the Photo Book can showcase the selected events in a specific order. Should the focus be more about aesthetics, then you can let the artistic photographs speak for themselves. This kind of Photo Book is also perfect for artist portfolios.
2. How to group the pictures?
Maintaining “suspense” is important to the reading experience. You can arrange the pictures chronologically, thematically, or geographically. Even with expressive, artistic Photo Books, the order plays an important role. You want to have a thread that pulls the reader through the book. Simply scattering photos onto the pages will cause readers to flip through the pages and speed through the book. In other words, it loses its impact.
Putting the pictures in chronological order is great for Photo Books with a narrative or documentary theme. Thematic grouping is more suited to aesthetic or documentary purposes. One tip: before you get started, sort the pictures in a folder and put the order in the name of the files themselves (for example: “1-hike-in-woods.jpg”). This makes it easier to arrange them using the editing software. You can simply sort the files by name and get started!
3. Who is the Photo Book for?
Determining your target audience makes it easier to select the pictures. Personal and intimate memories can be cut out of Photo Books meant for a larger group of people. Additionally, you can think about the intended effect. Should the picture impress readers from a stylistic standpoint, make them laugh, or move them emotionally?
4. How comprehensive should the Photo Book be?
After defining the thematic focus, how to maintain tension, and the target audience, you can decide how much ground to cover. How many pictures for this concept do you have at your disposal? How many pages will your concept fill? Depending on the options you select, WhiteWall Photo Books can have anywhere from 24 to 252 pages. Tip: don’t bore the reader with too much empty space, but don’t overwhelm them with too much content on each page either!
Step 2: Choose the Right Software
After you’ve got your concept, it’s time to realize your vision and create your Photo Book! At WhiteWall, there are two ways to do this: Our online in-browser software or the professional PDF upload.
The online software is easy to use, making it perfect for beginners. There are various possible layouts that, and it is easy and intuitive to work with them. Add pictures according to your vision, move them around, or delete them from your book as you see fit.
Advanced users and pros who really want to flex their creative muscles can use InDesign to create their Photo Book as a PDF and upload their own layout.
Step 3: Design the Photo Book Exterior
The Premium Digital Print Photo Book lets you create up to 252 pages that even the next generation can appreciate; thanks to the high-end printing process, WhiteWall guarantees colors that last at least 45 years.
The modern look of the Premium Digital Print Photo Book is perfect for Photo Books that combine text and images, so it is especially great for books with a narrative or documentary function. Select a cover that thematically supports the “story.” In addition to the classic softcover or hardcover – which can also have an expressive photo printed on them – there are linen and leather cover options. A leather cover feels serious and momentous, whereas the linen cover is light and sophisticated.
Tip: Choosing the right size and format is not to be underestimated. After all, it creates the first impression and sets the tone. A book in landscape orientation means longer photographic perspectives, whereas a square book seems more avant-garde and modern. If you have a lot of vertical photos or portraits, then the “Standard Portrait” format might be best for you!
Step 4: Set the Pictures, Layout, and Design
Now it’s time for the most fun part of creating the book – adding and arranging all the content. You can do this manually or select an existing template.
Tips for Selecting Pictures
At WhiteWall, you don’t need to worry about the resolution – if the resolution is low enough to compromise the quality of the print, a yellow border will appear around the photo. When you click on the warning sign, it informs you that the picture could turn out pixelated. This way, there are no unwelcome surprises in the finished book.
The first picture in a Photo Book, often called the “lead image,” should grab viewers and lead them into the book. An expressive picture that guides eyes further into the book is especially great. Examples include portraits in which the subject is looking toward the inside of the book, or architectural photographs that lead the gaze to the right.
Photo sequences are an exciting stylistic method to bring more movement to the Photo Book. The viewer has the feeling of being right in the midst of the action. This can be especially effective in baby books and wedding albums. Adding close-ups next to large images has also proven to be very dynamic.
The colors in the pictures are a tool that is often underestimated. A two-page spread is more expressive when you combine pictures featuring complementary colors (red & green or blue & yellow, for example).
When using a semi-transparent picture as a background, it should not serve as the main statement for those pages. Rather, it should serve a supportive function. Good options for this are broad landscapes or a view off into the distance.
The final image ends the journey through the Photo Book and should make a powerful statement. If the picture also guides people back in toward the book, it completes the circle and the book feels harmonious and well-executed from a conceptual standpoint.
Page Layout Tips
When designing a double page, it can be helpful to think about the “golden ratio,” or about a 60-40 split of your content across the pages (62 percent and 38 percent if you want to get more exact).
These proportions are considered a very balanced guideline, and since it appears frequently in nature, people find it especially harmonious.
The rule of thirds is also a great helper. Imagine the Photo Book page is divided into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, and try to align dominant lines in your images along the imaginary interior guidelines.
In general, it is best not to overload your Photo Book and to keep some free space. A square picture in the middle of the page surrounded by a simple background creates calm and harmony, inviting the eye to linger for a while!
Tips on How Much Text to Incorporate
When reveling in the past, the occasional description or saying can strengthen the memory of it. This can be added anywhere with a text field.
However, if you are going to implement this stylistic technique, it is important to keep in mind that a Photo Book is a visual medium, and too much text can negatively affect the look.
For a documentary-themed book, text is more essential, as it expands on the meaning of the pictures and provides facts such as the time, location and situation. The text puts the photo, or the series of photos, into a larger context. It is important to use a consistent text layout so that your Photo Book does not feel too choppy.
If you are placing the focus on artistic photography, then it is best not to use any text and to let the images speak for themselves!
When selecting a font, readability should be the number one criteria. A large, sans serif font guides the reader. If you want to vary the fonts for the occasional linguistic flourish, you should still not use more than three fonts total.
Extra: Inspiring Quotes for Photo Books
“Never hesitate to go far away, beyond all seas, all frontiers, all countries, all beliefs.” Amin Maalouf
“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” Mark Twain
“The sum of our life is the sum of hours in which we have loved.” Wilhelm Busch
“Happiness is love, nothing more. He who loves is happy.” Hermann Hesse
“Of all the gifts that wise Providence grants us to make life full and happy, friendship is the most beautiful.” Epicurus
“Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.” Aristotle
Andrea Bruchwitz / Benjamin Arntz
If you feel inspired and have some ideas, check out our website and create your own photo book.