The Revelation of Photo-Books

Recently through chats with people online I’ve come to realise that everyone has or wants to make a photobook.

The best part is that it’s bloody easy.

I’ve dabbled in homemade books since around 2001 when I started hating a job I didn’t enjoy but they were mainly sketchbooks. Drawing was the chosen medium at this time but it soon extended into photo-montage of other peoples photos and then my own.

Anyway, ‘real’ photobooks, that’s professionally printed/published and distributed books, are a delight to thumb through and they’re a great way to get across a narrative or theme without the leg work (in a gallery).

Some day my goal is to make a one off homemade book with original silver gelatine prints made by me glued to the pages, but that will have to wait until I can have my own dedicated darkroom in a shed.

Just before Christmas 2012 I made a photo book through SnapFish (HP) of photos of my daughter; something almost every parent will probably do at one time.

Anna, Before

The book showcased photos of my daughter Anna from ‘fresh out of the oven’ (above, in my wife’s arms), to 3 years old (below).

Anna, After

It was made as a gift for my parents but I might get a reprint for us.

The book was hardback and had a fair number of pages that cost around £25 – £30 plus delivery. The quality was decent but had SnapFish/HP’s logos at the rear of the book plus a bar code.

Sculpting the book was pretty easy, though a tiny bit clumsy, via a web browser but please come away from this with the phrase ‘easy’ more than ‘clumsy’.

I’d heard conflicting stories about Blurb books so I chose to give it a go making a very basic photo book with literally zero design in mind; just here’s the photos, get on with it.

I downloaded the book building tool you get from Blurb called BookSmart and set about it. The app offered layout templates and styles that appeared to be fairly customisable.

I was looking to make it basic so I didn’t play too much with the tools and as Dr. Octagon once said: “keep it simple”.

The theme for the test book was street photography and the images I used were primarily from the GF1 because almost all my film scans were too shit to be used in the book bar one from the Mamiya Universal. I need to learn to scan better some day.

Within the book I opted to keep all the images on the right side of the book with only one full bleed across both pages near the centre.


What Did I Go With?
I decided to keep the book short so I went with a 34 page ‘standard landscape 8×10 book, soft cover. I chose ‘Premium Paper’ with a lustre finish and a custom logo upgrade so I could add that chocolate dog image instead of Blurb’s logo. This all came to £20.92 (£25.91 including delivery costs).

Looking at the quality of the paper and printing I thought £26 was a good deal for a wee book like this, so much so I’d like to make another smaller format book with more pages though I’m not yet sure what the concept will be.

I quickly made a first impressions video on YouTube and even went to the trouble of making a transcript for any non-Scottish viewers.


Books and prints is how 2013 starts so more on this soon!


4 thoughts on “The Revelation of Photo-Books

  1. Really enjoyed this post, as well as the video. The book is looking great and you have some wonderful shots – interesting to hear a narrative too which not many people get a chance to do.

    Should you recommend a photobook over a traditional album with prints – even just Snapfish prints – specifically in the case of your Anna book?


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