After a trip to Moscow in the summer of 2000, I had two choices on how to catalog my travel photos to show off to my friends and family. The first involved sliding photos into crinkly plastic photo sleeves; the second, pulling out glue sticks, scissors and craft paper for a do-it-yourself memory book. Neither option gave me the opportunity to show off my images to their full potential.
Recently, I took a trip through Italy, and I’m excited that my choices for book publishing have advanced exponentially, with polished, stylish layout options and technical advancements to keep up with my digital workflow. Now, I can create a professional coffee-table book that looks like it’s straight off the shelves of my local bookstore.
Each book publisher has a different type of editing and layout software. Some software allows you to make significant photo edits within the layout (including cropping, exposure, rotation and resizing). Other software doesn’t allow for any edits whatsoever, so it’s important to have a designated folder on your computer for your book images, all edited, sized in proper resolution, and in the order you’re planning on displaying them. It’s also a good idea to create a backup folder with duplicate images—just in case. Most basic books include 20 pages, with the ability to add more pages, as desired. Depending on how many photos you place on each page, this could mean preparing anywhere from 20 to 100 photos.
As you edit your photos, start to think about the theme and layout of your book. Publishers offer basic layouts that you can customize, or you can create your own from scratch. Until you have a lot of experience with bookmaking, you’ll most likely want to keep your layouts simple so you’re not pulling attention away from your images. Pay attention to the way each page is balanced. For instance, if you have a full-page landscape on the left, you may want to balance it with four detail shots on the right. When mixing images, be aware of how they relate to each other. Are you creating a color story? Where are the eyelines meeting? While it’s easy to have the same page layout through the book, it’s important to keep it varied so the viewer stays interested.
Some layouts give you the option of adding your own backgrounds and text. This is your opportunity not only to personalize your book further, but also give your reader more information with location captions, journal entries, quotes, maps, tickets or playbooks.
Mpix (www.mpix.com) gives you the option of creating both hardcover and softcover books in eight sizes, ranging from 5.5×5.5-inch squares to 11×8.5-inch landscape or portrait orientations. The minimum and maximum page counts are dependent on the cover option chosen, anywhere from 12 to 50 pages. The software is basic and intuitive to use, following drag-and-drop methodology. Once you load your images into the software, you can place them into templates, switch templates for each individual page, customize image and text positioning, and add borders or backgrounds. If you prefer to do your work unplugged from the web, you can download the Desktop Solution software directly to your computer. Hardcovers are available in various colors or can be custom-printed. Text stock, pearl and linen papers are available.