Family Photo Albums: Our top design tips

Handy tips for designing your family photo book or album

Designing a family photo album allows the perfect time to share many treasured moments, shared laughter, love and kinship. At MILK Books, we understand how important it is to preserve all the precious moments with your family, and we know they deserve to be collated into a beautifully curated keepsake. Whether you're compiling professional portraits, documenting family milestones, or capturing the essence of your travels, our eight top tips for designing a family photo book or album will guide you in crafting an archival heirloom that tells your family’s unique story in print.

1. Choose a theme to focus on

Open Portrait Premium Photo Album on white satin sheets

Photo Credit: WithLove Brooke Photography

When designing a family photo album, it’s important to consider the story you’re trying to tell. Choosing a theme to underpin your project can add coherency and guide your creativity. It also can be a fun part of planning the design of your album! Perhaps you’re looking to collate an album of professional family photos, or you’re wanting to document key family milestones or traditions. Arranging your album by year, season or travel locations also adds a unique touch. Whatever you choose, a consistent theme will tie your family album together, adding an element of structure and storytelling to your precious memories.

Be inspired by the beautiful Family Photo Albums designed by members of the MILK community. Here are some stunning keepsakes we love:

Generations by Ashley Kim
Family Legacy by Gaby Ojeda
A professional shoot by Monica Terry
January - A photo a day project by Holly Murphy
A year of portraits by PJ Venneman
A year in our life by Taylor Yingling

2. Select high quality photography

Family of three lie in a grassy field at sunset

Photo Credit: Dina Greher

Selecting high resolution, quality photography is an important design tip when designing a family photo album. The higher quality image means the better the print result, overall enhancing the visual appeal of your finished keepsake. In the MILK Design Studio we have an image quality tool to help you check and adjust the resolution of your images as they’re placed onto the page. While we recommend high resolution photos (200 dpi or higher) for stunning print results, we’re also aware that sometimes sentimental value can outweigh print quality. Don’t be afraid to use lower quality images if they’re important to you and add to the overarching flow of your album.

3. Consider your page layouts

Laptop open with online photo book on screen

Photo Credit: Angela Germon

Thoughtful page layouts are key to designing a beautiful family photo book or album, and at MILK, we consider every spread a visual work of art. Our Designer Templates, backed by over 60 years of book publishing experience, refer to the layouts available in the MILK Design Studio. These templates incorporate design best practices, such as visual hierarchy, margins, and image aspect ratios, so you don’t have to worry about the details. They are there to guide you, making the design process simple and enjoyable, all while ensuring a visually pleasing layout that enhances the overall aesthetic of your keepsake.

4. Think about photo sizing

Family Photo Books and Albums of various sizes lay out open on a grey background

When designing your family photo album, we recommend using landscape images in landscape image templates and vice versa. If you have a lot of mobile imagery, choose portrait styled templates to fit your photos best. Add variety with different photo sizes to maintain visual interest and guide the viewers eyes – take advantage of full bleed or dramatic double-page spread templates (i.e. edge-to-edge printing) to spotlight your most-loved memories. Consider image aspect ratio when making your album to ensure your images appear as perfectly as possible and to avoid your photos being cropped unnecessarily. As a helpful hint from MILK, majority of professional photographers use a 3:2 aspect ratio.

5. Embrace white space

Woman opening Portrait Premium Photo Album of family

Imagine flipping through your printed family photo album: if you turn to a page that is filled with an abundance of images, are you going to take the time to look at each individual one? Or would it be worth giving each photo its own emphasis, so no memory gets missed when you reminisce? It is totally up to you how you design your keepsake, and what your overall goal for your family photo book or album is as to how you tell your story.

Here at MILK, we love using white space to highlight special moments and to give each memory ‘breathing’ room. That's why our templates use white space in the form of margins, space around images, and between lines of text. Our biggest design tip to you is: don’t be afraid of white space. If your photo is important enough to include in your keepsake, it’s important enough to showcase.

6. Enhance the spread with text

Open Portrait Premium Photo Album with child on pages

Photo Credit: Yumiko Kinoshita

A picture speaks a thousand words, however sometimes those pictures can be even more special with heartfelt notes in the form of captions, anecdotes, and stories. Add text mindfully and consider how the font you choose ‘interacts’ with your photography and the aesthetic of your keepsake’s design. Make sure you add to the storytelling and don’t take away from it. Of course, also make sure you proofread... two, three, five times! The last thing you want when looking through your online photo flip book, or after receiving your photo book in the mail, is to find out you’ve made a spelling mistake or put the wrong date on the spine.

As part of our Satisfaction Promise, we're happy to share the cost of a replacement if you find any spelling mistakes to ensure you get your keepsake exactly right.

7. Select a paper type for your style

Open Grey Leather Photo Album with view of spine and pages fan out to see thickness

Your selection of paper type has more of an impact on the final look of your custom family photo book or album than you’d think. If you’re after the traditional sheen of classic photo paper, then consider Photo Lustre for your photo album, Semi-gloss for both photo books and albums, or Satin for photo books. If you’re looking to design a more modern or even editorial style keepsake, we recommend our Matt White paper type for both photo books and albums. Then of course there’s keepsakes with a vintage feel, for which our Matt Ivory and Textured paper types for photo books are most suited, and our Eggshell paper type for photo albums.

Bear in mind the paper type you choose can also affect the vibrancy and hue of your photos – our Satin, Semi-gloss or Photo Lustre paper types will produce a more vibrant and contrastive print result, whereas the uncoated stock such as Matt White, Matt Ivory, Textured and Eggshell have a more subdued print result in comparison.

8. Pick an eye-catching cover design

Three Premium Photo Albums of all orientations in square portrait and landscape

Tell the beginning of your story with a striking Designer Cover or cover photo. With decades of experience in designing, creating, and publishing books, it should come as no surprise that we know a thing or two about book covers and cover images. Of course, we’ve put everything you need to know about cover images into one handy place so you too can learn from our experience. As well as having a range of cover fabrics and colors to choose from for your family album’s cover, our inhouse designers have created 70+ cover templates for you to choose from, all of which are perfect for family memory retelling. With options to include an image on the cover, UV printed text, both, or none – the design options are boundless.


Creating a captivating and professional quality family photo album is a beautiful preservation of your most cherished memories together as a family. We can offer all the advice in the world, but at the end of the day… you are telling your family’s story, so you’ll know what’s right and best for you. Don’t be afraid to add your own creative flair or touches of your family’s personality to every page's design. With our expertise, tips, and the many customizable options available in the MILK Design Studio, designing a family photo album becomes an enjoyable journey and a memory to within itself - and results in a high quality heirloom that can be flipped through and loved for generations to come.

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