How to make great photo books

Blogger Anna Konevskaya's 6 tips on how to make a great photo book

Woman in Paris holds up Portrait Photo Book to align picture with Eiffel Tower

We invited blogger Anna Cossack (née Konevskaya) to share her top tips on how to create to a great photo book. Drawing on her memories of going through childhood photo albums, Anna wanted to recreate that same feeling of nostalgia; getting her most loved photographs and memories off her digital devices and into the pages of a photo book she could cherish forever.

Discover her top tips on how to create a great photo book below, plus a few extra from the team at MILK Books.

In my childhood, I loved going through the old photos which were carefully arranged into large photo albums with soft paper pages. Things have changed today and we rarely print our shots, leaving thousands of them on laptops and phones... Personally, I find that a pity. Printing photographs is a good way to filter and systemize one's photo collection. And if we don't have the time anymore to glue photos into albums like in the good old days, there is a new option: creating a photo book online.

Since I've recently ordered my first ever photo book with MILK and I'm really happy with the results, I decided to share my experience with you.

Woman looking through a portrait photo book at a table with coffee, roses and croissant.

1. Choose an interesting topic

Traditional topics such as vacations, birthday parties or wedding photo books are always popular, but remember, you are not limited by them! Let your creativity inspire your project. A good idea is to create a photo book dedicated to your hobby—sports, painting, cooking, fashion... the list is long and everyone has things to add. Discover these unique photo book ideas, all inspired by members of the MILK community.

As for me, I'm very fond of sunrises. This hobby is relatively new, I started it about two years ago and during these two years I saw more sunrises than I have in my whole life! With the quantity of sunrise photos becoming rather important, I decided to arrange my favorite shots into a photo book called "Sunrise Collection". This book is a materialization of the most beautiful moments caught by my camera and the cameras of the other people who shared those moments with me (since photo shoots often take place early in the morning, many of the photos, together with my sweetheart, were taken at sunrise).

2. Get familiar with the MILK Design Studio

The MILK Design Studio allows for lots of different possibilities, and it's a great idea to familiarize yourself with the options before you start creating. It would be a pity to miss out on some useful design tips just because you didn't learn about them! Start by watching the MILK Design Studio tip videos, they are very clear and helpful. After that, upload all the photos that you want to include in your photo book (you can upload directly from your computer, Google Photos, Google Drive, Dropbox and more) and start arranging them in order.

In my experience, adding pictures to an almost ready project is more complicated than putting them in a good order from the beginning. Continue by playing with different designer templates; I really enjoyed the huge variety! You can include 1 to 24 images per double page spread. Some of the designer templates contain text boxes but they can be easily hidden and you have no obligation to add text if you don't want to. Anyway...

Closeup of female hands flipping through the pages of a portrait photo book.

3. Text matters

Take advantage of the designer templates that include text boxes so you can add short comments or even long blocks of text. It may be just a reminder of when and where the photo was taken or a story related to the shot, or just your thoughts, a kind of "notes in the margin". In several years these details will disappear from your memory, and you will find pleasure in rediscovering them. Some photos tell a story themselves, but it's always interesting to know what was going on behind-the-scenes. And if like me you make a photo book together with your loved ones, it might be a good idea to write text together and share different visions on the same moments. And a small but very important detail: Save your text in Word before copying it into the pages of your photo book. This will avoid disaster if your computer suddenly freezes (like mine did!). Plus, it means you can spell check before adding text to your book.

4. Image quality is key

It’s better to spend the time editing your photos before printing them out rather than feeling disappointed because of the result. Light, brightness and contrast are extremely important and you can adjust them manually or even automatically in almost every photo editing software, such as Lightroom or Photoshop. Crop the photo to create a better composition and don't forget to straighten the horizon! Among thousands of digital photos these details might seem insignificant but once printed in a photo book, each photo will be showcased and become an important element of the whole project. When we have a good quality photo book we want to go through it slowly and pay attention to the details of each picture, so editing your photos isn't a luxury but a necessity when you decide to print them out.

Closeup of portrait photo book with a cup of coffee.

5. Don't try to fit all of your photos in one book

You should go for quality over quantity, which means that it's better to have only a limited number of photos and a good design rather than lots of pictures cluttering the page. Some white space around the photo creates a matting effect which is necessary for the impressive visual presentation of the image. Several shots on the same spread should stay in harmony and complement each other. They can be a part of the same story or just good matching pictures but they should stay together for a reason not just because it's a pity to leave empty space on the page! An interesting effect can be created when using slightly different photos taken at the same place or of the same people, placing the shots one after another... And don't forget to print the most beautiful photos across a double page spread with a single image template—it works particularly well for landscape imagery. 

6. It doesn't have to be perfect

The last (but not the least) important thing about creating a great photo book—don't try to make it perfect! As a perfectionist I could hardly follow this advice and spent almost two weeks adding and removing photos, changing text and page design... Finally I understood that there are no limits to perfection except those that we determine ourselves. The process of making a photo book should be a pleasure, even if taken seriously, so enjoy your creativity and have fun!

Plus, bonus tips from MILK Books

We've made it easier than ever for you to create beautifully designed, aesthetically pleasing photo books and albums with ease. Learn more about our design principles or continue reading below for our top tips on how to create a photo book or album that tells your story beautifully.

Woman in grey sweater uses a Macbook with a coffee mug next to it

7. Sort, organize and select your photos

Getting those photos off of your phone or computer and into the pages of a photo book can feel like a daunting task. But it's one of the most important steps in creating your photo book. Spring clean your digital photo library with our 5 simple steps to sorting, organizing and selecting your photos. 

8. Give new life to old photos

Precious old negatives and pictures are all too often stored away in an envelope at the back of a drawer or in a dusty storage box. But including them in your photo book allows you to tell a richer story. Discover how you can scan your old photographs to give them new life in print.

Open photo book showing black and white images

9. Ensure a great print result

You’ve gathered your images and are ready to embark on the journey of turning your memories into a keepsake to treasure forever. Before you press print, we want you to be confident you're getting the most out of your images. We have a few helpful do's and don'ts to ensure the best print result for your images.

10. First impressions are important

A book’s title will introduce the story and set the tone for the experience. Make sure you pick a good one. For some title tips and inspiration, pay a visit to our blog all about introducing your book.


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Inspiration from our community

See the latest photo books our customers are making (generously shared with their consent).

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