We take countless photos, many of which we hold close to our heart. It’s always a treat to flick through the albums of our images (digital or otherwise) and remember some of those specials moments, but there’s no denying that there’s often a lot of clutter to swipe through just to relive that special day, memorable holiday or even a full year of important life events. Thankfully more and more people realize photos deserve better and they turn their most cherished memories into a stylish photo book.
However, such a book can be more than just an addition to your vast collection: with the right techniques your photos can take on a new life on their own, even telling a story with your memories.
What Storytelling Adds to My Photo Book?
Even very basic photo books that place photos in a chronological order and without any major modification in the default settings still convey some sort of message. In fact, according to professional photographers each and every photo tells a story on its own – just think of the Afghan Girl. While the chronological order can certainly be a valid and sometimes interesting way of organizing your images, it often results in creating either many separate stories (like a short stories collection) or a hodgepodge of photos without any major concept whatsoever.
And concept is the key word here: if photos are organized according to a certain concept they can be even more powerful, helping the reader understand the tale behind what the artist wanted to convey.
How to Tell My Story?
Finding the right concept and then creating the photo book accordingly is not an easy task, but once you find your source of inspiration and take into consideration the following advice, the results will definitely be astonishing.
The hardest part of creating a storytelling photo book is to have a concept in your mind, even before you start capturing the future pictures of the book. However, there’s no need to overthink the major concept behind the book: just jot down anything that comes to your mind – no matter how unconvincing it sounds at first – and if any of your ideas stick, think about whether it can work as the book’s storyline. If it proves to be feasible and you more or less know what photos are needed for your concept to work, then you are already on the way to successfully sending your message to readers.
Organizing the Photos
You are absolutely not bound by the number of pictures you can take – albeit staying within a reasonable amount significantly reduces the time you have to spend with the selection process. Still, the more photos you have the bigger your chances are that you’ll have high quality images worth including in your photo book.
As for the selection, your first task is to go through all of the photos in chucks and select the best of each batch. Don’t hesitate to repeat the process several times, as not only should photos be picked in accordance with the photo book’s concept, but you should take care to avoid overcrowding on the pages as well.
Finding the Right Theme
The theme of your book tells half the story, so you have to pick the style of the photo book with that in mind. However, your task is pretty simple: you likely already have an idea of how your future photo book will look, so search through the different themes, find one that matches as closely as possible and then modify it to your liking with any of the available customization features. You could also mix different themes as well, but this is only recommended if it supports the story you have in mind or if your original concept included a chapter-like structure. As always, your best chance is with preset themes: there are plenty of them, most of which revolve around certain holidays, life events and so on, but it’s absolutely not surprising that some builders (like Shutterfly) have an entire section dedicated to storytelling. But remember that if you would prefer drawing readers’ attention to the photos, you can choose a simple background with a solid color.
The overall appearance of the photo book is entirely up to you, but it has to reflect the story you are conveying. The best cover for your book is a hard cover that displays one or a few photos – hopefully the best of the best – and also contains a short, simple yet powerful title. Finer covers are also permitted, but in that case either find a company that provides these covers with die-cut windows or use a title that immediately draws readers’ attention.
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