After two years of traveling full time, I have thousands and thousands of pictures. As you can see, I love taking tons of pictures, and apart from the ones I upload here, the rest are in a USB key and will probably never be seen again. That’s when the photo album comes in; it’s a great way to keep your photos alive. Personally, I prefer looking at printed pictures than through a screen. A photo album is also a great gift, a unique way to share your travels with loved ones.
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Here are some tips to make a great photo album:
Choose beforehand how you’re going to tell your story
Your photo album is going to tell a story, yours but also the story of the places you’re going to visit. Some people like to only take photos of the landscape or place without appearing in the pictures. Others prefer to make more personal photos, by being in them. I think a great photo album should include a bit of both style because it’s about the places you visit, but it’s also about YOU visiting these places.
Don’t hesitate to add text
You should also add the date and location for your photos, but you can also add some info on the place or about your trip. Write some anecdotes that happened to you or things you want to remember. A photo album doesn’t have to be all photos. If you like writing, you can turn it into a travel diary.
Picking your photos
Probably the hardest part, you’ll have to choose which pictures you want to appear in your photo album. First, you have to make sure the quality is as high as possible. Use only original files and not the ones uploaded on Facebook or such.
Make sure they’re not too dark, or blurry. You should also make sure you choose shots that are as consistent as possible, so none stand out more than the others.
If needed, you can edit a bit your pictures; I use the PhotoScape software (free) for light edits. For more advanced settings, check out Pic Monkey. Otherwise, most websites that make photo albums offer editing tools.
Organizing your pictures and choosing a layout
The easiest way to organize your photos is by chronological order and place, but you can also organize them by theme (for example: beaches, city, museum, food…).
Don’t hesitate to use different layouts for different pages but try to make each part similar, to keep a kind of visual consistency. You can also play with the photos’ sizes, add some smaller ones and then a bigger one for instance.
Try not to overcharge the pages; keep it light and simple. Don’t try to fit too many photos on one page; don’t use too many different colors for the text. In other words, keep it simple.
If you’re not inspired for the layout, check what others have done, or use a pre-made layout.
Adding different elements
In addition to photos and text, you can also add a map of your travels and your itinerary. You can easily make one with Google Maps and import it to whatever platform you’ll use to create your photo album.
You can also scan your transportation and activity tickets and add them to your photo album.
Choosing the type of paper and the size of the book
The kind of paper you choose will depend on your budget and the way you want your photo album to look. What you have to think of when you select a paper is its thickness and the finish. I prefer thicker paper and a glossy finish. The choice will depend on your own taste.
The same applies to the size of the album. My favorite is an A4 horizontal book, but you can choose any size you like, depending on how many pictures you’ve selected and the type of layout you have in mind.
What platform to choose to make your album
Do it yourself
If you have an eye for design, you can build your photo album from scratch. Use Canva or even Powerpoint to create your own design, and then you’ll just have to find a printer nearby who prints books. Call them first to check the appropriate format (size, number of pages, margins…). You can also have it printed online, as tons of websites offer this service.
The easiest way is to choose an online platform that specializes in creating and printing photo albums. They usually have an editing software for photos and tons of layout to choose from if you lack inspiration or don’t have much time.
Here are some you can choose from:
- They offer a large selection of paper, covers, and sizes
- they have pre-made layouts, but you can also make your album from scratch
- prices are reasonable
- worldwide shipping
- possibility to edit photos
- their software doesn’t always pick up on low-quality images
Overall, MixBook is one of the top companies in its field. They offer a large selection of photo albums, and their platform is straightforward to use.
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- Easy to use;
- A lot of design options, sizes, and templates;
- You can have your photo album designed by a professional, just send your photos and instruction (you don’t even need to select pictures, send them everything and they will choose);
- The photo editing tool is really basic and lacking a lot of key features;
- Average print quality;
Overall, Shutterfly offers a lot of options, but the value for money could be improved. Check out their offers here.
- the prices are reasonable, and you get a 40% discount if you order more than one;
- Worldwide shipping within ten days;
- super easy to use, you just upload your pictures, and the software does all the work for you;
- you can make an album and share it online for free;
- No photo editing tools;
- because their software arrange everything you have less freedom to choose the layout you want;
- they only have one type of paper and two sizes;
Overall, I would recommend it for people who don’t have much time or don’t want to bothered with layouts and design. It’s super simple as you don’t have many options. Check out their offers here.
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