12 May 2010

What I've learned about making photobooks

I recently completed by first photobook. I used Adoramapix's online Flash software and had the book printed by Adorama, but my discussion should apply to making any photobook.

I wasted a lot of time because I would process a photo, put it into the photobook, and then move on to the next photo and do the same. Then I would realize that I didn't want to use that photo or that it was cropped wrong or that there was a color cast. Then I'd have to go back and fix it.

You should start by cropping and throwing the photos into the book making software, without any further corrections. Then move the photos around, swap photos in and out. Then wait a week or two and come back to it. Spend some time re-arranging the photos, swapping photos, etc. When you are reasonably sure of your design and layout, THEN start playing with color balance and curves. If you have a group of photos taken in the same lighting situation, record and use the same color settings for all of them. Be especially careful to make colors consistent for photos on the same spread. From your rough layout, you should know what size your photos need to be for 300 dpi. Crop your photos to exactly 300 dpi or whatever resolution the printer claims to use. Otherwise, you are at the mercy of the booking software for resizing your photos.

Be careful what font you use. Frankly, most people, including myself, have no taste in typography. What looks good on the screen is usually not good for print. John Paul Caponigro has some advice on good fonts for photobooks.

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