Barcelona Photo Album Photography, Art & Design Spain Travel Tips

Memories in print: Creating a Photobook

May 19, 2015

It’s funny, creating a photobook is always a much harder, longer process than scrapbooking. Or so it felt, because instead of being able to sit in front of the TV with everything laid out in front of me and take my time, I would have to sit for hours and hours on the PC and try not to get distracted.

Luckily, I’ve finally fine-tuned the way I approach online album making and I thought it would be a good idea to share it using my Barcelona trip as a working example:

Step 1: Get all your pics into one folder

To start, I created a folder on my desktop titled ‘Barcelona’ ready for all the photos from the trip to be stored in. (I’m not being patronising trust me you’ll see the point in this basic breakdown soon). I placed all the photos from the camera memory card and I also uploaded, through Google+ on my android, all the photos I had taken on my mobile.

Step 2: Make a complete copy & place into an ‘Edits’ folder

Next, I make a complete copy of them all and place them in a separate Desktop folder which I name ‘Barcelona Edits.’ This folder will be the one that I actually work from, that way, my original files remain untouched and safely stored away. I’ve learnt from bitter experience there is nothing worse than working with images and somehow deleting or hashing up an original photo which you later need and can’t get back.

Step 3: click through and delete unnecessary images

Now, in this instance, our four day trip to Barcelona has resulted in a collection of over 1000 photographs. Needless to say not all of these are going to be used in the photo book!

So in my ‘Edit folder’ I open it up and one by one start narrowing down the images I want to include. I’ll do my first flick through quickly, delete all the photos that are duplicates, blurry (unless it’s intentional) or unflattering (unless its unflattering but funny).

By doing this I have already managed to reduce the number of photos from 1036 to 422, this will save a significant amount of time when trying to arrange it all.

Step 4: Edit any images that need adjusting

Before I actually upload them, I create another folder on my desktop, Barcelona Photoshop. I Open my edits folder and it’s time to have a more detailed look through the photos that are left, there are always a few which need cropping and enhancing so when I find them I drag them straight into my Photoshop folder ready to work on. This is also a good time to get rid of any duplicates that may have been left in by accident.

Still not quite ready to get cracking, I open up Photoshop and  bring up all the photos from my ‘edit’ folder. When I’m making albums I much prefer to leave pictures in their original state, rather than playing around and enhancing the colours, adding filters, I like to have my photos in their natural form or a simple black and white. That’s my personal choice anyway. For me, editing usually means merely cropping, so that the photos are concentrated on the most interesting parts. If you don’t have photoshop there are a number of other programs that can be used such as iPhoto, publisher, paint etc.

Step 5: Upload!

When creating photo books, I have always preferred I have looked at and tested out other websites: iBook’s; photobox; boots etc. but always ended up back at blurb. In my opinion they are by far the easiest to use, the best when it comes to quality and customisation and they don’t come at a bad price. With blurb, they offer the ability to download the book maker software so you don’t have to constantly be online to create your album. This is extremely handy when you’re dealing with high resolution images, and lots of them. They offer step by step templates as well as the ability to create and amend your own layouts.


For my Barcelona album, I’m going with the large square hardcover book. I’ve chosen not to have a dustjacket (not a fan of these) and the theme I’ve chosen is ‘photobook.’

In this instance as I mentioned before I have just over 400 photos that I’ve got ready to upload. The ‘photobook’ template as standard applies only one or two images per page. If I opted for the auto fill option, it would mean sorting through 200 pre built pages – not a good start. So in this case I go straight to the main edit page, skipping the option to upload all the images for autoflow (at the moment).

I then insert a page and apply the 12 tile image layout. After that’s in if you click on ‘insert page – apply same layout’ it will copy the existing one over, so I choose to insert 40 of these.

NOW I can import all my photos and opt for the auto flow. Takes about 10 minutes for all of it to process, enough time to make a brew before the fun starts.

Step 6: Arrange as you please

So it’s all in there. Some of you might be happy with it as it is. I have to admit I never am. I’m  a fussy sort. The beauty of blurb is you can work page by page and either change the layout by using one of their other templates or use the manual edit by clicking the pencil button.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 23.24.23

Step 7: Add in any text

A lot of photo book companies give you the option to add in text. I like to write an intro page and always make sure to add text onto the spines – it’s these little details that I love about printed books.


Step 8: Final checks

As with any publication, check, check and double check. There might be the odd pic that’s the wrong way round, or needs shifting to the left to fit everyone in. And if you’ve got text, it’s always worth asking someone else to proof read.

(I’m one of those horrifically annoying people who needs everything to be lined up to the nearest millimetre).

Step 9: Place Order

Again, another element of blurb that makes it the best is the range of book sizes available. For family albums I always order one large square (usually for me but mum has recently started to nick the big ones) and a couple of mini square books for any others who’ve joined our trip. No need to do any more work for the extra tiddly ones, blurb automatically reformats it all. There’s also the option of creating a pdf which is handy for commercial photo books or if you want to send them via email to friends far away.

Something to check: Not all books can be formatted straight from one size to another, I.e. square to rectangle – you may need to go back through your layouts and make small amendments.

Step 10: Be Patient. Or not in my case.

It’s a photo book created to order. it’s unfortunately not going to happen overnight. If you’re making one as a gift make sure you’ve left enough time.

The finished piece:

Et regarde! (sorry I really don’t know the Spanish equivalent) Behold the finished piece:


Anyone else have any tips to make it even speedier please do share, I still have a backlog of books that are waiting to be made!

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