Most of us who’ve been around since before digital cameras (yes there a few of us!) have something called ‘photo albums‘ which contain all your holiday photos and the snaps you took during a birthday party or some other special occasion. Film still has its place but it is expensive and lacks the immediacy of digital photographs because you have to wait to have the rolls developed and printed before you can be sure you’ve actually captured the essence of the event. Then you either put the lot into a photo album, or if you put only the decent ones, the rest ended up in a shoebox under the bed.
Digital photography has its own challenges – now we take photos with cameras, phones or tablets, or have them sent to us via social media. With all these thousands of shots, many people still want to have a selection that they can look at when they want, and share with others as an album.
We’ve been using software from Photobook.com for some years now, but in the interest of fairness, we’ve looked at a couple of other offerings on the market so you can see the different services on offer. Choosing the one that’s right for you may depend on your location, the costing, the ease of use or styles and products available. We’ll look at a selection of providers using these parameters.
Shutterfly – A wide variety of products including different book types and sizes, cards & stationery, prints, photo gifts and calendars. You can select the template on their homepage based on whether you want the simple book (preset backgrounds and layouts, auto-arranged, with up to 500 pictures and 5 book sizes) or a customised book (backgrounds, layouts & embellishments, add, move and resize pictures and text, up to 1000 pictures and 7 book sizes). All the steps are web based and when you’ve finished you upload the completed book/prints etc.
There is a video which demonstrates the steps – it seems to be quite user friendly and suitable for beginners.
Shutterfly is based in US but ships to over 100 countries worldwide which will take 10-12 days from date shipped. Cost is dependent on destination. Book costs start at US$12.99 plus shipping. There is a Promotions tab where you can check for current offers.
Make your book online on the Shutterfly website and there are links along the top to their other products on offer.
Photobox is a UK based provider offering a variety of sizes up to A3. There is a tutorial video which is clear and shows you exactly what to do, and you make your book online on the Photobox website before uploading and making payment. If you prefer to use your iPad, there is an App for you to download. You can also print cards, wall art and canvas prints and the company will deliver to most countries.
Photobookworldwide offers both downloadable software and online options for their books. When you go to their website, you will be asked to select your country as the books are produced in the country you live which makes pricing and shipping more efficient for both customer and provider. Most customers will receive their book in a week or less and prints are often even faster. If you want your photobook to be sent to a different country, contact them and they will explain the steps for you to take so the book can be printed in that country.
Photobook has a wide range of products available ranging from small square soft cover books to large coffee table sized books, canvas prints, stationary, cards and calendars and they have recently introduced metal prints. While there is no tutorial video available on their site, the online process is not difficult to follow and there is help available for the downloadable version which is designed to appeal to those who wish to have more personal input.
When you download the Photobook Designer software, the projects will be saved on your computer and you can take your time on the design process. There’s a wide variety of themes available as well as page layouts for varying numbers of photos. If you have a particular layout you like, you can save it for future use with all projects of that size. Once you have added your photos to the library you can use an auto-flow template, add them yourself or delete the suggested layout and insert your own. There are buttons available to enhance your photos and you can customise backgrounds, text, frames and shadows.
Creating your book from scratch
These are but three of the many photo book making softwares available in the market. In addition if you’re a user of Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or Adobe Lightroom, you can make your photobook using this software although printing may be an issue. If you are in US or Canada you can print a Photoshop or Photoshop Elements book with Shutterfly. For a book made using Lightroom, you may upload it to Blurb, which does ship to a number of countries.