I’ve always been obsessed with photo albums — whether they were thrifted, vintage, or something I picked up from a craft store. I’ve spent many an hour filling dozens of them with photos. I started in high school with albums I bought at the same place I had my disposable cameras developed. It was cheap, easy, and super fast — waiting an hour and then spending another hour or two compiling and organizing was my jam. Once I made the initial leap from disposable to point and shoot cameras I still had to get the photos developed — either at a store or somewhere online (Snapfish, Adoramapix, and Shutterfly are all great). This was cool with me, until I discovered Blurb books.
At first glance, I was totally overwhelmed. I could handle signing up, but actually creating a book seemed to be totally beyond my skill level. I decided to give it a shot — I loved the idea of one thin book containing hundreds of photos just sitting on my bookshelf instead of dozens of gigantic, clunky albums taking up space. Also, while I use Blurb as a substitute for traditional photo albums, the possibilities with the site are pretty endless — everything from art and fashion portfolios to storybooks can be made. My most recent masterpiece is comprised of 662 photos I took in 2010. It wasn’t everything, but it was good enough — and it all fit into a sliver of a book that contains eighty-six pages.
Here’s how you do it
I used Blurb’s free bookmaking software BookSmart (works on both Mac and PC) to aid in my process. It’s super simple: upon signing in you’ll be asked to choose a size. I tend to go for one of the two “standard” options — portrait or landscape, but it’s all up to you. The next step is picking a layout. I’m particularly picky about how my books look, so I always opt for “Portfolio” since it’s super easy to customize. You select your source at the next screen, and then choose a theme. Again, the theme’s up to you (my fave is Viewfinder).
Get your photos to the book
Once you’re on the screen with “Apply page layout” at the topc, look over to the middle of the left toolbar and click “Get Photos.”
After selecting your source (as mentioned, Flickr was my source, but you can also pull photos from your computer, Smugmug, Picasa, and Photobucket), I always find that it’s handy to UNCHECK “show used photos” under the Filter dropdown menu — this way you won’t see the photos you’re using as you go, and that minimizes the risk of using the same photo more than once.
Decide how you want it to look
You’ll notice lots of little viewing options — you can select how you want to see the pages (I always like to see them one at a time) and Blurb has dozens of different templates. I believe most books begin with twenty pages, but you can add and remove pages to suit your needs. For example, I’ve never felt like my annual books need the “introduction” and “title layouts” that the books come with, so I simply yank them and put in another photo layout instead. Blurb will also tell you if your photos will fit into the spots that you want — things like photo quality and resolution play a role in this, but I’ve successfully created books with photos from DSLRs and point and shoot cameras.
Save! Preview! Order!
When you’re finished you hit “Preview Book” and then “Order Book.” You’ll be redirected to the Blurb site, where you can pick your paper (I always go with the auto choice) and style (my favorite is ImageWrap). And psst… if you order through this link, you can save 20% on your order (code BLURB20)!