Have you been wanting to turn a box of family photos into a beautiful book but you just haven’t managed to get it done? Here are some thoughts on why you might be procrastinating and what to do about it.
I recently had an email exchange with someone who wanted to create family photo books but felt she was lacking in creativity. I didn’t ask her exactly what she meant by creativity, but I had a pretty good idea so I gave her the advice I’m about to give you. Before I do that though, let me ask you a question. Let me show you four of my family photo books and I want you to tell me which one you consider the most creative?
Decorative Photo Book
Here’s a book I made about my mom from birth through high school. It has beautiful background paper and decorative designs along with the photos and journaling. Some people can make books like this pretty quickly, but not me. This kind of book takes me a long time, but for the right topic it’s well worth it.
Traditional Photo Book
Lately I’ve been making more books like this one about an epic journey to Alaska. This is a more traditional photo book and it’s a lot simpler. For books like this I sometimes use lightly textured white or beige background paper, but often I just leave the background white. That way it takes me less time and I can focus more on the photos and journaling. I might add an artistic touch here and there, but the art is almost an afterthought. This kind of book never goes out of style and it actually appeals to the broadest group of people and to both men and women.
Simple Photo Book
If you use a smaller size of book like this eight by eight inch book I made about the boarding school I attended, you can simplify it even more by using one photo per page. I have several eight by eight inch books like this that I love as much as my fancier books.
Wordless Photo Book
And finally I just have to show you one more book I made about our beloved black and white cat Sylvester who is no longer with us. This book only has black and white photos on a white background and no type at all except for the title page. The photos tell the story quite well without me having to say a single word.
Which is Most Creative?
So back to my question about which book is the most creative. You may have a different opinion, but I think ALL the book designs are creative. They’re just different. And some designs take more time than others. A book with a white background and photos and type won’t take nearly as long as a highly decorative book, but both accomplish the same thing: They tell a family story in a beautiful way.
So here’s my advice. If you’re making great headway on your family storytelling and you have the skill, choose any style you want to make your book. But if you aren’t as far along as you’d like to be, I recommend starting with the bare bones of a beautiful book. Scan the photos and place them on the pages in a simple grid layout that doesn’t take a lot of effort or imagination or make a smaller book and use only one photo per page for an even faster book. Choose one or two fonts for titles and journaling and use those same fonts on every page of the book. That’s what professional book designers do, so you’ll be in good company.
Once you’re done placing all the photos and journaling on every page of your book, then you can decide whether to go back and dress it up a bit or leave it as it is—simple but elegant.
My final thought, don’t look at what other people are doing and let design envy keep you from creating the most important gift you could give to your children and grandchildren. It’s better to go simple and get it done than never get it done at all. And you know what? Your family will love whatever style book you make!
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