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Creative Ideas to Design an Awesome Photo Book

Updated on April 6, 2014

Photo Book Websites & Tools

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Everywhere you look someone is taking a photo at a special event or for no special occasion other than for the fun of taking a photo. Whether on a camera, digital or otherwise, cell phone, or tablet, we generate 100s if not thousands of photos a year. What can one do with so many photos?

One popular way to make use of all these photos we generate is to create photo books. Photo books are a practical way to organize your photos into specific memories or categories the photos represent.

Photo books are easy to design and publish on-line or in a hard-copy format. Websites such as Shutterfly, Snapfish, or My Publisher, to name a few, make it easy for anyone to design and publish awesome photo books. All you need is a computer, laptop or tablet, a scanner for non-digital photos, an editing software/feature such as Photoshop or Windows Live Photo Gallery, and creative ideas to design your photo book.

Planning Your Photo Book

Whether your photo book is for your personal use or to give as a gift, planning the theme and design of your photo book will be the difference between a nice photo book and an awesome one.

What story do your photos tell? One easy and fun exercise to discover the stories your photos tell is to group them into categories. Common categories are family, friends, travel, holidays, etc. As you group your photos, you will begin to see themes emerging and a story developing.

Photo Book Ideas

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Creative Themes for Your Photo Book

When it comes to deciding on a theme for your photo book, the ideas are limitless based on your imagination and photos you have or can generate. To get your creative juices flowing, I’ve brainstormed some ideas for you:

Personal Photo Books

  • My Bucket List: this is a fun way to document all the places you want to go to and /or things you want to do before your curtain comes down. You can insert a blank box by each bucket item so you can put a check mark once you’ve achieved it. You can always find photos for your bucket list on the internet or from photos of places your family or friends have visited.
  • Selfies: a “selfie” photo book can be very humorous and a creative way to organize all those selfies you’ve taken of yourself or with a friend. You can add a dialog bubble on selected photos to describe the setting or give context to why you took the selfie.
  • My Goals: this is similar to the bucket list in that you describe in pictures what life goals you want to achieve.
  • My Accomplishments: create a photo book of all your achievements to date. Include photos of personal, family, work or career achievements. Awards you’ve received like “employee of the month” recognition or university graduation. Or create an Accomplishments photo book for someone special you know and want to recognize.
  • My Inspiration: who or what inspires you? Whom do you admire? What places on earth or in the heavens inspire you? This is a great way to motivate yourself when you’re feeling, well...unmotivated.

Family Stories & History Photo Books

  • Baby Photo Book Series: create a baby book for each month during the first year of your child’s life. After the first year create an annual photo book of your child’s life story. Baby book series also make wonderful gifts for parents by sharing your unique photos of their child; photos they probably don’t have.
  • Family Tree: create a page for each generation that you have photos for and include information in the captions (dates and places). This is where a scanner comes in handy as you will probably need to scan old photographs, most in black and white if you go four or five generations back.
  • My Grandparents House: I always enjoyed visits to my grandparent’s house whether the occasion was for a family gathering or just a one-on-one visit. Though the years, photos have documented the changes that took place at my grandparents and the photos bring back wonderful memories.
  • My Father’s Story (or Mother’s, Grandparent, etc.): a very special gift for your parent(s) is to create a photo book telling their story and your perspective of their life. They will always treasure such a meaningful gift!
  • In Memory Of: special people in our lives have passed away and a photo book dedicated to their memory is a special way to remember them.
  • Favorite Family Recipes: every family has their signature dish. Collect family recipes and the next time you prepare the dish, take photos. Then create a photo book, which also makes a great gift.
  • Family Pets: for all those cat photos you’ve collected, put them in a photo book!
  • Places I’ve Lived: you may be a person who has lived in various places around to country and world. You’ve most likely taken many photos, which will make a memorable photo book.

Travel Photo Books

  • My Favorite Places (series): what do tourists take when on vacation? No, not hotel towels…photos! Hundreds and hundreds of photos. Put them in a photo book!
  • Road Trips I’ve Taken: I love road trips and every road trip I’ve taken, I’ve also taken many photos. Photos of beautiful rest stops or scenery. Include good restaurants you’ve eaten at or interesting tourist traps you’ve visited.
  • Day Trips: from where I live in California, I can drive an hour or two in any direction end up at the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco, a winery in Sonoma or NapaCounty, or a redwood forest, which means taking photos.
  • Vacation Memories: over the years I taken memorable vacations that I’ve well documented…romantic Paris, never sleeping New York, star struck Hollywood, beach front condos, great times and memorable photo books.

Sporting Photo Books

  • Cycling Events – Tour of California: I love cycling and always attend cycling events, such as the Tour of California, when the peloton sprints though my town. What are the sporting events in which you are a spectator and have photos to prove it?
  • Running – The Bay to Breakers: I am not always a spectator. Sometimes I’m a participant. Over the years I have run, jogged, and walked the San FranciscoBay to Breakers. This photo book can also be a personal achievement book.
  • My Favorite Hiking Trails: living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I am very fortunate to have access to hundreds of hiking trails in beautiful settings.
  • Super Bowl Parties: create a photo book of sporting event parties you’ve held or attended.
  • My Sports: which sports have you played? Which sports do you always watch? Make a photo book.

Song Lyrics Themed Photo Books

  • “These are a few of my favorite things…” this photo book is not limited to brown paper packages tied up with string but can include photos of many of your favorite things!
  • “You may say that I’m a dreamer…” for me, this is a photo book of all the places I want to visit. What do you dream of?
  • “One love, one heart” a special photo book of that very special person in your life.
  • “I’ve lived a life that’s full.” your achievements, goals, an “all of the above” type photo book.

Miscellaneous Photo Books

  • Greeting Cards Collection: over the years have you received and saved greeting cards from special friends or family? Then why not create a photo book of the cards using a scanner?
  • “Odds & Ends”: do you have photos odds and ends photos of people or places you have no idea why? Make a photo book; someday it might jog your memory of why to took the photo.
  • Phone Pics: this is a photo book exclusive to the photos you’ve taken on your phone camera. Include information like the date and place the photo was taken and, if you can remember, why you took the photo.

After the Theme is the Design

The design will enhance and harmonize with your theme to reveal the best use of space, formatting and color schemes. Most photo book websites provide numerous templates to make the job easier and allow you to manipulate the template for an even more creative result.

There are template designs for just about every occasion and theme. If you can’t find a suitable design for your photo book then create your own!

As you can see the ideas are limited only by your imagination. Do you have a creative idea you’d like to share? Feel free to add your creative ideas in the comments section.

Creating photo books is a fun way to organize your photos by specific themes. Whether you create one photo book or a series, your photos tell your story to be remembered and enjoyed by everyone who views them. And don’t forget, they make wonderful personalized gifts too!

Have you created a photo book?

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      Shelley Manriquez 4 years ago

      Hey, great article and your photo books are fantastic. So glad you do all the work with the pictures I keep taking. Keep up the work. If you need any help, you Know I will pitch in my expertise.

      love you, Shelley