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Creating a trip photo book

What's your favorite program (Shutterfly etc.) for creating a photo book from a trip? I'm looking for something fairly user friendly, but am a little overwhelmed by the choices. If you've created a book (or books) I'd like to know what you've used, and what you've liked about it (ability to add text, items other than photos, editing help) etc. Any tips about creating a book would also be appreciated. Thanks!

Posted by
2762 posts

I have used Blurb and Apple Books and like both. I think the Apple one allowed a little more flexibility in that you could enlarge the text boxes, but Blurb offers many different template options for each page so that is good too. Only used Shutterfly to make calendars, and that is super quick and easy. I don't know about their books.

Posted by
672 posts

I've made lots of Shutterfly books in various sizes. Mostly, I make the 12"x12" ones that max at a little over 100 pages. They have lots of page templates to choose from and you can adapt each template to fit your pictures. Text boxes can easily be added or deleted. I've been very happy with the quality of the finished product. I'd suggest starting with a small book to get comfortable with the process. If you get on their email list and "like" them on Facebook, you'll get special offers. I don't think I've ever paid full price for a book. I've also bought Groupon offers for Shutterfly.

Posted by
1068 posts

For the past several years I have used Shutterfly. As Nancy mentioned, they already have many templates and you can now customize them quite a bit..... add text boxes, resize and move photos, choose different fonts etc. By now I think it is fairly easy to use but I've been with them so long I'm not sure how Shutterfly would seem to someone brand new to their system. I have looked at other book sites, but have not found anything as customizable as Shutterfly....but admittedly I haven't used anything else so couldn't bet on that. As far as tips, think about a theme for your book.... are you going to organize it into categories such as food, family pics, famous sites, travel days, relaxing days...... or will you follow your journey and do it as a timeline. Some people say their book is for them (as are mine) but I try and remember that I do want the reader to enjoy and follow along so I try to select photos that other people may like (yes, that was a great hamburger, but will a reader be fascinated looking at a pic of a hamburger?) I also try and remember that people get bored pretty easily so limit the number of pics on any given topic or site. Finally, since I post process all of my photos, I have a rough idea of how I want the book to turn out and start with the front and back cover. Then a pic to go with my introduction..... by then the project is going and I find it easier to get into the swing of it. Enjoy the book!

Posted by
190 posts

I have made many, many photobooks with MyPublisher. I love the quality of the finished product and the ease of the software. It is VERY user friendly, and there are many choices of page layouts, text additions, covers, etc. They are continuously updating their software for more choices, as well. Their customer service line is really helpful, also, for those times when I get stuck on something! Their software allows you to adjust and arrange the photo and text in any manner you desire. I would suggest making a small book first to experiment, but you can also experiment as you go along, as nothing is "set in stone" until you actually place the order. I usually do the "classic bestseller" with the photo finish cover and the "lay flat" pages. Very pleased with the finished results!! Good luck....I find it to be quite fun to work on one of my travel photobooks....sort of relives the trip for me!!!

Posted by
1087 posts

I use PhotobookCanada (I think they have worldwide franchises). It is free to download the program; you only pay when you are ready to upload your book for production. Never pay full price - get yourself on their email list for the frequent coupon offers (e.g. 70% off vouchers with a three or six month expiry).

It offers complete flexibility to design it yourself, or not. You can use their "readybooks", but I prefer to do it myself. It has scrapbook items, backgrounds, suggested page layouts, everything. You can also save your own backgrounds (i.e. photos of the sky, flowers, water). As far as fonts go, it picks up whatever is on your computer so you can download as many as you want and the program will then have them too.

Everyone who has seen my books is blown away by the quality and results.

Posted by
2663 posts

I've used iPhoto on my iMac to make a number of photo albums. Simple to use and they look great.

Posted by
110 posts

I have used MyPublisher from Costco.com. At the time I made my book I got a discount for being a Costco member and entering MYPublisher through Costco's website. I think Costco uses a different program now but I am not sure.
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I liked MyPublishers freedom to make the pages yourself or use templates or a combination of both. But the templates could be altered to best fit your pictures and text. I thought the spell check did a good job catching errors. I make , i think a 12x14 book with 25 pages, and it had plenty of space for pictures and text. The pages turned out really nice and the print quality was high. The program uploaded all the pictures without a problem.
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Tips: Save all of your pictures you want use to the save file on your computer so you do not have remember where everything is located. I would also go through your pictures and start thinking about placement on pages and what order you want the pictures so you can get an idea of what you want.
Also if the book is not turing out how you want you can always delete it and start over.

I also had a lot of fun making the book and showing it to everyone.
J

Posted by
1457 posts

For my past four trips I have used snapfish. It is easy, many choices for each page, you can shuffle the pictures to see which you like best. also they are Always having sales 2:1, half off, or free prints. I save my books till one of their special offers comes around.

Posted by
1 posts

I love the Apple Books (I've use the iPhoto app on the Mac, but can also create photo books with iPad app, but haven't used that yet). Really easy to use, but at the same time there are still many editing options, if wanted/needed. However, I have recently read that Apple will be discontinuing iPhoto app and photo books soon, perhaps before the end of this year. This is extremely disappointing if it is true. Fingers crossed this does not happen...

Posted by
1 posts

I have used My Publisher and Shutterfly. Both work fine. Shutterfly tends to have a lot of templates that one can use. However, My Publisher gives you many more formatting choices and more flexibility to be creative in what you do. The finished quality of My Publisher is also a bit better than Shutterfly. As someone said earlier, the support from My Publisher is very good should you get hung up on how to work the program. For all of these reasons, I personally prefer My Publisher.

Posted by
1 posts

I've made dozens of trip albums (one each for my four, 2-week, Rick Steves tours, for example) using iPhoto on my Mac. I've tried Snapfish, and a few others but always return to Mac because: (1) the quality of the printing is consistent and outstanding, (2) the paper feels luxurious - - heavy with a sheen but not shiny and (3) the bound books lie flat when you open them (except when you stuff them with nearly 100 pages as have!). The interface feels pretty user-friendly to me, but I've been using it for so long I don't remember what it was like at first (but I don't remember any any difficulties).
It is easy to use their templates, and there are plenty to choose from. Its also possible to do some customizing. For example, I use my photos of textured surfaces, water, sky, etc as backgrounds (rather than the solid colors provided) as one way of customizing. Or, create collages of photos or words and added them as a single image. I've even filled a book with digital scrapbook pages that I made in Photoshop so each page was completely my own design.

After I label, crop, straighten, and enhance all of the photos from a trip, I create an album within iPhoto with the best photos from each place I visited. Then, I drag the best images from each place into the book-making section one at a time so I only have to focus on them (I always choose more than I'll need so I can play around as I lay out a page). Any image that can be saved as a .png or .jgeg file can be be placed in the photo areas of each template. If a photo needs to be improved, it's easy to double click on it to use the excellent iPhoto editor and then do back to the book. Text options are reasonably flexible, but could be better (no spell check, for example, and rigid text-box areas and positions in most templates). I usually organize each book into sections (by country, perhaps, or place) with a single especially good or representative photo and name of the place in the same format to begin each section.
The only drawback with iPhoto books is that the coffee-table style, hard-cover, bound books that I prefer aren't cheap (it works out to about a dollar a page).

Posted by
250 posts

I have always used Picaboo. You can always get a 40-50 percent off coupon,or groupon by just googling it. Just got my book back yesterday from our UK trip, it's gorgeous. I always use the 12x12 format. I like that you can use your pictures as the background, and fade them out a bit so your other pics stand out. I have even started taking pictures of waves, close ups of flowers,cobblestones etc to use as interesting backgrounds. Lots of background options on the sight as well, many text fonts, user friendly as I am a moron when it comes to tech stuff. You can enlarge,crop,adjust exposure etc.

Have fun making your book!

Posted by
2 posts

I take thousands of digital pictures on my trips. I take the best photos (and videos), then I use Windows DVD Maker to make a video DVD around 20-30 minutes long that I can show on my TV.

Pre-digital, I would take 24-25 36 exposure rolls of film with my Nikon. The cost of developing and printing was very high. But electrons are free!

Posted by
3696 posts

I have used a few different programs but prefer Blurb. They do have new software that gives even more options. I do all my layouts in Photoshop and then import them but the templates look easy to use. You can have your book printed as well as download it to your iPad. Not sure how other sites work but you can also sell your book there , or friends and family can view it for free. They have a variety of sizes and paper choices, hard and soft cover, paper jackets, etc.

Posted by
2 posts

I have only used Shutterfly, but like it a lot. As someone else said, they frequently have promotions so you don't pay full price. I love the quality. I make the 12x12 books. I just finished one related to my African safari, and have gotten so many compliments on it. You can choose a template or customize your own style. The template would make thing easier, but i like to do my own. I particularly like the way a good photo spread over two pages looks. After working with it for a while, you learn some ways to customize, like putting a text box on top of a light part of your photo; or making the background of your page a full photo, but almost tranparent, on which you can place another photo or two. You can save the work and come back to it, which helps me, as I get tired of sitting at the computer for a long time. The print quality is excellent, too. I also like their calendars.

Posted by
2 posts

I use Artisan from Panstoria. You must buy the software ($49.95) one time, but it runs off-line, so that you don't have to have an internet connection to work on your photo book. It is the most flexible program I've ever seen and I've been using it for about 10 years. The books are stitched as opposed to glued and a 12x12 book may contain up to 100 pages. The pages can be either from pre-designed templates or completely free style. It comes with content, but other content packages are available. Png and jpg content files from other programs can also be used. I LOVE it!

Posted by
1 posts

I have used Wal-mart before and looked into Shutterfly but now use Blurb exclusively now. It does the same as the above post listed for Shutterfly but one thing I prefer over Shutterfly is that with Shutterfly you need to upload all the photos you plan on using first. And if you use raw ( a very large size) this could take a very long time for photos you may not use. With Blurb you have the program on your computer, you send the photos to the working book which takes very little time. After you have finished the book you then upload the book to blurb. If you haven't used all the photos this saves all those uploads and if you have used a smaller verson of the photo it could takes seconds instead of minutes for that photo because it has less pixel size. The program saves the book every few minutes so you don't have to worry about losing your book in progress. For my big trips I like using the 13 X 11 book and if do a 2 page spread that will be about 26 X 11. The portrait 8 X 10 if fun if you have a lot verticles. A tip I learned is when viewing your photos on the computer they are backlit and will be a lot brighter, for the print I always lighten them some and up the contrast a little. This has really inproved my most recent books. There is always a coupon and if one expires a new one will be out within a few days. I never use a template and just start with blank pages and add the photo and text boxes and if you choose one too big you just edit it to a smaller size.

Posted by
3 posts

I recommend Shutterfly. Have been making photo books for major trips for about 6 years on the Shutterfly site, probably have several dozen books by now. Have noticed how the process has become much simpler and easier. The quality of the color printing has also improved. Ray has excellent suggestions on how to start a book - organizing photos by theme or timeline. As far as photo formats go, if you shoot in raw format you need to post process in a program like Lightroom or the equivalent and then export them in .jpg format. The files I upload are still large, up to 10MB, although only 75% of their original size. Size of photo files has not been a problem with Shutterfly. Why not try out several of these sites to see which you prefer? I'm a firm believer in creating photo books with my trip photos. It's such a handy way to relive the trips and share them with others. One suggestion I have is to pick your favorite/best photos and fill a page with each one. I initially crammed too many photos on a page but have gradually changed to one or two per page and prefer the uncluttered look.

Good hints! I have just begun using Shutterfly & like it, esp. their coupons. Since I have loved making old fashioned photo scrap books, I now do 1 as we travel. Hotel cards, tickets to the El Greco museum visits in Spain the past month, etc. And, save space for a very few print photos to add later. I take blunt scissors to cut items smaller, sticky tabs. By keeping a separate small journal & using this to jog my memory & by sending photos to my Facebook pg from my phone with short reflections on travel experiences, I begin forming a set of themes as well, during travel.
This process lessens the paper I drag home, enriches my sharing with non travel friends.
The future Shutterfly or Costco photo book will likely be even better than the 2 that I quickly created last summer since I organized phone photo albums for each of our visited 10 Spanish & French cities. Often while train traveling.

Posted by
1 posts

I've used only Shutterfly and it works well. I was a graphic designer so I appreciate the flexibility it allows. But it also provides templates for those with no page layout/design experience. Just like many digital cameras on Auto settings for those with little photography experience, services like Shutterfly make it easy for anyone.

Major advice: less is more. Choose a few great photos and use them large instead of lots of little ones.

The last 2 books I created, one of B&W landscapes and one of wildflowers, from a trip in July to Glacier Natl. Park turned out so well someone thought they were books I had purchased.

One thing I really love about the Shutterfly site is literally having all my photos I've uploaded at my fingertips. I have the Shutterfly app on my iPhone and can open it and view all the photos I've uploaded to albums.

Posted by
3 posts

I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and print from it directly to Blurb. The photo editing facilities are powerful and the book module provides nearly everything I require. I import all the trip photos, select the images for inclusion in the book, crop and edit for quality, assemble them into a photo book with captions, and upload the book to Blurb for printing. The book quality is outstanding.

Posted by
2 posts

For me, hands down, My Publisher (www.mypublisher.com) wins. I shoot with a full frame digital SLR and get the largest size book available. If you get the lay-flat and super-gloss pages, the book looks as good as a coffee table book from National Geographic. The nice thing about the My Publisher software is that you don't upload the individual photos to the website and then decide how you want to create your book. Once you download the My Publisher software, you click that you want to create a book and then the software brings you to the directories on your computer. A simple click adds the photos to the tray and then you pick and choose where you want the photos to appear in your book. It's easy to add pages anywhere in the book without having to move things around. You can also resize the templates. You can choose to have the cover printed with your photos or can have them printed on a book jacket. You can also get a nice slip cover for your book. Once you are done creating your book, you upload the book to My Publisher (versus uploading pictures that you end up not using in your book). This saves a lot of time, especially if you are uploading large files. They are always having a sale - so if you decide to try them, don't pay full price.

Posted by
5 posts

Greetings!
Thanks to everyone for sharing their ideas on how to create online scrapbooks. I still enjoy my hardcopy version of scrapbooking because of the joy I get from cutting, gluing, etc.
What do you do with your ticket stubs, maps, restaurant napkins, brochures, etc.? Are you incorporating these too? I really like adding them to my memories because they add a level of uniqueness. Please share ;-)

Thank you!
Amy

Posted by
4354 posts

Well, now that we have a clear consensus... ;-)

But...thanks, Everyone, for sharing your thoughts and preferences; this is a thread to save for later!

Posted by
1 posts

I have made many photo books as well as calendars with Shutterfly. It is easy and if you are intimidated they can do a lot of it for you. I wait for promotions and never pay full price.

Posted by
454 posts

Wow....this is a lot of information (and while it doesn't exactly make it easier for me to make a clear choice, it does provide me with a lot to think about). thank you!

Posted by
1 posts

I often use FacebookPhotoBook since I post most of my pictures on Facebook. Within 1 minute it automatically selects the photos I want. Very easy to use

Posted by
1 posts

I have just found this thread - thank you so much! I have been trying to learn how to do a trip report photo album. I had little luck with Shutterfly because it didn't seem to allow me to put in as much text as I wanted. And if you need to add another page beause you've reached the back of the book, you can't add it where you need it, which means shuffling the pages around. Also, ignore the font size - it said font size was 12, but it was microscopic. Also customer service was not helpful. For a simple book where you let them do the lay-out, and you might only write captions, it would be easy and fun. I next tried Blurb, which allowed me to use my 13 types pages of trip report by scanning them, and moving them around like a photo. It did, though, say the resolution was low, so fingers crossed. And unlike Shutterfly, photos could not be brightened. I"m looking forward to trying some of the other suggestions. Thank you!

Posted by
9 posts

I just ran across this thread too and thought I'd add my two cents. I used Blurb to make a photo book of our Italy trip and love it. It looks like a professional coffee table book. In the past, I used Snapfish but always got frustrated dealing with layouts and other technical issues. Since this time I wanted to incorporate my travel journal along with the photos, I had to find a program that would accommodate that much text. Being pretty challenged when it comes to computers, I was pleasantly surprised at how relatively easy the Blurb program was to use. My 13x11 book ended up being 58 pages long. It has a dust jacket with inside flaps that include my text and photos. The photos, which I took with an iPhone4, turned out pretty well (I had borrowed the phone for this trip; I'm not really much of a photographer). From now on, I will use Blurb when I make books like this because it showcases my very amateurish pictures much better than Snapfish does.

Posted by
1068 posts

Just so people can make an informed decision: you can add pages anywhere you want in your Shutterfly books.... beginning, end, middle etc. You can put in as much text as you'd like (including pages that are all text), although it does have to be typed if you want to edit/format it via Shutterfly. There are a large variety of fonts to choose from and you can change their size from microscopic to huge. In addition you can change formatting, color etc. I personally write my texts in a word processor and paste them into Shutterfly, but that's me. You cannot brighten photos in Shutterfly but there are a variety of effects such a BW, Sunshine, Vibrant etc. etc. as well as the ubiquitous cropping and red eye removal. With the ability to customize the page there are an infinite number of page layouts. You can also order books with extras such as dust jackets, lay flat bindings etc. I don't work for Shutterfly or anything, but I have used them quite a bit.

Posted by
489 posts

I've used Shutterfly, Snapfish and Mac. It seems I'm using Shutterfly more and more. It's easy to use and I also take advanatge of the coupons and sale times. Snapfish is good but had more challenges technically for me. Mac book is beautiful but costs so muc.
My travel book count is 2 Mac, 2 Snapfish, 4 Shutterfly.

I'd love to edit photos as I move along in my travel but find staring at an Iphone in the evening is tiring after a full day. So last year was the first time I tried a different thumb drive for each location. I transferred pics from camera to drive. This helped with organization. Then I wanted to upload them to Shutterfly. Somewhere I made an error and accidentally deleted most a day's worth's of Paris pics before confirming they were on the thumb drive. Duh.

Just when I think I'm ready to lug a mini pad around to not have to deal with hotel computer, and provide my eyes proper larger viewing, I decide at the end to pass on this option. I feel weighted down enough carrying my small point and shoot camera, and my IPhone each day.