How to make your own photo book

Keepsakes, albums, portfolios: It's easy with AdoramaPix PhotoBooks!

Many photographers dream of publishing a book of their photographs, and now, you can easily create your own book and publish it as a limited-run or one-of-a-kind book through Adorama's online photo lab, AdoramaPix.

Many photographers dream of publishing a book of their photographs, and now, you can easily create your own book and publish it as a limited-run or one-of-a-kind book through Adorama's online photo lab, AdoramaPix.

Let's make a wedding album! Here's what you'll see when you go to the AdoramaPix Books homeapge.

This is a great tool for hobbyists who want to create meaningful gifts for family and friends, or for professional wedding photographers who want to present their clients with a high-quality keepsake. Fine-art photographers can create limited-edition coffee table books and portfolios to showcase their works and even to show art directors. More casual users can assemble vacation albums from their uploaded digital pictures, and even scrapbookers can get into the act by choosing from 168 textured backgrounds, 21 digital frames, and over 470 stickers.

I owe my friends, Danny and Jennifer, a wedding album. To illustrate how easy it is to put together a book, I'll walk you through the steps I took to make a wedding album for them.

First, collect your photos

Before you start building your book, you need to organize and upload your photos. I suggest that once you've selected your photos, collect the photos into a separate folder. I labeled mine "UPLOAD." Simple enough.

Then go to AdoramaPix, select "Books," and log in (if you aren't already logged in). You're ready to go.

Assemble your book

As with any creative endeavor, you will need to plan out your book. You may want to do a rough sketch with pencil and paper first, and work out your ideas. Or if you're like me, you might just wing it, and experiment with positioning and juxtaposition of images. Planning the flow of the book, or just going with it, and choosing the images for a book is a subject all in its own right, but we're going to concentrate here on the mechanics of putting your photo book together.

Either way, two things you should know about the AdoramaPix book syste: it's not that hard, and everything can be changed.

First, I had to choose a layout style. I went to the Photo Book page and selected "Create a photo book now!" A screen opened (slowly; give it time to download) and I was prompted to name the book. The next step was to choose the dimensions of the book and the number of pages. The measurement options are 5.5x8 (Pocketbook), 8x8 (Storybook), 10x8 (Portrait book), or 12x8 (Classic Photo Book). Each book can be either 26 or 50 pages long. Prices range from $19.99 for a 26-page Slim Pocketbook to $73.99 for a Large Classic Photo Book.

For Danny and Jennifer, I chose "Modern Wedding" format, and orderd the Large Portrait Book: 50 pages, 10x8 inches.

Choose a theme--or not

The next step is to choose a theme for your book. It's ok to choose the "No Theme" option, since you can always add backgrounds and flourishes later and create your own theme that way. However, by choosing a pre-made theme you can speed up your process. Choices include Holidays, baby Boy, Baby Girl, Journal, Classic, Gallery, Portfolio, Wedding, Portrait, Collage, Hanukkah, or Modern. I chose the Modern Wedding theme.

For the book, I chose all of the uploaded photos from an album I'd already set up.Now you're up to step 2: uploading your images. You can either select a gallery that's already up on the AdoramaPix site, or drag and drop your photos from your PC. For the latter, simply drag all those images you gathered before, drop them into the "Project Images" box, and wait for them to upload. If you have a lot of photos, this may take a while. Grab a cup of coffee.

I didn't like the Wedding Album theme's green default background, however. So I changed it by dragging the "Paper Handmade" from the Backgrounds menu (right) onto each page. Better.

You can also choose from many borders and graphics to decorate your pages. For a wedding, I felt simple elegance was better, so I took a pass on these options. But they are available for those who want them.

Now the fun part: Placing the photos

Here's an overview of your workspace: drag pictures from the image bank on the left onto the layout, which is the largest window on screen. Thumbnail views of 2-page spreads appear across the bottom, which editing tools are in yellow above the open layout.

You can either use the pre-set photo layout provided, or delete the existing frames and replacing them with your own photo frame shapes. Depending on the page and how I wanted to tell the narrative of this particular wedding, I either used the presets or changed them. Keep in mind that if you use a picture frame with a different aspect ratio than the one you shot, the program will automatically crop. You can move the photo around within the frame so the crop is the way you prefer.

A simple set of editing tools lets you control and fine-tune cropping and positioning of images.

When you select an image, a small toolbox pops up. You can change the stacking order of layered images and page elements, rotate or reposition. Grab a corner of the image to enlarge or shrink. This won't affect aspect ratio.

Sometimes I wanted to use a full-frame shot. The easiest way to do this is to simply drag the photo from the "Images" menu onto a page, then drag a corner to resize it.

Be bold! There's no reason why you can't put a single photo on a two-page spread, as long as the resolution is sufficient for a big print. I did a two-page spread of an overview of the entire wedding that I shot while the ceremony was going on.

Review your handiwork: You can flip through the book in Preview mode. I made a few minor changes, then hit the "order" button. The entire operation, including some 100 photos, took me less than 2 hours.

Marketing tip: Once you've finished creating your photo book, you can embed an online preview onto your web site or blog. Follow these simple step-by-step instructions.

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