Book cover by Canva

This evening I read about Canva and Pablo on the WordPress daily post, both of them are free design tools that can be used to create all manner of graphics. Starting with Canva tutorial I learned the basics and decided that it was an application worth investigating further in order to design photo book covers for my collection of images taken overseas 4 years ago. And yes, I am very slow at producing photo books 🙂

Canva is quite easy to use and comes with numerous templates, graphics and ideas, many of them available free. It is a drag and drop application and although it took me a couple of minutes to grasp how to adjust single images in a layout template, the speed at which I could design a cover made me think that I may never have to use Indesign again, at least not for something so simple as a photo book cover. If you haven’t already checked Canva out, you’ll realise how popular it must be as soon as you see some of the sample graphics, they’re the type that you see all over Pinterest on food photographs and motivational images.

Here’s how my first cover turned out, the design is for a book of photographs taken in Venice, Varenna and Vernazza, three beautiful destinations in Italy that are located on the water. This design probably won’t be the final one because I had the dimensions wrong but it took only 20 minutes (most of that was spent waiting for images to upload) and I’ve learned something new today which is always a good thing.

What do you think? Is Canva something you would bother with?

Venice, Varenna and Vernazza photobook cover artwork
Photo book cover created using Canva

Marty and Sam’s scrappy adventure photobook

Marty and Sam's Scrappy Adventure - book cover
Marty and Sam’s Scrappy Adventure – book cover

It is almost 12 months since we returned from our European holiday and it has taken me about 8 months to complete the first photobook titled Marty and Sam’s Scrappy Adventure. Why so long? Well, the book has roughly 800 photos spread over 200 pages and I wanted to include some of our story plus a few historical facts so that anyone browsing through our photos would know what they were looking at, including my husband. Between us we took about 5000 photos over 8 weeks, the first book was designed to encompass our entire trip and include all the ‘happy snaps’, you know the sort, self portraits taken using the one arm stretched out, slightly blurry photos of a tasty meal and photos of the hotel room and/or sign. I’ll do separate photobooks with a city, country or regional theme, such as Tuscany and Umbria, Paris and Germany.

Software also played a huge part in creating the photobook, I have a Mac at home but a Windows PC at work so I had to choose cross-platform software, preferring to download the software and create the album than uploading photos and creating them online. Friends have used Blurb, Momento and Clickonprint and all have been happy with the results, I had used Snapfish previously but that was for a a family album and all the photos were already uploaded to that site so it was relatively quick and easy plus they 50% off photobooks at the time. In the end I went with Blurb, here is why:

  • Clickonprint doesn’t provide a Mac version and I didn’t want to spend time familiarising myself with InDesign or creating layouts in Photoshop.
  • Photobook Australia had good reviews especially with regards to quality of output but I couldn’t get the photos to sort in order of date taken and the software itself was a bit clunky.
  • Momento are Australian and produce great quality books most of the time, my friends had a few problems with them but still choose Momento over other companies. The application is one of the easiest ones to use and you get a high quality product however the cost of a large format, 200 page book was cost prohibitive.
  • Snapfish only have the online service and with 800 photos to upload and organise I knew the process would take longer because it is reliant on bandwidth speeds. The application isn’t as flexible as some of the others either.
  • In comparison Blurb’s BookSmart software is relatively simple to use, the application sorts the photos by date taken, and Blurb offers value for money for large books with over 100 pages and the reviews were mainly positive. For an A3 size, 200 page book I paid just over $1AUD per page including shipping from the US and I received it approximately 2 weeks after uploading and ordering.
Double page photo spread
Double page photo spread

There are a few other digital printing companies offering photobooks in Australia: PicPress; Digital Print Australia; and Albumworks, as well as large companies such as Harvey Norman, Target and Big W but I didn’t want to spend any more time researching and testing applications. There is a great blog that reviews the different products available, it is call PhotoBookGirl.com and although the reviews don’t include Australian products many of the products are available for Australians to purchase.

I’m quite happy with the final product from Blurb and my husband is thoroughly enjoying looking at the photos and being reminded of the different places we visited. Once upon a time I would get all my photos printed individually and then place them in chronological order in an album, writing the details of location, etc would take forever but I did it because I knew that I would find joy in going through them again and again. Photobooks are so much easier and having a book of images and stories to flick through is much nicer than viewing them on a computer or digital photoframe, printed photographs also outlast the technology so printing your favourite photos is essential. Would I use Blurb again? Definitely, especially for large books with lots of pages, however I have already started creating smaller books (fewer than 100 pages) in Momento and am loving how flexible and easy it is to use.

Different photo layouts available
Different photo layouts available
Photos and text
Layouts for photos and text

I’d love to hear about your experiences with photobooks. What products or applications have you used to create your photobooks and would you recommend them?