How to Create the Best Photo Books

Make your memories last a lifetime with a high-quality custom photo book filled with pictures full of family vacations, important milestones, and unforgettable moments. Whether you’re showcasing your wedding photos or capturing candid snapshots, making a personalized photo book is easy.

A much more special alternative to your typical photo album, with Shutterfly, you can customize your photo books from cover to cover. Choose from a variety of sizes and styles, from small softcover and large layflat to premium leather — or even opt for a professional flush mount album or metallic color cover accents. With space to add custom captions and decorative embellishments, there are endless ways to make your book one-of-a-kind. Follow these steps to make your best photo book that you’ll cherish as a special keepsake for years to come.

Determine Your Photo Book’s Style

Your photos deserve the best presentation. Depending on what orientation your photos are or what occasion you’re documenting, you’ll want to personalize your book accordingly. Create the best photo book by choosing cover styles, bindings, and sizes that represent your unique style. For example, your wedding photo book will likely be a large and professional-style layflat album, while a book for your kids might be a smaller, easy-to-flip softcover book. Shutterfly offers a range of high-quality books for you to choose from to make your perfect album.

Choose High-Quality Photo Book Covers And Bindings

different sizes of photo books on a bed

Make your custom photo book as unique as the memories it holds with stunning covers and bindings. In addition to the classic hardcover or softcover books, you can choose from professional flush mount albums, luxurious leather covers, and beautiful layflat pages. With so many cover and binding options, you can easily customize a photo album that will capture your favorite memories in a way that suits your style.

Hardcover
Showcase your photos in a sleek and durable hardcover photo book. Available in matte and glossy finishes, these are a classic cover option.

Softcover
A softcover book is lightweight and portable, making them great to travel with or to give as gifts. With a thick, glossy cardstock cover, personalize the front and back covers of your album with your photos and custom text.

Deluxe Layflat Pages
Seamlessly display your photos with a layflat photo book. Shutterfly’s deluxe layflat styles are printed on double-thick pages made with satin-finish paper and lay flat when the books are open. These luxurious books make for beautiful wedding photo albums and special occasion books.

custom layflat wedding photo albums

Standard Layflat Pages
Customize keepsakes filled with your best family photos and favorite memories with a standard layflat photo book. Hinged layflat pages are printed on our Standard matte-finish paper and show off your images across each spread with a hinged binding.

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Professional Flush Mount Albums
Perfect for a beautiful wedding album, professional flush mount albums give your book a professional look. These high-quality photo books feature board-mounted pages that lay perfectly flat, allowing your wedding photos to spread across the page seamlessly. Upgrade your album with page gilding, rounded corners, and four luxury cover options.

Premium Leather Cover
Perfect for special occasions, Shutterfly’s high-quality padded premium leather cover features stitched edges and a gorgeous finish.

Cover Upgrades
Add metallic accents, a die-cut cover, or a dust jacket to enhance your cover’s look and feel.

Pick Your Book’s Size

mom and child with small photo book and different photo book sizes

A custom photo book transforms your favorite pictures into a treasured keepsake. There are tons of photo book sizes to choose from, but the right size will depend on the nature of your pictures and how many you’d like to include in the album.

Start by selecting your photos. Before choosing a size, consider the ratio of the landscape to portrait photos you’ve chosen. This will help you determine which album orientation is best for you. It will be easier to layout and size your photos when the album matches their orientation.

When choosing a size, consider how many photos you want to include. We recommend no more than five pictures per page to preserve the quality of your images. Once you have your total number, it’s useful to divide by category and estimate how many you want per page. This will give you a better idea of your page count. For 50 to 100 photos, an album with 20 pages will be more than enough.

Square Sizes
Square photo books are ideal for those who have an equal number of portrait and landscape photos as it can easily accommodate a mixture of layouts and orientations. Shutterfly’s square album sizes include 8×8, 10×10, and 12×12.

Portrait Sizes
Portrait orientations are perfect for professional photo books, like graduation photo albums or yearbooks. Showcase your best portrait photos in an 11×8 photo book.

Landscape Sizes
Whether you’re creating a travel photo book or an album full of family memories, you can’t go wrong with a landscape photo album. Landscape albums offer a classic feel and are great for showcasing panoramas and larger photos as you will hardly have to shrink the image to fit the page. Shutterfly’s landscape books are available in 8×11 and 11×14 sizes.

Give Your Photo Book A Theme

custom pages with text in a photo album

The best photo books have a cohesive theme. You want your album to tell a story, so deciding on an overarching concept from cover to cover will do just that. Maybe you want to document your newborn’s first year — capturing everything from their birth to their first smiles and steps. Or perhaps you plan to showcase your favorite snapshots from your last vacation in a travel album. No matter what event or time frame you’re chronicling, your book will flow seamlessly when you stick with a theme. With hundreds of Shutterfly photo book themes to choose from, you’re sure to find one that fits perfectly.

Use your theme to inspire the book’s design. If you’re making a wedding photo book, you can customize it with elegant fonts and background colors. When creating a book about your baby, you might choose a theme that includes design elements like cute animals and baby bottles. Most importantly, keep the same theme going from one page to the next. And, with Shutterfly’s pre-designed Idea pages plus the ability to customize them, that’s easy to do.

Customize Your Layout

family themed layflat custom photobook

The fun part of making a personalized photo book is designing the pages. With Shutterfly’s variety of themes, unique layouts, and pre-designed Idea pages, there’s no shortage of what you can do to customize your album. If you’re unsure of where to start, let our designers do the heavy lifting and we’ll make your book for you.

Decide what the look and feel of your book should be. If you wish to incorporate a lot of photos, consider collaging a group of photos. Do you share a lot of details? Make sure you leave room for captions that describe your pictures. Whatever book type you’re planning for, you can move and resize images and add text anywhere to design your book to your taste. 

If you need inspiration for your book’s design, try the pre-designed idea pages that make personalizing your photo book a breeze. Idea pages are perfect for designing albums with unique pages that show off your best pictures with fun colors, layouts, and embellishments. 

Personalize Each Page With Design Embellishments

seasonal autumn themed family photo book with hardcover design

The best photo books have pages filled with more than just pictures. No two photo books will be the same when you personalize your album with added art, text, and design embellishments. Choose from stickers, ribbons, and frames to tell your story in a way that suits your style.

Upgrade Photo Print Quality 

Upgrade to professional six-color printing for smoother tones, subtle color blends, and more ink coverage on every page, so your photos print better. 

Preserve Keepsakes With See-Through Memorabilia Pockets

Add a see-through pocket to the inside cover of your album to preserve keepsakes such as cards, photo strips, tickets, and more.

Use Text To Tell Your Story

premium wedding photo album with vows in the caption

Highlight important memories by adding custom text to your photo books. Whether you’re labeling the date and location of the photo or sharing your favorite story from the event, adding text gives context to each image and will be handy when looking back on your book for years to come. Fun ways to add text to your book’s pages is to create a travel guide for your favorite destination, a recipe book filled with your tastiest treats, or incorporating pieces of your vows in your wedding album. Get inspiration on text and captions to add with our list of photo book quote ideas.

Best Photo Book Ideas

make your own custom photo book of a winter vacation

Whether you’re making a personal keepsake or working on a professional project, there are so many different things you can do with a personalized photo book. To help you get inspired, we’ve compiled a few of the best photo book ideas you can use to capture your memories.

  • Annual Yearbook: Document your year’s most significant events — like birthdays, holidays, special occasions, big achievements, and new additions — and save them in an annual keepsake. 
  • Instagram: Turn your Instagram shots into a sleek book to capture the moments of your everyday life.
  • Anniversary Album: Celebrate your years of wedded bliss with an anniversary album documenting your best memories and milestones.
  • Travel Photo Book: Create a coffee table photo book filled with your favorite landscapes and vacation snapshots.
  • Pet Memories: If your furry friend is a part of your family, make a pet photo album to celebrate your furry friend. 
  • A Photo A Day: Record your little one’s growth by taking a picture in the same spot every day for a year and documenting it in a personalized photo album.
  • Recipe BookSave your family’s secret recipes and new experiments in a photo cookbook.
  • Portfolio: Showcase your skills and talent in a professional portfolio with high-quality pictures of your work. 
  • Family Tree: Honor your family history with an album that traces your family tree back to its roots. These are great gifts for your next family reunion.
  • Kids Artwork: Scan your child’s favorite drawings as a special keepsake for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
  • Wedding Album: Relive the day of your nuptials with a beautiful photo album showcasing your favorite moments of the big day.
  • Baby Photo Book: Preserve your baby’s photos forever with a keepsake album celebrating all of their milestones and special moments.

Wrapping Up

For even more inspiration on how you can create the best photo book, make sure to visit our related resources below: