Design High-Quality Custom Photo Books

The best custom photo books can tell a story, spark nostalgia, and share memories with loved ones across the country. They’re a great keepsake to give to everyone in your life and there are endless design possibilities! With so many layout, binding, and thematic options available, how do you craft a high-quality custom photo book that shows off your personal style?

We’ll go step by step to help you come up with ideas for the overall theme of your photo album as well as all the nitty-gritty details that make a successful project. You can choose from a selection of book sizes, unique layouts, cover designs, and even different bindings to create endless possibilities. Each one offers new opportunities to create your own book for each season. If you’ve chosen to give the generous gift of photo books to your loved ones as holiday, thank you, or birthday gifts, start here. This guide can help you create a photo book that your loved ones will cherish for decades to come.

Theme Ideas | Sizes | Layout | Cover And Binding | Putting It All Together

Photo Book Theme Ideas

Your theme, whether based on an event or group of people, is the best way to tell a story in your custom photo book. You can either choose a clear theme such as a wedding day or baby’s first Christmas for a personalized baby book, or something a bit more general like your travels around the world or favorite outings with friends from college.

Photo book with beach day pictures.

You can also take an artistic approach and showcase photos you’ve taken from around your hometown, of your garden from over the years, or even by organizing family recipes. A photo album is a way for your reader to learn more about the beautiful parts of your life and act as a daily reminder for you and your family.

Here are a few theme ideas to keep in mind when choosing one for your photo album:

  • Special Event: From weddings to family reunions, commemorate an incredible gathering of loved ones by laying out everyone’s individual shots and family photos in one place with special dates and information. Create a personalized baby book with images of the baby shower and their first year!
  • Family Member Milestone: Did your teen just graduate high school? Was this your first year as a teacher? Show off big milestones in your life with a coffee table book to mark the special occasion. Gift in a set with other photo keepsakes like a personalized blanket, canvas print, or handmade yearbook.
  • Physical Feat: When your child wins the big championship or you’ve just completed your first marathon, gather all your favorite photos together to go with the trophy at home.
  • Business Growth: Your customers will love to see all the steps that got you to where you are today. Create the best custom photo book with dates and special milestones along the way to keep in your lobby.
  • Artistic Portfolio: Whether you’re a photographer, a painter, or a landscape architect, the best custom photo book elevates your work and showcases your passion.
  • Worldly Travels: Surprise your loved ones with travel photos from your recent adventure. This makes an excellent gift for families across the country who want to hear about your big trip.
  • Pass On Traditions: Do you have a collection of family recipes you want to share? This holiday, include all the meals in your own photo book with images of you testing the recipes.
  • Yearly Story: Why not mark each year with a bound photo book to keep on your shelf at home and switch out on your coffee table? From school and work to every celebration in between, show off your family’s big milestones each year.

Photo Book Sizes

Choose from a selection of photo book sizes depending on how many images you wish to display. You can also select different sizes depending on how you wish to gift or display your album. In each case, add extra pages if you need more space to show off your story. Available sizes to create a photo book include:

Wedding themed photo book.

  1. 8×8: As a symmetrical option similar to the 7X9 option, these books are great for showcasing small images as a personalized gift.
  2. 8×11: The most traditional book size, select this option for a personalized baby book, high school graduation gifts, or other bulk photo book ideas to make as presents for a large group.
  3. 11×8: These rectangular books provide a more artistic shape compared to the other sizes. Fill with travel photos, your portfolio, or as a unique business photo book.
  4. 10×10: The next square size up from 8X8, 10X10 photo books allow more images per page, making them a great choice for events or themes with ample photos.
  5. 12×12: Surprise a bride and groom with a more lavish photo book covered in both enlarged images and small photo collections to show off their day.
  6. 11×14: As the largest option, the sky’s the limit for designing your book pages. Highlight one large photo with a colorful background or spread a group of images across each page with plenty of room for text.

Photo Album Layout

Make your own book come to life with a creative layout. When designing a personalized book or a collection of bulk photo books, you’ll have the option to design your own pages from scratch or insert images into a pre-designed layout idea. These tried-and-true sample layouts utilize all shapes and sizes of printed photos and craft a story with your images. You can also pair your images uniquely with text, embellishments, and individualized placement on either matte finish or semi-gloss pages, depending on your theme.

Consider a few layout ideas to get started on your personalized book:

  • Chapter Pages: Transition to a new place, year, or subject by creating a chapter title photo page. Lay text over the page-sized image.
  • Timeline: Are you making a personalized baby book to mark their growth over the past few years? Line up small images across the page with notes about their age.
  • Large and Small: Highlight one photo in your memory book and surround it with more detailed, smaller images for balance.
  • Skip the Color: Black and white images stand out as more dramatic when paired with a book of mostly colored photos.
  • Overlap Images: Make your own book of photos look like a stack of prints by tilting them to the side and laying them on top of one another.
  • Shape Your Photos: Arrange your photos in fun shapes like a heart or a Christmas tree.
  • Play with Style: Choose from matte or semi-gloss prints to further control the style of your memory book.

Cover And Binding Ideas

The best custom photo books also have a unique cover. Show off your sense of style by choosing a cover that truly showcases the photos within. You can choose between a soft or hard cover, different colors, and various finishes. You can also decide whether you’d like a die-cut cover with a featured image beneath.

Picture of married couple on photo book.

Change your book’s binding style for a modern look. Spread your photos of loved ones across your pages without interruption in the center. You can choose from standard layflat or deluxe layflat for a clean and stylish look.

Here are a few book covers and binding options to help create the best personalized books:

  • Soft Cover Photo Book: Best if you’re making a photo book for kids or ordering bulk photo books.
  • Hard Cover Photo Book: The standard option for a classic photo book with or without embellishment options.
  • Die-Cut Cover: A window on your cover reveals a colorful photo to showcase your theme in a premium book option.
  • Cloth and Leather Cover: Deluxe touches for things like high school graduation gifts or wedding photo books.
  • Premium Layflat Book: Minimal or no interruption between the two sides of the book create wider layout options.

Putting It All Together

Make your best custom photo book at your leisure with Shutterfly’s custom editor. Once you choose your basics such as the cover, book size, and binding options, upload photos that you want to use throughout the book. You can then go page by page to work with pre-designed layout suggestions or your own custom ideas. Use the preview button whenever you want to see your progress. You can even add more pages if you want to expand your personalized book.

To recap:

  1. Choose your photo book size
  2. Select a style
  3. Consider cover and binding options
  4. Personalize your photo album by adding images, backgrounds, text, and embellishments
  5. Preview your book before purchase

Our quality photo book designer puts you in the shoes of a professional book publisher. What kind of personalized book would you create if you had endless options at your fingertips? Whether you’re making a photo gift for your closest friends, a personalized baby book, or a coffee table album to tell your family’s story, the photo book custom path brings your unique ideas to life on the page.