Now that you have read 13 amazing blog posts showing tips and tricks to improving your photos, what’s next? Printing, of course!
I’m a huge advocate of printing while you’re learning photography. Don’t wait until you’ve mastered everything, because you know what, you’ll always be improving, learning, and growing. By printing your work, you’ll gain valuable insight into your own photographic style.
When I first started learning photography, I picked up my camera every single day. I wasn’t participating in a specific challenge or set out to take pictures every day…I just wanted to get better. I wanted to practice everything. In my first year with a DSLR, I took over 10,000 photos. Even though my photos were cropped too tight, my white balance was off, and focus was questionable, I still never hesitated to print my photos. I’ve always enjoyed seeing our family life, printed.
My first official annual photo book was in 2010. Even though I had diligently printed 4x6 prints every few months, I really wanted one central place to represent our year. In this first book, I could already see my progress. I still had a ways to go, but I was getting better. The proof was in my prints!
Ever since then, I’ve made an annual photo book. Now my kids have something to look back to and I have a way to gauge my progress.
Today, I want to share with you my experience both with prints and photo books. Figure out what works best for you now and as you continue on your photography journey.
1 | Process
At the beginning, the process for printing is similar between prints and photo books. The main goal is to select which photos you want to print. I recommend using Lightroom (iPhoto or Aperture works well too) to organize your photos. Determine what sorting method works best for you: stars, colors, or keywords.
With prints, once you’ve selected the photos, all you have to do is export at 300ppi. For photo books, you’ll have to continue on to a photo book design software program. While that may sound intimidating, companies develop their software as intuitively as possible. It only takes a couple of minutes to get your bearings at the beginning but once you get going, it gets easier. I promise.
Recommended companies for prints: Snapfish, MPix, Smugmug/Bay Photo
Recommended companies for photo books: Shutterfly, Blurb, Artifact Uprising, AdoramaPix Books
2 | Time
Here the advantage goes to prints. It can be extremely efficient to make 4x6 prints. First of all, your camera takes photos at a ratio very similar to a 4x6 print, reducing the crop time. Second, after you organize your photos, export immediately into a print folder on your desktop. At the end of every month, upload those photos to your favorite site and print. Very easy!
For photo books, the process takes a little longer because you have to organize the photos you want to go in the book and then place them on the page. You can use an autoflow feature in most book design programs to save you time however, you’ll still want to check each page and make adjustments as needed.
3 | Storage
If you’re going to print a lot of photos, you’ll need to determine a storage device. You can either buy albums to slip the photos into or a photo box. Both can be an attractive option in your home.
When it comes to storing printing photos, I love photo books. All of your photos are in convenient location! You can easily store your photo books on the shelf, a coffee table or your kids’ rooms. Whenever you have guests or family and want to show them what you’ve done in the last year, photo books are a great way to illustrate your life in a convenient, beautiful way. You don’t have to worry about loose prints getting out of order or lost. Plus you can easily locate the one photo or event you want to show them.
4 | Cost
Cost is always a factor. The advantage with prints, you can easily control the amount you spend and the cost per individual print is inexpensive. On average, it’s about $0.10/print. If you wanted to print 100 photos, the total cost is approximately $10-15, including shipping.
On the flip side, photo books start around $20 for a 20-page book and scale up from there depending on the size, number of pages, and the quality of paper and cover. You can expect to pay around $150 for a decent size (150-240 page) photo book.
Here is another way to look at the cost of printing. For a 100 page photo book, it’s possible to include 1,000 photos. At a cost of $100, this works out to be $0.10/photo – the same price as prints! Granted in the end you may not want that many photos in your book, this example does show how the two options compare.
5 | Creativity
There is no inherent creativity to the 4x6 print as a stand-alone object. However, you can use prints creatively by scrapbooking with them or using them for other creative projects such as coasters, wall collages or kids’ art projects.
In my opinion, photo books are the final step in your photographic vision. Photo books are a fantastic way to see your creative vision completely. As you are developing your photographic style, you can incorporate this vision into your photo book design as well. Photo book creativity comes in many forms, subject matter, white space on the page, color, typography, borders or graphic patterns. With photo books, you are in control about how your photos are displayed on the page.
I’d love for you to read these tips and take at least one step to getting your photos printed. Start with prints and set a goal to have your first photo book finished by the end of the year! Leave a comment below letting me know how you’ll be looking to print your photos.
WEEK 14 CHALLENGE: This week your challenge is to PRINT your photos! I would love for you to go through and, at the very least, print all of the challenge photos you did for our 14 Week series. But, don't stop there! Get organized and start printing and displaying on a regular basis! Remember, we love questions, so feel free to post them in the comments section!
Stacey Wiseman adores capturing her two children playing, fighting, sleeping, eating, running, dancing, singing, and hugging. As the owner of Book This Project
and book design instructor at The Photographer Within
, her love of photo books blends her architectural experience with her passion for photography. To get started with your photo book today, go discover her 10 No-Fail Steps to Designing a Photo Book here
. Also, be sure and go "like" her Facebook page here.