photo books part three // photo organisation

Welcome to the third installment in this series. In the first two posts in this series on photo books, I have discussed the format and frequency with which I make photo books, along with how I use Instagram as a tool in helping me sort the photos I want to make into books on an ongoing basis. In this post, I will be talking about photo book themes and how I organise my photos in a way that helps me when it comes to making a photo book. 
Photo book themes.
Over the past five years, I have made photo books in varying shapes and sizes, but up until having a baby, I just made photo books to document our holidays. Each of the albums pictured above feature a different country (Spain, Scotland and France, in case you are wondering!) and there is a unifying theme in my front covers of sky. In all honesty, I don't think this was deliberate, it's just the natural outworking of my inclination towards taking photos of the sky!  I had often thought about making more books of just our daily lives, as I would have liked our children to be able to get a glimpse into what life looked like before they came along. However, I just didn’t ever manage to. Having a baby is such a significant life changing event that I feel it has given me a renewed sense of wanting to document our lives more consistently.

My current plan is to make a selection of photo books this year which document daily life, our holidays and the growth of our daughter. This is what my plan looks like for this year:

Instagram books: I will print these every three months throughout the year in a 7” x 7” hardback format, designed with children handling them in mind.

Pregnancy & Portrait Series: This book will include the blog posts I wrote at different stages of my pregnancy, alongside the weekly portraits I have taken of Ruby since she was four weeks old, as part of The 52 Project.

The Stories of our Days: This is an idea that was inspired by Pink Ronnie. I loved her idea of documenting family life during each season of the year, accompanied by photos reflecting the seasons, both in nature and in the family. Initially, I was not sure whether I would have enough to say about our small family of three to constitute making an entire photo book, feeling like our days often look very similar to oneanother. And yet, in these seven short months since our daughter was born, I am frequently aware of how things change regularly in a subtle way, and if I do not write about them, it’s these small details of life that I know I will forget about in years to come. I am envisaging that this photo book will feel a little bit more like a journal, as there will be chunks of text as well as photos. This book will tell a greater story of our year than the Instagram books will, as they will tell the stories behind the pictures.

So that will be six photo books in one year. While this might sound like a lot in terms of the time and energy that goes into making each book, a lot of the process has already happened in that the Pregnancy & Portrait Series will be made up of one photo for each week of this year. I have already created a folder for each of these photos, so when it comes to making the book, all of the photos are organised and in one place. The same goes for my Instagram books.

Even if you choose to make books without particular themes to them, if you have in mind that you are working towards making a photo book, each time you transfer photos from your phone or camera to your computer, you could select a few favourites and store them in a folder designated exclusively to your photo book pictures. This would then save you a lot of time when it comes to putting the book together.
With or without text?
One of the things that I loved when I first discovered Blurb, was the option of adding text to photo books. Back in the days when I made photo albums, I would write labels to accompany photos so that I would always have a reference point for where I had been when I took a photo. So when I realised that I could not only do this, but write whole paragraphs to help tell more of a story to go alongside the photos in Blurb, I was even more excited at the prospect of making photo books. The first album I did this with was a slight disaster. After a wonderful honeymoon in Barbados, I spent many hours collating the photos to go in a great big, 12” x 12” photobook, and writing about the adventures John and I had. However, when the book arrived, we discovered that I had made an embarrassing number of spelling mistakes (I misspelt ‘helicopter’ about four times in different ways, I kid you not). Since then, I have mostly stuck to just including photos without text. But, as I mentioned before, I am keen to tell the every day stories of our lives, and so I intend to write more for photo books, making sure I edit them carefully before publishing! 

My Instagram books don’t include any text, except for the Title Page. In the format that Blurb offers, there is enough space for me to write the names of the places that are represented in the photos throughout the book. I saw the idea to do this on a very detailed blog post about how to make an Instagram book using Blurb. I love the idea of doing this, as it serves as a lovely reminder to me of all of the adventures we have been on in each quarter of the year. I realise that sometimes we will have mostly adventured in our city, and at other times, we will have ventured further afield. I think it will be interesting to see the ebb and flow of our adventures over time.

Photo Folders
Whatever the method you choose to use to organise your digital photos on your computer, my main pieces of advice would be:

1)      Keep it simple and manageable.­
2)      Upload new photos to your computer on a regular basis.
3)      Back up your images on an external device regularly.

The simplest way I have found of organising my photos on my laptop is by having folders for each month of the year. Within each of these folders, I have sub folders which separate my photos into categories. Here’s an example of what this looks like from June this year: 
As you can see, most of my folders reflect blog posts that I published in June. I suppose blogging is another way in which I categorise my photos, and this might not be something that will help you. But depending on the volume of photos you take, as well as the different subjects you photograph, dividing photos up into folders might be a useful approach. I have found this method particularly useful for referring back to things I have baked in the past.
The methods and processes that I use to make my photo books are ones that have changed and formed over time, and I am certain that there is other more methodical and systematic ways of organising photos. I am also sure that my ideas for photo books may well change from one year to the next as my ideas develop and our family grows. I would love to hear from you in the comments section if you have any great ideas to share with me and the other readers of my blog on the subject. 

Next week, I'll be sharing a few simple programs and apps that enable you to do basic editing of your photos that I have found useful.


  1. Thank you for this post on photo books! I frequently make photo books myself and such tips are always useful, and I enjoy hearing how others go about it :)


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