Self Publishing Photo Books

As a photographer there is almost no better gratification than seeing your work in print. Most photographers think that publishing is dead, thanks to digital technology, but this not true of photography books. A good quality photo book can be used or sold as a coffee table book to turn a profit, or it can be a representation of your creativity. Photo books are a perfect way to showcase your talents and your work as a photographer, and can come in handy when you are trying to get published in the future.

Publishing a quality coffee table book does take some time and most of the books that you publish will not make you rich. Photo books are a more permanent format for your work. Magazines and newspapers both come and go so creating a photo book is a great way to capture and process the final vision. All books require an audience and this includes photo books so remember that a good book should be interactive with the reader. Here are some tips that will help you turn your concepts into beautiful collections of works by creating a photo book.

The first thing that a photo book starts with is a concept. Without a concept, there is no book. It is ideal if you use a subject that you can relate with, something that you can shoot one on one up close. Photo books are about expressing life so it makes it pretty easy to choose something to focus on. Show similar expressions, actions, and movements. The idea is to have the book flow from beginning to end.

Before you start shooting frames or picking out photos come up with a couple of different themes that you would like to use. The two or three different themes should be intertwined with each other and repeated throughout the book within the photographs. For example, you could publish a photo book that covers morning, afternoon, and night. Each section is a part of the next so the book naturally flows. If you are shooting wildlife try focusing on a specific species or breed.

As you progress in creating your themes try not to get too distracted with what the font will look like or say, just create an outline at first around the photos with text boxes. Each spread should be complete when finished so that you can open up the book in the middle of the end, or the beginning and the book will still seem whole. Each page is another expression or another chance encounter all leading up to some sort of action or drama; your best photo.

Your layout should show the book in its entirety and should be an unadulterated photographic experience. Show similarities in the photographs from page to page and create strong visual cues. Showcasing environments, emotions, or inhabitants – if done right can really create a dramatic effect. If you want to add some extras consider adding maps, time lines, short story sections, biographies, or other relevant information.

After you’ve created your layout then you should design, and add the text. Anecdotal style is quite popular for coffee table books and works well with most subjects. You could also consider adding photographer information, a making of the book or shooting the photos section, as well as add captions or titles.

Before you make the final product you should draft a copy of the book and see how it looks. This draft is just a rough copy and you can make it on a copy machine if you like, and staple it together. If you photocopy or print your book yourself, only print the front of the pages so you can make notes on the back side. After you have reviewed the book make the necessary changes and draft another 8-10 copies. Send these ten copies out to readers or publishers and ask them to send you back some reviews or critiques.

Today, it is also quite typical for a publisher to request a zip disk copy of the book. A zip disk is a digital copy of the book with the photos in black and white. When the book is printed from the zip disk the printer formats the photographs into color. When the readers and publishers send back their reviews of the book make all the final changes and create the last and final draft. This will be the draft you send to the publishing company.

Since there are so many self publishing options out there it is easy and affordable to get a quality coffee table book made for your photographs. Here are a few of the cheaper outlets for photo books. The following companies make books that are okay for family and friends as gifts, but they are just not that professional looking. Since they are so affordable they are perfect for family albums, and Christmas or graduation gifts.

Shutter Fly –
Upload your photos online and turn your photos into plain, but affordable coffee table books and photo albums. Books start around $12.95 so they won’t break the bank and they are great drafts for sending to a commercial book publisher.

My Publisher –
Upload your photos online and turn them into JUMBO sized coffee table books. The basic package includes full page photos, titles, and captions. The books are moderately priced and you can get up to 240 photos on 20 pages.

Photo Works –
Of all the cheaper self publishing sources this is probably the nicest. You get a beautiful hard cover book with or without custom leather binding. There prices are affordable if you are buying a few but can get expensive unless you order in bulk.

If you really want a professional, custom made product than Shared Ink is the place that you want to go. Shared Ink prints custom photo books on quality, standard printing presses. All of the books are hard bound and made with quality materials. Shared Ink is a little bit more costly than the previous three publishers but it is worth it because you get a much more commercial looking product. Shared Ink can be located at

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