Become Your Own Publisher; Online Photo Books And Albums Page 2

6) Try changing backgrounds every few pages. (I prefer mostly white, gray, and black, but some programs make you choose one consistent background.) Dark photos generally look better with light backgrounds and vice versa. And try using different picture edges or drop shadows if your publisher offers those features.

7) Pick a cover image that's strong and that reflects what's inside. Then choose a cover material--cloth or leather--that contrasts with that image so it "pops."

8) Above all, vary the visual rhythm and tone as you progress page by page through the album. Keep it interesting.

A typical screen capture, including the uploaded images and page layouts.

And Captions, Too
How about words to go with your pictures? Images, especially your own, trigger memories, observations, and feelings, and words can enhance the impact of pictures. The most obvious text includes album title, picture locations, people's names, and relevant dates, but if you have more to say, and many of us do, this is an ideal place to say it. Among the most satisfying things I have ever done was to write introductions and extended captions for each of my five traditionally published books. Just follow your own muse.

This new way of creating your own photo books and albums should stimulate you to retrieve some oldies but goodies from your image files and breathe new life into them...or maybe you'll be inspired to assign yourself a new photography project that will make a great album. You'll probably look at your albums many times over many years, so allow yourself adequate time to create something memorable. You may find that putting the album together is as creatively satisfying as taking the pictures themselves.

Choosing An Online Publisher
While most vendors are fundamentally the same (the list later does not include some higher-end companies), there is a wide array of variations. Some allow pictures to be placed anywhere on the page; others have restrictive templates. Some offer many template variations, others relatively few. Some offer full-page cover photos and dust jackets, others don't. You get the idea, so meander through a few sites and see whether they offer the features that are important to you. I used four different vendors and found the quality of the printing impressive, especially considering the cost. Most delivered the albums within several days of placing the order. Note that most image-editing programs, such as Apple's Aperture, also offer publishing options right from inside the program.

Here's just a partial list of online album publishers:

The photographer of five books, Steve Gottlieb is the director of Horizon Photography Workshops. His work can be seen at