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Why you should try making your own travel photo book

Over the last few years, my outlook on world traveling has evolved quite a bit. I started off with just a simple college spring break trip, to spontaneously taking off to the fringes of the Middle East, to finding interest in adventure and photography related travel.

When I first established my interest in photography while traveling, I revolutionized my outlook on how I wanted to travel, what I wanted to do, and how I was going to do it. My goals were to begin traveling to some of the world's most unique areas, and capture some of the most beautiful places on earth with a camera lens.

To achieve this goal of travel photography, I knew I would have to upgrade my equipment from my very basic Nikon point and shoot camera. I made a big upgrade from that to a Nikon D7000 which I still use to this day (though I'm due for a upgrade soon). So after purchasing this spiffy new camera, I needed to put it to use on an awesome adventure.

My first trip to try out this camera was to Iceland, which is a paradise for photographers on so many levels. This also happened to be my first solo abroad trip. It was a whole bunch of firsts for me! After completing this trip, I was left with about 3,000 some photos. I then had the tedious task to sorting through, editing, and determining what to do with them!

After some contemplating I decided from this trip and moving forward, whenever I go on a trip to another country I was going to create a photo book and document my travels. Little did I know at the time about how much work and effort that would be involved with piecing something like this together. Fortunately, there are some great websites that help build photo books now, but I'll get to those later.

Why should I make a photo book?

Why shouldn't you make a photo book is a better question? There are more reasons to make one than there are for reasons not to.

I think making a photo book after a vacation makes for a great experience. It is a good hobby to have. I have had a lot of fun for the most part constructing these. It really brings back fond memories of the trip, and it often makes me research spots I visited more, and learn more about the area that I had taken photos of.

These photo books can also be a great gift to close friends and family members. They make for a unique gift that show you really put a lot of work into constructing it for them.

As mentioned above, they are great for memories sake. If you are ever bored some day, looking for inspiration, or just want to remember old travels, these make a great go to option!

Photo books are also great for presenting your travels and photos to others. I feel that it is a more enjoyable experience than rifling through someone's 4x6 prints of a vacation.

It also is better than looking over a person's shoulder looking at a computer or tablet screen as they swipe through various pictures. A travel photo book is a much more interactive experience and it brings back the feel of looking through photo albums!

Lastly, these photo books are great for advertising or selling. They are great items to place in a waiting lobby of a business, or provide to clients to whom you may be trying to present your photography style too. For this purpose, it is suggested to have a higher quality DSLR camera though. These will give you the high quality images necessary for advertising and sales.

How much does it cost and how long does it take?

The price can vary quite significantly on how much it can take to produce a photo book. Some of the determining financial factors are:

-Differing websites (if you don't make it on your own)- such as Shutterfly, Blurb, or SnapFish.

-Materials used (page style, book covers, dust covers, color vs black and white, page quantity etc)

-Time of year/Promotions

-Book sizes (such as 8x8 or 12x12 etc)

These all factor into making a book more or less expensive. My biggest recommendation is purchasing these books during promotional periods where you can almost get up 50% off!

As far as timing goes, this all depends on how much detail and effort you decide to put in its production. Editing photos and selecting photos to put your book can take hours

upon hours. It would be foolish not to edit and be specific about what photos you put in the book though. Why waste money and pages on adding a picture that is out of focus?

Typically, I have spent anywhere from 20-50 hours completing a book. This includes uploading, editing, and selecting which photos to use. Then composing the context, order of the book, along with placement of photos and text can take quite awhile too. The more familiar you become with the programs, the easier it gets though.

Where should I begin?

To start off, beginning your photo book would start after your trip ends. While you are on your vacation, you can keep in mind that you want to put together a photo book and be taking pictures of things that might look good in your travel photo book.

After completing your vacation, and you finally get back to reality, its time to start! Start by finding some time to start going through photos and piecing things together. Then figure out what direction you want to go with your photo book. This likely would begin with choosing a website.

My go to website for this has been Shutterfly. So far I have made two on this website, and intend on making more here in the near future.

I felt like the interface was the simplest, and they have great quality and capabilities for your overall product. They also frequently have good deals. You can reach their website by clicking here.

Some other websites you can use are Snapfish, Blurb, Zno, Mixbook, and Montage. These are all common photo book building websites that are used. I have no experience with using these other website services, so I am not going to reflect on them yet, though I intend on trying some of them out in the near future, so stay tuned!

From other reviews I have read, Shutterfly has been one of the best all around websites to build your photo book on. I would recommend their services as well. Shop around for what best suits your needs though. I will also mention that I am not marketing for Shutterfly or gaining anything from recommending them. This mention of their great services was solely from my great experiences with them.

If you are more artistically talented, you can even construct one of these on your own without the services of one of these websites. Or you can just throw them in a generic photo album, but those are so 20th century!

To wrap things up....

Constructing your own photo book is a really fun experience for the most part. Be prepared to spend some significant time on them when you are putting them together. It is something that I have typically spent a month or two on, working on it a few hours every few days. I would not rush on completing these. Rushed projects never really turn out the same.

Bring back the nostalgia of sitting around in dining rooms, living rooms, or coffee shops sharing your photo book and telling tales of your travels. We have drifted away from this experience with the recent upgrades in technology unfortunately. Sometimes, doing things the old fashion way is more enjoyable!

There are so many different options on what you can do with these projects, the possibilities are endless. They can be great for multiple purposes (personal hobbies, gifts, memories, and advertising/selling).

If you know me in person, and have interest in checking out what I have made so far, feel encouraged to ask to see the books I have made so far. I like to share them with people! The two books shown in this article are the ones I have completed so far.

In the coming years, I intend on completing a overall travel photo book that will highlight some of my favorite photos I have taken from all over the world. This will be a much more detailed book that I may try to sell at some point. Keep an eye out for this, though this will depend on my motivation and determination in the coming years!

Honorable mentions:

Try some of these services for prints or canvas prints of your photography. I really enjoy the quality of my prints I have done in the past. Photos from your favorite travel destinations can make great additions to your home if you frame them and hang them on the wall. In the near future, I intend to print more of my photos on canvas. These canvas printings pretty much look like a very detailed painting!

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