7 Steps To Take Your Photo Book From ‘Amateur’ To ‘Professional’

by | Feb 17, 2020 | How To, Tips and Tricks

Photo books are the best way to cherish and preserve your favourite moments. Whether it’s a stunning wedding album, an adorable new baby milestones book, an adventurous travel book or even a sweet photo book for all the small, every day happy moments, Pixajoy has you covered! With over a hundred professionally pre-designed theme templates for you to choose from, you can easily create a gorgeous photo book for any and every occasion – no matter how big or how small. 

Our high-quality bespoke photo books also make for memorable and heartfelt gifts while also doubling as an excellent option for those of you who want to try your hands at the art of digital scrapbooking ( it’s like regular scrapbooking but without all the mess of glue, glitter and the occasional mis-stuck stickers).

Looking for inspiration? Try having a look at our previous blog post on 8 Creative Ways To Use Photo Books. In any case, making a photo book using the Pixajoy online editor is such an effortless process that even a first-time user can manage to complete their first photo book in the span of a few hours (if they focus).

In today’s blog, we’re going to give you some helpful tips on how to turn your amateur attempts at creating photo books into something much more professional in minutes!

Step 1: Make a Plan

Making a photo book spontaneously can be a fun and interesting project but it can also lead to your photo book looking a little hodge-podge and chaotic. Make no mistake, it’ll still be charming in its own way, but it won’t carry that awe-inspiring, professional appeal that would make people stop to give it a flip through. This is why planning is important. Think about what kinds of story you want your photo book to present and take about five minutes to think about what kinds of shots you will need to fully express your idea. 

Step 2: Consider Your Shot Types

Different shot types and composition can express different elements in your photo books. Generally speaking, there is a multitude of shots that you can use in order to frame the subjects of your photo books – from vaguely seeing their silhouettes at a distance to a close-up shot of a particular point of interest – such as a particular body part (eyes and smiles are quite popular!), the pattern of a teapot or the vibrant hue of flower petals. While some shots can emphasize place and location, there are other shots that reveal more details on the subject or can highlight the emotions of the moment. 

There are also shots that fall somewhere in between that puts a focus on the subject while also showing some characteristics of their surrounding environment. Some examples of different types of shots and what they represent include:

The Extreme Wide Shot

The extreme wide shot is used to show a subject from a distance or the area in which an activity is taking place. Particularly useful for setting up the context or ‘scene’  in terms of time and place, this type of shot can also help demonstrate your subject’s physical or emotional relationship with the surrounding environment or elements that are present at the ‘scene’. One of the characteristics in this type of shot is that the subject doesn’t necessarily have to be viewable in this shot – meaning that they can just be a silhouette in the distance – so long as the emotions get through.  

The Wide Shot

The Wide shot can be used in lieu of the Extreme Wide Shot in order to set the contest for the bigger picture (the overall message you’d like your photo book to communicate). What constitutes as a wide shot is that the photo must include the subject from top to bottom; for a person, this would be from head to toes – though they might not necessarily be filling in the frame.  The purpose of the wide shot is so that the subject becomes more of a focal point as opposed to the Extreme Wide shot – but the main image is still filled predominantly by the scenery.

The Full Shot

Usually used to show a subject in action, the full shot frames the subject from head to toe and does not really focus on the emotions that the subject is presenting. Full shots often times use the 4×3 aspect ratio and tend to include only the subject and very little else. In wider aspect ratios it’s common to include more points of interest than just the subject, otherwise, the extra space may make your photo appear empty and boring. 

The Medium Shot

The Medium Shot shows a part of the subject in more detail. For a person, a medium shot typically frames them from about the waist up. This is one of the most common shots seen in photography, as it focuses on a subject (or subjects) in a scene while still showing some of the surrounding areas. 

The Close Up Shot

“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr DeMille.” – Robin Williams as Daniel Hillard in Mrs Doubtfire (1993). 

You’ve probably heard this line spoken in jest at least once if you’ve done portrait shots or have been relegated to the job of designated photographer in your friend group. The close-up shot is exactly as the name describes it – a shot where the screen is mostly filled with a part of the subject, such as a person’s head or face or the distinctive features of a flower. Close up shots are framed this tightly in order to show the greatest amount of details – such as the emotions and reaction of a subject and to allow those details to dominate the scene. 

The Choker Shot

If you’re not in the film or photography business, you most definitely will be unfamiliar with this term. The choker shot is the middle ground between the Close Up Shot and the Extreme Close Up Shot. A typical choker shot shows the subject’s face from just above the eyebrows to just below the mouth or any equivalent space on an object or animal. From a viewers standpoint, this type of shot (if done well) can even invoke emotions – such as the happiness, immense fondness or even melancholy of the moment.

Pro Tip: As with all shots that are this tight (i.e. zoomed in this much), you may want to use it judiciously in your photo book as not everyone (or everything) will look flattering in such a revealing view.

Step 3: Get Organised

To make your photo book making endeavour exceedingly more simple, be sure to organize your photos ahead of time (whether it be by a specific theme, place or colour scheme) in your camera roll. For example, you could separate your vacation photos by their location, organise your selfies in and OOTD shots in chronological order or even sort your photos by colours – something that will lend your photo book a more uniformed look. 

In keeping all your images organised neatly into folders, you’ll be able to set the theme of your book much easier and directly select the photos that you want to use for your book from a single source (as opposed to scrolling through thousands of photos and getting sidetracked) – saving a lot of time. 

Additionally, here are some tips on how to choose your best photos, quick.

  • Choose photos that reflect the theme/style that you want your photo book to have.
  • Delete blurry photos (if you’re going for bigger sized photo books, blurry photos – no matter how cute they look on screen – just won’t look good in print.
  • Ensure there are no distractions in the photos (like a bin or other tourists in the background).
  • Eliminate similar photos (having too many photos that look the same will decrease the visual impact of your photo book).
  • Be ruthless when choosing your images (you won’t have time to edit every photo, so select the ones that look good and need the least amount of work when editing). 

Step 4: Edit Your Photos

One of the most common mistakes people make when putting together their photo books is that they almost always forget to edit their photos. Just like with a car’s side-view mirror, the images that appear on screen might not necessarily look the same on print. We’re so used to looking at our images on a back-lit screen (since a majority of our photos are captured using mobile phones or uploaded onto the pc), that we forget to adjust the photo’s brightness and contrast for print. 

A good way to gauge out how your photos would actually look like on print is to decrease the brightness on your phone to about 50%. The difference is startling so don’t be afraid to try out some editing tools, like Snapseed or even Photoshop to do some minor tweaks on your images so that they may print better. Other than the colour issue, you can also use the editing tools to crop out unwanted distractions in your background images, get rid of the ‘red eye’ glare in photos, and even banish blemishes on faces before inserting the photos into your book.

Pro Tip: For more info on photo book making mistakes you should avoid, read our blog on the 8 Things To Avoid When Designing Your Photo Book 

Step 5: Tell A Story

There are tons of ways that you can group your photos for print (as mentioned above, you can do it by theme, colour scheme or occasion). But when it comes to adding your photos into a book, be sure to put some thought into what you want the photo book to tell people when they flip through the pages.

For example, let’s say you want to create a photo book. Before adding the photos from your travels into the book, you could first outline your travel journey from start to end and organise your photos in chronological order. In doing so, you’ll be able to mimic your travel experience through the book. 

Step 6: Experiment With Layouts

Now that we’ve got the general idea and content for your photo book all sorted out, it’s now time to build your book. Before you even begin to insert photos into your book, try experimenting with multiple different layout styles first or look through some pre-designed photo book templates for inspiration. The reason is that the layout style affects the number of photos you can put into a book. The layout style for photo books can range between having a minimum of 1 or 2 photos per page to having up to 9 images or more. 

By deicing the layout of your book first, you’ll also be able to gauge out just how many photos you will need for your photo book project as well as estimate how many pages your photo book will have. 

Pro tip: While we understand that some of you might want to print out every moment in your photo books, try sticking to a maximum of 4 images per page to avoid making your photo book look too cramped or messy.

Step 7: Print and Enjoy

Once you’ve completed the 6 steps mentioned above, you will have already done all the hard parts – building your photo book from scratch! All that’s left to do is preview your photo book to ensure that you’re satisfied with it’s overall look before submitting it for print. We’d suggest taking a look at the preview after you’ve stepped away from the screen for a little bit. Maybe in a couple of hours so that you can look at it objectively with clear eyes and an even clearer mind. In doing so, you’ll be able to spot mistakes much more easily and avoid the heartbreak and frustration of ordering a photo book, only to catch a mistake once you have it in your hands. 


By following the 7 steps above, there’s no doubt in our mind that you’ll be able to create a DIY Photo Book that wouldn’t look out of place in a fancy! But if you’re super busy and just don’t have the time, don’t worry. With Pixajoy’s new ‘Do It For You’ (DFY) design services, we’ll do all the hard work for you so that you can enjoy and preserve your memories with professionally designed photo books, hassle-free! 

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