Saturday, March 13, 2010
Digital imaging has exploded over the last 5 years and with its popularity an industry of ways to store, manage, and share them has followed. Photo books is one of the options and there are many tools from which to choose. They range from the automated packaged click and go to the custom made. I think these books are rapidly replacing the old albums that held photos in sleeves or used adhesives.
If you think your parents had lots of pictures with boxes of old slides and brittle albums it will seem trivial compared to the numbers we are generating today. With no film costs and immediate evaluation of the image let's take another one. What the heck shoot 'till your finger hurts just to be sure you get a good one. I love this change in the history of photography. But how will we keep these images to be seen in our old age? Store them on a hard drive? Hard drives fail. Your nifty Firewire or USB isn't going to plug in to your new computer 10 years(5 years?) from now. Are you still watching your VHS tapes? Most of the work for this book was getting usable images from an assortment of slides, prints, and low resolution digital.
So as primitive as it may seem some advise using good ole paper to archive your favorites. Photo books make this fairly easy to do and the cost has gotten reasonable. One work flow is to mark or tag your favorites (most photo organizing tools do this) through the year and at year's end make a book.
An easy to use option is included in iPhoto and looks pretty nice with some classy themes. Drag and drop from a folder of images, add a little text, and click "buy now". Similar tools are available online - some require download of software others just require upload of your images. I tried iPhoto and several others but each time reached a point where I wanted to do something I couldn't so set the project aside.
I wound up using an outfit called Blurb. They have the plug and play software but also provide templates for inDesign, Adobe's professional desktop publishing software. Working within their guidelines for proper printing, the design is then open ended. The completed project is uploaded to them as a PDF and I received my book within a week.
Like so many other Web 2.0 tools Blurb has made an effort to create a community of users. Your book is made available to the public(or not if you choose) in their "Bookstore". You can set the price and actually make money if it sells. People can comment on books and they have various promotions. They have a great tool for previewing the books - an online flash widget that works exactly like turning pages in your lap. This is pleasantly weird to me. I have spent a little too much time looking at wonderful books people are making.
This book is the standard landscape layout with "image wrap" hardcover and just 40 pages - a cutoff point for the next jump in price. The online preview just shows 15 pages but the "full screen" viewing option is about as nice as hard copy. See the book if you like.