How to make a photo album
You may remember them, the notorious slide evenings of the past. You were overwhelmed by a lot of slides of only moderate quality, at which you had to look politely. And now we have a digital photo book. Will history repeat itself or will we see nice photo books? In this article, I will give some clues so you can surprise someone with an interesting book.
Take the role of the viewer
When creating a photo book, you have to make many choices. Size and thickness of the book, the layout, the text and of course the photos themselves. Everything has to match the viewer, because they need to view your book. The difficult thing is that you know the pictures and the story behind them. The viewer only sees a series of pictures and should be fascinated without knowing the story. A book only comes to life when the story behind the pictures becomes visible. This only works only if you, the creator of the book, crawls in the skin of the viewer.
Order of the photos in your book
You must thus make a visible story, a cartoon. To get that cartoon, a book has to be about something, such as "Garden 2007-2010" or "Holiday 2011." Then, that book can be constructed from a number of themes; in the first example: 'spring', 'summer' and 'autumn.' You can then take pictures that are taken in different years but that fit into that time of year. This way, you create a certain calmness in the book, which already makes it easier for the viewer.
What do you do within such a series though?
From collection to a series of photos
How do you make sure that an array of photos in a theme is more than a collection of individual photos? This relates to the consistency or relationship between those pictures. There are different types of coherence.
Here a few:
|Development. An example of this is the development of button from leaf to fallen leaf. The subject remains the same but the leaf changes over time. In order to strengthen the unit, all three are black and white photos.|
Mood. A picture may evoke an association or an emotion, or may reflect the vision of the photographer. For example, the desolated human being in the urban landscape. The abandoned is the emotion, and is reflected in the different pictures. The composition is different, but a fixed element, walking people, comes back.
Using the same visual elements. A series can also arise by using the same visual elements as color, black and white, shapes and lines. The series becomes more exciting when using this type of elements slightly different each time. In this case, oblique lines are used as determining visual element.
Subject: The same subject may also create coherence between the images in a series. Remember that you, as a photographer, may want to show a lot of pictures of the same subject, but this is not always consistent with the desire of the viewer. He/she has seen enough after a few powerful images.
Choices of photos
With digital photography, we create a lot of pictures; of course, this bears the risk of photo books becoming too thick. You ask the viewer a lot to wade through a book of 84 pages, especially if each page has two photos. But you wanted to put yourself in the viewer's place. So you make a little less thick book, not of 84 pages, but of 36 pages for example. That means you have more choices to make.
You can only make choices when you create distance to your own photographic work, a process that is not always easy. This is done by asking yourself if the next picture shows something new; the new has an element of surprise. Seven highly similar pictures of a deep ravine say much less than two pictures of which one is made from a separate angle.
Lay-out to strengthen the content
If you turn open a book, the two pages you see form a composition. You are often in a tension between "boring" and "noisy". If all the pictures are printed the same size with the same background, it can be static and boring. If you also continuously stick to the so-called templates, the default formatting of the pages, it could be fatal. If you change too much in size however, it becomes a mess quickly. By changing photo size in a skilled manner, you can surprise the viewer.
|Color background determines mood. An important function of the background is creating an atmosphere. Atmosphere is part of the story you want to tell. A bright orange background makes it cheerful. And if the background is not the usual white but a little crème, it looks very different at once.|
Color background determines our viewing
The background color also determines which colors of the photo stand out. A dark background makes light colors come forward and a light background emphasizes the dark colors of the photo. And to complicate it further, a blue background makes the red and orange pop out extra in a photo. To create peace, colors of the photo have been taken as background color in the photos on the right and below.
In a photo book, the text gets a minor role. In fact, many captions can detract from the pictures. To not let photos get "ruined" by text, it is an option to number the pages. You can then place brief texts that belong to the pages on the last page.
If you do like texts, make them short and easy to read. The selected font and size should support both the text and the image. There are fonts that appear businesslike, while other types seem romantic. Black letters on a white page come across hard, just as white letters on a black page. Dark gray instead of black and light gray instead of white letters is already much friendlier.
When creating a photo book, the photographer, the designer, the writer and the typographer come together. A book gets really interesting when all these aspects adequately stand out. The viewer is then drawn from photo to photo. And it is completely successful when he/she asks: "When will your next book be out?"