• Jeannine Tuffin

You don't know where to start?

Updated: Nov 14

Done is better than perfect

Photo Book Template & Preparation by photosandstories.nz
Sketch out your photo book and become clear of your book parameters before you start the book software online.


I've been designing photo books for the past 15 years and love doing so more and more with every single photo book which gets completed. The satisfaction of seeing my family, especially my daughters, holding that keepsake filled with their life stories in their hands is immense. And for me, it feels like to get the chance to close an open chapter in my mind or put events and experiences into their places (also in mind). And most of all, I created another backup of our photos and family stories.


Before I start a photo book I always sketch out the project to see which photos can go on what page. This gives me a good idea of how many photos I am about to choose for this book project.


If you would like to start your own photo book, I highly encourage you to do so. Your children will love them. A big hurdle for me, as a German perfectionist, was to let go of perfect! Just get started. And don't feel pressured but enjoy the process. When I look back at my first photo books, oh well, I would do things differently now, but I still love them.



1 - Plan the book

Some key points like your audience, budget and timeframe are important to keep in mind and need to be sorted before you start the project online. Do you want to bring across a story or just throw together a random bunch of favourite photos. Both is fine.


Our 'Lambs' Photo Book

Audience: My children

Story: Document their time with their pet lambs

Budget: NZD 60 each (softcover book)

Timeframe: 2 months for completion so the books are ready for Christmas



Photo Book Template Worksheet by photosandstories.nz
I use my Photo Book Template Spreadsheet to plan out my photo book


2 - Choose the photo book company


Consider points like customer care service or how intuitive the software is to use. Can you re-order the book further down the track or will it be deleted of the company's server after 6 months? Can you share the online version with friends and family?


Best to open some applications and try uploading a handful of photos. See how you like it.


Our 'Lambs' Photo Book

Page count: About 40 pages, as a small project and soft-cover book

Intuitiveness: Photobooknewzealand is intuitive and easy to handle

Photos in Order: Yes, they stay in order upon uploading

Budget: NZD 60 each (I used a voucher from the website)

Timeframe: 2 months for completion so the books are ready for Christmas



Designing a photo book with photobooknewzealand.com
I chose photobooknewzealand.com for this project.



3 - Envision the book


It is great to have an idea how the book will look like or where will it be displayed. Shall it fit into a specific book shelf or sit nicely on a coffee table?


Are you using many photos or put the focus on just a few or even one photo per page.


Is there some text you have to draft for the photos or stories?


Our 'Lambs' Photo Book

Book size: medium, A4 landscape, mainly for book shelf and at my child's bedside table

Bookshelf: mainly for book shelf and at my child's bedside table

Cover: soft cover, big photo

Photo style: few photos

Text: minimal, only for dates




Softcover photo book covering a little story.
A softcover photo book for my daughters about their experience with their pet lambs.


Seeing people going through their photo books over and over again, sharing their stories with one another and giving them peace of mind of having their life stories or family photo books printed, motivates me.


4 - Structure the layout


What is a catchy title for your photo book? Don't forget about the spine text. If you have photo books on your book shelf it would be really neat to read and identify the books quickly. Keep it consistent.


Is that photo book a present? What about a personalised title or dedication page. If you plan for a bigger scope consider putting in a table of content to not overwhelm your audience.


When choosing the page layouts, try to stick to the same few templates throughout your book in order not to exhaust the viewer. I've been there too.


Our 'Lambs' Photo Book

Book's title: Mango & Teddy | 2020 (these were the pet lambs' names that year)

Front cover: A photo with my daughter cuddling her lamb Mango

Title page: Yes, a group photo and names and time period when we had the lambs

Dedication page: No.

Table of Content: No, as only a small photo book project.



Title page of a small photo book project.
The title page (introduction) of this photo book.

5 - Prepare the photos


This is very likely the part of the preparation - or the whole project - which takes the most time: find your photos! I highly recommend to select all photos you wish to use for your photo book project and copy these into a specific folder. Keep this folder in a dedicated place on your computer or hard drive until you finished this project. Oftentimes, especially with photo book software you have to download, photos can not be retraced if you accidentally moved this folder before hitting the button 'publish'. It happened to me more than once. Ahem.


Are there any memorabilia or drawings or even old printed photos you need to digitise first? Use a good camera or scanner and scan at no less than 600 ppi for sufficient quality.


If you can then batch rename your photos in sequence then they will appear in chronological order in your photo book software.


Our 'Lambs' Photo Book

Select all photos: Sorted into folders per day

Digitising of Memorabilia: No

Save the folder: On a hard drive under 'Photo Book Projects' in a dedicated folder

Renamed: Yes, named by day (YYYY-MM-DD Lambs - day X sequence 1)



Organize your photos before you start your photo book project.
If there are many photos, putting these into seperate folders is a good idea.

6 - Consider the text


If your photo book project will contain text for a dedication, table of content or just captions, it is worth writing them down beforehand too. It all will make the actual book creation a breeze.


Our 'Lambs' Photo Book

Text for title page: Simple. Just names, period of time

Text for dedication page: No

Text for captions: Simple. Just dates

Text for stories: No



Adding dates to photo book pages helps to put events into perspective.
The captions are kept to a minimum and for reference mainly.

TIP: Experiment. Start with a small project, like your last summer holiday or your favourite road trip. Have all these photos in one location. So you don't feel overwhelmed. Get a feel for things. That way you build up your confidence and up your skills for bigger stories, like a year book. Jot down ideas for topics for your first photo book and get specific as you narrow down your most favourite stories you like to tell (download list here). And then get started.

So, now get started! It is very likely that you will change your preferences or style over the time. That doesn't matter. The joy you spread and the conversations arising from viewing these books can be plentiful. Stories are shared and memories stay alive.


Happy photobookin'!