I made a photo book! Not the greatest accomplishment in the world considering there are probably millions of people who have made one at some point in their life. There are also hundreds of websites and countless physical stores that offer the service. I’ve personally never made a book though, so it’s more of a relative accomplishment.
I finally decided to give the photobook a try after two years of willfully ignoring a huge file of pictures I took while on a family trip to Ireland. In addition to taking up space on my hard drive, the pictures were also taking up space in the part of my brain that makes plans and then does everything it can to think of excuses why those plans can be pushed out and avoided. With the amount of projects I’ve delayed doing in my life, that part of my brain must be enormous. No matter the size though, I still periodically need to discard and deal with projects. Like most things in life, I decided the best way to solve this particular problem was with another book.
I probably should have gone to a physical store to create the photobook, but I like using the internet so I don’t have to feel bad about second guessing myself and delaying a project to fit my timeline. Thats why I decided to use a website. I’ve never made a book before, so I ignorantly assumed it would be pretty simple. In an effort to find a service that worked best for my needs, I mentally listed the items I wanted one to provide. At the time, I only needed to make a single book for myself, with the possibility of additional one’s in the future for my family, so I didn’t worry about mass production prices or any of that fun stuff.
My basic lists:
- To create my own layouts.
- Have a selection of nice paper.
- Full Bleed cover with Hard and Soft options.
- Have a selection of different book styles to choose from.
- Not have another companies logos all over the pages.
Turns out that those 5 items are really hard to come by with any one service. Even the company I eventually decided on didn’t have everything I wanted, but they at least they provided easy workarounds.
I messed around with the big photobook websites (Shutterfly, Blurb, Mixbook, etc.) and decided not to use any of them. The reasons were different every time, from lack of customization, cheap looking, and charging extra to not have their logo on the product. The logo charge is in reference to Blurb. Blurb actually had some alright options for books and even hooked up with InDesign, but I decided not to use them after getting most of the way through the process of making a book and seeing that the price they were presenting the entire time was the “sale” price for including their logo on the book. If they had presented me the full price of the book without their logo and then given me the option to save money by having their logo on it I would have been completely cool with it and might have even used their service. Even if they had said it cost extra to not have the logo I would have probably not used the service, but at least respected them a little more. The main reason I decided not to use them was the fact that they tried to seem like they were doing me a favor by pre-checking the logo button and showing me a lower price and then claiming that the non-logo price is the real price instead of an extra charge. It’s all semantics and a really dumb thing to be angry about, but I hate shady stuff like that and we do live in a free market, soooo fuck it. (I’m sure the lack of my single book purchase will have a huge effect on their second quarter.)
In the end, I’m glad Blurb tried to trick me into having their logo on the book because it pushed me to find Artifact Uprising. Artifact Uprising is a smaller publisher compared to the bigger ones I was using before and costs a little more, but they are pretty honest about everything and checked off every item on my list except the paper selection. All of their paper is published on 100% recycled material and looks just as nice, if not nicer, than what I was looking for in the first place, so it wasn’t really a problem. They do include their logo on the back page, but there is the option to load a custom page design over it (free of charge…Blurb!…You dicks,).
My girlfriend also brought up Artifact Uprising to a graphic designer she works with and they said they loved the company. If a company seems honest, is not super shitty for the environment, are not dicks, and an ancillary contact one person removed from me gives their approval, then I’m sold!
The book I ended up creating is around 120 pages long (60 spreads). Below I’ve included 15 of those spreads. They were all taken a few years ago on a family trip to Ireland. I only had a single camera and lens at the time, so they are of varying quality. The book is supposed to be more of a family travel photo album, so artsy pictures aren’t necessarily wanted for every single page. At least that’s the excuse I tell anyone who picks up the completed book that is now sitting on my coffee table at home.
(I’m calling this a preview like it’s something that will come out in the future but, in reality, this is it. It will only be a preview if you break into my place to see the rest.)
Ireland Photo Book Preview