Our Guide to

Choosing Images for Your Photo Book

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Grid of various photos of people, places, pets, and families

We know the feeling: neck-deep in photos and not sure of the best way to put them in print. With crammed camera rolls and the best of intentions, it’s not hard to get lost in the very first steps of creating a photo book. But even if just by simply skimming the following tips and inspiration, you’ll be well on your way to choosing images, scheming up layouts, and creating an album you’re already excited to look back through.

Below, you’ll find ideas for:

  1. General Tips
  2. Milestone Albums
  3. Annual Albums
  4. Travel Albums

Note: Recently married? Head to our guide with 20+ Wedding Album Ideas!

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Tips for Choosing Photos

Photo album on iPhone next to framed photo of newborn

Which photos work best in an album?

When choosing images for your album, there are a few easy ways to narrow your selection to those that will print optimally and add the most value.

Check your resolution.

If you’re choosing between two similar photos, and one has higher resolution, this can be a simple tie-breaker. While phone photos or imports from social media sources can print well, we recommend aiming for 300 DPI for the highest quality. Anything lower than 150 DPI will result in a warning within our editor and may appear grainy. If someone is sending you images, getting the highest resolution image is usually a matter of opting for a photo-sharing app like Dropbox, or Airdropping your photos. (Photos sent via text will always be lower quality!)

Not sure how to change the resolution of your photos? Check out How to Enlarge a Photo for Printing for a simple, handy guide.

Avoid overly dark photos.

Photos whose subjects are hard to decipher due to dark lighting should be weeded out or edited to add brightness. Printing dark photos always results in even less clarity than what you see on your device’s screen. If it's a must-keep, you can always adjust brightness by editing the photo when building your book or adjusting brightness on your phone using these iPhone photo editing tips.

Find photos that spark emotion.

Setting the scene in your book is always a great way to make the viewer feel like they are transported to the moment. This is most effectively done through photos that spark emotion, show the action, or simply highlight little details that go deeper than the "big picture."

How many photos do you need for a photo book?

Quantity of photos in your album comes second to quality (see tips above!). Each photo book product fits a varying range of pages, and there are dozens of photo book layouts that accommodate anywhere from one to several photos per page.

That said, we’re fans of the minimal look, which uses white space and simple layouts to put the focus on one or two photos at a time. For example, we recommend between 150 and 200 photos for a Signature Layflat Album, which holds 90 pages. This allows for an average of one or two photos featured on each, with room for variation.

During the process of choosing photos, one key step is to cull the images before you upload them to a gallery to create a book. This can be done in a desktop folder or even an album on your phone. You’ll find that it makes it that much easier to sort and select photos while you’re in the groove of creating your book in the editor!

Choosing Photos for Your Milestone Album

Two-age album spread featuring bride getting ready with bridesmaids

Milestones come in many forms, from anniversaries to lifetime accomplishments. It’s these major events and occasions that are the landmarks of our lives, and they deserve to be documented! Albums of important moments make great gifts for the person being celebrated, or opportunities to reflect on the experiences that matter most to you. Here, we’ll help you create a story of that day or time period.

What makes a milestone?

Well, that's really up to you! However, some popular occasions for milestone photo books include birthdays, bat and bar mitzvahs, retirement, wedding anniversaries, graduations, or moving somewhere new.

Which book works best?

A once-in-a-lifetime occasion merits a once-in-a-lifetime book. Look no further than the Signature Layflat, complete with two-page panoramic spread options and a foil-stamped linen or leather cover — complete with optional pre-designed themes and the inlaid cover photo of your choice. You'll see available layouts for this album in the example images below, but our Hardcover Milestone Photo Book makes a great backup if the Signature Layflat isn't for you.

1-2 Spreads

For setting the scene

Two-age panoramic album spread of small sailboats at a dock

Most often, milestone albums are centered around an event, but they can also embody a period of time. Either way, setting the scene involves showing where it takes place: the atmosphere, the key characteristics of the location, and even the weather. Invite the viewer back in time, easing them in with general vibes.

1 Spread

For highlighting details

Two-age album spread featuring close up of bouquet and posed photo of bride and groom

It’s the little details that make a big difference, and this stands true with events, too. From signage and decor to special added touches that made the day or milestone that much more personal, leave space to zoom in on what’s often overlooked.

2-5 Spreads

For guest spotlights

Two-age album spread featuring photos of bride with various guests

Candids or posed, guest shots throughout your album can bring the biggest smiles to our faces. It’s those with whom we share our milestones that make them all the more meaningful.

2-4 Spreads

For posed group shots

Two page panoramic image of bride, groom, and family at cliffside setting wearing masks

What would any big occasion be without a few posed group photos? Allow a handful of spreads to be taken up with full family portraits or classic friend-group shots. In our Layflat Albums, the full-spread layout is handy for displaying wide-angle photos that can span both pages (without a crease or “gutter” cutting out someone’s face!).

2-5 Spreads

For your main subject

Two-page spread featuring graduation photo and portrait in field

The guest of honor or star of the show deserves key highlights of their own. Maybe it’s their surprise reaction to a house full of loved ones, or individual portraits they’ll look back on with pride.

2-4 Spreads

For special traditions

Two-page album spread featuring photos of Bar Mitzvah attire

Many milestones and significant events involve special ceremonies or prayers as part of a tradition. This is a great place to honor candle lightings, blessings, walking across the stage, or parent/child dances.

2-3 Spreads

For the main event

Two-page panoramic image of graduates throwing caps in the air

The peak of the event or time period calls for a couple of dedicated spreads. We often find this involves important speeches or a special performance — you know, the classic “moment you've all been waiting for.”

1-2 Spreads

For the memorable meal

Two-page panoramic album spread of table filled with delicious foods

While a multi-course meal may not be the point at a party, it certainly adds to setting the scene. Think: cake-cutting, plated dinners, the buffet table, or a perfectly timed “cheers.” It’s all part of the festivities!

1-2 Spreads

For candids and conversations

Two-page album spread featuring conversations with grandparents

Interspersed throughout, candid photos can bring us back to the feeling in the moment. Friends and family mingling and dance floor highlights keep the flow of your album feeling as natural as the event itself.

2–4 Spreads

For the closing

Two-page panoramic image of bride and groom looking into each other's eyes

To conclude your album, it’s fitting to find an inclusive group photo alongside a meaningful photo of the honorary person. You will have flipped through an entire life event in a single photo book, so look for a photo that provides a satisfying finishing touch!

Choosing Photos for Your Annual Album

Two-page panoramic image in album of grandpa and little boy wearing matching hats and walking the beach

One of the simplest ways to look back, annual photo books are a habit you’ll be happy to keep up with. Recap the year at large like a time capsule, creating an ongoing series to flip through and see how you’ve grown. The best part is finding that the good times simply never grow old.

What makes for an annual book?

This one is pretty clear-cut! Create a classic year-in-review book or celebrate those occasions that happen annually: family reunions, school-year memories, end-of-year recitals, or other annual traditions.

Which book works best?

The Layflat Photo Album (which we use as an example here) is a tried-and-true choice for annual photo books, but the Hardcover Annual Photo Book is a safe bet too.

5-7 Spreads

For each month

Two-page album spread featuring three fall landcape photos in golden hues

The organization for year-in-review albums can be straightforward and chronological. Month by month, take the reader through a linear story. Key points in the book can include occasions like holidays, trips, birthdays, and events. Then, fill in the rest with candids and everyday moments that paint a real picture of what was experienced throughout the weeks.

To create more “moment in time” annual albums, for customs or events that occur once a year (family reunions, recitals, etc.), try following along with the milestone tips above!

Choosing Photos for Your Travel Album

Grid of different travel albums and cover designs

Across the world or just around the bend, a long getaway or weekend stop-over — our cameras tend to have as much of a field day as we do. Travel produces the most picture-worthy moments, with all its new sights, tastes, and experiences. It only makes sense to mark them in print, but the hardest part is usually just choosing images!

What makes for a travel album?

Your travels, no matter how big or small, are always worth printing. Think: honeymoons, family vacations, road trips, weekend adventures, ski trips, or even holidays spent back home.

Which book works best?

Our Hardcover Travel Photo Book was made for reliving the miles and moments in true-to-life color.

1-3 Spreads

For setting the scene

Scene-setting spread featuring exotic tree on left page and motel pamphlets on right

There are so many ways to portray the location and atmosphere of places traveled: scenery, architecture, marketplaces, city centers, or even inside your hotel or airbnb. Just through photography, it’s possible to imply the scene’s sights, sounds, scents, and overall feeling.

1-3 Spreads

For candid shots

Two-page spread featuring trio of friends on left page and woman walking into sunset on right page

Candid moments can be of strangers and travel partners, alike. Capturing true chaos or a peaceful moment of calm helps paint an authentic picture of your trip.

1-3 Spreads

For fun moments and details

Two-pages spread with yellow VW classic camper on left and girl holding up beach ball on right page

Try a collage-style layout of laughable moments and intriguing details. While they may not seem to warrant spreads individually on their own, laying them out together makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

1-2 Spreads

For special meals

Two page spread in wedding album of empty ceremony venue and seating

So many of us are guilty of snapping a shot (or two) of our mouthwatering meal before letting ourselves enjoy it. If you find yourself with lots of food photos after a trip, we recommend dedicating spreads to displaying them all side by side, in all their glory.

4–6 Spreads

For the major experiences

Two-page spread witth coffee and pastries on left and interior of quaint café on right

Most trips have at least one “main event” or highlight, whether that’s an excursion, a landmark, a show, or a memorable activity. If you were lucky to experience multiple, give each its own spread and place them throughout the book to make it a real page-turner!

4–6 Spreads

For travel buddies

Two-page spread with Eiffel Tower on left and palace on right page

The new people we find, the old friends we meet up with, or the travel companions who were along for the ride — include those faces and connections for the most meaningful of albums. Group shots, selfies, and candids are guaranteed to bring a smile each time you look back through your photo book.

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