It's been a long time since I received as many private messages as after the recent text about how I managed to print my own photo book. For the uninitiated, the photobook is the equivalent of a photo album, only worse, because instead of actual photos, there are only printouts. One step closer to convenience, one step further from the high "cool factor". As an outstanding specialist in all topics, I would like to apologize in advance to all photo and printing purists for this text. I will preach heresy in it.

As with any other topic, approaching it allowed me to learn from my own mistakes, which I will present here. So I will not tell you how to make a good photo book, but I will try to warn you against mistakes. Because it is worth approaching the topic, I think.

Let's start with the fact that making a photobook, in a properly prepared environment, can be achieved in about 4 to 5 minutes including payment. I will say more: it will probably be fun. However, as befits a man who, when buying a camera, first reads about it for 7 months, and then states that everyone was lying on the Internet anyway, I approached the subject comprehensively. It might be okay to do it in a few minutes, but it would be nice if I spent a few weeks researching the topic before deciding that simple solutions are the best.

This paragraph, which T. Raczek would say premium, so you do not have to read it.

If there is a hobby that I like more than walking or driving around nice and unusual places, it is walking or driving around those places with a camera. Objectively, the photos I take are completely average, but it doesn't matter, because I don't throw them anywhere. The most important thing for me is the snapping process itself. More than an Instagram update that I never remember, or even just coloring them. I have the impression that, in principle, I could take pictures without a memory card in the camera and it would not take away a lot of luck.

In my life, I wrote some texts for the SZOSA magazine. For example, I was once on a trip to Milan and visited Bianchi Cafe on the occasion. A place so cool that I wrote to Borys from SZOSA right after my return that it would be worth doing some material about it. He agreed, so I started to work. I scratched the text, put pictures in it, looked at it and said "meeeh". Two days later I took a day off, earlier I scratched to Bianchi Cafe that I was doing a text and if they could help me, at 8am I got on a plane, I flew to Bergamo, I changed bus to Milan, I tramped half the city, I did some (better according to me) photos at Bianchi Cafe, I talked to the staff for a while, and then I ran to the bus, because the return flight in the evening. Did it make sense? Only that I could sleep well knowing that the photos fit the text better. Did they come out better than the ones I did spontaneously on the previous trip? I doubt it.

At first I enjoyed writing for magazines, but then I focused more on the blog because it seemed to make more sense. The Internet is the future, and printed magazines are "2000 and late". Back then, the vision of the death of print did not hurt me.

After a few years, I have a completely different opinion about printed things. Yes, it's a pity for trees, but it seems to me that things that exist physically are much more valuable than those found on the Internet. Maybe it's a matter of having to pay for them. Maybe the fact that they exist. Maybe the fact that you don't read them on the same screen you look at 8 hours a day at work. Or maybe the fact that it's easier to just focus on them. And you know - it's better to put a SZOSA or Toura next to a toilet than a tablet. PNT has always been the unrivaled toilet model for me. Nice pictures, little boredom, stories, no ads saying "our best bike is the best", content broken into chunks of such length that your roommates are not yet worried. Unfortunately, he died.

More premium, because shit matters.

I've always dreamed of having my own, printed, something like PNT. Something to sit down with and get an idea / inspiration during these 2 minutes. Because let's be honest - you know in which room inspiration is born (and not only). This is also how the dream of doing anything physical was born, which will resemble this blog at least a little. I wanted to make a "toilet adventure book". Has it succeeded? Not this time. Why? Because I only printed the photos - there is no text in it.

So I turned the idea of making a book for people into a book for myself. I do not need a text, because I know what and how - memories come back by looking at the pictures. In order for such a creation to be worthwhile for anyone else, there must be some description, and those from the blog are definitely too long for a meeting. I don't want to get bills for treating hemorrhoids afterwards. But it turned out to be good for me, by making a book "just for myself" I gathered the appropriate know-how for the future. When I am unemployed and desperate, I will come back to the topic.

My 3 approaches to the photo book.

  1. I started ambitiously. I assumed that I didn't want to be addicted to a particular tool and that I would take not only photos but also text. After 2 weeks of learning Adobe Indesign and long reading about the composition, formats, printing and sticking some texts with photos, I already knew that the topic had to be postponed "until tomorrow". It lasted for a month and then I had time to think that until I decided to publish a blog published for 7 years with binders like "Świat Wiedzy", this topic would not stand a chance. Where to get the time for it, which I could spend on living - I do not know.

  2. The second approach was exactly the opposite. I found that I have all the photos on Google Photos anyway. Everything from my phone drops into the cloud by itself, and all my favorite photos from the camera go through the phone anyway, so they end up in the same place. I highly recommend this solution - especially that it's free. In such Google Photos, you select photos, click something like "make me a photo book" and it's ready. It was cool, but you will be somewhere lowering my ambitions in personalizing, and I wanted to use my giant jpg instead of chaff compressed by a free account. At the time, I thought it made a big difference. Link for google photo book you have here.

  3. As a real professional, I looked through ready-made solutions, being a compromise or a golden mean, and went to CEWE. Why? Because it had the easiest and most enjoyable (if someone was born in the 80's) application. This is the age where choices are made - you can go shopping to Carrefour, but you will visit Lidl anyway, because only there you will find what you are looking for. The whole process is trivial, but at the same time customizable enough. From sizes, formats, compositions, colors to the cover and type of paper.
    However, I would like to point out that the price was not the criterion here, so it's hard for me to refer to competing solutions that may be cheaper. I just wanted a large number of pages, a hardcover and a user-friendly application. The final product is:

hard, Digital printing - matte paper
(26 p.)
PLN 109.99
Matt coverPLN 15.99
44x The next 4 pages amount to PLN 11.00PLN 484.00
shipping cost0.00 PLN
Value voucher - 40CW21-40.00 PLN

The amount of PLN 569.98

Photobook - taking process

As you can easily guess, I started from scratch many times. Because the format is different, because the arrangement of the photos is different, because with captions, because only the photos, because yes, because you know it. Finally, I clicked that I want a hard cover, the maximum number of pages, a square format, I collected all the photos, threw them into the application, I chose the graphic layout (which boiled down to a "photo on white"), I launched a wizard that arranged 1000+ photos "by myself" on 200+ pages and then, page by page, tweaked. I corrected in the simplest possible way, where I wanted to display a photo more, I chose the "1 photo" page layout, where I cared less about them, I chose, for example, 6 or 9. Such arrangement with blocks simply. Simple and fun… UNTIL TIME.

Because if I had one and only advice in creating a photo book, it would be this: first find all the photos you want in the book, and then put a "done" dash. Due to the fact that by default the photos are arranged chronologically (and I wanted to do that too), adding "post factum" any photo is a torment, because the whole thing is a bit disruptive. The same applies to corrections - they are made on the following pages and close the topic without going back. Because if you choose to have one photo instead of three on page 7, chances are the layout on pages 8-202 will change. You don't want this, you really don't.

I guarantee that you will ALWAYS forget about any photos and the process of adding more photos never ends. If a book could be 300 pages instead of 200, would I fill 300? Of course.

How did it come out and what went wrong?

So yes: it turned out well, but obviously not so that it couldn't get any better. I would describe the quality of CEWE as satisfactory - "pixel peepers" will be outraged that pixels are visible, an ordinary person with a slight eye defect, viewing from a normal distance will say that it is OK.

Taking photos in popular places is easy, and especially in the States. There are even places, like Antelope Canyon, where the guide will take the phone from you, run Instagram, choose the best filter and take the most perfect photo that you can achieve under the given conditions. Seeing the queue of people for the guide - it gives food for thought.

To save you time, he presents his list of applications:

  • Hard cover. It looks a bit worse, but it is easier to put on the shelf and the whole reception is a bit more premium. Twarda also has such a plus that more pages are entered. In my opinion it is worth it. And with a soft cover it's easier to cut your veins, which can be important if you have all the guests in the house watch the whole thing.

  • A large number of pages. I was afraid if 200+ pages is not too much. My answer is no.

  • If you do for yourself, I think you can safely ignore any text and captions. The same is true if you are the person who invites friends and everyone to them see "their vacation photos". If you plan on handing it out somewhere else, the captions and anecdotes / stories must be there. With all due respect, releasing an album without text is for me like releasing a calendar without marking the days or space for notes for the day.

  • The square format is quite unusual. The trial and error method showed that it seems to be optimal. The horizontal is bad to look at and it is badly positioned on the shelf, the vertical is not very suitable for arranging photos in the 16: 9 format and close-ups (which I have by far the most). It is a choice more by elimination than fitting ... in retrospect, however, I have the impression that 21cm x 21cm is a little bit. Next year I will either try a larger square or try to push everything upright.

  • 9 photos on a page is a lot. And it is definitely not worth inserting them without margins in between. It turns into a mosaic. Too high level of concentration, and I go to the bathroom without glasses. In general, I treated the margins as a real onion - "I do not pay for printing to leave a free space". Give up that thought, space between photos is needed - period.

  • The best photos are not always the best. If I were to choose the best, almost the entire book would probably boil down to "America's ultimate vacation"And from such Georgiawhere all my cameras fell out, there would be nothing. It's better (for me) to have fewer photos from more places than to limit yourself to just the best few.
  • If you don't want "art" pictures, make them a little brighter than you think. The print does not shine like a monitor
  • The choice of photos between "photo book for yourself" and "photo book for people" is radically different. For people, beautiful landscapes and posed photos from the session "hey, take it back and ride again" - the ones whose internet is full. For myself, the criterion is different: "oh, funny overnight in Zerkten with a fecal incident" - you see three sneeringly smiling cyclists, but you know that behind these mines there is more than just the overwhelming landscape of the Atlas. Instead of the view from the top, you throw in a photo of your girlfriend who is just finishing bikepacking driveway from 0m above sea level to 3420m above sea level with a broken shift and brake cable and she knows that she will have to ask foreign Taiwanese if they will hitch her a few dozen kilometers to the site. It's just about the photos you look at and think "oh, then it was ...!". The ones you hug to the pillow after seeing which you are happy to be alive.

  • The routes that I was driving alone turned out to be a problem. From such a 1500-kilometer drive through Pacific Coast Highway I threw maybe 2 photos. And those that could probably be made in the Bieszczady Mountains. I'm not in the habit of doing selfies, and the landscapes and the things passed didn't seem so important to be in the memories.

Is the photo good, sharp and perfectly tabbed? Probably not. Is it one of the most important photos in your life? Probably so.

The above approach has one more plus - the quality of the photos is practically irrelevant. That something is blurry? Out of focus? Moved? The colors are wrong? Even better. It's like with a picture, it all comes down to a proper justification. The lady in the kindergarten will tell you that you painted heads without eyes, people from the gallery in Yekaterinburg will tell you that for this painting of heads without eyes they give you PLN 4 million. This leads to a very important question:

What camera and what photos?

The most famous principle of photographers is that the best camera is the one you have with you. I do not fully agree with this and it does not work for me. For me, the best camera is the one I want to take a picture with. Because I always have the phone with me, and in 86% cases I don't want to take it out. When I use the equipment I like to operate for it, the mode of looking for good shots is activated. Why am I taking these photos - I do not know. The idea that at the end of the year I will collect the best and print it out makes some sense. Overall approach: one book per year seems very good. Thanks to this, there is also a chance that it will include photos not only from epic trips, but also life ones. Is it less funny to see a photo with your bomb in front of the "U Marty" store in Sycemin near Kampinos than the one in the Death Valley? Not necessarily.

I also have a second rule, which I would like to stick to, but I can't: whenever I regret not having a better camera or a different lens in a given place, I remember an important thing - no matter where I am, there was someone who had better camera and better skills and took the same picture I wanted to take.

And if you are wondering what kind of camera you need to have sufficient print quality, I answer - any modern phone. Really, the difference between a several-megabyte file and a ridiculously compressed photo downloaded from the "google photos" cloud generated by a few years old phone is MARGINAL. That is, for a trained eye it is colossal, but definitely not for an ordinary eye. It's something like the difference between a bike for 12k and one for 30k. But not in the race, because we are not talking about photo contests, but simply in a bikepacking ride with an average of 23 km / h for 170 km.

I could write about cameras here, but it's really more important that you use it well and that you want to wear it than what quality of photos it offers. If you absolutely want models, I inform you: there is nothing better for a bike than the Sony RX100.

For me, the most important thing is weather resistance - I will not count how many times I have repaired blurred lenses and stained matrices. This problem is no longer present in phones. Worse, but a working camera is better than any non-working camera

Is it worth it?

I will probably not surprise you if I say that after printing and the first review of the book (about 2 months ago), I opened it maybe 3 times;) It's hard for me to imagine that at home we would say "hey, come look at the old photos in the book for dinner. ". On the other hand, it's also hard to ask guests "hey, do you want to look at our old vacation / life photos?".

I will worry you: the utilitarian sense is questionable.

But the more I think about it, the more I find that it wasn't what it was about. Knowing that this book is on the shelf gives me a feeling similar to what a blog gives me. The difference is that it exists physically and every time I pass it I am reminded that it was "worth it." I recommend. Regardless of whether there are photos from the trip to the end of the world, or photos with a dog, from the park near the house. If I went to the subject of 100% vintage and instead of printing a book, I developed the photos and put them in albums, it would probably be even better. However, this is what I will leave for old age or infirmity.

It is also worth adding that if you do not have an idea for a Christmas gift, such a book is a great solution! I also recommend it, especially as an activity for a sad autumn.