Creating a Photo Book: A Labor of Love

Photo books make some of the best presents. I love making these books as holiday, birthday or “thank you for the weekend” gifts—it takes me down memory lane, and I get so much pleasure putting them together. If you’re looking for a creative gift to give this year and have some spare time on your hands (insert giant sigh here), these are some of my favorite sites for you to check out.

As a photographer, I’ve made professional photo books of my work in Paris from Blurb, and let me tell you, they do not disappoint. They make beautiful books fit for any level of dollars you’re willing to pay. The downloadable software is easy to use and you don’t have to be tech savvy to do so. I’m a huge fan of  Pinhole Press. I can’t wait to get started with my annual “recap of the year” family book that I make for my mother-in-law (I’ve got my eye on the large purple one), and I also just received my photo holiday cards I ordered from them—two thumbs up!

Shutterfly is an easy and foolproof site. You can choose various layouts and background themes and knock out a book in no time. Plus, they always seem to have a discount code on their site, which is an added bonus if you want to save a few dollars. My mom loves Kodakgallery. She creates photo books and puts together the greatest collages of our family. With a click here and there, you really can’t go wrong creating a terrific looking album. If you own a Mac computer, the iPhoto program is already installed. Lovely. Lovely. Joy. Joy. Fabulous professional looking books—my go-to book when I make an album for myself.

What photo books have you tried? I’d love to hear them.


  1. 1

    A timely post – thank you. I have to agree for Mac users, the easiest and best looking photo books are through iPhoto. The Apple software is the most flexible and accessible – and it draws from your library of pictures, as opposed to having to import the pictures into the software program. But for those not using Mac computers, the quality of printing from Blurb is my personal favorite — hard bound books, though I found the software to be tricky at times.

  2. 2

    Thanks Johanna,

    Putting together these amazing books always seems like a huge task and intimidates my family with the thoughts of hours and hours of work.
    I will look into the recommended sites and give it a try.

    Thanks for the information.

    Happy Holidays!


  3. 3

    Can’t wait to check out Pinhole! I am a dedicated Shutterfly user for years. I make calendars for all of my immediate family and some extended. I take all the photos that I have taken from the past year of family events and try to put together a calendar of photos that each person would love. Takes a lot of time since I make them individually but I love giving them and people always make sure they are getting them from me! Especially around this time of year I think these type of memorable gifts are thoughtful intimate gifts and they beat trying to find parking in a crowded mall! Love your post! Thanks for the new website idea!

  4. 4

    I make a family album every year and have been using places like vista print and have not been very happy with the limitations of the program and selections of backgrounds. I am happy to hear about pinhole and shutterfly and will have to check them out soon, thanks!

  5. 5

    I’ve read about Pinhole Press on Cup of Jo’s site. I’m going to check them out. I find that Kodak and Shutterfly don’t produce professional looking books.

  6. 6

    I will definitely check out Pinhole Press! My husband had a photo book made for our anniversary this year, it was a lovely surprise! Great suggestions! Thanks :)

  7. 7

    I have used several of these choices for making albums and have never been disappointed with the results. One cannot go wrong saving precious moments in a bound book of carefully chosen photos.

    Great idea to spread the word about this wonderful way of keeping and sharing favourite photos. Thank you, Johanna!

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  9. 9

    Great post! I am obsessed with photo books. I also make a photo book for my family every Christmas. I use Kodak Gallery since they let you use photos from other people’s albums which is great. That way I can use everyone’s family pictures throughout the year. I am going to check out this Pinhole Press though. It looks amazing! Thanks for the suggestion!

  10. 10

    I love photo-books! My daughter just turned 7 and for the past 2 or 3 years, almost on a daily basis, she’d ask me to tell her the story of when she was born. Finally, I made her a book entitled The Story of My Bumpy Belly. She loves it!

  11. 11

    I love Picaboo. Used it many times. It is very flexible, you can use your own photos as backgrounds too, and they have a wide variety of layouts and covers. Very user-friendly.

  12. 12

    I have stopped ordering Kodak books around the holidays. The print quality goes way down, the colours aren’t true and they bleed. I am going to checkout your recommendations

  13. 13

    I was not happy with my last couple books from blurb. They were very dark and print quality and colors were not good. I have used several other sites and I think my publisher has great quality. I am planning on trying viovio next. Reviews are really good.

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