Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Photo Book Basics

From high-end leave-behinds to prototypes for a pitch to a big-time publisher, self-publishing your work is an ideal solution that’s within reach of any pro

This Article Features Photo Zoom

You probably already have a motif in mind, but if not, decide on a theme. Planning ahead helps you make better decisions at future junctures.

Next, collect your images. Carefully review the size and orientation of each one, as it will help determine the photo book size and format. Color is incredibly subjective, so by all means, use a calibrated monitor.

If you plan to use titles, captions or other text, recheck the words carefully. There's nothing sadder than a beautiful book of photos that's marred by a typo in a caption.

When you open your finished book for the first time, examine it critically. Check the cover and spine first. Everything should be smooth and tight. Using a known light source, check each page at arm's length and also with an 8x loupe. Evaluate sharpness, color accuracy and contrast. A properly printed page should be free of artifacts, ink clumps and faded areas. Be warned, however—images viewed by reflected light will appear different from what you're accustomed to seeing on your computer monitor. And don't sit under green fluorescent lights and blame the printer for getting the colors wrong.

Photo Book Publishers
In addition to being a favorite source for premium quality printing, Mpix (www.mpix.com), a division of the world's largest commercial photofinisher, Miller's Professional Imaging, offers a line of custom published photo books. The online creation process is similar to that of other companies, so it's worth detailing here. Begin by selecting a cover—hard, soft or suede—and then select the size. The price for the 8.5x11 hardcover format starts at $50. Next, choose paper type. Mpix and other publishers offer optional textures in addition to the customary 100-pound text stock. Images printed on pearl or linen-finished paper won't look quite as crisp, even though the print quality is equal. On the other hand, rougher textures are kinder to skin and blemishes.

Bay Photo (www.bayphoto.com) allows you to combine prints, albums and other services. Bay can design books for you, or you can create your own with album page templates through the Bay ROES online ordering system. Photo books are available in hardcover or softcover styles, with your choice of size, page and cover options, with each style also offering options like gold, silver or embossed imprinting and nearly 50 cover materials to choose from. The 6-color printing adds light Cyan and light Magenta inks for better printing gamut. Covers can be fully wrapped with full-bleed images, and unique products like BayBoxes are available, which hold the books and mementos.

Blurb (www.blurb.com) is a well-known and highly regarded publisher of photo books. It offers sophisticated tools for graphic art professionals, including Adobe InDesign templates that are optimized for the seven available book sizes and all papers and cover types. Experienced users can complete their book design offline and later upload the high-resolution PDF file to Blurb for printing. Quark users, and those who use other page-design software, can download detailed specifications to create PDFs using their favorite layout tool. In addition to offering seven different book sizes, Blurb offers three cover formats and three grades of paper. Books start at 20 pages and can include as many as 440 pages. Single photo book prices are as low as $12.95, and volume discounts are available.


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