January 4, 2006

Making Photobooks [was: server problems, talk amongst yourselves]

Well, that was no fun. While I was stymied by SQL table syntax, Kaz, Jeremy and some other folks started discussing the best way to make photobooks for the grandparents.

[We didn't do that this year, but I DID print out some photos at the local Ritz Camera in DC by uploading them at RitzPix.com, and they were great. I used both large, digital cam pix from the Fuji E550 and phonecam photos, which turned out just fine as 2x3 or 3x4 prints. I printed a small series of the small images, framed them all up, and shipped them all out for pianos, desks, and every three-handled moss-covered family credenza I knew.]

Anyway, the latest version of iPhoto has a photobook option, but even with the new templates and tools, it's still annoyingly inflexible for anything but pic/caption layouts. Shutterfly has its fans [and it interfaces seamlessly with Picasa, a free photo sharing/editing/management application that's now part of Google] as does MyPublisher.com.

No one's mentioned printing off of flickr yet, though. The company announced a partnership with qoop.com, which prints a very clean (i.e., theme-free to some, appeal-free to others) version of flickr photosets, with options for titles and captions [which need to be input in flickr]. Pretty barebones, but it's a look. [There's also mention of blogprinting, which may be of interest to folks around these parts.]

Previously: making your own boardbooks

16 Comments

grr, at least the comments still work...

remember, printing anything always takes at least 30 minutes.

and upgrading anything always takes at least 4 hours.
and if it's blog software, it takes 10, and most of them are at night...

So, uh.. how's everyone doing?

I'm currently playing with the book option in iPhoto for a nice photo book of the kid for the grandparents. Anyone have any experience with this?

My wife's cousin did his photography thesis using this (although, with a lot of photoshop help for getting the size/layout of the photos just how he wanted them), and the results were quite nice...

I'm a dedicated Mac-user, and I've done Photo Books using both iPhoto and the version on Shutterfly. Shutterfly takes a little longer since first you need to upload the photos, but I found their layouts preferable, for a couple of reasons.

1) I like the way the cover has a cut-out so that what you see is the photo inside on the first page, rather than an applied label on the iPhoto version. The iPhoto book we did over a year ago is still holding up fine, but I wonder whether the applied label will last.

2) I liked some of the design options in Shutterfly better, such as being able to put faux old-fashioned negative edges around the pics, etc. Also, there was greater versatility in placeing captions (eg, the amount of text you could put in, where it was positioned).

Granted, when I did the book with iPhoto it was in the previous version of the software, and now there are many new template options, so perhaps Point 2 is less relevant. A point in favor of iPhoto also is the ability to do not only the 8.5 x 11 hardcover but also 3 different size soft-cover options (not sure - maybe Shutterfly has this now, but they didn't when I used them about 6 months ago). In particular, I like the idea of the little 2.5 x 3.5 soft-cover option, which would make a nice gift for Grandma to carry around as a "brag book"?

Ooooh, Eric gets bonus points for using IRC syntax!

the new version of iPhoto does have new/updated layouts, but you still are limited (unless you were to use a different application, such as photoshop) to where and how much text you can add.

I am working around it, but there are a few places it would be nice to have more text.

the lack of formatting options in iPhoto IS a bit annoying (with the theme I wanted, I couldn't do 3 photos across, so I had to photoshop it into 1 photo and load that into my book), but the ease of use is key -- with an 18 month old, I don't get a lot of free time to work on this book.

For non-Mac fans, you may try mypublisher.com.

You download their software and have endless numbers of layouts for 1,2,3 & 4-photo pages. You can choose the layout yourself, or just "apply 1,4,3,2" rule, for example. Soft cover books run $9.99 + s/h, with cut out cover. Leather or Linen option for $30+

I particularly like the "story book" template that allows for more than just a caption on each picture. We've made a mini-life history of our Poppy (now gone) for our little girl. Good luck! Amy

We just did a first year baby book for christmas using the Shutterfly layouts. I have nothing but good things to say about it. I agree with what Jeremy said above.

The layout options are pretty broad and allow you a lot of options. We put a lot of text into ours.

Shutterfly works pretty seamlessly with Picasa, so I used that to upload all of my pictures. We kept wanting to add more, so Picasa made a pretty good matching application.

Since we take so many digital pictures, it doesn't make sense to print them all out and them paste them into a book. The 30 page book we bought was incredibly thin and printed on, as the website lovingly says, "archival-quality paper [which] will keep your pictures looking delightful for years to come"

Additionally, it only cost $25.

has anyone come across a site that allows you to make a board book for your child with your own pictures? I saw that on one of the morning shows last year as a gift idea for Christmas but didn't catch *where* it could be done. All our relatives are far away and I'd love to make a board book for Mr. Boy with pics of his grandparents and other people I want him to recognize...

Yes - a site to make boardbooks would be sweet!

One other nice feature of iPhoto I wanted to throw out (and I don't know if the other services have the ability to do this) is that you can export your book to a pdf format (which is actually how it gets uploaded to apple for printing) so you can see how it will really look when printed. This feature also allows you to print the book on your own printer if you want.

If you ignore (or can afford) the hefty price tag, the best books I've seen are from Apple's Aperture software. I printed one for a family member of the new baby and they were just incredible. Their templates are limited, being geared for the Pro, but if you feel like mucking around with the template files (copies), you can edit them to your contect (if you are not scared of SQL, then this should be a breeze).

I just this minute finished putting together a "Best of 2005" book on Qoop. I'm a Flickr fanatic so it makes sense for me. I've printed one of their books before, I think the qualityis very good and the books have nice clean lines, very simple though, no real bells and whistles, - just the way I like it! Qoop also do these way cool posters of thumbnails from sets or of your entire Flickr collection. Disclosure - I work for Yahoo! but not for with the Flickr folks.

I spent an unfortunate amount of time doing a book of the Dude's first year for my husband's birthday. I used MyPublisher. I won't bore you all with the details, or the back and forth, but I couldn't upload it from anywhere. Tried it from home, a hotel room, and then from work. Everytime I received error messages about needing to disable firewalls and turn off virus software. (I reset most everything on my laptop) I had quite the correspondance with their tech help folks, and followed explicit instructions to the letter, but eventually threw in the towel. (But not until after a rather wordy nasty gram.) I spent so much time on that thing and was so disappointed. I'm still open to trying another service, so I welcome any recommendations. I have a PC. (It's no surprise anymore, btw. I showed him the layouts and said, "There's your damn present!!"

Siobhan - that sucks. I feel bad you did't get your book.

That being said, I have to point out that you probably shouldn't blame MyPublisher. It does suck when tech support can't help you, but there are so many different types of firewalls (hardware, software, OS) and each one is different. It makes it difficult for their tech support to help everyone.

And odds are, you workplace probably has tighter security than your home does...

We've used both flickr and iphoto and definitely prefer the latter. Not sure what happened, but the flickr book was pretty low on the quality scale. The photos looked like they were printed on a home printer--dark and grainy. Too bad because we really like flickr and the ease of printing pre-selected photos with captions.

The iphoto books (large soft cover) came out much nicer. FYI, the new iphoto version has the cut-out cover instead of the applied sticker. I do wish that iphoto was more flexible regarding layout and text addition. But so far, we are pleased and plan on getting the canvas covered ones for Lex's first brithday. Will look into Shutterfly too.

We've used both flickr and iphoto and definitely prefer the latter. Not sure what happened, but the flickr book was pretty low on the quality scale. The photos looked like they were printed on a home printer--dark and grainy. Too bad because we really like flickr and the ease of printing pre-selected photos with captions.

The iphoto books (large soft cover) came out much nicer. FYI, the new iphoto version has the cut-out cover instead of the applied sticker. I do wish that iphoto was more flexible regarding layout and text addition. But so far, we are pleased and plan on getting the canvas covered ones for Lex's first brithday. Will look into Shutterfly too.

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