9 Easy Steps to Designing a Themed Photo Album

Designing and creating a photo album can be a daunting task. There are ways to keep it simple and manageable. A themed album can help to keep it to a reasonable project and with this approach, you can get an album finished in no time.

Canvas album cover sampleStep One – Select your theme

What’s the topic or reason for this album? Keep the focus narrow such as Our Hawaii Vacation rather than Every Vacation I’ve Ever Taken in My Life.
If you try to do too much you will feel overwhelmed.
Then what felt easy becomes impossible.
You’ll find yourself devoting your efforts and attention to everything but completing the album!

Step Two – Choose the album type & size

Scrapbook or digital album? My preference is digital because it’s faster, you can duplicate your efforts and easier to achieve. Choosing the album size is an important decision at this point in the process because it is tied to the number of photos to be used. Some common sizes are 8×8, 11×8 and 12×12. There are many photo book sites where you can create and publish your own album. Some of our favorites are Picaboo & Mixbook. Pick the best quality album you can afford.

Step Three – Select the photos

If this is your first attempt, think small and manageable. The optimum quantity is about 100 photos. Plan on putting 4-5 photos onto a page. If you want to do a collage, we suggest no more than 9 photos on a page.
The more photos on a side, the smaller each will need to be. You want each photo to be noticed so the page doesn’t appear too busy. Look for photos that tell the story. Capture people looking their best – be kind!

Step Four – Layout

Use sub-themes to plan the sequencing of your album and its layout.
For example, if you were making a Christmas album, the main theme would be the year and sub-theme is the activity such as opening presents, dinner and decorations.

Step Five – Designing and Production

Drag photos into the pages using pre-designed templates. Don’t let perfectionism get hold. Just get pictures onto the pages. You will feel a huge sense of accomplishment from just getting this part done! Then you can tidy up the pages later.

Step Six – Captions and Stories

This is where you can get friends and family involved. You could have them email their stories to you.

Then just cut and paste the text into your album. Upload photos to a sharing site like Flickr so they can look at them and add comments. A caption can be as simple as just identifying the year, the person or the event. Or you can add a catchy phrase – but only if that’s your personality. If not, don’t fret about it. Remember this is your story and if writing isn’t your thing – just add quick captions and dates if you can!

Step Seven – Drafts

Plan to do this in drafts. Remember when you were in school and wrote drafts of that English paper? This is loads more fun – because it’s your story. You’ll be thanking yourself for doing that second pass through, especially when you inevitably find those typos you missed on the first one. Step back from this project for a bit and return to it after a few days. You’ll be surprised by what you find and the clarity you gain with some breathing room.

Step Eight – Pretty and Tidy

It’s time to take a look at some details. Once I’ve selected my favorite photos I can’t enjoy how they look on the album page if the margins aren’t neat and balanced. That’s my preference for a timeless design. But I’ll admit this is where my perfectionism can slow things down. If that’s not you (or you truly don’t care), then pay no attention to me! But if you have customized the page layouts and you’re picky, then you’ll be glad you spent the extra time to make it right. And in keeping with the clean and tidy concept, I prefer a background that’s simple so it doesn’t detract from the photos I’ve so carefully selected.

Step Nine – Place the Order!

Congrats! You’ve worked hard & now have a beautiful album to be enjoyed by generations. Consider ordering extra copies for family and friends. And if your album design software allows, save a copy on your computer and another copy on a backup drive. Then if something happens to the original copy you can order it again. This album style could be a template for future albums!

Making an album should be fun! If you are feeling overwhelmed, I’m here to help. Email me today and I’m happy to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.