Family Photo Album Design Tips

February 28, 2012

in Photography Creative Team, Photography Tips, Susan Keller

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

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Let’s Talk Album Design

Specifically Annual Family Photo Album design … or any album that you’re trying to fit A LOT of pictures into while still maintaining a clean design aesthetic.

A while back, I yammered on and on about the importance of getting your photos off your hard drive and into a family album.  Today I want to talk briefly about good, simple, clean design principles that will help you put a lot of photos into a book in an aesthetically pleasing way.

So let’s look briefly at what doesn’t work best, first. Here are three not-so-good double page spreads from a couple of my earliest books:

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

These spreads (pictured above) have the following problems: no focal point, no “eye flow” (ie. your eye doesn’t know where to go first, next, last), no white space, too “busy”, and the two pages don’t look as if they were designed together (specifically, the pictures don’t “line up” from one page to the next). They just feel and look kind of chaotic.

So from these spreads that illustrate what NOT to do, here are my

3 Simple Rules for Good Design:

1. WHITE SPACE IS YOUR FRIEND!!!!
2. Design double page spreads together, not separately.
3. Have a focal point and a “flow” that your eyes can follow.

Let’s look at what that means in terms of putting photos together on a page.

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

Also from an early family photo album, this spread (above) is altogether different from the former ones. My eye knows exactly where to go, smoothly right across both pages. There’s calming-restful-abundant white space. The pictures line up. No chaos. Of course, there’s also only four pictures. How do these simple design rules work with LOTS of pictures? Next exhibit …

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

This layout has 10 pictures; one is clearly dominant. Your eye will go there first. There’s plenty of white space on the opposing page, where your eye will naturally go next and probably move in a clockwise motion thru the simple grid of 9 pictures.

Here are more examples of one dominant photo + a grid of photos surrounded by white space and/or copy (BTW, quick note about copy: put it towards the outside of the pages; don’t bury it between photos).

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

Clearly, I utilize this simple form of layout often. The good news is: several of the consumer level book printers also utilize this design and make it available in their Drag-n-Drop pre-designed pages.

So what if you need to have lots and lots of photos – way more than 10 – on some spreads? In those instances, I tend to throw out the necessity of a focal point, and I just make one big grid or chaotic collage. I then redeem myself from breaking my own rules by making sure the page before & after are “calmer” pages, maybe even a huge double page spread of just one photo.

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

Another example … this is two single pages of two different evenings. Notice: I definitely designed the double page spread together. There is lots of white space. The eye naturally moves thru the photos from left to right.

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

So, let’s recap:

BAD:

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

Way BETTER:

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

Family Photo Album Design Tutorial

So, to summarize: it is possible to create an aesthetically pleasing family photo album, even when you’re showcasing a whole boatload of photos in it. Just remember that white space is awesome, double page spreads should be designed together, and, if possible, one photo should stand out from the rest (usually by being bigger).

Susan Keller for I Heart FacesSusan Keller is an Orange County Baby, Child & Family Photographer who loves coffee, good books, big landscapes, her dudes, and using ellipses instead of words… You can find her on Facebook and blogging at Short on Words.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Shayna July 1, 2014

Thank you for the inspiration! Quick question in your last section of this post about using more than 10 photos in a “chaotic collage” you have three picture examples of the “chaotic collage” and then your fourth picture is a two-page one photo display of a green mountain valley with a river running through the middle. My question is where is this? It is absolutely beautiful! Thank you!

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Life with Kaishon February 28, 2012

I love the advice shared here today! Excellent : ) Thanks for compiling this beautiful post Susan.

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Skeller February 28, 2012

Renee – here’s a link with all my album details, including publisher: http://shortonwords.blogspot.com/2012/01/family-albums-nitty-gritty.html

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Melissa Brown February 28, 2012

Oh, AND your images look even more stunning in print! …if that is even possible!!

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Melissa Brown February 28, 2012

Susan, this is fantastic advice as always! Great inspiration for my next album!!

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Tracy P. February 28, 2012

This is so timely! I just caught up with my family albums yesterday with the completion of my 2008 (yup!) album, and I’m ready to start fresh. I’m determined to do my 2012 album as I go this year, and I love your clean approach, Susan. It’s been quite the transition to start from being a scrapbooker and move toward being a photographer. Thank you for a post that really highlights the difference in the thought process.

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Angie & Amy {I Heart Faces} February 28, 2012

You can read more about Susan’s books (and the printing company she uses) in her first tutorial from this series: http://www.iheartfaces.com/2012/01/family-photo-tips/

Thanks,

-Angie & Amy
co-founders of I Heart Faces

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Renee Hicks February 28, 2012

Would love to know what printing company Susan uses for her family books! =)

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heather nan February 28, 2012

Excellent advice! I’m knee deep in wedding album designs currently and it’s great to see these clean designs cross over into to family albums too. Good inspiration for my workload today!

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