How to Create Magazine Style Photo Books with Blurb

How to create a magazine style photo book using Blurb

If there is one New Year's resolution I am succeeding at, it is getting photo books published.  I am busting them out in a timely manner and it feels great to have all those pictures in print.  Though I must tell you that the success at getting these things made and printed was letting go of perfectionism.

Earlier in my photo book making days there was a point where I was making all of my pages in Photoshop.  Then that was too much work so I started making collages in Picassa.  Yet even then it was still too time consuming.  So I decided no more second party scrapbooking--from now on I use the premade layouts in Blurb.  And, surprisingly enough, I have found it is actually easier to make and they are coming out much more professional looking.

I wanted it to be more about the photos telling the story then layers of page decorations and words for the sake of filling in space.  I call my new style "magazine inspired" as the text is uniform and simple (playing off a bit of my own blog design) and the words are brief (still memorable but to the point) and at the beginning of each book or book section.  Making photo books just got a whole lot easier.

I finally made a photo book from our three year anniversary trip to Puerto Vallarta.  I also need to mention that these are the first set of books that feature photos that have all been taken on our DSLR camera as well as being edited.  There is a huge difference in the photo and book quality when the images are at a professional level.

In the past I have been disappointed at what seemed to be the quality of my photo books when in fact it was more of a matter of the quality of the photos.  Even if you do not edit your photos, shooting with a nicer camera really makes a difference in how the books turn out (though making books of lower quality photos are still worth it to preserve memories than not have them at all).

For this trip, I wrote a few paragraphs highlighting my favorite memories from the week on the first page.

Something I learned is that I like to have a little white in every page.  This means keeping white space between photos or around full bleed images to create a cohesive magazine look throughout the book.  It's tempting to always make that one large image fill the entire page but I feel like the photo has even greater impact with some white around it.

You will see that many of my pages are similar, helping the book flow well, but just different enough that they do not seem repetitive. 

Another trend I found myself doing was having one page of one or two large images and the following page has a larger number of photos collaged.  I think that having one or two large images, your eyes have a place they are drawn to as well as a place to rest against the opposite page that is more busy.  The rule of thirds applies to the layout of your photos just as much as in the photo.

I set up the book in order of how it happened and I try to group each set of two pages with a similar theme.  This can be tricky as I may have to use extra photos or cut some out so that they fit the pages correctly.  This is probably the most time consuming part but well worth it to create a cohesive look between each page.

To change it up, here is an example of how I designed two pages into one large layout.  I chose the large photos of my husband and I first and then worked around them.

We had quite a few set of photos where we had multiple images documenting one event (in this case, me getting hit by a wave) and so I collaged all of the images in time sequence to reenact the story.

I made a similar style book for our recent trip to Napa Valley, except this time I made Blurb's square sized book.  Our trip was just over the weekend so I did not have as many photos as I would if it was a one week trip.  

Since I had less photos I decided to make a smaller book in proportion to the amount of photos I had.  I like most of my larger books to be over 40 or 50 pages for the book to feel substantial enough to be a book.  So if I have less photos, I make a smaller book to stretch the photos out over more pages. 

Since we stopped at multiple new travel locations, I wrote a short blurb before each spot to remember what it was called and a few memories from that place. 

And the back cover is always my favorite.

Here is a comparison of the sizes of the two books.  The Puerto Vallarta book is Blub's standard landscape and is 160 pages.  The Napa Valley book is the small square and is 54 pages (but you can make the books any page length you want).

How to create a magazine style photo book using Blurb

And a comparison of the thickness. 

Though I think the price of photo books is worth the money, they can be pricey (especially when making them back to back!) so I never order a book without a coupon code.  Some of my favorite places for reliable Blurb coupon codes (and they always seem to have one running) is Ultimate Coupons and Retail Me Not.  You can also do an internet search for "Blurb coupon codes."

The savings usually range from 10-30% off and you can also find codes for free shipping.  I usually do the math and go through "check out" multiples time before purchasing to find out if free shipping or the percentage off is a better deal.  Yes, I am a hard core deal finder!  But I love Blurb and would even pay full price if I had to!

Click on the buttons below to check out more of my photo book and scrapbook related posts or my tips on photography:



  1. how much are each book?
    and the pics where you are out and the two of us, did someone else take them?

    1. Thank you! I was asking because I see you have a lot and I am always shy to stop people in the street to ask, besides, yours look good and people usually don't take good pics hahahah!! I need to buy a new camera and a tripod, especially now that we're expecting a baby. My husband has the condition that I need to take a class before we invest in an expensive camera, but with full time work is hard to find. Do you know of any other way to learn to take good pics? Other than the link you sent, which I am going to explore. Sorry, too many questions.

  2. These are so amazing! You're so on top of it, I just let all of our photos sit in my computer and I'm so bad about getting them into print...

  3. This is such a cute idea. I made a Blurb book a while back for my mom, but I haven't thought to make one since. Now I really want to–especially with your great tips!

  4. Love this! New follower, found you over at the KCRA A-list site! :)

  5. Your books are gorgeous! I'm really old school, and I still make our scrapbooks by know, cutting the paper and gluing on pictures? :) You must have a really good camera.

  6. Thank-you for the inspiration to just keep it simple! I love the clean look of your books! Maybe if I keep it simple, I'll stay more caught up with my digital scrapbooking too :) Also, I noticed the price you listed in answer to a comment above. I've done the math a few times, and if you (or I) were to pay to get all the pics individually printed, then buy an album, pages, embellishments, etc., it's much, much cheaper to print out digital scrapbooks than to hand-scrap the old-fashioned way. Now, I'm going to get to work on my pictures :)

  7. These are gorgeous! I love the collages. They really do look like magazines! You are beyond talented :)

  8. I just stumbled across your blog, and I'm so glad I did. I've been wanting to use Blurb to make books for our vacations and one for every year we've been married to start a tradition going forward. Your books look amazing!! Thanks for the tips and inspiration.


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