How To Create A Gorgeous Travel Photobook That Engages & Inspires

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Syria, January 2009

Step 1: Do Something Inspirational

I don’t mean inspirational for anyone else; I mean for yourself. Creative juices run swiftest when you’re truly inspired. Seek out what moves you most and allow the process to take you places you didn’t know existed, literally and figuratively.

Step 2: Take Stunning Photos

Serve your apprenticeship. Learn your craft. Take 10,000 photos and improve with each one. On the road, regularly make photography your raison d’etre. Don’t count on the shot coming to you; it usually won’t. Find it, then have the patience to get the timing right. Exclude everything that doesn’t add something. Get closer to your subject.

Step 3: Withdraw, Then Focus

Tell a story. Yours, someone else’s, or a thematic one. Leave time post-shoot to regain perspective; then, when you’re selecting, editing and sequencing, focus ruthlessly on story. Rules are few, but a story must at least engage at the start and satisfy at the end. Omit needless photos. Murder your darlings.

Step 4: Assemble Basic Tools

Adobe Lightroom (great photo managing/editing software) has a photobook creation module built in. No budget? Picasa or GIMP do your image editing for free. Blurb Booksmart lays out your book for free if you use their printing services. (I do.) You don’t need to be a designer or software expert. Free tools exist and work well.

Step 5: Publish

Print on demand has revolutionised publishing. Blurb, for example, specialise in POD photobooks. They’re not cheap; you get what you pay for (i.e. they’re utterly sumptuous). You can make your book available for purchase to the public, worldwide. Signing up via this link (by December 31st) gets you a free £15 towards your first book. Other services are available, but Blurb makes the process excruciatingly simple.

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My new photobook, Janapar: Images From The Journey, is launched this week, featuring 66 hi-res images from nearly four years of travel. My goal is to portray the many and varied facets of a personal, long-term, trans-continental journey on two wheels.

I hope I’ve succeeded in this. You can make up your own mind through this interactive preview:

Christmas orders are still being taken, but there’s not long left! Click here for a hi-res PDF sample, ordering info, and details on the available formats. (If you can’t see the above preview because you’re reading this in an email or RSS reader, click here.)

Comments (skip to respond)

2 responses to “How To Create A Gorgeous Travel Photobook That Engages & Inspires”

  1. Hello Tom,
    You’re telling in your blog That Blurb is not cheap. I disagree! My first book with Blurb was 296 pages, hard cover “only”€70. This isn’t expensive for That many pages! Not many companies can print up-to- 400 pages! A very good album company!!

    1. You’re right; ‘cheap’ is a relative term. You get what you pay for, and 70 Euros for that many full-colour pages is pretty good.

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