How I create my holiday photo books

Overview

When creating a holiday photo book or any other photo book for that matter it really pays to think and plan in advance (and I’m talking, even before you go on holiday). This blog gives some key principles (in no particular order) I apply to new projects. At the bottom of the blog I have attached a pdf and a hires version of a workflow I use when working through a piece of work. Hopefully you can apply a few of these ideas and principles into your own future projects. 

Tell a story about the trip

First impressions count, so jot down your immediate thoughts on arrival! Then, as each day passes, note down what you got up to. By the time you get back home unless you’ve written all of this down you’re going to have a tough time remembering what you got up to and in the order you did it! 

  • Describe your: location (countryside or city) /accommodation/atmosphere/people/local area (modern or old)/weather/restaurants/food/bars/costs/beaches etc.
  • What was the local food like, best restaurant, was it reasonable or expensive, how much were taxis/hire cars, a glass of wine/beer? 
  • Did you do any activities or travel to other locations? Did you travel by car/bus/train/plane/boat?

Workflow

This is the workflow I use after I come back from holiday.

  • Create a folder in Lightroom naming it with the location visited, the month and year.
  • Download all images from cameras into the folder above.
  • Import all files into Lightroom.
  • Start the picture culling process. Be brave, be bold, there’s no room on the HD for all those second rate images – Reject all that don’t make the cut. Delete all over/under exposures, blurry/out of focus shots. Get rid of all the rubbish and if using bracketed/continuous shooting modes, pick the best one out the bunch. I do this three to five times on average until I whittle it down to about 10%-30% of the original import.
    I delete the rejects and save the rest in readiness for the book.
  • I think about the format of the book I want to create and then make the decision as to portrait or landscape and the physical size (page count doesn’t matter at this stage as it’s really easy to add or subtract pages as you layout the book).
  • I start editing pictures and then flowing them into the page layout. 
  • Type-up my journal I kept on holiday and decide whether to keep it in one section of spread it throughout the book.
  • Creating the map and infographic is next.
  • Organise book into sections if needed.
  • Once everything has been flowed into the book and I am happy with the layout I will go through captioning all images that require a description.
  • First proof stage. I create a pdf version of the book and print a hard copy. I then use this to markup any issues needing correction such as typos, spelling, layout and and further image editing requirements.
  • Make all corrections as marked upon first proof, create pdf, print off a hard copy and markup any additional amends. On average this could take anything between two to five times but it’s an essential part of the proofing process.  
  • Once the above is complete I am happy to proceed to print. I will choose the quantity, paper stock, and cover type before uploading online a hires pdf to Blurb’s website for them to print. I can then relax and start getting excited about receiving my very own unique holiday photo book.

Book sizes and finishes

There’s a diverse array of sizes and finishes to choose from. Think about:

  • Size: do you want to create a pocket book or coffee table book.
  • Orientation: portrait or landscape.
  • Cover: hardcover image wrap, hardcover dust jacket or soft cover. 
  • Paper type: lustre, matte, uncoated or pearle (this will not only affect how the images will look on the paper but it will also have a big impact on how the book will actually feel. We’re talking tactile, Personally, for me I love the look and feel of an uncoated paper.

Create a holiday map

Create a holiday map showing your location in relation to the local area/town/city or country visiting. You might want to include:

  • Location of the hotel.
  • Places of interest/visited.
  • Use a recurring theme of the area to incorporate into the map such as colours/typography/textures/architecture/shapes and plants.

Applications used to create photo book’s

  • Adobe Lightroom: for storing, editing and creating the photo book.
  • PhotoShop: for finer editing control over images, creating montages and other images that can’t be created in Lightroom.
  • Illustrator: for creating graphics for the infographic and maps.
  • Blurb: for producing photo books.

Create a holiday infographic

Creating an infographic is a great way to visually show, at a glance, key important information about your holiday. So we’re talking about:

  • Accommodation details and places visited.
  • Flight details: carrier, airports, dep/arrival times.
  • Cost details: flights, accommodation, and spending money.
  • Exchange rates.
  • Length of stay.
  • Equipment. Technology is cracking along at a pace! It’s interesting to look back over time and see what equipment you took on a trip and how it has evolved over time so make sure to include cameras and lenses.
  • The total number of pictures taken (it’s an eye opener to see the comparison between the number of pictures captured, compared to the keepers! 

Layout, theme, and flow

You can choose from template-driven layouts to get started or go all freestyle and created your own unique look. Incorporate the essence of your holiday in the form of colours and typography. Don’t forget how much of an impact the type of paper you print the book on will also have. Consider the following:

  • Fonts.
  • Colour.
  • Page numbers: Bottom or top centred/left or right, or middle of the page.
  • Page layout: Clean/creative/portfolio or travel inspired.
  • Use captions for pictures.
  • Write an overview of the holiday.
  • Create sections describing accommodation (inc bedroom, bathroom, living room, balcony, grounds) pool, local area, trips etc.

Equipment used

I used to travel with a DSLR, at least two lenses (a wide angle, 10-20mm and telephoto, 28-135mm), filters and all the usual accessories. I got so fed up of constantly changing lenses, equipment being too bulky, awkward and rather heavy to carry around with the other usual holiday essentials stash in my backpack. And finally I really didn’t want to take it out at night.

There’s no one camera or lens that does it all. The camera I chose to fulfill my particular travel photography needs was the Sony RX system. It’s so small, lightweight, the spec of the camera and quality of images are amazing. I also take a GoPro along for the same reason but with the added bonus of being waterproof and having an amazing wide angle lens!

  • Sony RX 100 IV.
  • GoPro Hero 6.
  • Gorilla Pod.
  • A6 notebook.

 

Below are six pictures showing some of my holiday photo book covers.

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The below three images show the different types of introductory text I have used to describe the overall holidays.

Below are examples of holiday maps and infographics from various holiday photo books.

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Below is a slideshow showing various spreads from different holiday books

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Below are pictures showing the different layouts of sections I have used for the various photo books. The sections range from Accommodation, location, tours, the pool to road trips.

 

Below are two hires images detailing my workflow process. You can also download a free pdf which describes and shows you the creative process I go through when creating a holiday photo book.

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The beer with a bang is back for bonfire night.

The explosive big bang home-brew trilogy is back in time for bonfire night. 

Big Bang, Short Fuse, and Pocket Rocket, my home-brew beers have made a welcome return this October just in time for bonfire night. 

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The trilogy is back this October!

I haven’t made a home-brew for a while now and since we’re heading into deepest and darkest autumn I thought it was time to get the beer making kit out and start the brewing process in readiness for the long winter nights!

I have always loved watching fireworks but I also get just as excited by looking at the brilliant designs, typography, vivid colours, packaging, shapes and sizes of the actual firework themselves. The graphic design plays just as an important role to me as the explosive bang it produces.

Last year I wanted to pay homage to these British iconic symbols for my latest home-brew project underway at the time. For this autumn I wanted to create a just as suitably appropriate label. I thought to myself why not resurrect last years version instead of trying to reinvent the wheel!

And so I dusted off the printer, inserted ink cartridges and breathed a new lease of life into one of my favorite beer labels. CHEERS.

For full details on the fireworks beer label design process, click here Firecracker beer.

 

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A homage to the classic pocket rockets.

 

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Light the fuse and stay well back! A close up of the tissue paper used to cover the bottle top, designed to look like the classic tough papers on top of fireworks and rockets.

 

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A closeup of the beer labels showing the three distinct logos, typography and colours used to reflect the classic firework packaging

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The Firecracker party pack packaging above.

 

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Artwork for Pocket Rocket, Short Fuse and The Big Bang beer labels.

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Party pack packaging artwork.
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Artwork for the party pack stick flag.

For previous beer label creations click the links for FlipperooneyThe Wonky Woo Wa and Spring has Sprung

5 things that got me gingered up this October

Can you believe we’re almost halfway through October already, where does the time go? Tomorrow, the temperature is supposed to get to a balmy 23 degrees in London – in mid October! I know, crazy right? Anyway, apart from the weather grabbing my attention, below are five creative hot topics that have my curiosity all fired up.

I hope at least a couple of these links will ignite your inquisitiveness nature and you find them as thoughtful and as useful as I did. Until next time, enjoy the late seasonal sunny weather.

 

No.1 // Typography – Wieden + Kennedy London

A typographic treat for the new Honda Civic  created by Wieden + Kennedy London.

 

No.2 // Topography – The National Library of Scotland

The National Library of Scotland has a brilliant site where you can view old maps overlaid on current views. You can flip back and fourth seeing in an instant what it used to be like over the years – fascinating.

 

No.3 // Podcast – Hurry Slowly

Hurry Slowly is a podcast about how you can be more productive, creative, and resilient by simply slowing down.

Now in it’s second season and hosted by the curious mind of Jocelyn K. Glei. It’s a great podcast on ideas for finding more creativity and meaning in our daily lives. There’s some great interviews covering a diverse array of topics that have really made me think about the way I work and spend my time.

 

No.4 // Newsletter – Dense Discovery

Dense Discovery is a weekly subscription newsletter edited by Kai Brach who is also the publisher of the super duper Offscreen Magazine. Dense Discovery is a curated mix of practical and inspirational links to inspiring technology, design, philosophy, psychology and culture. Some other great links take you to useful apps, tools, and websites,  accessories for the office/home, inspiring art and design projects and some great content covering Thought-provoking things to read, listen and watch.

 

No.5 // Illustration/illustrator – David Tazzyman

If you have young children and you like collecting some fine art children picture books I can highly recommend the illustrator David Tazzyman. I have a couple of his picture books at home (You can’t take an elephant on a bus and Eleanor’s Eyebrows) and love his loose illustration pen style. His whimsical freestyle approach of the characters in the books are excellent and I love the graphical treatment to the backgrounds. Even if you don’t have kids I’m sure you will appreciate the magnificent illustrations David creates.

Quotes that got me thinking. – No.13

Everything takes longer than you think it will even when you account for the fact that it will take longer than you think it will!

Jocelyn K. Glei’s take on Hofstadter’s law (It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law)

Firecracker beer

The Big Bang, Short Fuse and Pocket Rocket. An explosive trilogy of Big Bang home-brew and beer label creativity!

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Hot off the back from recently creating the Flipperooney home-brew project I was eager to get another one out in time to help celebrate fireworks night.

I have always loved fireworks (in this context I’m referring to the physical firework rather than watching a display from a far) especially the graphic designs, the vivid colours, shapes and typography that the fireworks of yesterday had. I wanted to pay homage to these iconic British symbols for my new beer labels.

Following on from previous beer label creations I would adhere to the tried and tested route below:

Stage 1. Come up with a name for the beer

Stage 2. Design a logo

Stage 3. Create label

After a fair bit of on-line research into names of fireworks I just couldn’t make my mind up as to what to call the beer! However, why settle on one name, why not have more? And then it occurred to me that I could have a trio of fireworks, something like a pack of fireworks or rockets that you can buy in shops rather than individually.

My favourite three names I came up with for the explosive beer were The Big Bang, Short Fuse and Pocket Rocket which I thought perfectly summed up what I was trying to achieve for the beer labels.

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I would create three separate designs for the beer labels. The more I thought about the rockets the more excited I became. What if I turned a bottle of beer into a rocket! Eureka! I looked at various shapes and sizes of bottles that would roughly look like the shape of a rocket and found that a small 330ml bottle did the trick. So all I had to do was create the logo and artwork around the shape and size of this beer bottle.

My fireworks colour palette would be made up of bright greens, yellows, oranges, blues and reds utilising bold graphic typography and imagery. I would have a different typography treatment for each of the names but keep the same font to maintain continuity so they look part of a family.

 

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After many design iterations I eventually settled on my three favourites which included dynamic, distinctive and colourful backgrounds. Although I was happy with the way the labels were looking I thought I could push it even further and make it even more distinctive. A rocket isn’t really a rocket if it doesn’t have a stick you can put in the ground to hold it steady ready for launch. Off I went to a DIY store to see what I could get. I found a long Pinewood dowel that looked about the same thickness you would find on a real rocket. I bought it, took it back home and cut it down into three even lengths. These were then taped to the side of the bottles with the labels secured over the top. This was looking more like it… but I could do better. How about adding some touch paper like the fuse at the top of a firework which you need to ignite to set the firework off.

Back to the shops to buy some coloured sheets of tissue paper. Brilliant, this was the icing on the cake! This was the missing detail that brought everything nicely together. They looked great, however after a bit more research I found out that you could buy rockets in a pack as well as individually. So why not create a simple device to hold the three bottles together as a pack. To hold the sticks securely at the top I came up with an idea of a small flag that would wrap around the sticks and hold them firmly in place. I then created a large label that could wrap around the three bottles holding them nice and tight. The three logos for each of the beers were placed in three sections so every time you turned the bottles around you would see the names of the beers included within the pack.

This was a real fun creative project to work on, now all that remains to be done is to chill the beer and enjoy on fireworks nighty – Cheers.

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The Firecracker party pack packaging below.

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Artwork for Pocket Rocket, Short Fuse and The Big Bang beer labels.

 

Artwork for the party pack packaging.

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Artwork for the party pack stick flag.

firecracker beer flag

 

For previous beer label creations click the links for Flipperooney the The Wonky Woo Wa and Spring has Sprung

Flipperooney!

Flipperooney logoSo September saw me creating another batch of home-brew beer which gave me a great excuse to design and create another beer label for the new creation.

First challenge, to come up with a name I would christen the beer with. This is my third batch of home-brew and the third beer label I have designed and created. I still wanted it to be lighthearted and a bit quirky such as the previous two which were named The Wonky Woo Wa and Spring Has Sprung! (click links for details). After many ideas and  shortlists I finally came to one I really liked the sound of and so Flipperooney was born! Flipperooney is the name I give to the summersault my son performs. To perform this dare devil manoeuvre I grab both his hands by my thighs. While he’s facing me he uses his feet to walk up my legs until he his feet are by my shoulders. He’s now in an upside down vertical position and then after a count of three I flip him over back onto his feet and et voila there you have it the Flipperooney manoeuvre. Well, it was as good a name as any and it had a certain friendly excitement I wanted to portray in this beer label.

So now I had a name, the logo was next. I wanted a to use a font that would really represent the word Flipperooney, show playfulness, was fun and dynamic and full of energy. It had to be bright with a hand drawn/crafted feel to it. I did a tone of research on various font sites and eventually settled on the Changing Medium typeface by pintassiloprints from myfonts. I loved the font and it was perfect to bring Flipperooney to life. The font comes with many automatic interlocking pairs which just ads to it’s character bringing out the added quirkiness and playfulness.

The main colour I chose was for the logo was a vivid red, I added two solid drop shadows beneath, the first being cyan followed by yellow, slightly offset to give it a modest depth and a 3D stereoscopic type effect to the lettering. I wanted an image or illustration to show the Fliperooney but I could’t find any that represented it as much as I would have liked. I found as close a match to representing a Flipperooney as best I could on the  image library iStock.  This then brought the whole logo together and I could start adding the beer text beneath the logo and start creating the label itself.

The beer label was pretty straight forward. I created front and back artwork on the same piece of paper. I chose a pale blue background colour and added a slightly rough worn paper texture on top to give it some depth, character and to add to that home made/home brew crafted feel I was after. The labels were then glued to the bottles at an angle to add some dynamic visual quality to them.

Now all I have to do is stick them in the fridge, relax and enjoy not only the pleasure of the creative and production process, I can now enjoy the taste of a magnificent Flipperooney!

Cheers.

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The Shortbread Shed Flipperooney Beer label

The Wonky Woo Wa and Spring Has Sprung beer labels

For those of you who know me, you’ll know that I’m into my real ales, especially coming from Scotland I loved the odd pint of ‘Heavy’ (A Scottish term for the English equivalent called Bitter. Usually dark brown in colour, smooth with a good bubbly or creamy head, pretty flat with little to no gas/bubbles) on a night out. 

Last year my wife got me possibly one of the greatest birthday presents ever! A home brew beer making kit! It didn’t take me long to set everything up and get cracking with my first brew.

It’s remarkably easy to do once you have the basic equipment and all of which is completely re-usable, ready for the next batch.

For my first few experimentations I bought pre-made beer kits from a local store. All the ingredients are premixed together and come in a one litre tin can, which when emptied looks like a dark sticky gooey molasses.

Thankfully there isn’t much technical or chemistry ability required. Basically all you need to do is pour the ingredients into a large 25 litre plastic bucket, add one kilo of sugar, three litres of boiling water, followed by about 19 litres of cold water. Sprinkle the magic ingredient yeast over the top, give it a good stir, take an initial reading with a hydrometer, whack the lid on and leave it in a cosy dark spot for about 7-10 days until it reaches a specific gravity (alcohol content). Once this process is complete it’s then onto step two and the bottling. Syphoning out the beer into either bottles or barrels. I like to do a bit of both so I’ll pour about half of the contents into 500ml bottles and the rest will go into a pressurised keg. Bottles and keg are left in a warm environment for a further three days before being transferred out to the garage for stage three – the maturing part of the process. The bottles and keg are stored in a cool, dark place for at least another three weeks so the sediment can settle and the beer can clear ready for drinking. Part four, the easy part – drink!

The Wonky Woo Wa

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The other great part about making your own beer is having the opportunity to create beer labels to show off your home brewing skill.

The initial label I designed was for my first home brew, a cheeky dark bitter of around 4% ABV, it wasn’t too bad for a first attempt! I asked my son to name the inaugural brew and he came up with ‘Wonky Woo Wa’ which I thought was a cracking name for a beer.

So now I had a name for the beer all I had to do was design, create and produce a label. I wanted to create something unique, eye-catching, something a wee bit different that had an independent crafty and artisan look to it. Not only did I want it to look good, I also wanted to come up with an unusual way to affix the label to the bottle and make it visually and tacitly attractive.

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After trying out numerous options I came up with a typographical treatment only design. I chose hand drawn fonts for the Wonky Woo Wa name and logo type as well as a font for the details of the beer. I limited the colours to just two, red and black for maximum visual impact. I chose a heavy kraft card to print on for an authentic ‘crafty independent artisan’ look. I didn’t want to glue the label to the bottles so I came up with the idea of using rubber bands and thin bamboo kebab skewers cut down as the fastener to hold the labels in place securely around the bottle. I punched holes through the card, folded the edges over for more strength and security before binding multi-coloured rivets into the card to help prevent tearing when the rubber bands were threaded through and attached to the bamboo sticks. Finally I hand stamped a limited edition of 18 bottles with a unique reference number just to give it an extra level of detail, authenticity and uniqueness.

Spring has sprung beer label

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So the Wonky Woo Wa was last years winter beer and in March this year I decided to do an Easter special. I followed the exact preparation and brewing process as before and then started to think of an appropriate name so I could start to design and create the next beer label. It didn’t take me long to come up with a seasonal name for the beer. It was obvious really, it had to be called ‘Spring’, well, I slightly changed it through the design process to ‘Spring has sprung”.

I wanted to stay clear of the obvious visuals such as Daffodils, Bluebells and snowdrops. I was after something a bit more tongue in cheek. However I really liked the green and yellows of the daffodils, the purples of the bluebells and the crisp white of a snowdrop and decided to incorporate these colours into my design. I wanted to have fun with the name and incorporate that into the label so I came up with the idea to use a metal spring within the logo. I chose the same fonts as the previous beer label as I wanted to create that home-brew, artisan crafty style I was still after. I wanted the the label to also have an eye catching element so I designed a small tab to pop out from the side. This was coloured bright orange with the image of the spring down the centre and gave a real uniqueness and stand out appeal to the bottle.

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Again I did a mix of bottles and keg to store the beer in. So was it any good? Did the beer taste as great as the label looked? Yes it did!

I really enjoyed my first home brew experience and the creation of the label. It motivates me to keep brewing, coming up with unusual names and create visually appealing beer labels – its a win win situation for me.

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