I am trying to create a photo book to give to family and friends for Christmas.

I am wondering how to organize images.

  1. Should I group landscape shots into one chapter, cities into another and animals into a third?
  2. Or, should I intermix the categories. Almost like having landscape, city, animal iterating over the pages.
  3. Alternatively, is there some sort of help in making this decision? (I have looked at other photo-books, but I don't want to copy the format of a specific book.)

Further Info

I want to select images that work because they are impressive, not because they tell a story. The image are from travel in a country where the audience hasn't been. The landscape shots prevail in numbers, although I could select an equal number of each category.

The format of the book will be reasonably large, 26 pages. I haven't decided on the format. Either square (spreads will be 2x1 ratio) or landscape.

  • Spreads across the gutter (fold) die. The chopping of the most impressive shots in half limits their grandeur, especially expanses. – Stan Sep 9 '13 at 14:56
  • That's why you can get books with panorama-binding. – Unapiedra Sep 9 '13 at 19:21
  • YES. Variations in format are cool especially if the preceding reader was careful enough to get the page back into the binding without adding a crease or two as a souvenir. Being impractical opens up a whole new aspect of creativity. Loose prints in a portfolio binding is fun. I like the ones that tie closed with cloth tape. – Stan Sep 10 '13 at 3:38
  • The problem with playing with the format is that it ultimately distracts from the photography itself. It could detract from what you want to accomplish. The concept in cartooning is "Don't break the frames." Marshall McLuhan wrote about, "The medium is the Massage" years ago. "Don't let the medium get in the way of the message," is yet another. – Stan Sep 10 '13 at 6:15
  • I don't see how the comments are related to the question. Maybe you could add them to the answer? – Unapiedra Sep 10 '13 at 19:41

People are clever to notice patterns. Actually, a human mind instinctively searches for patterns. Use this to your advantage, even when you first think there will not be a pattern to follow. Maybe there is no pattern throughout the whole book, but at least for groups of photos.

An example: three photos that you've shot during your trips onto a certain mountain. One macro-shot of a single insect, one portrait of an old man and one landscape from the mountainside. No pattern? Yes, they are all shot at the same mountain, that's a pattern. But, this is a pattern that has a meaning to you, not necessarily easy to see by your audience. They might see a pattern in field of vision or scale of living space. You know the photos are from the same mountain, they don't. They'll find a pattern in the order the photos from small to large or large to small, while in your mind the mountain is the pattern and you might just place them in chronological order: man, insect, landscape - practically ruining the pattern for your audience.

So to help you with the organizing task, forget your own knowledge of your photos, and step in the shoes of your audience. Try to see patterns the way they'll probably see them.

Personally, I like the idea of using colors for grouping of photos. With the key color of a photo I'd place them in pairs or triplets, mixing colors, opposite colors, groups of same color, etc. And if there is no key color in a photo, then leave it to another photobook. Not sure if I could make a pattern with colors, but at least I'd have fun organizing them.

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There isn't a right or wrong answer for this. Personally, I would probably do it categorically, but I'd also try to intermix different sizes and orientations to keep things interesting. Themes can also work well and allow you to blend different types of shots to keep things interesting.

It's really an artistic choice of how you want to organize. Any system that lets you tell a story with the photos and organize them so that people can find them will produce a decent result. As the old Reeses commercial went, there's no wrong way to organize a photo book (or at least there are many right ways.)

It's really hard to give any particular advice without knowing the subject matter of the photos, but think about what groupings of photos make sense? Are there photos based around particular events? Are there themes? You could even do something random like do it based on color or feeling that the images evoke. The options are really unlimited that you can pursue.

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  • Note that sizes and orientations were not part of the questions, as that seems obvious to me. But maybe there is help for making the artistic choice. (Like in composition) – Unapiedra Sep 2 '13 at 17:19

The image are from travel in a country where the audience hasn't been.

I'd suggest -

Region + Time (Events / Time of day / implied sequence hints like ferry->sunset->party->dinner) + Mixture of categories (few landscapes, few portraits, so on.).

This would speak of cultural info for subconscious compare-contrast. And mixture in categories will keep viewers interested.

On the other hand, considering that you'd have 26 pages in all, grouping all pictures of each category together also won't make it as monotonous as it would be for several pages per category..

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  • I like the second suggestion, 26 pages not being very many. – Unapiedra Sep 3 '13 at 20:51

Here are a few different ideas for ways to present a sequence of (photographic) images.

  • Present the sequence with a progression of one dominant colour to another. Start the presentation with blues, say, and let the dominant colour slowly change over the sequence to another dominant one.

  • Present the sequence as a time line. Show 'em in the same sequence as you shot 'em. Reverse this for another variation of the time line technique.

  • Present the sequence as contrasts with a hazy image preceding an sharp one, and then to a landscape followed by a crowded market, followed by … Contrasts are exciting.

  • Present the sequence as it impresses you.

  • Try a random arrangement. Try to avoid a pattern consciously and your subconscious will take over. Jus' keep shufflin' 'em around until you're happy. (This is not a cop-out answer.)

  • Present the sequence as a progression of angles of view. Move in on your subjects as you turn the pages. Reverse the sequence, instead,pulling back from your subject as you turn the pages.

At this point you'll know what you're after.

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