Print your travel pictures | Free your photos from your phone!

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Photos are made to be visceral objects – to be shared, admired and laughed at, over a cup of tea… Are photo books a good idea?

Printing out my photographs (including ones from my travels) is something I have always done. Yes, even back in the days when us teenagers had monobrows and slightly greasy curtains for a ‘hairstyle’, (Perfect ‘Insta selfies’ weren’t a ‘thing’ then, thank goodness…) I was snapping away. From my first point-and-click camera, (where you might be lucky to get two or three ‘good’ photos out of a whole roll), through an APS camera (remember that? Where you selected pano, square or rectangle? There were a real flash-in-the-pan), to my cumbersome digital SLR camera, which took incredibly sharp photos… of portraits and landscapes; if you needed to zoom in on something, then you’d need to buy a big, expensive lens….

First, I would buy self-adhesive albums and scrapbooks, then moved onto photo walls at Uni, framed collages and slip-in albums. But this quickly became dated, (although, I still love an album) and in moved the modern era of ‘digital technology’; which is here to improve our photo-printing-out experience. Instead, I hear more and more often how many thousands of photos people leave philandering on their mobile devices, and wonder how many of them ever see the light of day again. Babies, weddings, travel pics… All forgotten once uploaded onto social media! Despite us being able to travel to more and more picturesque locations, with increasing ease.

One way in which digital tech helps with this, is by allowing us to create our own ‘photo books’ online, and then have them printed and posted to us in a neat book.

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My most recent photo book creation, using Bob’s Books, online

I have used these a few times, and previous experiences have made me liken it to elements of what I imagine giving birth would be like. Stick with me… The process of building said photo book is longwinded, to start. You have to commit. It can take a long old while to select the images and then there’s the uploading…. you may will cry, even shriek, and shout with frustration ‘Why did you ever make me do this?!?!’, at your nearest and dearest. Systems will crash, uploads will fail and you may miscount the number of pages, meaning having to either double the cost, or start all over again. But. When that shiny, new bundle arrives on your doorstep, and you marvel at the beauty in your hands – how did YOU create something so beautiful? – you forget all the trauma that went into making it.

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I used the online service, Bob’s Books, to create a 90+ page landscape photo book of our three-week holiday to Thailand. Such a holiday deserves to be shown in the best light. And (for the main part) it was a pretty good experience; although, yes, I did have a couple of rage-filled moments shouting “Whyyyyyy?!” at my screen. Luckily, the Bob’s Books online chat staff are very helpful, and patient.

There are a few ways you can create a ‘Bob’s Book’; by using a downloadable creator (if you have lots of time and want unrivalled creative control), or an online tool (again, if you have lots of time, but don’t want to spend weeks on the project). I fell into a few pitfalls, which I knew I would, so here are my tips:

  • Consider how many pages you want and the type of book. I chose matte landscape, which was perfect – no glare.
  • After choosing the number of pages, (the price increases by number of pages added), edit your photos down in a file outside of the creator. The photos will be uploaded in a scrolling bar at the top of the page, and you drag them down onto the individual layouts – so, preparation is key.
  • I had six different destinations, so divided the number of photos I had in total by the number of pages I wanted, to give me an estimate of how many per page. This made it easier not to let the price and page numbers spiral.
  • I loved the variety of layouts you can use. You can even add background photos and layer them – factor in time to play around.
  • Most importantly – make sure your internet connection is strong. The MOST frustrating thing is getting an error message when your photos won’t upload, and you have spent three hours on the damn thing…
  • Sit back and admire your hard work – the effort is totally worth it. 
  • If you do run into trouble creating your book, the Bob’s Books staff are the most helpful people I have found on the whole Internet. Their customer service is sublime. They even have an online chat service, which I was using at 1030pm.

I have been wondering about these apps where you can get a certain number of free prints per month from your phone, and the ones that turn your pictures into framed photos and magnets etc. Have you used any? Would you recommend any? Let me know!

Here are some highlights of my Thailand Bob’s Book. Do let me know if you have any questions, and you can make your very own by visiting Bob’s Books, online:

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The back cover of my Bob’s Book – so shiny! And so clear. You can make out the grains of sand, the image quality is so sharp

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Such a variety of layouts available… A single page full bleed can really make a great photograph look fantastic

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I loved using images as backgrounds. It adds interest and sets a scene.

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None of the detail is lost during printing. There are a few checks done to check the quality before printing, and prompts are given for you to change an image if it isn’t high resolution enough.

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Beautiful Thailand – presented elegantly

Read Thailand articles and reviews on FashCatherine…

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