Sunday, December 12, 2010

DIY parents' photo album

My mum's friend sent her an email months before our wedding, letting mum know that she'd had a magazine-style photo book printed by Albumworks and was really pleased with the quality of the book. We had no other recommendations for Australian photo books and my usual printer, Vistaprint, doesn't do this style of them. They were also very reasonably priced - our other option was an American company, Mpix, which does the more traditional style thick-paged albums - very beautiful but they don't offer the same range of sizes for albums, and the base product has only 10 pages, whereas we had 90-odd photos to place! They offer up to 40 pages, but this then gets quite costly for our meagre budget. It's still a very cheap option as albums go however, so if you're looking for a traditional style DIY album i would recommend you take a look at them. Not sure if they ship to Australia, but most companies do.

As she'd given such a glowing recommendation and the pricing was within our budget for a thank-you gift to my Mum and Dad, we decided to go with Albumworks and chose a hard cover, faux leather bound photo book, in A4 size, portrait orientation. They also offer landscape and square, in A3, A4 and A5.

They have free design software for both Windows and Mac that you use to arrange your photos and upload the finished design to Albumworks. It's very easy to use and offers a range of layouts, masks, frames, and backgrounds that you can use, and the album you choose already has a suggested layout. I changed most of mine to suit which pictures i was using on that particular page, however it was helpful as i spotted a few that i really liked and that got me into using the layouts page more.

I chose portrait as i thought all portrait photos would fit on one page, and landscape would fit across two. I hadn't taken into consideration the binding however - most of my landscape photos had people right in the middle, which meant they couldn't be used across two pages. However i did manage to get a few in! Next time i would probably go for the square style as it offers the best of both worlds, more flexibility in positioning your photos.

Here's a screenshot of the program in use. You can see some of the layouts possible on the samples at the bottom of the page. In my left-hand page, i've used one of the suggested layouts but changed it so instead of 3 square photos at the bottom, i've removed one and stretched the other two to create two landscape photos. The right-hand layout i've created from scratch, adding in a frame and stretching it to landscape, then copying it two more times and arranging them on the page. The red lines you can see in the middle are part of the guides which are around all the pages, to give you an idea of what will be printed and what may be cut off. It's really very easy to use and there's a wizard if you get stuck, and a help page on their site which you can search.

Albumworks allow you to submit your project up until the 16th December while guaranteeing Christmas delivery. They send the album by overnight courier. I just submitted mine yesterday and have traced it as far as Press Preparation (it is a weekend so i don't expect much more than this until Monday). Their service level aims for 7 business days from upload until dispatch, which should give me enough time to review and photograph the finished product before i wrap it up and take it to Mum and Dad's at xmas. 


  1. Hi Janelle
    First of all, congratulations on your wedding ... and this fantastic blog. I'm sure many other couples planning their big day will find it most helpful.
    On behalf of albumworks, I'd also like to say a big thank you for choosing us as your album printer and for this well crafted snapshot on your experience using the editor.
    Kind regards
    Sandra Williams

  2. Thanks Sandra! I'm quite impressed at how quickly you found my post :)

    I can see from the tracking page that my album has been printed and is now in assembly - very fast. Looking forward to reviewing it when it arrives.