We’re all photographers now, aren’t we? Thanks to cell phones, there isn’t a moment we can’t capture. Instead of letting your photos fall into a black hole in a hard drive, you can print photos online to hang at home.
But there’s another option that appeals to many, and especially those who experienced it during the good old days of making albums. Instead of resorting to double-sided tape and stickers, you can digitally upload photos directly from your phone to any number of online photo book creation services and turn them into a printed book with binding. Most photo book services allow you to design the book yourself for a truly personal touch.
However, not all photo books are created equal. Some design tools have more layout options than others and the print quality differs significantly. After practical tests, Shutter (available from Shutterfly) won us over all and is the best photo book service for its unlimited customization options and high quality. For something cheaper, check out Mixbook (available on Mixbook)which offers many customizable layouts and text options.
Here are the best photo books we tested, ranked in order:
- Raising Artifacts
- Pinhole press
Other photo books we’ve tested
How we tested photo books
Each photo book was tested in two stages. The first assessment was an assessment of the online design process, taking into account uploading photos, design tools and placing an order.
The second test evaluated the result of the physical photo book, including photo print quality, page material, book covers, etc.
I’m Liv Birdsall, a Reviewed contributor where I review lifestyle products ranging from beauty and style to home and garden. I was excited to try photo books because I like to remember. I chose to create a photo book using images from my yoga certification training to use as a reference now that I am teaching yoga.
We created each photo book by uploading the same 45-50 photos to each site’s online design tool and tried different features such as auto-filling the book with photos, adjusting photo sizes and moving pages. We used the same image on the cover of each book to see how it would look and print. We made sure to use all the photos from each book, and then we placed the orders for all the books.
Once the photo books arrived, we flipped through them and compared the print quality. Some photos were dark and dull, some were bright, some were exposed or blurry, and some were color accurate. We evaluated the pages, bindings, cover quality and durability of each book.
What you need to know about buying a photo book
Buying a photo book is usually a two-part process: designing the book, then ordering it. The design steps can be as complex as you want, similar to scrapbooking.
Some photo book websites allow you to add frames, graphics, and text boxes to each page to personalize every detail. Before you start designing, you must first collect all of your photos for the book into a folder; this helps streamline the download process and gives you an idea of the size of a photo book you’ll need.
When it comes to designing, give yourself time to be creative. If you want a photo book quickly, use the autofill tool offered by many sites, then review the photos to make sure they aren’t cut off by any format and are ordered to your liking.
If you’re looking to personalize each page, adjust layouts and photos to make your photo book unique and reflect the memories you want to capture.