Making Books | The Cobbler Series


After blogging like a maniac through March and part of April, I’ve fallen behind a bit on my promise to be here regularly.  But I’m here now, and today I’m going to add an installment to the Cobbler Series (you know, that series I started for the purpose of sharing some of the many ways that I bring my photos from the pixel world to the real world.  The Intro/Table of Contents post is HERE, if you want to see).  Today’s installment is about making books!

I love books and I have a LOT of them.

Making Books

On that second shelf you see above is, without question,  what I’d grab if my house were on fire once my family were safely outside.  Looking at it right now, I should probably come up with a containment strategy because there’s no way I could carry ALL those books out at once and I am sure my family would take issue with my taking multiple trips, but ... maybe that’s a topic for another post.

On the left hand side, in the leather volumes, are all my favorite family photos from 1999 when my daughter was born until about 2009.  Back then I’d print out actual prints and glue them down onto archival pages in old fashioned scrapbooks from Exposures.  2009 was when my photography interest exploded and snowballed into what was to become LYYP, and everything changed after that.  On the right side, you see my family photos from 2009 until now.  Although it may not seem it, there’s a method to my madness, and I’m going to share it with you right now.

All McLaughlin vacations are compelled in beautiful McGuire storybooks -- the same ones I make for my beloved LYYP clients.  I mean, these books are the height of beauty and quality.  I love them, and I love making them.  And I love looking at them even more.  Every trip has its own book.

Those McGuire Storybooks are gorgeous, but there’s NO way they could hold all the small, everyday moments I capture of my family when we’re not on vacation.  For these, I design and print an annual “McLaughlin Family Adventures” book through

They’re gorgeous, easy to design and can hold a LOT of photos.  I print them in the 12x12 size.  I use the pro-line specialty paper and a linen cover with a book jacket (yes, even though I hate book jackets).

For both types of books, I tend to keep the design simple.  Just photos.  After they arrive, I page through with a sharpie and add headings and notes.  This is really a productivity strategy for me -- ages ago, I used to try to include headings and captions and commentary, but doing this felt really HARD, and ended up being a roadblock to getting it done.  If I delayed too long, the urgency would fade away and I’d fear it’d NEVER get done.  With me, it’s all about systems.  (I think I referenced that in a PAST POST in the Cobbler Series, right?)

One more pro tip before I wrap up.  A few years ago, I noticed that my daughter was taking iPhone photos of pages in my books.  My first reaction was to think - GASP - that’s no way to share quality photos!  But then I thought about it ... would I allow her to browse the extensive photo libraries on my hard drive to obtain the full res version of that photo she wanted?  Definitely not.  Would she even be able to find the one she was looking for if I let her?  Um, probably not.  SO I started burning CD’s of the photos included in the books and taping them to the inside of the cover.  Pretty clever, huh?  I certainly think so .... 😉

And that’s all, folks.  You do see other books on that shelf, but we don’t need to talk about them.   Some are vacation books from pre-2009 that I printed using Shutterfly.  All I have to say about those is that I WISH I had access to my McGuire and Blurb books back then because there is simply no comparison in quality.  A few are vacation books that I printed with other vendors as a way to try them out.  They didn’t make the cut either.  I did recently make a few Lincoln Coffee Table Books for my trip to Iceland and my session with Tara Whitney.  The quality is great, but I printed them smaller than the 14x11 books I offer as part of my collections, and I’ve concluded that bigger is definitely better when it comes to photos.  [I’ll share one “runner up” book that I was fairly impressed with and that has come out with many new options since I tried them out -- I like Artifact Uprising - maybe you’ll like them, too.]

What inspired me to sit down and write this blog post today (I mean, aside from the fact that I’m feeling somewhat caught up on all the client photos that have been keeping me busy) is an email from Blurb that landed in my inbox today.  Their “Friends and Family” promotion is going on and if you use the code “VIPFNF”, you’ll get 40% off a book if you order before May 11!

Now, designing these things is time consuming and a labor of love.  But if you can’t get a book ready in the next few days, don’t despair.  Blurb has frequent specials and they’re affordable to begin with.  Just get started and you won’t regret it when that book comes in the mail!

Next up in the Cobbler Series is tips on designing photo books.

Thanks for looking,


P.S.  Do you have a suggestion for a topic you’d like for me to cover as part of The Cobbler Series?  Please, please drop me a line!

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