Despite the proliferation of photo sharing sites on the Internet, people still like to hold photo albums in their hands. They like to be able to flip through their past and relive the moments in time captured there. While they can put their own photos in photo albums by hand, actual printed photo books look more professional. And creating photo books for people can be lucrative.
Set up your computer to produce photo books. For the basics, you can rely on Adobe Photoshop Elements or iPhoto, both of which give you tonal control over photos and can get photos ready for printing. For better control and more design options, you'll need Adobe Photoshop and QuarkXPress or InDesign. Familiarize yourself with the programs. In QuarkXPress or InDesign, you can set up basic templates for photo books that you can then use repeatedly.
Decide whether you will print the books yourself or subcontract them. If you decide to print them yourself, you will need a professional-level printer and a book binder, both of which can be costly. The investment will be worth it if you are planning to create unique collectors' albums and charge a premium for them, but you can subcontract at a lower initial cost.
Create a website, business cards and brochures that you will use to advertise your new photo book business. You can use something as simple as iWeb on the Apple Macintosh computer to design a website and go live with it quickly. Business cards should give your contact information and be representative of your business. Brochures should be an expansion of the business card and website with added graphics and images of sample photo books. For business cards, you can use anything from Photoshop to Swift Publisher to QuarkXPress. For brochures, Swift Publisher, QuarkXPress and InDesign will give you the most creative control.
Look at professionally printed photo books and get ideas for designs. This doesn't mean copy the designs, just get ideas and design your own. Does a standard 8.5-by-11-inch format work best or would turning it on its side be better? Odd shapes are good because they are custom-looking, but if you aren't using a full hard-cover book printing shop, you probably want to stick with standard sizes.
Find photo book printers online or near you. There are many such services, and if you are going to subcontract a lot of printing jobs to them you might be able to negotiate a discount. If you have designed the books yourself, the most common format to send to a printer is Adobe's PDF, because it can be opened with most any computer and is usually easiest for the printer to use. Check with the printer, however, to find out what format the company's representatives prefer. QuarkXPress, InDesign and Swift Publisher all have options to export PDFs.
Shawn M. Tomlinson has been a newspaper and magazine writer for more than 28 years. He has written for a variety of publications, from "MacWEEK" and "Macintosh-Aided Design" to "Boys' Life," "Antique Week" and numerous websites. He attended several colleges, majoring in English, writing and theater, and has taught college classes about writing.