Things to Know When Self-Publishing a Photography Book

If you’ve been working as a photographer for quite some time, chances are that the thought of publishing your photo book must’ve crossed your mind at least once. There could be various reasons for this. It could be that you want to see your photos in printed form, to keep a record of progress as a photographer, to have a physical portfolio, or just to give it as a gift to someone. While the idea is definitely a good one, approaching publishers with this idea is not something that’s feasible for everyone. A better option can thus be to self-publish your own book. In today’s video, photographer Sean Tucker shares a bunch of advice that’ll help you put your own book together:

First off, it’s good to know that publishing a photobook is not collecting a bunch of photos and handing them over to a printer. The process is in fact a series of meticulous tasks where every single step is crucial.

Tucker’s books include images that he’s taken throughout the year. For him, it’s not about showcasing his older work. You need to carefully plan out what you want to include in your photo book. Set a theme if you want. Also, decide the number of photos you want to have in the book. Choose whether you want all of the images to be in color, monochrome, or a mix of photos in color and other in black and white. These are some of the considerations that you need to make when planning a photo book.

Once you have your book planned out, it’s now about building your collection. Keep taking photos as often as you can and keep all the ones you like in one place. Build on this collection and keep on reviewing them at certain intervals to funnel the best ones to be featured in the photo book. Remember, this is a continuous process and can’t be done in a day. Once you’ve got your collection ready, things don’t end there. Sort out the best sequence of images so that when readers flick through the pages, they have a pleasurable experience. This process determines the journey you want the readers to take. Like your collection, keep on reviewing the flow until everything snaps in place.

“Having the right order, and having the beginning, a middle, and the end, and making sure that the sequence flows will be what makes that book a good book.”

Then comes the aesthetic and technical aspects of actually giving the photobook a final shape – deciding the type of paper you want to print on and actually getting the book printed. No matter how good your photos are, people will not pay attention to them unless they’re presented in a pleasing manner. This is why Tucker strongly suggests that you seek help from a professional designer when working on the layouts. Their understanding of the workflow will make your life so much easier. A good design gives a cohesive feel to the book and adds that “wow factor”.

A tricky thing that you should consider is regarding the paper media. Printers have various paper types to choose from and each of them treats the colors differently. While some paper types, like glossy paper, exaggerates the color and contrast, uncoated paper can flatten the images and reduce saturation. So, order samples and closely study how each paper type affects your images under different lighting. Based on your final decision, you may need to slightly adjust your post-processing as well.

Finally, once your photo book is ready, don’t assume that people will instantly flock to buy it. This doesn’t usually happen unless you have a strong follower base or good regular traffic to your website. Also, self-publishing a book means that you have to market, sell, and handle any customer grievances. Don’t forget to prepare yourself in this regard. And if needed, you may need to channel your supply through local book vendors. So, sort out the way you want to go with selling your photo books beforehand.

If you’re planning to publish your own photo-book, we strongly suggest that you go through the entire video. The insights that Tucker shares will definitely come in handy.

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