How To Tell A Story With Your Photo Book
If you are thinking about making your own photo book, the chances are you’ve already scrolled through your social media and pinpointed the photographs or albums you want to print. But making a photo book can be a far more intricate and creative task than simply printing out photographs that you like.
The unique thing about photo books is their ability to tell a story. To weave the viewer from one chapter to the next, keeping them hooked with a that which will make them want to come back to it again and again.
These are not like the photo albums of old, where you would slip printed photographs into plastic sleeves just to document them. A photo book is an extension of your social media presence, and your social media presence is a window into your life. Your life is the most interesting story of all, so you should try to tell it in a way that gives it justice.
But how do you do this? What stories can you tell and how can you bend a collection of seemingly random photographs into a story that has shape? Well, it’s actually very simple. All you need is a bit of creativity.
Start With A Showstopper
How many shows or movies have you seen that kick things off with a killer, showstopping first scene? Probably quite a lot. This is something that draws the audience in and gets them invested straight from the get-go. If this can be done in other forms of media, then there’s no reason why you can’t do the same.
Using the same principle, try to take a “WOW!” photograph that can start things off with a bang and make sure it fills the whole first page. This can be anything you want. It could be a gorgeous sunset from your vacation abroad, with the sun on the horizon steadily dripping red light onto the ocean beneath it. Or it could be a photograph of your new-born child, with their eyes glinting at the camera and their smile already showing off a hint of their cheeky personality.
Use these pictures to make a statement at the beginning of your book, and then carry on with the theme and tone you have set. For example, if it's a picture of the sunset, tell the rest of the story about that vacation. How did it begin? What did you do? Where did you go?
If it’s the picture of your new-born, what happened next? Tell the story of their growth, the first time they laughed, the first time they walked. Start with a showstopper photograph and use that photograph to dictate the rest of your tale.
Don’t Follow The Natural Order Of Things
When coming up with ideas to tell a story, many people think it is necessary to show scenes in chronological order, but this doesn’t necessarily correlate to a well-structured, interesting photo book.
Once again, how many other forms of media actually tell a story chronologically? These days, the most interesting narratives choose to skip around the place, beginning at the end or ending at the beginning, with a whole load of time jumps in between. Your photo book can be just as spontaneous.
The only thing you have to remember is your structure is now held together by your characters, not your chronology. In this way, it is important to make sure each time jump is underpinned by a certain character.
For instance, if this is a family album, you can divide each section to spotlight different people. One chapter shows what your mom has been getting up to, the next focuses on your grandmother. If this is an album that involves pictures of your friends, then try to allow a few pages for each of them. You are keeping the structure loose, but the story of your characters is still shining through.
If you want to remember the dates photos were taken, simply customise the captions underneath. That way, you’ll never totally erase the ‘original’ story in favour of this new chronology. Speaking of which…
Let The Words Do The Talking
One of the other unique things about our photo books is that they are plucked from your social media, meaning any tags or statuses that come with a post can be featured in your photo book too.
In this way, you can formulate a Facebook or Instagram photo book around the posts and statuses you have shared. These posts have the ability to give context and meaning behind certain photographs, which can also help to tell a story about each one and allow the reader to really engage with what they are seeing.
This method might require a little patience, but if you are planning on making a personal photo book, start adding more detailed statuses to your favourite posts when you upload them.
Talk your friends through what is happening in your life and create a bit of a rhythm to your social media page. If you do this, then when you come to create your photo book of that year, you can break up all the images with pieces of detailed and riveting content, almost as if it is a collection of short stories.
Be Creative And Have Fun
These are just a few methods of turning your photo book into a story, but there are many more to discover and try out.
Remember, you want something that deserves its place on the bookshelf or coffee table. Something that will engross anyone who picks it up, rather than be a momentary thing to flick through and put down again.
Don’t be afraid to rock the status quo a little bit and try to make something you are truly proud of. The pages are at your fingertips, so fill them up in whatever way you like!