A Photo Book for someone you love

Cover Page of the self-published photo Book - "It's All About Her". I designed and published this through Blurb.com . This was a surprise gift for my wife. Personalised Photo Books do make a great gift.

Cover Page of the self-published photo Book – “It’s All About Her”. I designed and published this through Blurb.com . This was a surprise gift for my wife.

In this digital age, most consumers of photography will probably never print their photographs. Today, most of the visual communication takes place online over internet and social media networks. I have an old suitcase at home. It contains stacks of picture albums with photographs of our family, friends and relatives. The newest album in the suitcase is probably from the late 90s. It has never been updated in the last 10-15 years. The latest entrant in our family archives that has closest resemblance to printed photo albums  is my Wedding Photo Book.

Photo Books in the publishing world have always been there. They have most commonly been called as Coffee Table Books. I personally dislike the term “Coffee table”. I feel that it suggests that the purpose of the book is only to place it over a table as an ornament. I think Photo Books have a larger purpose beyond it. Photo books are integral part of Visual Communication process. They are a form of medium to communicate your message.

The choice of Photo Book as the medium can have varied applications. From photojournalists, documentary photographers, art-photographers who want to publish their body of work in mass editions of Photo Books, to various digital artists who want to showcase their portfolio in the form of books, and to individuals who have found Photo Books as a more viable option than traditional photo albums for important life events like weddings and engagements, almost everyone out there can find a utility in Photo Books.

I had first made a Photo Book when I self-published my documentary project Fistful of Dreams. It was originally realized as multimedia project when I was doing my full-scholarship Diploma in Photojournalism program at Asian Centre for Journalism (ACFJ) at the Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines. Subsequently, I decided to reach out with this story to an audience who preferred books than digital screens. Hence, I designed and self-published this book using Blurb.com.

When I went completely independent as a photographer and started taking up freelance assignments, a huge chunk of commercial assignments were in the realm of contemporary, documentary and candid form of wedding photography. In weddings, one of the deliverable along with the processed digital files of the photographs are Wedding Photo books. I am glad that I still get to view photographs outside of digital screens. There is something about being able to hold a photograph in your hand and touch it. It could be a traditional photo print or a page from a photo book, it always has a special charm to it.

I am a big fan of personalized gifts and personalized communication. Photography & video can add that personal touch when we reach out to people. When I got married I had decided not to send traditional wedding invites to my friends. Instead I made a video invite and sent it across to all my close friends. Photo Books can also make great personalised gifts. How would it feel to know that there is a published book chronicling your life? Special, isn’t it?

This idea was always there on my mind, but never experimented with it. Couple of months back, I decided to retrospect the way my life has been for the last 2 to 3 years. One of the personal milestones in these last 3 years has been of  meeting Swapna(my wife), and then starting our life together as a married couple. It was during this introspection, I decided to gift her something that chronicled our initial years together. Photo Book turned out to be the best medium to do it. I wanted it to be a picture story – not about me, but about her, about how our life has been so far as seen from my perspective.

The result of the idea was this self-published Photo Book with photographs of her from the day we met for the first time. I decided to publish it using Blurb.com as it gave me the book making tools that allowed me to produce this work on my own in a very short span of time. Also, when I was starting work on this book, Blurb.com ran a contest called as the ”My Favorite Person” contest. The entries to it were Photo Books made for people in our lives. Hence, it was an added bonus then to go ahead with Blurb.com to self-publish this book.

This book has some sections of text too, that compliments the photo essay. The photographs in the book are not in any chronological order, but are ordered in a flow to weave a story. Swapna was the intended target audience of this story. But, I guess you will also understand the story when you go through the full online preview of the book shown below. The title of the book is what the story is about – It’s All about Her.

The book is best viewed when seen in Full-Screen mode. Click the full-screen button on bottom right corner of the book preview.


Have you ever made a Photo Book for someone? Do share your experience about making Photo Books? If you like the Photo Book shown here, then please do share this post with others too.

Nishant Ratnakar
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Nishant Ratnakar

Photographer | Visual Storyteller at www.nishantratnakar.com
Nishant is a Bangalore, India based Wedding, Portrait & Editorial Photographer. He is available for assignments across India. He also conducts photography workshops and offers personal photography mentorship.
Nishant Ratnakar
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