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Create and Publish Your Own Photo Book

A photo book is a great way to share your images with the world.

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Joe McNally

Commercial photojournalist Joe McNally is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about his photography.

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Vincent Versace

Fine art, commercial and nature photographer Vincent Versace is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about his…

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Dave Black

Sports and commercial photographer Dave Black is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about his photography.

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Corey Rich

Adventure photographer Corey Rich is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about his photography and multimedia work.

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4.2 Rating
One Shot: After Image

Jack Dyking on seeing in color and thinking in B&W

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3.8 Rating
The Importance of Composition When Shooting Nature

Pat O'Hara had to go far from home to really appreciate the…

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4.3 Rating
Andrew Hancock

Sports photographer Andrew Hancock is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about his photography.

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First Look: The All-Seeing, 360° Nikon Action Cam

Corey Rich describes his experience shooting with the KeyMission 360

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Tamara Lackey

Lifestyle portrait photographer Tamara Lackey is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about her photography.

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3.3 Rating
Shooting the Effects of Global Warming

Gary Braasch follows the evidence; the power of photography does the rest.

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Effects of Climate Change on Glaciers Through Time-Lapse

Jim Balog documents melting glaciers around the globe through…

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Preservation and Protection of Wildlife Through Photography

Photographer Moose Peterson's respect for wildlife and the…

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Making Pictures in the Rain

Just because it's raining doesn't mean there aren't great pictures waiting to be made.

Beginner

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Tips from a Model Turned Professional Photographer

See how photographer Nancy Brown turned a 20-year modeling career in…

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Think About Your Subject Before You Begin Shooting

Find out why thinking about your photos can be as important as taking…

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John Shaw: A Photographer's Vision Simplified

See how one of the foremost nature, outdoor and natural history…

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3.5 Rating
Mentor Series Worldwide Photo Treks

The Mentor Series Worldwide Photo Treks provide an incredible hands-on learning…

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5 Easy Composition Guidelines

Follow 5 easy tips for better photo compositions

Beginner

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Reaction Time

John Solano says that for him, photographing weddings is a lot like photographing sports.

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'Shooting the Curl' Gets a Whole New Meaning

Welcome to the surf as Clark Little sees it.

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How to Capture the “Wow” Factor

Photographer Evan Williams on shooting stunning photographs

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A Photographic Expedition — Easter Island and Patagonia, Chile

Travel to Patagonia and Easter Island for a photographic…

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4.3 Rating
How To Grow Your Garden Photography Skills

Taking great photographs of your own garden is easy with a few simple tips

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12 Tips for Better Vacation Photos

A dozen easy tips for taking better vacation pictures

Beginner

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Bill Frakes

Sports and action photographer and multimedia artist Bill Frakes is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about his…

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Bambi Cantrell

Wedding and portrait photographer Bambi Cantrell is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about her photography.

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Building Your Creative Team

Dixie Dixon on building a creative support team

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The Challenge of Bird Photography

B. Moose Peterson tells why photographing birds in the field is well worth the…

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The convenience of Using Save/load Settings—Smart!

Moose Peterson on the convenience of using Nikon's save/load settings…

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Cat Photography: Capturing Cats in Pictures

With a little patience you too can make great pictures of your pet cat or…

Beginner

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Moose Peterson: How to Photograph Winter Landscapes

Exposing so the Snow’s White and Six Other Tips for Great Winter…

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Tips for Environmental Photographers

Nikon Ambassador James Balog offers tips for environmental shooters

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Photographing it All

With experience as a newspaper photographer and close to 20 years with Sports Illustrated, George…

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Create a Visual Meme With Your Photos & Quick Wit!

Learn how to create a Meme with your own digital photographs that you…

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The Power and Beauty of Bears and Other Animals

When the animal in the viewfinder is a bear, this photographer knows…

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4.3 Rating
How to Photograph Lightning

Storm chaser Jim Reed offers valuable tips for making photos of lighning while staying safe.

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Santa Fe Photographic Workshops

Discover the spirit of place. Capture the soul of a portrait. Refine your personal style.…

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The Inspired Image

Communication is key for Dixie Dixon in creating stunning images

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Challenge Yourself as a Photographer

James Balog discusses the importance of challenging yourself in your photography

Beginner

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A Snapshot of Digital Images Online

A statistical look at how much image data is stored in the cloud

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3.8 Rating
Creatively Photographing Objects Up Close

The idea that less is more can be applied to the subject matter in your photos.

Beginner

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Family Photos—Capturing the Moments

Nikon School's Family Photos—Capturing the Moments is full of tips for taking fun…

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Moose Peterson

Wildlife and aviation photographer Moose Peterson is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about his photography.

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Preserve and Protect: Got a Backup Plan for Your Photos?

Don't lose those precious photos. Make sure you've got a backup…

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Through the Eyes of a Child

Simple tips for children to learn to take better photos

Beginner

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A Snapshot of Digital Photography in the US

A look at digital photography statistics in the US

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3.3 Rating
Elements of Photography

Ideal class for those who want to take great D-SLR photos

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3.6 Rating
Halloween & Autumn Harvest Photography

Take better photos during the colorful fall season

Beginner

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Capture NX 2: Lesson 4

Discover how to quickly sharpen the eyes of a portrait subject.

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Capture NX 2: Lesson 2

Master the technique of brightening up a photo with D-Lighting.

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3.3 Rating
Quick and Easy Photography Tips and Tricks

Nikon's Lindsay Silverman offers photo tips

Beginner

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Live Image Control

Live Image Control lets you preview how certain settings will affect your final image

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Video Tutorial Series: Getting Started with your Nikon D3300 DSLR

Series of six videos to help you set-up and shoot and…

Beginner

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James Balog

Conservation photographer James Balog is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about his photography.

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Photo Editing with Nikon's Capture NX 2

Learn to use editing features of Capture NX 2 software to get the most from your…

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Take a New Look at an Everyday Object

Robin Layton discusses opening your eyes to looking at subjects differently

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Taking Close-up Photos

How do I take close-up photos of flowers and small objects?

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Photograph Family and Friends During the Holidays

The holidays are prime picture-taking time. Get some great tips on…

Beginner

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Learning How to Use Your Camera's Histogram

The histogram is a useful tool that analyzes tonal range and helps in…

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10 Tips for Shooting Autumn Foliage

Nature photographer Rod Planck offers tips for shooting colorful fall foliage

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Basics of Exposure and Camera Controls

Ideal class for those who want to go beyond point & shoot photography

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Action and People Photography

For those who want to take better people and action photos

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For Memorable Family Vacation Photos, Focus First on Family

Tamara Lackey on taking great photos during family vacations

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Tips for Photographing Mountains

Making the most of mountains in landscape photographs

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Fast Frames: A Quick Guide to Bird Photography

Matt McRay discusses how to get birds to visit your yard so you can…

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COOLPIX Cameras and Cool Lighting with Speedlights

Lucas Gilman shows you how to use Speedlights with COOLPIX cameras

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No Limits: For Better Photos, Think Like a Photojournalist

David Handschuh on thinking like a photojournalist

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Bright Idea: Adding Star Power
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Bright Idea: Adding Star Power

Creating a starburst in your photographs

Beginner

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When You Explore All Angles, Better Pictures Happen

Tom Bol explains how changing perspective can make a better image.

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Active D-Lighting

Active D-Lighting optimizes high contrast images to restore the shadow and highlight details that are…

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CX Format Image Sensor

Nikon 1 digital cameras utilize the Nikon CX-format super high speed AF CMOS imaging sensor.

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Capturing or Freezing Motion in Photos

Learn how to freeze the motion in an action scene or capture a blur to show…

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Prime Lenses

What is a prime lens? Well, it's a lens that isn't a zoom. A prime lens has a fixed focal length which means…

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The Versatile Appeal of the D600

See what makes the D600 an appealing camera

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Tips For Making Tempting Food Photos

Alison Lyons offers simple tips for taking great photos of food & drink

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Taking Better Photographs on the Water

Harbors, bays, oceans and rivers all have one thing in common—interesting and…

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iPhone App

Nikon’s new iPhone app gives you anytime, anywhere access to Learn & Explore educational and editorial…

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Taking Pictures at Dusk and at Night

How do I take pictures at dusk and at night?

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Extend Your Reach with Nikon 1 Cameras and the FT-1 Mount Adapter

Extend your reach with your favorite NIKKOR lenses on a…

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Shooting a Rock Concert

Whether you're taking photos at a major rock concert or at your child's school performance, these…

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Mentor Trekking in Costa Rica with Bill Durrence

A Mentor Series instructor leads a group of photo trekkers through the…

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Have Fun Shooting Selfies (Self-Portrait) Photos

Tips and tricks for taking great Selfies

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Flash Photography the Easy Way

David Tejada's easy-does-it flash tips

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Create and Publish Your Own Photo Book

So you've got this dream: a photo book of your own. You're not alone. At one time or another, every photographer, from enthusiast to pro, has had it.

These days, though, it doesn't have to remain a dream. Not only is it relatively easy to create, design and publish that book, you've also got a world of options when it comes to how it'll look. And you can publish it for a small (or not so small) circle of friends, or you can reach out to the wider world.

Not only that, but the benefits of taking on a book project are a lot greater than just the immediate satisfaction of holding it in your hands, a done deal. Simply, that book can make you a better photographer.

There are two basic ways to go: publish an attractive, basic book using the resources of your local photo dealer or an online service, or aim for a more professional-looking, bookstore-quality volume via a different kind of online service company.       

To find the former, just stroll into a local photo retailer and ask about photo books. Chances are the choices will be along the lines of 12- or 24-page 8x10- or 12x12-inch volumes you can create at the dealer's kiosk. You load the photos, choose the order in which they'll appear, select a layout and walk out with the printed book. Or you can upload the photos to an online site like Shutterfly or Snapfish, or the website of a photo retailer, and control things from your computer. To get an idea of the options available, Google "photo books" and settle in for a bit of internet exploring.

Then there's the "bookstore-quality" book...but we'll get to that in a moment.


Telling a Story

We decided to talk about photo books approximately two minutes into a conversation with Layne Kennedy. Layne is not only an accomplished pro shooter whose work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Smithsonian and National Geographic Traveler, he's also a leader of Nikon Mentor Series photo treks. He's had several books published, and he teaches a workshop at the Minnesota Center of Photography on creating photo books. It was when he mentioned his recent self-publishing effort—a book titled 47 Degrees North: Grand Marais and Beyond—that we turned on the tape recorder. 

"It's about Grand Marais, a small northern Minnesota town," Layne said, "and the book was a test to see how the whole self-publishing thing would all turn out." Layne produced the book using Blurb, a print-on-demand service that had been recommended to him by another professional photographer. "Everything worked out well—color reproduction, control of the layout and text, binding—and I order my inventory as I need copies to fill sales. I've already got plans for more books." 

Producing the book meant following the advice he gives to participants in his course at the Minnesota Center, and although Layne's book is the bookstore-quality variety, his guidelines apply to the more modest volume you can create online or at your dealer's kiosk.

Those guidelines start with a theme. "The benefit of going out and shooting to a theme is that we're not distracted by all the other visuals that aren't part of that theme," Layne says. He's found that the most difficult thing for photo enthusiasts to do is to limit distractions. "Most people random shoot—'Oh, that's pretty,' and snap, they take the photo. But when you're working on a book theme, you're building a story line, and building a story line makes you a better photographer because you're forced to see things that you normally wouldn't look at. All of a sudden you start to really see, and that's when you start to tell the story."

And there's the essence of it: your photo book is a story, not a collection of pretty pictures.

"There's a quote I use in my workshops," Layne says. "It's from Robert Gilka, who was the director of photography at National Geographic way back when. When someone asked him about the quality of the photographs in Geographic, he said, 'Quite frankly, my photographers have something to say.' Often people see a beautiful scene, they take the picture, but they never get to the next step: what was it that attracted them to the scene? If they can define that, and photograph it—that's what they're saying in their photo. And when you work within a theme for your book, that's what you ask yourself: ‘what is it I want to say here?' That's the value of doing a thematic book project: it helps you define what you want to say, and when you do that, you'll take better photographs."

Themes

So what's your theme? Obviously, it can be anything at all: something you're very familiar with, or, conversely, something you're exploring for the first time. A season of the year, antique cars, railroad yards, carefully tended gardens, the history of your home town, a vacation trip, a snowfall, a graduation. "I like the idea of getting out of your box," Layne says, "and shooting a subject you might be interested in but have never photographed."

Above all, he says, avoid the biggest trap: repetition. "You go to the state fair and shoot rides at night, and there's one where the lights are awesome and there's something different in every frame—but you can use only one photo." That's the hard part—and that's one of the key values of the book project: you learn how to edit, how to decide, how to have solid, critical judgment of your own work. You learn you need a beginning, middle and an end. How does this photo fit into the theme? How does it carry the story forward? Which photos stay, which go? A book by definition is something that's edited.

The book's success will depend on the quality of the images, of course, but also on its pacing—the flow from one photo to the next. "When I do a book, I do it for myself," Layne says, "but I'm always aware of, and interested in, how others are going to look at it. You can't have a landscape, a landscape, a landscape and then move on to something else and have three photos of that. You have to create a visual weave, so people go in and out, so they feel texture and contrast and remain interested."

The weave, he says, is generally created from three types of images: overviews, medium close-ups and close-ups. Establish the scene, move in to reveal more of what's there, then go after the details. "I shoot an overview for a sense of place, a medium shot that gives a more revealing look and then a detail that shows something that might be missed as someone walks by. All three of those make for a compelling story."

There's more, to be sure. How do the colors in your photos work as a viewer moves from page to page? Three blue-tone images in a row may, or may not, work; it depends on the story you're telling.

And size: is there an image that, as Layne says, sings by itself and deserves a two-page spread? Keep your book in mind as you shoot, and you'll know that this picture has a lot of detail and will need to be big, while that one, with its one strong colorful subject, can be smaller and still have impact.

And look at other books to see what choices are available to you to serve your story. Layne suggests checking out the books shown at Blurb's website. "You can see an entire book online and go page by page to see how someone else did it. You can see how a book flows, picture to picture. You learn by looking."

And, if you choose, by sharing. "I definitely recommend that people share their books with others before they publish it. Have someone whose opinion you value and trust look at it. Maybe there'll be some questions: Why'd you put that photo first? Why did you put those two photos on the same page? And there's nothing wrong with someone prompting you to express your reasoning, to put into words your feelings about why you did what you did."

Finally, publication of your book doesn't mean the learning is over. "The great thing is, once you've published your book, it continues to teach," Layne says. "You'll keep picking it up and you'll see what you did that works and what you'd like to improve. You come back and reevaluate your work; it's your personal teaching tool."

Layne says he's willing to bet that just by putting a book together, working it all out from theme to layout to printed volume, no matter if it's a 12-pager or something more ambitious, you're going to be a better photographer than you were when you started.

Sounds like a safe bet.

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