Ever come back from a major holiday trip with loads of photographs in hand and wished you could show them off in a more professional manner?
Well, on a recent trip to Nepal, I took so many nice photos that I really wanted a way to show them to my family and friends in a more impressive way.
A bunch of 4R or 5R prints? Too small!
A number of A4 printouts from an inkjet printer? Too easily damaged and too much of a hassle to carry around a folder.
Well, then how about making a coffee table book? In many ways this is the perfect solution – you can show off your prints in a larger size with no loose pages or prints to lose, all protected in a bound hardcover.
Just a few years ago, doing such a thing would have been unheard of – not only would you have to employ somebody to do the layout of your book but also you'd have to shop around for a printing company that will do it for you.
Even then, nobody would print you just one book – you'd have to order in bulk and therefore have to look around for buyers of the extras to cover the phenomenal cost of such an undertaking.
Well, it's now the digital age and believe it or not, you can actually do what was once impossible – print a single hardbound or paperback book just for yourself or as a gift to your family and friends.
Such a book, if properly made, would also be great for professional photographers as a portfolio of their work.
A number of companies have popped up recently that produce so-called photo books.
These photo books come in a variety of sizes, from small, pocketable 5R-size books to A4 size and even a truly impressive A3 size.
Before you even get started with creating a photo book, you're going to have to gather a bunch of photos.
This isn't as simple as it sounds – unless you only plan to have a single photo on each page of a 40-page A3 photo book for example, you're probably looking at close to 80 photographs that you have to collate just for this purpose.
In fact, even if you're going for a simple 12-page double-sided book, you need to prepare at least 30 or so shots to make it really interesting.
Once you have the photos, you want to plan how you want the photo book to look, which means deciding which photos will look good together.
Getting an idea for the layout of your photo book is important as it determines the flow of images from page to page and thus how attractive the finished product will look when other people look at it.
Once you've decided on the shots, all you need to do next is to go online to one of the companies which offer the photo book service for the next step in the process.
Photo book companies
The photo book industry is still pretty new in the Malaysian market, and my research only turned up three companies which offer the service – Photobook (www.photobook.com.my), Pixart (www.pixart.com.my) and Ecaztudios (www.ecazstudios.com).
These companies offer varying levels of service and size of books so you should take a look at our guide and decide which one is right for you.