As summer 2013 draws to a close we’ve been making an inventory of exactly what it takes to produce one of our high-quality photo books. Ready to design your own photo book? Consider the following.

Tools –  Cameras are expected but Build Your Tour uses at least two. In 2013, Build Your Your captures still images on both a Go Pro video camera (>$300) and a Panasonic Lumix, Shock & Waterproof, 12 Mega Pixel camera (~$300). Every now and then, our phones actually take a nice shot so we’ll use those too. On one tour, we enlisted another pro-photographer with their camera equipment. In addition to our camera and computer equipment, Build Your Tour’s other supplies include a variety of more obscure components. Our travel-ready laptop enables us to store and process images while on a tour and the ColorMunki Display (~$169) and Adobe Lightroom 5 (>$137) are new essentials to guarantee brilliant color and photo management.

Travel & Transportation – When Build Your Tour attends an event, we incur travel expenses. Generally our vehicle/SAG support adds 1,000 miles on our vehicle and a few hundred miles on the bike during a one week Colorado tour. We travel with multitudes of extra rechargeable batteries, chargers, and cables to ensure images are backed up and that we’ll be ready to capture more images every day. 
Training – Build Your Tour regularly avails ourselves of extensive study through online blogs, knowledge bases and training videos. We also study new photo book sites, printed materials and attend training courses and conferences applicable to photography, tours and associated topics.

Time – While photographing we stop as frequently as every 500 feet and often for periods over 30 minutes to capture cyclists, wildlife or scenery in a particular light. Whether we’re driving or cycling on a tour, photography takes time. You may find us snapping away from dawn until dusk because that’s what it takes!

During and after tours, we spend about 1 hour of time for every 5 photos included in a Build Your Tour design:

  • Selecting the 5 images from a candidate pool of 10-50 images,
  • Fine tuning image exposure and color balance (if needed),
  • Cropping and sizing each image to the planned size on the printed page, and finally
  • Placing the images in the book layout program.

For the CRMBT 2013 tour, for example, Build Your Tour and U&I Creative sorted through several thousand images we captured on three cameras before fine tuning and settling on the 177 images placed in the book.

Experience – Build Your Tour has been designing photo books for over 28 years – more than 7 years dedicated to online digitally designed photo books. We have used design tools on more than 8 online sites* and are familiar with common design tactics, features and characteristics supported by these companies. We’ve also compared the companies print quality, design features and value. 

Some have robust design features warning of poor image quality, others don’t. Some allow higher paper quality selection, others don’t. Knowing how to match the online supplier with your desires and how to make best use of a site’s design features and preview capabilities greatly enhances the appeal of the resulting photo book. Knowing how to size an image to fit the book and print clearly (non-pixelated) and best showcase the subject is of paramount importance. Build Your Tour has the knowledge and experience!

Quality Assurance – We first ship an event or multiple-copy, photo book to ourselves to check the actual print quality because some online previews do not show what you will see in print.  Only after approval of the print copy do we ship the photo books to our clients. Added print cycles incur, you guessed it, more expense. For single book orders, we generally ship directly to you and work with you if the print quality may be remedied by the printer.                                                                                                                                                                            
Print Cost – At most online photo book sites, prices begin around $29.99 for a 20 page, 8×11 hard-cover book with most websites charging $1 per additional page. The cost for a nice sized, 40 page book easily reaches $50.00 before tax and shipping fees. (A single-sheet, color copy at your local office supply store runs about $0.50 but isn’t of the same print quality.) 

Some sites don’t publish their prices and some offer regular discounts. Various sites offer different covers ranging from soft to “crocodile” leather, hard back. Sites with more robust design and publishing features often charge more for printing a book and are worth the expense. At Build Your Tour, we work with our clients to select the online site and printer based on your criteria or the parameters of the event.

Joy – Build Your Tour staff loves looking at our own photo books and recalling our own travel and tour memories. We build our photo books with love and care to highlight the enjoyment you experienced. We want you to feel the tour joy again…and again!

* AandI, Blurb, Costco, Kodak, MyPublisher, Printmyphotobook, Picaboo, Shutterfly, Snapfish

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