Photo books - The right software for beginners, advanced and professionals

Whether as a family album or as a gift for friends and relatives - photo books are an excellent way to present today's digital images in an appealing way. One hurdle that must be overcome, however, is the creation process, because users have different requirements for the software depending on their creativity and level of knowledge. What is important and which products are suitable for beginners, advanced users or even professionals, you will learn in this article.

The thing with the in-house developments

Although the trend has now eased somewhat, there are still some photo suppliers who only allow their own developments in the production. These are mostly developed for beginners and are accordingly easy to handle, but the range of functions and the possible quality of the final product can vary considerably. If you want to use your own software for your photo books, you must avoid such providers. By far the most used file format is PDF, closely followed by JPEG and PNG. Unfortunately, you usually have to do without the widespread Photoshop format PSD or even exotics like INX or EPS. But what is good is that all programs presented here offer several export functions.

Photo books from the construction kit - Lightroom and Photoshop Elements

Both Lightroom and Photoshop Elements feature extensive image management tools, custom libraries, and a built-in photo book wizard that is beautifully designed for the former, but requires a little learning curve for the latter. But the creation is not difficult with both programs and with a few clicks one has the needed pictures selected a layout and added the one or other frame effect. Despite its simplicity, Photoshop Elements cannot completely deny its descent from the image editing giant and also offers some interesting functions for advanced users, for which, however, you have to leave the comfort zone of the assistant.

I want more! - GIMP and Photoshop

Admittedly, the open source program GIMP is still a little more complicated than the old father Photoshop due to the not quite so well thought-out control, but theoretically brings all the functions (and even more) that you need for the creation of photo books and is even free. However, the quality of the layouts and book pages created with the two programs is similar. No wonder, since they are mainly aimed at advanced users and professionals. The few disadvantages are more than made up for by the almost infinite number of effects, masks and other image manipulation, but you still have to be careful, because if the Pages are not set up correctly, the resolution of the images is not correct or the set margins do not match the final print, the photo book quickly becomes a photo fiasco.

Layouter instead of image editing - InDesign, QuarkXpress and Co.

With a combination of image editing program and layout artist, photo books can be designed in a professional way, whereby there are really no limits to the imagination. One problem: The software needed for this, for example Photoshop and inDesign, costs a small fortune and even though there are free alternatives with GIMP and Scribus, the dream of a really own photo book is still faced with the relatively long training period. This should not put anyone off. If you dare to use such software, follow tutorials from the internet or ask the community for help, even a layman can produce professional looking and appealing end products. But if you are looking for a present for grandma one week before Christmas, you should rather stick with the beginner software.

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If you really want to be creative, there is no way around using stand-alone software for photo books. Although there are some providers that do not allow this, at least PDF files are now more and more accepted. Which software one wants to use depends strongly on the own claim and the experience with image processing programs and/or layouters. A real insider tip is Photoshop Elements. The asisstent allows a quick selection of photos and generic layouts. If you want more, simply switch to the editing mode and you have at least nearly all the possibilities that its big brother Photoshop offers.

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