The old cliché dictates that a picture is worth a thousand words, and certainly photos are one of the best souvenirs you can bring home when you travel. But, let’s be honest: how often do you really scroll back through your phone reel or revisit those online albums? A photo book is a much more tangible, attractive way to keep those memories safe and accessible forever. 

There are many photo book makers out there, all with slightly different offerings. Some specialize in simple, budget-friendly books that you can make for every trip while others excel at luxurious coffee table art books meant to commemorate once-in-a-lifetime adventures. We’ve researched the best options to help you choose the right photo book maker for your next vacation — and beyond.

Best Overall

Artifact Uprising

Artifact Uprising

Artifact Uprising


Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly softcover photo book to add to your travel collection or a premium layflat coffee table book to commemorate your destination wedding, Artifact Uprising has you covered. The company offers a full range of photo book sizes, shapes, and layouts including some more unusual options (board books for babies, for example, or Insta-friendly books designed especially for square images). Each book promises exceptional print quality and durable construction. 

You can customize every aspect of your photo book, although options vary depending on the product you choose. Examples include cover color and material (with possibilities including softcover, hardcover, linen, and leather), foil stamping, paper finish, the layout of your photos and text, and the page count. Most templates include 20 pages with an additional fee for each page thereafter. You won’t find colorful themes here; all products print on white paper for a clean, uncluttered look that puts your images front and center. 

For the most professional result possible, consider paying extra to collaborate with one of the company’s in-house design specialists. Production times vary from three to eight days depending on the complexity of your project. There are also four shipping options that range from standard to rush.

Snapfish Photo Book

Snapfish


Although Snapfish also offers costlier products, their classic photo books are some of the most affordable out there. If you opt for a 7×5 or 6×8 softcover or hardcover book and stick to the included 20-page limit, you can easily spend under $20. Affordable upgrades include premium gloss pages and/or a matte cover; but bear in mind that extra pages can quickly add up. Making your photo book is simple. Choose the size and orientation, then design your own from scratch or use one of many premade templates.

Travel-themed templates include roadtrip, destination stamps, and tropical beach escape. After personalizing them with your photos and text. you can change the background color and add embellishments to each page. Optional layflat binding is worth the extra cost for seamless double-page spreads. If you find yourself with extra room in the budget, you can upgrade to a linen or leather cover. Production times vary, with the quickest delivery taking around three days with rushed shipping, but there are four total shipping options to cater to every budget.

Easiest to Use

Shutterfly

Shutterfly photo book

Shutterfly


Most photo book makers require you to upload your images and then manually build each page or use an auto-uploader to add the pictures to a premade template. The first option is time consuming and the second often results in images being cropped or grouped in strange ways. Shutterfly offers a third option: upload your photos, then let an in-house designer create your book for you in 24 hours. Upon reviewing their design, you can order as-is or tweak it to suit your specifications. 

Best of all? This design service is offered free of charge. You can even use the Shutterfly app to upload photos directly from your phone. If you don’t want to use this service, no problem. You can still create photo books manually or use the faster autofill option. There are plenty of templates to choose from, with six square and rectangular size options and four cover types (softcover, matte or glossy hardcover, or premium leather). Production and delivery can take between one and 10 business days depending on the product and shipping option selected.

Best Themed Templates

Mixbook Photo Book

Mixbook Photo Book

Mixbook


Mixbook photo books are divided into three main types: hardcover, softcover, and layflat for those seamless double-page spreads. Whichever you go for, there are more than 700 templates to choose from. These can be browsed by category with categories like year in review, seasonal, and, of course, templates for every major life event from weddings to baby’s first year. Travel-specific templates include options for photos only, or photos and text in a dizzying array of different layouts. 

Some are customizable to any trip while others are specific to certain adventures with themed graphics, text, and embellishments. There’s one for Disney trips, another for Royal Caribbean cruises, and another for national park adventures. You can also start with a completely blank canvas. Books can be landscape, portrait, or square and there are different paper and cover finishes to choose from. Production typically takes one to two business days with four shipping options available.

Best for Complex Designs

Canva Photo Books

Canva Photo Book

Canva


For full creative freedom, choose Canva. Decide on a landscape or square book, then choose a hard or softcover. Next, browse thousands of templates (including a category dedicated to travel) and upload images from your phone, tablet, or desktop. All templates are fully customizable, which means you can change the font, the colors, and add icons and graphics. You can also edit your photos as you go with options to crop and rotate, adjust brightness, contrast, and saturation, and enhance with different filters and frames. 

All layouts can be adjusted to suit the number of photos you want on each page. If you upgrade to Canva Pro, you can remove backgrounds with a single click (kind of like cutting and pasting elements of real photos for a traditional scrapbook.) Canva autosaves as you go and creates an editing link that you can share to ask for input from friends and family. Recycled packaging and free standard shipping round out this company’s benefits.

Best for Simple Designs

Chatbooks

Chatbooks Photo Book

Chatbooks


If your photo book goals are a little less ambitious, opt for stackable, collectible designs from Chatbooks. The company’s classic photo books offer high quality printing at a price tag that’s reasonable enough to justify regular creations (if you like, you can even sign up for a monthly subscription.) How do they do this? By keeping things simple. You won’t find fancy templates or colored backgrounds, or an endless array of customizable graphics and fonts.

Instead, upload photos from your desktop or phone. Then, decide how many you want to appear on each page. If the answer is just one, choose whether you want it to cover the full page or have a white border around it. You can leave the layout text-free or add a simple location tag and/or caption. Other design choices include the book’s size, whether it has a hard or softcover, the color of the spine, and the cover. Books are made in the U.S. and include a generous 30 pages, with the option to buy more up to a total of 366. Standard shipping is free.

Best for Fast Printing

Walmart Photo

Walmart Photo Book

Walmart


Why We Love It

  • Walmart lets you design, order, and collect your photo book in-store, all on the same day. 

Walmart offers a solution for anyone who’s designing a photo book on a deadline, with more than 80 layouts that can be created online and then picked up in-store on the same day. You can choose from a variety of square and rectangular sizes in several different styles including softcover, matte and glossy hardcover; layflat; and premium layflat (with extra thick pages and a matte finish). Alternatively, upgrade to a linen or leather cover, or opt for a die-cut style that showcases your favorite image through a window. 

There are many themed templates to choose from, though most of them are fairly basic (don’t expect Canva-level creative flair.) Most templates include 20 pages with the option to buy more, but be aware that there’s usually a 40-page limit if you want to pick your book up the same day. If you have a little more time to work with and want extra pages, you can also opt for home delivery with free shipping on orders over $35.

Best Coffee Table Books

Once Upon Photo Books

Once Upon Photo Book

Once Upon


Once Upon offers three options for simple yet visually striking coffee table books. These include large and medium hardcover photo books with a sturdy build and a title of your choice printed on the spine, and medium softcover books for a flexible, lightweight feel that’s reminiscent of a luxury magazine. Choose whether you want silk matte or glossy pages, then create your book by uploading pictures directly from your phone, tablet, or desktop. 

Layouts are simple, with no themed templates, background colors, or fancy fonts. Instead, choose the number of photos you want featured on each page and let Once Upon create a collage automatically on the white background. You can edit the order in which they appear and add simple captions or separate text pages. Want to collaborate with your co-travelers? Share the editing link or QR code to get their input. The first 20 pages are included with a maximum of 200 available. Expect delivery in six to 12 business days.

Best Board Books

Pinhole Press

Pinhole Press Photo Book

Pinhole Press


If you love the idea of making a photo book for the baby or toddler in your life but want it to last more than a few hours, check out Pinhole Press. Their board books are made especially for little people with rigid, high-gloss pages that can be wiped clean of errant crumbs or juice drops. A spiral binding makes for seamless page turning, while the 5.25 x 5.25 inch size is ideal for tiny hands. We love the clear, bright photos and just-right text size. 

There are lots of different templates to choose from, including a story board book that’s perfect for commemorating baby’s first vacation. The company also offers educational templates (think ABCs, colors, emotions, count with me, and my first cookbook options). Some have space for a fixed number of pages and photos while others let you pay to add more. For slightly older kids, consider Pinhole’s Itty Bitty books (miniature sized for long journeys) or their All About books with space for 10 photos alongside fill-in prompts your child can write on.

Best Mini Books

Nations Photo Lab Albums

Nations Photo Lab

Nations Photo Lab


Nations Photo Lab offers a full range of photo book products including templates for everything from travel to weddings and boudoir photography. Depending which one you choose, you can customize the binding, cover material, page thickness, and more. We particularly like their Buzz Books for those in search of something simple. At 6 x 6 inches, they’re both small enough and affordable enough to justify purchasing one for every trip. 

There are more than 120 pre-designed, soft-touch covers to choose from (you can also create your own) but the inside of each Buzz Book is the same: 40 pages, with one photo per page. The photos are printed on professional-quality Mohawk Matte paper against a white background for full visual effect. There are multiple shipping options available, including USPS First Class which delivers in two to six business days.

Best Sustainable

Paper Culture

Paper Culture Photo Book

Paper Culture


Paper Culture is a certified Green Business that offsets its carbon footprint and has been recognized by the EPA as a Top 10 climate leader. All photo books use 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper and with a tree planted for every order, you can feel good about your purchase on multiple levels. Books are 8 x 8 or 8 x 10 inches and you can choose a hardcover, a layflat hardcover, or a layflat with a foil-embossed Kraft cover and personalized dust jacket. 

There are multiple templates divided into categories such as travel, holiday, or wedding. Whichever you go for, you’ll be able to create an end result that’s entirely unique since all elements are customizable. Choose the layout and order of your photos, add text in different fonts and colors, and change the background color of each page. Templates include 20 pages with the possibility of purchasing more. Shipping options range from standard to next-day express.

Best Video Books

Heirloom

Heirloom Video Book

Heirloom


For a slightly different approach to preserving your travel memories, consider Heirloom which adds your videos to a physical book so that they can be looked at and enjoyed over and over again. Each book includes a five-inch HD screen. You can choose for yours to be oriented horizontally or vertically (more appropriate for those that typically shoot footage on their phone.) There are three options: up to 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or one hour. 

Here’s how it works: purchase your video book online, then receive an email with instructions on how to add video using the online builder. Your book will then be created and mailed to you. You don’t have to limit yourself to video. The books can also display photos as a slideshow and even mix photos and videos together. Add a personal message. Then, choose from 16 premade covers or pay extra for a custom cover printed with your own design. All video books include a charger and expedited delivery is a possibility.

Tips for Choosing a Photo Book Website

Be turnaround time

If you need your photo book in a hurry, make sure to take production and delivery times into consideration when choosing which company to use. A handful — usually more budget-friendly ones — offer same-day production and the option to collect in-store, which is ideal for last-minute gifts. Others take several days to produce your book, but then offer expedited or rushed shipping to cut delivery time down to a minimum. Others can take two or more weeks to deliver. Check product descriptions carefully, since turnaround times can differ within the same company depending on the size and complexity of the photo book you choose. 

Look closely at the templates offered

Think about your desired photo book aesthetic and then look for a company with templates to match. These can vary from the simplistic (your photos and perhaps some text on a plain white background) to the complex (different background colors and designs, optional filters and frames, the ability to create collages and add text bubbles or other graphics.) Some companies offer templates that have been pre-designed to suit a specific theme, whether that’s travel in general or a Disney trip, tropical cruise, or camping adventure. 

Prioritize ease of use

If you have a background in design or count scrapbooking among your hobbies, you may relish in the challenge of building a photo book from scratch. But if you’re pressed for time or simply don’t want to spend hours choosing which photos go where and how to make them look their best, look for a photo book maker that does the hard work for you. This can either be through an autofill service that arranges your photos on the page (usually, you can tweak this afterwards) or through a collaboration over email or live chat with one of the company’s in-house designers. The latter service often costs extra but sometimes, as with Shutterfly, is offered free of charge. 

Image quality is key

The most important thing when making a photo book is ensuring that the photos look as good as possible. This means choosing a professional, well-reviewed company that uses quality paper and printing methods. It also means submitting photos that are good quality. Most photo book companies will have guidelines for optimum image size and resolution, and others will come up with a warning message if the image you’ve selected is not of a sufficiently high quality. You can usually choose to use it anyway, but be prepared for it to look a little grainy or pixelated. Top tip: use your lowest resolution photos for the smallest spaces on collage pages. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I use my tablet or smartphone when creating a photo book online?

    Yes, most photo book makers can be used on your tablet or smartphone, either via a mobile-friendly website or with a special app. Just bear in mind that complicated layouts or photo books with lots of collage pages are often much easier to view and organize on a larger screen. 

  • How much does it cost to make a photo book online?

    The cost of a photo book varies hugely from under $20 to over $200. The price depends on which company you use but also on the size of the photo book, how many pages you want, and the materials you choose. Most templates include some pages in their starting price (20-25 on average), with a per-page fee for longer books. Softcover books are typically the cheapest, followed by hardcover and then linen and leather options. Traditional binding is cheaper than layflat, but layflat looks much better if you’re planning on having photos extend across a double page spread. Other factors that could increase cost include custom covers, premium paper finishes, design assistance, and expedited shipping. 

  • How can I tell which photo book makers have the best image quality?

    You want to find a company that prints photos that look as close as possible to the original, whether it was taken on a professional DSLR camera or downloaded from Facebook or Instagram. Images shouldn’t look grainy, blurry, or over- or undersaturated. Choose a photo book maker that uses professional printers and high-quality paper, and be sure to check customer reviews for the best insight into the kind of results you can expect. Don’t forget, though, pictures can only ever look as good as they were to begin with. So choose the crispest, best resolution images you have and use a light hand when editing them for a natural look. 

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Jessica Macdonald is a published photographer with a passion for finding new ways to preserve and display her travel photos. For this article, she drew on her own experience with photo book makers and also spent several hours researching the best options online. She compared services, prices, and reviews before choosing her category winners.

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By admin