I recently finished creating a photo book using Shutterfly’s online photo book creator. I had various reasons for selecting Shutterfly, but the primary reason was the need to deal with an overwhelmingly large number of photos from a family trip to Europe.
Before beginning, I verified that the books that Shutterfly produces would meet my quality requirements:
- Permanent adhesives used for binding – PUR, not hot melt
- Appropriate paper weight – 65# cover (heavier than my other books)
- Print quality – six color professional printing is available
- Size availability – no 12×12 softcover is disappointing, but otherwise the options are fine (I will have to settle for 10×10 for softcover).
Overall, the process went reasonably well, and in a weekend, I was able to create a 111 page book for our trip. More about the 111 pages later.
My comments do not mean that I did not have problems and did not have to make adjustments. Here are some of my thoughts in hope of helping others with this process:
- Get rid of duplicates and photos with problems before uploading. Shutterfly has not yet learned that they don’t have to put every photo in a book. Edit photos prior to uploading if at all possible.
- Get the dates and times correct. Shutterfly will use this information to create your book and if it is wrong the results are not good, with photos appearing in seemingly random order. This warning is particularly important if you include photos from multiple sources. The problem I had was that my camera was on U.S time and my phone automatically corrected the time to European time. In one case, I also used fake times for some photos to get Shutterfly’s photo book creator to put the photos in the order I wanted. Windows Photos will allow you to change the date and time a single photo. Correcting the data for a large numbers of photos is more complicated than I can cover here.
- Expect to make some adjustments to the pages that Shutterfly creates. Shutterfly doesn’t always know which photo is most important and in some cases their cropping is bizarre, but these are relatively easy changes to make. Cropping can be adjusted and it is easy to swap one picture for another. I also wound up deleting some of the photos to make space for titles and captions.
- Shutterfly’s photo selection for the cover and title page appears to have no logic. You will need to change these photos to ones that are more suitable. Actually, the tools for editing are too limited. I wound up using Forever’s Artisan to create my cover, since I could not figure out how to create the cover I wanted with the tools that were available. It was not difficult to upload a new cover to replace the default. I did the same thing for the title page.
- European characters are a problem that I could not resolve. I had travelled to Norway and Norwegian place names include Norwegian characters that Shutterfly’s photo book creator croaked on. It simply would not let me enter these captions. Apparently, somebody at Shutterfly made the dumb decision not to provide full unicode support for the fonts that they offer, and because you cannot use your fonts you are simply out-of-luck.
- Some of the embellishments did not resize correctly. I resolved this problem by not using those embellishments, since they were not critical.
Now, I am at the point where I have a photo book, at least one that is happily living virtually on Shutterfly’s servers. I shared the photo book with my family and they were impressed, but I have no intention of ordering it right now. At over $200 for the photo book with the current sale, I am still suffering from sticker shock. By the way, “50% off almost everything” doesn’t include extra pages.
I am wait for a better sale and will place my order then. I am also hoping that the Norwegian text issue will be resolved by then. When I do order a book, I will write a full review of the printed book here. Until then, enjoy the virtual cover that I have included with this blog posting.