Album Envy Visual Storytelling 101: 6 Style Tips that Make an Impact!

Samantha and Ray make an album of their newborn twins

My phone is overflowing with pictures from the past couple of months, and I bet yours is too. Fall is full of special events and moments that we want to share and remember. Images of the back-to-school joys and woes. Homecoming, tailgating, and football games. The joie de vivre of our pups on fall-color hikes. Saturday morning apple picking, with cider and doughnuts. The Great Pumpkin patch, and best of all - Halloween!

This year, organize your images while the memories are fresh in your mind instead of just adding them to your growing digital pile.

We look at photos on tiny screens that can’t do them justice. There is nothing like the experience of holding a quality, personalized book in your hands, whether it's cute and purse-sized or an elegant coffee table centerpiece. Not only do photo books give special pictures the “weight” they deserve, but they are also a keepsake gift that is sure to be appreciated.

Our Album Envy family wants to help you become a master graphic storyteller. Even if you’ve never created a photo book before, we can help you be successful. We’re passionate about photography and will help make crafting your story simple and affordable.

So now that you’re ready for the fun of creating a masterpiece, how can you get the most out of your book? Here are some tips for creating an eye-catching photo book you will love.

Audience. Who will share the memories?




Choosing the size and style of your perfect book has a lot to do with who will be enjoying it. A present that Grandma will love may look different than the one you create for a friend (or yourself). Do you want a style that is elegant, or casual? Sized for your coffee table, or to carry with you? With a linen cover for mom, or more durable material to send to your brother in the Armed Forces?

Companion books may be what you need. For pictures of your wedding or new baby, pair a larger and elegant keepsake Album with a small, portable Photobook of your favorite shots to show off to friends and co-workers.

Theme. Storytelling with style.

Before you begin, take a few minutes to plan your basic theme. There are as many ways to customize an Album Envy book as there are unique styles of the photographer. Deciding on a theme will make those other choices easier and result in a more professional and consistent look and feel.

The best stories reflect the emotion of the event and the personality of the creator. Should your book be light and bright or dark and serious? Elegant or casual? Funny or reverent? Respectful or celebrating? And with artistic calm or sports action?

Consider size and shape choices too. Your family vacation to the Grand Canyon will look amazing in a larger, landscape book to showcase those panoramic “WOW” shots. A long weekend at the waterpark may result in casual, fun shots that show best in a smaller square version.

The choice is yours. One cue for identifying the right theme is to think about how the moment made you feel. What is it that you most want the viewer to experience and remember? Include features or accents that are of interest to the reader or share a bit of your personality. By keeping your audience in mind, you can develop a theme that makes a statement.

Outside. Set the stage for your story.

Examples of Album Envy cover stylesThe outside appearance makes your book's first impression. We offer a range of cover styles and materials that can create any effect you choose. The classic simplicity of a solid cover creates a professional look, just right for graduation or a professional portfolio. A photo cover adds instant recognition, an on-trend alternative to the customary framed photo. Descriptive text imprinting can be added to most covers to make them truly one of a kind.


Our textured papers, elegant linens, and classic leatherette cover materials come in a variety of popular color choices. Because of the beauty of these books, it is common to choose a color scheme to compliment the room where it will be displayed.

Inside. Where the action is!

Your images are the real stars of the show. Narrowing your choice isn’t always easy—digital cameras let us take many more pictures than in the past with film. Good general practice is to review similar shots as a set and choose the one that speaks the clearest and is most attractive. What makes a great image is a matter of opinion, but some common considerations are a clear focus, true-to-life colors, balanced composition, and the perennial question—does everyone have their eyes open?

While it’s natural to include only the best shots, you may lose context that makes the overall book more enjoyable. In some cases, a sequence of similar pictures like showing the reaction to a surprise party will help the viewer feel like they were there.

Cropping is the easiest thing you can do to improve your photographs. It is simple to crop images with most free mobile-phone or online photo software, and even within the Album Envy design tool as you build your book. Our next Visual Storytelling article will teach you the reasons for and techniques of cropping.

Unless you love photo-bombs, trimming away extra space or distracting elements can dramatically improve a picture. Cropping also lets you control composition, placing the picture's focus exactly where you want it.

Once you have chosen your photos and made any adjustments, saving all the digital files in one folder will make creating online quicker and easier.

Layout. Beauty is in the arrangement.

Just like any other story, the beginning and end frame your experience. Increase visual impact by choosing full-size quality images on your first and last pages. A photo book differs from an online album in that the pictures are usually viewed in a fixed order rather than by randomly clicking images. A wedding or vacation story flows naturally in the order that things took place. Using chronological order will help convey “real-time” experience.

Our design tool has built-in layout templates that allow you to choose the number, arrangement, and orientation of photos on your pages. These are easy to use and are a quick way to get started.

Variety is fun, but avoid the temptation of changing the look drastically from page to page. Think of a step-wise approach—soften a transition from one large photo per page to a collage of many small shots by placing a spread of medium images between them.

If you choose to create a custom layout, try to use consistent border sizes and spacing between photos. Our eyes see two-page spreads as a pair, so design them to support each other. Symmetry and design consistency are less jarring and will better serve your project overall. Facing pages are often appealing when arranged as mirror images of one another.

Sharing your family vacation to the Grand Canyon? Consider contrasting large prints of the vastness and grandeur with more intimate shots of smaller rock formations or clouds. Remember the emotion you felt and try to recreate that experience.

Because all Album Envy pages have a lay-flat construction with no center gap or binding, you have the freedom to treat facing pages like individuals, or as one wide panoramic spread. Play with our variety of layout options to discover what gives your book the right energy and flow.

Captions. To text, or not to text?

Our design tool lets you add text or captions to any of your pages. You can choose to include text boxes on any page automatically or to add them later, where ever, and whenever you like. Captions are a fun way to personalize your book, record the people and action, or set the photos in a specific place and time. A photo book of landscapes from a road trip may be complemented by the date and location, while a family or high-school reunion can include names or description of the action or event. Again, a consistent approach will result in a more attractive presentation.

Text can add to your album.

Now you’re ready to begin…

Whether you’re making an album for yourself or as a gift, creating photo books is a hobby anyone can enjoy. We’re always here to help you along the way. If you have any questions, check out our FAQs and how-to videos or watch our videos on YouTube and Facebook. Or contact us at

What are you waiting for? Start creating today and let us help bring the joy of beautiful photo books to your life!