By the time you read this article, I will have returned from a week visiting Big Bend National Park with images of sun-draped landscapes, vast starry skies and blooming cacti added to my portable hard drives already filled with photos from previous national park trips. You've probably captured a gazillion great photos during your travels to one or more national parks during the past year, haven't you? I'm pretty sure you're not going to just use your photos for your Facebook page and leave it at that, are you?
When it comes to my own photography, I am never content to take a pretty picture, post it to my website (for show and sale), blog or Facebook photography page, and leave it at that. No sirree! I'm all about incorporating my imagery into various and sundry useful items (like the Traveler articles) for myself, my friends, my clients and the public at large.
I thoroughly enjoy crafting calendars, journals, weekly planners, address books, business cards, greeting cards and coffee mugs and I have the internet to thank for all of these inventive endeavors. The World Wide Web is full of sites allowing one to enter into an artistic venture, the results of which can actually be sold, if so desired. What follows is probably what you would consider some shameless self-promotion on my part, but in my photographic heart of hearts, I also really want to show you just what kind of neat things you can create using your very own national park photos.
A photo book, journal, notebook, address book or weekly planner
Let's take Blurb, for instance. What is 'Blurb'? It's a site where you can make books: photo books, ebooks, cook books, notebooks, journals, weekly planners, address books, whatever kind of book you have in mind. You can build a book by Blurb in one of several ways: online, or with their downloadable tool Booksmartâ¢, or with their module for Adobe Lightroomâ¢, or with their plugin for Adobe InDesignâ¢. Blurb has a bunch of templates one can use for lined pages, photo pages, text pages, index pages, photo collages, or a combination of any and all thereof. You can even create and save your own templates to use for all of your future publications.
Of course, Blurb is not the only entity out there allowing one to make photo book creations; Snapfish, MyPublisher, Picaboo, Mpix, and Mixbook (to name just a few) also do the same. The choice of a photo book publisher is a personal preference and I just happen to prefer Blurb. What I write about here regarding my favorite photo book site can be applied to most of the other book sites out there.
Not content with simply building a coffee-table publication, I like my creations to be useful as well as beautiful. To that end, I use Blurb's templates to produce notebooks, weekly planners, and even create blank lined pages to turn those coffee-table books into useful photo journals in which I or someone else can jot down their own thoughts, notes, drawings and doodles. While Blurb may not possess an actual template for some items I wish to construct (such as an address book), they do have the 'building blocks' with which I can fabricate from scratch what I need.
Making a photo book costs $$
If you make a photo book and want to market it, then that old adage 'you have to spend money to make money' applies. Even if you are simply creating a photo book for yourself or as a gift and not to sell, it's still going to cost ya.
No matter what photo book website you use, bear in mind that establishments like Blurb are essentially 'one off' self-publication sites lacking the capacity to mass-produce, mass-advertise and mass-distribute economically and on as large of a scale as would one of the more well-known, traditional publishing houses. With Blurb, I (or someone else) must actually order a single copy of whatever new work of book art I have fashioned, or else my handiwork will only remain on their site for 15 days. Once that single purchase has been affected then the publication remains on the virtual shelves of my Blurb Bookstore for as long as I wish.
Depending upon what you have created and then want to order (notebook, journal, weekly planner, coffee-table book), how many pages and photos are in that publication, how you want it to look (hardback, softback, premium vs. standard paper) and how you wish it to be shipped, the cost is then proportionate to all of those factors. In addition to the above, the cost is also proportionate to your profit markup should you choose to post your book for sale.
Don't let all of this put you off, though. Photo book sites are still great venues for you to display and advertise your amazing national park photographic work as well as wonderful outlets to make something special for yourself, your friends, your family and/or your clients.
But hey, books are not the only thing you can create with your national park images. How about a lovely calendar?
There are scores of sites on the internet allowing one to construct a wall- or desk-calendar in many shapes, sizes, and fashions (Zazzle, Shutterfly, Snapfish, Vistaprint, etc). Just type in a search term like 'photo calendar' and you will see all of the potential choices. For my purposes, I look for the following in a calendar-building site:
- The ability to change text, fonts and backgrounds on a calendar page
- The ability to add more than one line of text in different areas of a calendar page
- The ability to create a page from a single image or a collage of images
- The ability to move around said text or image(s) anywhere I wish on that page
- The ability to ultimately post my calendar creations for sale using my own choice of royalty percentage
As with the photo book website, it's a personal preference and as such, I use Zazzle.
More fun stuff
In addition to a photo book or calendar, you can create a whole slew of items (luggage tags, coffee mugs, coasters, puzzles, t-shirts, business cards, iPhone covers, etc) using Zazzle or CafÃ© Press or a myriad of other venues found on the internet. You name it and there's a site out there where you can make your own readable, hangable, or wearable work of art. The few listings I've given you here are just enough to hopefully whet your creative appetite.
So, what kind of photographic creations can *you* cook up with your national park images?
Have fun with that and Bon Appetite!