Making a Photo Album or Journal

By Andrew Hudson

Planning Your Trip

Before you leave home, decide where you want to visit. Review a PhotoSecrets guidebook, other guide books, magazines, tourist information literature, brochures, and other information and find out what you can’t miss. Then draw up a preliminary itinerary.

Test your camera and polish your skills by setting yourself some practice assignments. Use the preceding “How To Photograph Anything” section for techniques to work on. Try different lenses (you can borrow from friends or rent from a good camera store) to find out which ones you need.

While you’re Traveling

Start with the end in mind. Always think how your shots will work in an album or journal. You’ll be narrating a story at the time so take photographs for ‘chapter headings’, ones designed to introduce locations and sections. Look out for signs of place names and directions.

Many of the fun times occur between sights so capture these with ‘ordinary’ shots — in a car, waiting at a bus stop or train station, in the hotel room, eating at a restaurant, and with the people you meet. Tell a story with your photography and create a visual variety of views, people shots, and fun stuff.

Collect memorabilia of the trip. Tickets stubs, timetables, postcards, restaurant receipts, napkins with logos, and hotel brochures. You can use these later to liven up your album or journal. Make notes of your travels and sketch a map showing your route. If you might enter some of your shots in photography competitions, keep a note of the camera settings you use (f-stop, shutter speed, film type and lens size).

Keeping A Journal

Decide beforehand how you’re going to organize the journal (usually by date) and stock up with enough books or paper to last the trip. Try to write something each day, particularly funny stories and irreverent remarks people made. Include the date and location. Ask your companions to contribute notes every now and then.

Getting Home

Assign a free evening and edit your shots. Don’t be afraid to throw the weak ones out. The more you edit, the higher you’re average quality will be. Sort them into subgroups by subject or location, and then sort each subgroup.

Making An Album

Buy a good quality album, with refillable pages and thick paper. You’ll need to know your print size (usually 4 inces x 6 inches).

As you install the prints, consider each spread as a single story or subject. Paste in postcards, brochures and other memorabilia to highlight the story. Crop some photographs by cutting out unnecessary elements, or trimming around a figure.


A great way to remember your trip, and to let people admire your photographic skills, is to get enlargements made of the best shots. They come in standard sizes (5x7, 8x10, 11x14). A good tip for some revisionist improvements is to croply before you print. You can also crop manually — enlarge your shot to one size larger, then crop the print down (use a sharp knife and a metal edge) for an even tighter shot.

It takes extra time, cost and effort but enlargements are the most admired result of your skill and art.


Use your shots to illustrate a newsletter of your trip to your friends and family. Cut up spare prints, stick them on paper and make photocopies (black and white, or color).

Use a word processor or page layout program for a professional presentation. You could also make your own posters, key rings, refrigerator magnets, note cards, and seasonal cards.

Web Site

Build your own web pages, showing the world the wonderful time you had. Learn more here.

Copyright 1997–2010 Andrew Hudson for PhotoSecrets / Photo Tour Books, Inc. You may reproduce this article for personal, educational, non-commercial and non-Internet use, such as in a local photo club newsletter or school project. No Internet publishing is permitted. For commercial use, please email me for permission. Excerpted from PhotoSecrets San Francisco and Northern California

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