How to Make a Mini Photo Book From Your iPhone or iPad

make photo book using blurb ios app

Around this time last year I started to think about how many thousands of photographs I had of my family on my phone, and how little we spend time looking back at them. Most of these photographs are casual, in the moment pictures. Not good enough to display on the wall at home, but it seems a shame that over time we will probably look back at them less and less.

As a child, almost every photograph my parents had taken was carefully put into an album, and whenever we wanted to look back at a particular memory all we had to do was pick up an album and look through it.

I wanted my children to be able to do the same thing, but the thought of having to transfer all of my phone photos (over 25,000 at the time of writing) to my computer and sort through them to make an album was pretty horrifying.

So instead I decided to look for a way that I could build an album with my phone photos directly from my phone, and over the last year I’ve created 5 mini photo books from my iPhone, each documenting 6 months from our family life. This year I’m planning to complete the set, so that we’ve covered the entire 5 years since my eldest was born.

Whenever I tell a friend or client about these albums, they tell me that they would love to do this for their family too. So in this tutorial I’ll explain how I made my albums, step by step, so that you can create one (or more) for your family too.

Choosing an app to make photo books on my iPhone

After doing some research into apps that allow you to build photo books directly from your phone, I settled on using the Blurb iOS app. You can also use this app on an iPad.

All of the providers I looked at had similar pricing, but I felt that the Blurb app was the easiest to use. I was also signed up to the Blurb mailing list and noticed that they often have discounts and so this sealed the deal!

Before you start building your photo book, you’ll need to download the Blurb app. You can find the the iOS app here.

Unfortunately Blurb don’t have an Android app. But, you could follow the same process and create a photobook on your Android device using the Google Photos app.

make mini photo book iphone ipad

The Process I Follow To Create a Blurb Photo Book

When I create a mini photo book using Blurb, I take the following steps each time:

  1. Choose which photographs to include in the photo book
  2. Make collages using the Collage app
  3. Add the photos to the Blurb app
  4. Arrange the photos inside the photo book
  5. Check each page for quality
  6. Create the front and back covers
  7. Order the photo book

Let’s look at each of these steps in detail.

Step 1: Choose which photographs to include in the photo book

Before I open the Blurb app to make my photo book, I choose the photos I would like to include in it. Each book can have 20-80 pages, with one picture on each page.

I usually find that I have hundreds of pictures that I would like to include in my photo book so I usually use the maximum of 80 pages.

I make two photo books for each year – one covering January to June, and the other covering July to December. To choose my pictures, I scroll through the photographs on my phone during that six month period, and add them all to a new album inside the Apple Photos app.

I usually find that I have 200-300 photographs in this album, so I then have to ‘cull’ my selection down to the 80 best or most important photos. This is often the most time consuming part of creating my photo book.

A note on picture quality

When you’re choosing the photographs to include in your book, I do recommend thinking about the quality of each picture as you choose it. Most of the pictures that I include in these mini photo books are just phone snapshots – not the kind of quality that I would put in a frame at home, or print in a large album. So in some respects the quality of the picture is not that important – the purpose of the photo book is to preserve those everyday memories.

However, it does pay to give some thought to quality – if you print a dark, blurry or grainy image you’ll get a dark, blurry or grainy print and probably won’t enjoy looking at it in your photo book.

When you’re narrowing your picture choice down for your photo book choose the best quality pictures you can; this will give you the best quality book.

Step 2: Make collages using the Layout app

Sometimes I have several photographs that I’d like to include in the photo book, but they don’t warrant having a whole page of the book each.

In this case I use a collage making app to make a collage of these pictures that will sit on one page of my photo book – this way I can have multiple pictures on one page.

You can see an example of a collage I created this way below. My daughter had been to a holiday camp over the summer, and had her face painted each day. The collage allowed me to print all of her different ‘faces’ without taking up a large number of pages within the book.

I usually use the Layout app to make my collages. You can find the iOS version here and the Android version here.

make a picture collage on iphone

Step 3: Add The Photos to the Blurb app

Now that I have the final set of photographs that I’d like to include in the photo book I add them to the Blurb app. There are four steps to take:

  1. First I select the ‘CREATE A NEW BOOK’ option
  2. On the next screen I choose the size of my book. All of the books I’ve made so far are the 13cm x 13cm mini square.
  3. Next I choose the source of my images. Because I’ve put them all into one album on my phone, I can click on albums, and go straight to the folder with the pictures I need in it.
  4. Finally, I select all of the pictures inside my album.

Step 4: Arrange the Photos Inside The Album

Now that I’ve selected all of the pictures for my album, I can see them arranged page by page. If the pictures aren’t in the right order, I can rearrange them by dragging them and dropping them into the right place.

Once I’ve done this, I click on each photograph to choose the best crop for that image. There are three choices; a square crop that fills the whole page, a square crop with a border, or the original crop of the photograph with a border. You can see the difference that choosing different crops makes in the pictures below.

Step 5: Check Each Page For Quality

Once I’ve selected the crop of each picture, I’ll scroll through my album and check that the print quality will be good enough.

This is quite easy to do as the Blurb app indicates which photographs won’t print well by placing an orange exclamation mark next to it. You can see an example of this circled in red in the photograph below.

In some cases I find that I can improve the picture quality by changing the crop, but if this isn’t the case I remove that picture from my album and find something else to replace it with.

Step 6: Create The Front and Back Covers Of The Photo Book

The last step in the process is to create the covers of the photo book. There are three parts to this process:

To create the front cover, I click on the ‘Edit Front Cover’ prompt and choose a photograph from the album to put on the front cover.

I then click on the ‘Aa’ button underneath the cover selection and type the title of my album in.

Finally, I scroll to the end of the album and click on the ‘Edit Back Cover’ prompt. I then choose a picture for the back cover.

Step 7: Order The Photo Book

Once I’ve finalised the design I order my photo book, and look forward to it arriving!

blurb photo book tutorial

Over to You

These little photo books are a real hit with my eldest daughter – she loves looking through them on her own, and sitting down with us to talk about what’s happening in each photograph. Since having my second baby I’ve started printing two copies of each book, so that my children can keep a copy each.

I hope you’ve found this article a useful guide to turning the pictures on your phone into a photo book. If you decide to make some mini photo books for your family I’d love to hear how you get on. You can let me know in the comments below or send me a message using this form.

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Clare Murthy

Clare Murthy

I’m a newborn, baby and family photographer working with families from South West London and Surrey. I specialise in timeless, natural photography with no props or unnatural posing. I photograph babies at my studio, and families in beautiful outdoor locations. I'm based on the Surrey / London border, close to Hampton Court.
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