As we head into the festive season, our thoughts inevitably turn to finding the perfect gifts for our friends and family. However, if you want to truly wow your intended gift receiver, why not consider creating your own Christmas photo book? After all, what could possibly be a better present than a collection of the best moments from the year immortalized on paper?
To help you create the perfect Christmas photo book, we sat down with Nigel Barker, former judge for reality TV show America's Next Top Model. With years of experience as a fashion photographer, Nigel Barker was also announced as Mimeo Photos' Creative Director in 2018 and has plenty of experience in creating amazing photo gifts.
• Read more: Best photo printing online (opens in new tab)
If you're looking to create a Christmas photo book, then you may want to check out our best photo books (opens in new tab) guide. Alternatively, you might want to help prepare for the new year by giving our best photo calendars (opens in new tab) guide a quick read. In the meantime, read on to discover some of Nigel's best tips and tricks for creating a fantastic Christmas photo book.
What kind of photo gift would you recommend for Christmas and why?
Personally my favorite and most successful gifts are always photo books. For years now I have created a photo book of my family’s past year’s antics rolled into approximately a 50 page book. The books are like visual diaries and help tell the story of my little family. They have become the most ooh-ed and ahh-ed gifts opened by grandparents, uncle and aunts. I've even started making them for my friends and colleagues to help celebrate weekends, holidays or even jobs that we have enjoyed together.
How do you choose the best photos for a photo book?
First of all I use my gut reaction: how does the image make me feel? You should have an instant reaction from a photo. Is it just plain beautiful? Does it immediately make you smile, think, dream or wish? I've found that certain types of photos work particularly well. For example, shots of the sun setting help remind us of the beauty in this world, while the sun rising gives us a promise of what’s to come. The dramatic colors of photos taken at golden hour instantly help give your images gravitas.
I also find that images with a single burst of color in an otherwise monochromatic scene help draw the viewer in by creating a focal point that grabs your attention. I always shoot in RAW, as well this creates larger files and preserves much more detail in the shadows and highlights. In Mimeo Photo Books you can upload TIFF files as well JPEGs which really help to give your photo books that wow factor.
Why is it important to print your photos?
Without printing, your photos are just a blip on the radar and can easily get lost in the ether of social media. By printing we bring our images to life and preserve them in a much more accessible and tangible format. To be able to touch and hold our memories helps make them real again - and with so many brilliant photographs been taken everyday, there is really no better way to enjoy your work than creating a photo book and telling the story the way you meant it to be seen.
How do you prepare your photos for printing?
First of all I gather all the relevant images I want to use for the photo book in an album in Apple Photos. I then go through each one inspecting the integrity of the file, i.e. how much digital noise is in the image, how many MBs the image has. I do this to help figure out whether they'll print successfully in the size of the book I've picked out. I also want to know whether I need to tweak any of the shots so they print the way I want them to look. Here’s a quick tip as well - make sure your monitor brightness is set to about two thirds brightness, not full brightness, when you're judging your images for your Christmas photo book. Printers are always set to a midpoint to maximize the most out of your images, so by setting your screen to match this will create a much happier result.
What's your favorite photo you've ever taken? And have you had it printed?
That's a bit like asking me which of my children is my favorite! It's impossible to say after 30 years, but I have my favorite muses, my wife and my sister in law known as @chintwins on IG. I also love shooting in one of my most favorite places to visit - Point Clear Alabama. My wife grew up there and we visit Mobile Bay every year, as it produces the most idyllic light across the horizon.
Do you have any tips for capturing a creative holiday family photo?
I am a fan of more candid family photos than traditionally posed pictures. I often try to capture our family doing an activity together, such as swimming, boating, kayaking, or making something. Having an activity gives everyone a purpose - and it takes the pressure off those who don’t always feel confident staring down the lens.
Nigel Barker is the Creative Director for Mimeo Photos, an extension for creating photobooks, cards, and calendars within Photos for macOS. You can get started (opens in new tab) by downloading Mimeo Photos from the App Store.