What to write in a photo book

By Photobox on 26 April 2023

Your photo book should tell a story and adding quotes and captions will really help bring it to life. We spoke to the bonusprint copy team to get their hints and tips on what styles of writing work best with different photos, and how you can use your words effectively.

We all know a picture is worth a thousand words but adding text to your photo book will really make it something special. Your notes, quotes, and anecdotes alongside the photos in your book really bring the whole thing together. Knowing how to write a caption or the perfect quote can be a bit of an art, so we headed to the photobox copywriting department to ask for their advice on the best things to write in your photo book.

Tell a story

Just like any book, a photo book needs to have a narrative. The most common, of course, is a simple beginning, middle, and end. Even though your photo book is made up of mainly pictures, you should still try to arrange your book so it tells a story. In terms of words, you don’t need to be writing pages of text — just a couple of small paragraphs at the most, or even short and sweet captions, will help to create that structure. The photos should always remain the focal part of the page though, so try to keep what you write succinct.

Keep your captions simple

Captions can really make a photo. They add in a bit of background, give context, and can explain what’s going on at a glance, without encroaching too much on the page.
Here are our tips on how to write a simple but effective photo caption:

  1. Be brief – this’ll make sure your photos are still the main focus on the page.
  2. Write in a style that fits the image – if it’s a bright and sunny picture, keep the caption light-hearted and positive.
  3. Don’t worry about being overly descriptive – the simplest caption can spark a feeling or memory in an instant.
  4. Keep to the point – it’s easy to get carried away once you start writing but edit your captions to avoid going on a tangent.
  5. Remember it’s a reference for the future reader – think about who you’re talking to in your captions, whether it’s to jog your own memory or to send a message to someone else.

Make it personal

The real magic behind what makes our photo books so special is that they’re personalised. There’s only one book like yours in the world, so when you’re thinking about what to write, think about what would make it personal to you. Add in family jokes that fit perfectly with photos of everyone laughing. For a photo book about your travels, was there a local phrase that you picked up and kept using? Then add that alongside your pictures to really enrich your memories of your trip. If you’re making a photo book about your pets (our teammates do all the time) adding the little quirks and character traits that you always notice will help to put their unique personality onto the pages.

Get creative with quotes

For those photos that might not lend themselves to a personal story or funny anecdote, then a more general quote is a great way to add depth to the story of your book, as well as setting the mood for the page. They can also tie the theme of a chapter together too. It’s easy to find inspiring, thought-provoking, and entertaining quotes online, so have a search and we bet you’ll find something that fits just right.

If you’re short on time though, here’s a top tip that’ll save you searching about online; go to the clip art section in our editor, click on the ‘Words’ category, and you’ll find some ready-made quotes, in a range of fonts and speech bubbles, that you can drop onto the pages of your book. There’s everything from a simple ‘hello’, to messages welcoming a new member of the family, or short and uplifting captions that’ll add an extra dash of positivity to your page.

Be informative

Sometimes it’s best just to keep to the facts with your annotations. There are some photos where that’s all you need. Details like a baby’s birth date, time, place, and weight are ideal for baby’s first photo book. You could document how long there was between the before and after shots of a DIY project. For big birthday or wedding celebration shots, you could just add the date, so your pictures do most of the talking. And for travel pics, the location could be enough, but if you want to get really specific, add in the latitude and longitude too. Most smart phones actually have that in their photo data.

Add your thoughts

Your photo book is a personal story, so you should make sure you’ve got your own thoughts put down into words too. Think of the photo book as a journal where you can write down what you were feeling in the pictures. If you’re creating a baby book, for example, you could share how you felt the first time your little one giggled, or the first time they started walking or talking. That’ll create more of an emotional connection to what’s happening in your photo books and help you reflect on that moment in time.

Do it in style

Think of the style of writing that fits the photo. You want your tone and sentence structure to reflect what’s happening in the images. Here are a few of our suggestions:

Party shots – be light-hearted and enthusiastic. Your punctuation choices can help you get this feeling across, such as exclamation marks to show how much fun it was. Short and snappy sentences can help your captions sound more fast-paced and energetic too.

Travel shots – keep your writing light and fun. Here’s where you can get a bit more descriptive to evoke the tastes, smells, and memories of the trip. Write to reflect your destination too. A beach photo or a shot of you relaxing could be described with something really simple, like ‘paradise’ or ‘happiness’, to suggest you were in total relaxation mode. Whereas for a busy city shot, of a buzzing market for example, you could build up the atmosphere with longer, more colourful descriptions, to show you were taking in lots of different sights and sounds.

Wedding photos – try not to gush too much (we know you’ll want to) but try to recreate the atmosphere of love on the day with your words. And if you’ve got writer’s block and find it hard to express how you felt, which can be tricky on emotional days like that, you could use quotes from your vows, or add song lyrics from the track they played for your first dance.

DIY/project pictures – be factual, put in the time taken, measurements, amounts, and things like that. Even though your captions might be mainly facts and stats, you’ll still get a sense of pride looking back because you can see just how much work you put in.

We hope this blog has inspired you to get writing in your photo book or cleared any writer’s block you might have had. The next time you’re making a photo book, remember that adding in quotes, stories, information, and asides can really raise the story of your book to a new level. Now you just need to click the button below and get creating.

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