Create your own custom garden photography book: Ten simple steps

Mixbook: Focus on my favourite photo book creator

I am hoping this article will plant the seed for readers to dig into their digital images and treat themselves to the best gift ever – a beautifully bound custom photographic memory of their gardens.

Creating a custom photo book featuring images from our gardens could not be easier, more rewarding or satisfying. And don’t be surprised if it also awakens your creative juices inspiring more photo books documenting other areas in your life – vacations, children, grandchildren… the possibilities are endless.

Online book publishers are everywhere and the good ones, including my personal favourite Mixbook, have gone to great lengths to make the creation of a high-quality photo book using your digital images extremely simple for even the most novice of computer users. If you can click a few buttons to upload your images to a website, you can create a beautiful memory of your garden. You can even let the online software place all your images onto the pages, making the process as simple as possible.

Looking for a great camera to photograph your garden? Check out my extensive review after using the Fujifilm X10 after ten years.

(If you are interested in exploring garden photography at a higher level, be sure to check out my comprehensive post on the Best camera and lens for Garden Photography.)

Turning your garden and wildlife images into a memorable garden book is not only a rewarding experience but a creative one as well.

Ten steps to create a custom garden photo book

  1. Gather existing digital photos of your garden, or, if you have not been documenting your garden, begin taking photos on a regular basis throughout the seasons for a future book

  2. Organize the images in a single folder or divide them into 12 separate folders – one for each month.

  3. Optimize the images you want to use in the book in a photo editing program

  4. Save the images as large files –preferably in the neighbourhood of 5-10 megabytes or larger. These large files allow you to use the images as full 8X12 pictures without losing quality when they are printed.

  5. Log on to the website and upload your images.

  6. Drag and Drop the images on the template you have chosen. It’s helpful to have both vertical and horizontal images to choose from. Once they are on the page, make any needed adjustments to the photographs

  7. Fill all the remaining photographic boxes on the pages and write headlines and/or captions of the photos if you want.

  8. Add more pages if necessary.

  9. Finalize mailing address and payment requirements

  10. Now sit back and wait approximately two weeks for delivery of your garden book.

Screenshot of the the Mixbook template used to create the custom photo book. The simple and intuitive layout makes the whole process very simple to follow and the finished product a joy to create.

A screenshot of the Contemporary White template I chose to create my Woodland/Wildlife custom photo book.

I know these photo books have been around for quite some time, but I suspect many people have put off creating one for a myriad of reasons. Wedding photographers have used these photo books for years as a replacement for the traditional wedding album as well as a convenient way to show potential clients their portfolios.

I want to plant the idea in gardeners’ heads that these photo books are excellent resources that we really need to use to our advantage. So, it’s time for gardeners to dig their hands deep into the digital dirt, get their photos organized and begin putting their books together. And what better time than over the winter months to create a memory of the previous year’s garden.

The first page of my custom Woodland/Wildlife custom photo book from Photobook Worldwide.

The making of my Woodland/Wildlife Garden book

Recently, I created my own garden coffee table book made up primarily of garden and wildlife images taken this year in the Woodland/Wildlife garden.

I only wish I had done this years ago, so I could look back and trace the annual growth of our garden. My plan now is to create a garden book on a yearly basis not only to monitor the changing face of the garden and its visitors, but to document annual highlights so I can use it as a visual resource to easily recreate successful plant combinations.

For years, I put off exploring the many companies offering to print your photographs in book form. In fact, the garden book is the second photo book I recently completed. The first was created as a Christmas gift for my daughter using her digital images of the Tokyo Olympics, where she attended to work with the Canadian Olympic team. The book, full of her Olympic moments, is the best souvenir she could hope for of her trip. We plan to do another for the upcoming Beijing Winter Games in China.

But, back to my gardening book.

One of many spreads in the custom photo book.

The result: I could not be happier with the finished book and the price. This will become a book I will treasure and one that will take its rightful place as the main act on our coffee table.

Technology has made these professional looking books not only incredibly easy to create even for beginners, but exceptionally inexpensive for a one-off printing.

By inexpensive, I mean cheaper than getting similar sized photographic images printed at your local photo shop.

Photobook Worldwide Sdn Bhd (US & CA)

Using a discount code, I recently created a hardcover, 36-page, 8.5-inch by 12-inch book with 110 of my favourite garden images for just over $50 Canadian. Many of the images were full-page bleeds that covered the entire 8” by 12” page.

For the price of an inexpensive dinner out with your partner, a small selection of annual or perennial plants, even a single high-priced shrub, you can produce an outstanding memory of your garden and the wildlife that call it home.

If you don’t use your camera often in the garden, the book will inspire you to get out more often to capture images.


The book could be a one-time event or even a yearly endeavour used like a tool to document the changing nature of your garden and the fauna that live in it.

What better way to document the plant combinations that worked so well together, or, where exactly the 150 bulbs that you planted last year are located.

You don’t need a fancy camera, your smartphone is more than capable of getting high-quality photos for the book. My book is a combination of images taken with a host of cameras and lenses from expensive DSLRs with telephoto lenses for the bird images and wildlife, to simple point-and-shoot cameras and images captured on my smartphone.

One of several templated pages showing multiple images.

How easy was it to create the garden photo book?

After much research into various companies that create these photo books, I chose Mixedbook.

The company’s list of recognitions and awards is impressive – New York Times, techrader, Good Housekeeping and Digital Camera World all give it awards for Best Photo Book Service, and c|net recognizes it for Easiest software to use.

I don’t know how the folks at Mixedbook could make it any easier.

That’s not to say that creating a beautiful photo book does not involve putting in some work to prepare for the project.

Just gathering my best photographs into a digital folder took more than a little effort. But, I’m sure many readers are much more organized than I am and would be able to organize their images much easier than me.

Although the entire book is templated, changing the templates to suit your images is easily done.

Although the entire book is templated, changing the templates to suit your images is easily done.

Once I got the images into a single folder, I imported them into Adobe Lightroom where they were all edited for proper exposure. Some were cropped and others took a little more work to enhance the colours etc. I happen to use Lightroom, but any photo editing software will get the job done.

In fact, if you are careful when you shoot the images, and you are not too worried about the quality, you could skip the editing process entirely.

At this stage, all you do is log onto the Photobook website, pick a book template you like from the many available and upload your images.

Once the images are uploaded to the site, you can either begin to drag-and-drop them on the various pages or allow the computer to populate the pages for you.

You can add descriptions under all or just a few of the images if you like. Add stickers if you are doing a fun book or one for your children or grandchildren.

If you need more pages, you can add them two at a time for a small additional cost.

Before you complete the purchase, ensure that any discounts are applied before pressing complete, but if you do complete the purchase, you have a half hour to change your order.

When I created my book, I recognized that I did not get the 50 per cent discount and quickly texted the support line. They were extremely helpful and guided me to the location where I made the proper changes to ensure the discounted price.

I was very impressed with the service.

Once completed, it’s as simple as adding your mailing information and paying with a credit card.

Press complete and your finished book will likely be delivered in less than two weeks.

KelbyOne Course: Uncovering the Magic of Utah’s National and State Parks by Rick Sammon

In conclusion

If you are like me and have put off creating a photo book, don’t procrastinate any longer. They really are exceptional keepsakes of your garden, favourite vacation or a year in the life of your children or grandchildren.

The print quality is exceptional. The Photo book’s binding for my hardcover book proved to be very professional, and the quality of paper is very impressive (upgraded paper is available). Without the discount, my cost would have been more than $100.00 Canadian, which I would consider good value. The discount made it an outstanding value and there are discounts available throughout the year.

If you currently do not have images to create a book right now, make a promise to yourself to begin regularly photographing your garden so that you will have plenty of images for a future book.

Vic MacBournie

Vic MacBournie is a former journalist and author/owner of Ferns & Feathers. He writes about his woodland wildlife garden that he has created over the past 25 years and shares his photography with readers.

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