• Alina Cebula

How I hand made my photography book

I feel like in our digital age, photography books are very largely underappreciated. For an average consumer, there is no immediate value in photography books especially if the viewer can just see the images online. I love art books. There is something different about viewing images in a book form. The texture and weight of paper, the forced order in which the photographs should be viewed and the fact that you can get the viewers undivided attention makes books so much more special. It’s an amazing way to put a body of work together. It can be used to show off your photography work in a way that is more professional than through Instagram.

I have always wanted to have my own photography book and my way of thinking is usually ‘go big or go home’, so naturally – I wanted to have a beautiful, thick, large format tabletop book with a cloth cover and a textured fine art paper. I also wanted to have control over every single little thing that makes the book, from the colour of the thread to the texture of the cover, so I decided to bind the book myself. I have done some book binding projects before and I have really enjoyed them, but I am not in any way a book binder, I am completely self-taught, and I just learn as I go! Saying that, I have made a couple of copies of ‘Be Still’, I have taken it to an exhibition, and it did very well.

Making books is a very relaxing process and I would recommend anyone trying it out, you can make a simple book with just some paper and thread. In this blog, I wanted to show the process of how I made my book step by step, to show that it’s really not that complicated, and anyone can do it!

Let’s start with tools and materials.


  • Cutting knife- for cutting the paper into size

  • Metal ruler – for cutting straight even lines

  • Sanding paper – for making sure the edges of the book are perfectly straight

  • Japanese screw hole-punch – for punching holes through the pages, and the book cover. (Can be swapped for an awl)

  • A needle – quite a big one to saw through the book

  • Paintbrush and a bowl – for spreading glue on the pages

  • Paper clips – to hold things in place

  • Plenty of spare paper – for tracing and soaking the moisture from gluing the book.

  • Scoreboard and a bone folder – Useful tools for folding the pages, but not necessary.

  • Book press – I have made my press from two free pieces of wood I got from Ikea by simply drilling holes through them and holding it down with wing screws.


  • Book paper – I have printed my book out with local printing company on a paper of my choice.

  • Book board – Book board is important. I have bought a 2mm board from a local store.

  • Book cloth – I wanted to have a cloth cover on my book, and to avoid having to prepare my own book cloth I have ordered one from a local store.

  • Inside card – a thicker card (I used 180gsm) usually with a nice colour touch that will go inside of the covers.

  • String and glue – a standard PVA glue is perfectly fine to use, and for the string I used a cotton bookbinding thread.

That seems like a lot of tools and materials, but most of these things are household products, or products that can be found very cheap in local stores. I have spent roughly £10 per book on these materials.

Here is what I did:

1. Cut the book board into size.

2. I clipped and sanded the book board for perfect and smooth corners.

3. Glued the book board onto the cloth.

4. I have left this set to dry in my book press overnight.

5. When it dried – I folded the edges of the cloth and it went back in the book press.

6. Before gluing the coloured card, I made a neat crease using the scoring board so the book can open and close freely.

7. When dry, I punched holes through the book cover.

8. Then, I got my sheets of paper cut into size.

9. I created a template and punched holes through each page.

10. I have scored the pages, so they fold better.

11. Lastly, I have put all the pieces together and sewed it all together!

TA DAA! The book is all done:

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