Family Album Spread Design Tips

Being Creative with Spread Design!

filed in:

I'm Katelyn James Alsop, a photographer, educator and momma who believes any photographer can have a profitable AND purposeful business.


Top Categories

Browse All

read more


Browse All


Browse All


A wintery boston wedding

w/ inside, dark ceremony


Come join over 3,000 other photographers from around the world & become my virtual third shooter! 
Arrow KJ
Arrow KJ

Browse Series

 Baby James Story

Our Home

Our Kids

Ask Anything

Album design process

This is such a fun post for me to share because it’s what I consider my “hobby”! Sure, it’s still photo-related so maybe it’s not a true hobby for me since my career is consumed in the photography world… but it is most definitely what I love to do for fun!

This brand new Youtube episode is dedicated to talking through HOW I actually make design decisions when it comes to my family album spreads!! How do I select which images go where? How do I find patterns and what system do I use to piece this massive project together?! 


Well, before I dive in, let me first give you some stats and info on my Family Yearbook process:


  1. Time it takes to complete: 10-12 hours of work during our “Netflix” time on the couch in the evenings! 
  2. How big is it?! Well, the last two years I have overdone it. I actually have created over 400 pages and two volumes. NORMAL people wouldn’t do this. They would probably have a 100-150 page book. I’m excessive and I know it! 
  3. What size is your book? It’s a 12×12 photo book! 
  4. Where do you get it printed? BLURB! With Standard Pages!
  5. What album are you using to design your spreads? Smartalbums and I LOVE this program!!! 
  6. Do you do one album per year or per kid? Just one album! It’s too overwhelming to try and divide up images per kid. I can’t imagine how I would make that work! 


In this Youtube Episode, I’m going to be taking you through the thought process behind piecing together my Family Yearbook Spreads. There are so many aspects of this process that are just second nature to be but I actually really enjoyed breaking it down and thinking through WHY I made certain decisions and what visual patterns I was paying attention to! 


Overall, here are some design tips that I shared in the video! ….


When designing album spreads, I’m looking for:


  • Variety of pulled back and tightly cropped shots
  • Simple groupings (not too many images on one spread)
  • Images that can fit over the spine and not get lost in the crease!
  • Images that share similar color patterns
  • Out of a group of related images, I look for a dominant photo or a dominant pattern (ex: One bold image to be big and the focal point or a dominant pattern like using all verticals)


There are so many other tips shared in this episode! If you find it hard to comprehend what I just listed out, be sure to watch this video to see real examples of them in action!!!  Enjoy! 









Thanks for reading!

— Katelyn

Student Spotlight July 2021

Ah! It’s our FINAL STUDENT SPOTLIGHT!!! This July post has been a long time coming but it’s HERE and it’s LIVE and I want you to help me celebrate these amazing photographers who are making their dreams happen!!!


This six month update feels like it’s weirdly disproportionate compared to other monthly updates! Why is that? Well, last month I posted a couple of sets of images that were actually at the beginning of his sixth month and THEN we photographed multiple weddings, had several trips away from home for a few days and the dads were for several days!


Rhett’s Sixth Month


Hope + Jesse A Gillbrook Farms Wedding

Hope and Jesse are the sweetest couple. You can just feel it when you’re with them! You can see it when you watch them interact. You can hear it in the stories that their family members and best friends shared about them. They are truly soulmates and best friends. They have an undeniable love for one another and that is why even a rainy, misty wedding day could be incredibly vibrant, warm and joyful!!


Rhett’s Fifth Month

Rhett’s fifth month was full of fun. It’s crazy to me that I know I only take my big camera to about 10% of the things we do in a month and yet each month is SO full.


This beautiful wedding day took place in the rolling hills of West Virginia, just past the Virginia state line. Wild Goose Farm is a venue that I’ve never photographed before and let me tell you, it was a treat! We didn’t even have the sun join us for most of the day and yet we were able to capture beautiful portraits! Between the horses, old fences, stunning estate home, lily pad covered pond, old stone walls, rustic barn, open fields and a historic stone arch, I was in photographer heaven!


Brian + Shannon A Wild Goose Farm Wedding


Tim + Megan | Engaged Countryside Engagement Portraits | Harrisonburg

This session was just as sweet as it looks. We spent the evening with Megan and Tim in the country outside of Harrisonburg, Virginia. We were tucked away in the rolling hills in between beautiful fields and family farms. It reminded me all over again why I just love Virginia. We really have it all… beaches, mountains, history, and great schools! JMU, while it did play a role in Tim and Megan’s story, isn’t actually where it started!



"Best money I have EVER spent on education! ... and I've spent a lot!”


"I love all the lessons I'm learning from KJ All Access! Thanks Katelyn!”

- Shannon Drummond, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER

"I find very few educational resources worth it ... this one is!”

- Kate gansneder, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER

"Recently signed up for KJ All Access and it's EVERYTHING!”

- Kassidy Mowery, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER

"Being able to see behind-the-scenes of Katelyn interacting with her clients has been SO impactful!”

- Angie mcpherson, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER

"Recently signed up for KJ All Access and it's EVERYTHING!”

- Kassidy Mowery, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER

"SO worth it! It's amazing the amount of knowledge you get out of them!”

- Brittany Lowe, ALl ACCESS MEMBER

"I learned just as much in one All Access as I did in a whole course! SO GOOD!"

- Joanna Krueger, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER
10 Steps to Starting Your Photography Business
Helping a friend survive a season of Infant Loss
How to photograph a first look in Harsh Light
A Lake Como Destination Wedding - Greg and Kate
A Letter to the Go-Getters fearful of Motherhood

The KJ blog

The KJ Blog is where you get to know me, where you meet our KJ Couples and see their beautiful wedding days, where I have been building an archive of education for over a decade and where I let you see a peek into our life, our home, and hear about our purpose! 
don't miss the
Arrow KJ
Arrow KJ
Arrow KJ
Arrow KJ
Arrow KJ
Arrow KJ


Join 24,000+ others and learn, grow and get connected via our Youtube Channel! This is where I'm constantly sharing new content, talking all things gear, business, tips, tricks and letting you into the behind-the-scenes of our everyday life! 

"I have invested in all of KJ’s education!

The way she teaches makes so much sense and I’m so grateful for her! My business will be forever changed!"

- Renee Nicolo

"KJ education has been life-changing

 It has elevated my work so I could quit my day job and work from home with our baby boy!"

- joanna k.


and none compare to what I get from KJ!"