G F Smith

Yesterday Anete and I went over to G F Smith to talk to them about printing and framing some photographs for a second exhibition that we would like to do. Whether we do it or not depends entirely on the cost and so we thought a brief chat with one of the members of staff that came to talk to us at college last year might be a good idea.

We were welcomed into the office and immediately offered a tour of the photographic part of the factory. Linked servers allow the photographs and photographic album/book pages that are received into the Sales office to be sent across to the factory. These are then fed into ‘Thelma’ and ‘Louise’, the two photographic printers. We also watched as the technician changed a roll of photographic paper inside the ‘dark room’ area of the machine before he checked on the levels in the chemical baths. He showed us also where the machines dry the paper so that the finished print comes up ready to be moved on to the next stage.

A team of people put the books together with one person guillotining the photographic pages precisely and then individually creasing every page. Another uses an air gun to clean the pages of any dust and places them with boards between. The boards are slightly tacky and when heated in an oven the glue firmly adheres to the pages. The books are allowed to cool down naturally and are pressed overnight before being passed to the packing area where the cover is added and they are placed in a presentation box before being sent to the customer.

It was a really interesting experience and the care and pride that goes into making these books is incredible. We were shown two books that had been pulled and reprinted because they had the tiniest flaw on them. These flaws were so small and hard to see but the team were adamant that the books would be perfect when they were delivered to the customer. I found it very reassuring that they would take as much care over my prints and books as I would.

They are going to quote us for some prints and frames and we have offered to display some of their promotional material in exchange for a discount.

Book Design

I decided that I would finally get my book made at GF Smiths. As most of their albums need to be made using their own specialist software I have chosen to use InDesign and use their ‘MakeBook’ specifications.

I downloaded a template from their website and used that for the structure of my design.

After seeing the books that G F Smiths brought along the other week I decided that instead of using images from several of my trips I would use a range of photographs taken in just one country. I felt that would give the book more focus but still allow me to display a range of photographic subjects.

I looked at a few books and magazines and discussed the options with my tutor and decided that I wanted to produce something that allowed my photographs to stand out on their own. Nothing too cluttered and just a little text to explain some of the photographs. See Portfolio Inspiration for some of the magazines and websites that I visited for inspiration.

I printed out a large selection of the photos that I might use. I used Photobox to print out 6×4 copies at low cost and reasonable quality. Then I spread them out on the floor and arranged them in the order that I thought I would look good in a book, discarded those that I felt didn’t fit and still added in a few others that I hadn’t considered before.

Right from the beginning I had visualised a landscape book so using the appropriate MakeBook template I left the first spread blank as this will be a plain piece of paper. I then set up the second spread so that there is some text about me on the left and a single photograph on the right. I positioned the photograph so that there is room for a caption beneath and chose to use Goku Stencil and Perpetua fonts to match my branding and website. See last year’s New Technologies – Branding assignment for the thought process behind this choice.

I chose not to use a Master Page (layout that is repeated on each page) but instead used the ‘Paste in Place’ command to repeat the layout on each of my pages. This way I had the flexibility of designing a number of layouts for the photographs that could be displayed on the left or right of the spread.

These are the images of the final layout.


The MakeBook template comes with just 10 spreads or 20 pages included so I chose to add another five spreads to make it a 30 page book. This would allow me to tell the story of my trip in more detail and allow me to include more images.

The cover needed to be designed separately and because I had added extra pages I needed to use a cover template that allowed room in the spine for those pages. MakeBook covers can be covered in plain ‘Colorplan’ paper with a portion of the front available for a photograph. You choose the colour when you purchase the book so the image below is just of the printed part.

I chose a photograph that I felt reflected my theme and that would also allow space for a book title and logo.

Tan Book Landscape Cover


I have some experience of using InDesign before and in designing this book didn’t come across any issues or problems with it.

All I need to do now is upload the pdf files to G F Smith and they will print it out. They have a very good video that shows the process they use to make the books.

G F Smith

GF Smith is a Hull company that makes high quality paper. Part of their business, GF Smith Photographic is targeted directly towards professional photographers for whom they supply a range of albums, fames and mounts and competes with companies like Loxley Colour and Graphi Studio.

Their thought is that the wedding market is declining although some photographers at the top end are still earning a good living. They advise that we always print our work out and recommend their albums as a good way to store and preserve photos that otherwise may remain hidden on hard drives or, as technology upgrades, eventually be lost altogether.

They also recommended their range of cardboard mounts, some that can be embossed or foiled, for use at events.

Their albums can be produced using their PPS Software that is downloaded from their website. I believe it allows basic adjustments like cropping and adding shadows and includes a number of page layouts and album sizes.

All albums can be printed on matt, gloss, fine art or metallic paper. Both the matt and the gloss paper are lovely but the fine art paper, made from very soft fibres shows a lot more detail and a wider range of tones that was particularly obvious in black and white photos. The metallic paper is almost like super glossy paper, it is very shiny and looked great for some coloured photographs.

We had a long chat about colour profiles and how to calibrate our computer monitor. In order to judge the colour of the prints GF Smith have offered to print a 20 x 16 photograph and then reprint it if it is not the colour we expected. Now my problem is going to be which photograph to send them!