Photographers journals and notebooks often contain retro camera styles and inspirational quotes.

Photographers Journals and Notebooks

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What’s the Difference?

While journals and notebooks contain paper and may look the same, they primarily differ in how they are used. Notebooks often have reminders, notes, checklists, or other types of information. Journals store thoughts, reflections, and sometimes private diary entries.

From a construction standpoint, journals may have pretty straps to hold them together. Sometimes notebooks are spiral-bound with tear-out pages. Either way, most are interchangeable in their usage. Overall, your choice really depends on what you’re comfortable with and how you like the bound book to sit while you’re writing.

Gift Ideas

If you’re stuck on a gift idea, journals and notebooks make great choices for everyone, particularly since they can be used for various purposes. You can usually find one with a cover that reflects your recipient’s interests, personality, or something inspirational. Most people tend to go pretty basic with their notebooks which means that one selected with a little more thought makes a great gift.


Wondering what type of journal or notebook to buy? Think through a few of these elements to select one that’s a great fit.

  • Storage
    • Pockets
    • Envelopes
  • Paper type
    • Smooth
    • Glossy
    • Matte
    • Show thru
    • Thick/heavy (bulkier)
    • Thin/
  • Writing utensils – Consider how these take to the paper
    • Ballpoint pen
    • Fountain pen (sometimes feathers or bleeds on heavy paper)
    • Pencil
    • Pastels
    • Markers
    • Pain
    • Gesso
  • Page types
    • Blank
    • Lines
    • Dots
    • Grids
  • Portability
    • Size
    • Weight
    • Durability
  • Cover
    • Hardcover (great for using in your lap)
    • Softcover (perfect on desks)
  • Binding
    • Lay flat (opens easily and you can create across the spread)
    • Spiral (easy to rip out pages)
    • Refillable or non-refillable
  • Design
    • Personality
    • Interests
    • Color
    • Inspirational

What to Buy

Professional and amateur photographers frequently use notebooks in day-to-day work. Often they contain location information, photo ideas, notes from classes or seminars, and lighting diagrams.

Journals are a great tool for reflecting on nature and other inspirational types of ideas. They tend to be used for capturing thumbnail sketches and aspirational thoughts around business and projects.

Personally, I have several notebooks that I have saved over the years with reference information. I also use the spiral-bound versions for day-to-day notes and reminders at my desk.

My Favorites

I have purchased and received several photography-themed notebooks over the years. Frequently, I tuck a notebook in with my photography wedding equipment.

My favorite book to date is the journal with quotes for its quality and beautiful design. There are many quotes inside that I pause to reflect on.

Likewise, my recently purchased Polaroid Notebook ranks second on my favorites list. The beautiful retro design definitely inspires me to be bold and the bright colors make the notebook easy to find.

On a side note, if you enjoy history as much as I do, check out PetaPixel’s article The Rise, Fall, and Revival of Polaroid: The Instant Photography Icon.

There is no shortage of beautiful designs and styles for journals and notebooks. Check out my roundup below.

If you’d like to do a little looking online, try typing in “photographer themed journals and notebooks” in the search bar. This filters out the general journals and notebooks and hones in on those with photography-related covers. Happy hunting!

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