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How-to's Software Reviews

How to create your own photo book with Adobe Lightroom

Connie Cassinetto (Via the Lens)

Keywords: adobe, lightroom, book

This is part one of a two part series on how to use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, aka "Lightroom " or "LrC" and its book module to create good looking photo books, for example coffee table books or photography books in smaller formats as give-aways of your best photographs. The link to part two of the series can be found at the end of this article. Enjoy!

I’m an Adobe user and have been for about 10 years now.  Lightroom (LrC) is my primary software program and I mostly use it and Photoshop, although I often use other software, too.  I find software fairly easy to use for the most part so I spend a lot of time “playing” with my images.  I love to create a piece that looks more artistic in nature and Photoshop is great for this.  Over time I’ve created many images that have a “watercolor” look or have a background texture added or have some other type of treatment. 

Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of advertisements from Blurb for printing books, some for as much as 40% off.  This appeals to me as I normally create books using Lightroom and Blurb that run around $80 to $100 per book, these are large “coffee table” type books.  LrC makes organizing images to create a book very easy and the software is very flexible when it comes to organizing images or creating pages in the Book Module.

Given the on-going discounts I decided to create a book of my more artistic creations and then send it to Blurb when the next discount announcement arrived over email.  If you have not used the Book Module it can be a bit daunting at first but after creating the first couple of books it becomes much easier.  


This screenshot shows the back and front cover of my book as well as a couple of full-page spreads using two different page layouts. There are multiple layouts you can choose and each page can be changed as needed
Click for an enlargement


Your first task will be to decide on the images you want to include in your book. You can choose images that are in a folder, in an existing or newly created collection, or you can use keywords and the filter bar.  Any of these choices will work.  Sometimes I use a folder, if the folder does not contain a lot of images that I know I will not use, and sometimes I create a-temporary collection or use the Keyword List and/or the filter bar.  For the book on the artistic images I chose the keyword “Background Textures” from the Keyword List and then confined the selection choices with the filter bar to only images that were 5-star.  

My general processing system is one where I take images and then process those that I like right away; as I process and finish I “5-star” the finished image. This makes it easy to quickly choose images for future projects.  To create a temporary collection, if you want to drag images from multiple folders, use the collection panel in the Library Module (click on the plus sign and a box will pop up asking you for a name for your new collection). 

I have a Collection Set called Books and my finished saved books go into that collection set just in case I want to do something with a book in the future. Sometimes it helps to organize your images ahead of time if you do have a specific sequence of events, but I’m normally creating a picture book so the sequence is not important for me.  


This screenshot shows a group of images selected using the filter bar with the keyword option. I did this by clicking on the arrow to the right of the keyword Background Textures. This arrow will show up when you click on a specific keyword.
Click for an enlargement


Once you have selected your images click on the Book Module in the Module Picker at the top of the application.  It might help you to read the Adobe online LrC User Guide before you start your project. You can access this quickly by going to the top of the application while in the Book Module, click on Help, then click on Book Module Help.  One of the first choices you’ll need to make when beginning the book is what size book you want and then what type of paper you want to use.  

The software provides you with an instant price so you can upgrade or downgrade as needed to fit your budget.  Be sure that “Blurb Photo Book” is selected right at the very top where it says, “Book” in the Book Settings panel.  I make Large Landscape books with a Hardcover Image Wrap (paper covers tend to tear over time) and Premium Lustre paper.  The recent book I did for the artistic images book was 54 pages plus a cover and the cost was $88.39 (without the 40% discount figured in).  I like to see my images printed large and generally one to a page and that affects my design choice.  


This screenshot shows the first choices you need to make in the Book Settings panel. You can change these settings after you have laid out your book but you would then need to go through the book and check each page to ensure that it is still laid out correctly, so it works better to make your final choice in the beginning.
Click for an enlargement


At the bottom of the book, right above the Filmstrip, is a black strip called the Toolbar, this strip tells you how many images you have in the folder or collection you are working in.  As you chose an image to drag and drop into the Book Module template a number in a black box will show up on the image in the toolbar; this number tells you that the image is included in a Book Module page.  If you include the same image a second time, perhaps for a cover image, the number will increase.  

In the Page Panel you can choose a template (and any template can be altered) by clicking on the down arrow in the little black box and a popup box will give you choices. You’ll need to experiment with the different choices.  In this same panel you can add pages and page numbers or complete the book without page numbers included. It’s a good approach to keep the Show Guides box checked as this will help you to keep all text within the proper boundaries for printing. 


Page numbers can be added in the Page panel, although the choices are limited. Not the black box that shows an image is included in the book, this helps you to not end up with duplicated images.
Click for an enlargement


To put your images into the book pages, select an image and drag and drop it on the page where you want it to be placed.  You can move images from one page to another using this same approach. To begin with, simply place a photo on a page and don’t worry too much about it as you can easily go back and change whatever you need to.  

Right click on a placed image and you will see there are many options available to make changes.  When you click on a placed image you’ll see a large yellow border at the bottom, click on the small down arrow in the yellow border to choose a new layout for your image. A right click on an image itself gives you still more options.  


This screenshot shows the list of page layout options when you click on the black box with the arrow at the bottom right of the image.
Click for an enlargement


A good way to begin to learn the software is to create a small temporary test collection and then play with those images, knowing that you will end up deleting the test collection. In Part 2, I’ll go more in-depth on artistic choices, including the front and back covers. Start now to determine what images you want to put in your book and then you can get ready to take advantage of any upcoming Blurb discounts.  

To continue with the article and lesson on how to use the Lightroom book module, see Using the Adobe Lightroom Book Module, part 2 

(7 Votes )

Originally written on August 5, 2020

Last updated on December 17, 2020


Herb Brail (hbrail) on August 14, 2020

Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014

Many thanks, this gives me a great start on experimenting with combining text and images.

Connie Cassinetto (Via the Lens) on August 12, 2020

Ribbon awarded for her valuable contributions to the Articles Section.

Hi Herb, on adding text and the template layout. I had to go into the Book Module and play around to remind myself what can be done. Actually, the software is pretty forgiving. The text layout, however, can taks a bit of time to figure out. If you want a full page of text only you go to Text Pages in the Page panel and click on the little down arrow or you click on the bottom of a page where the arrow is located on the right, although it looks like you can also add a small image to some of the text only pages. Otherwise you simply scroll through the 1-photo to 4-photo layout templates and choose the template that works for you. You can move a text or image cell around on the page by clicking in the center, holding down the mouse, and then moving the box where you want it. You can leave space between the template boxes or push them all up next to one another. You can push a text or image box out longer or make it shorter and you can remove a box using right-click. You can also add a text or image box, use Photo Description, with a right-click. The right-click is very important in LrC, in all modules, as it gives you many options. I hope this answers your question.

Connie Cassinetto (Via the Lens) on August 11, 2020

Ribbon awarded for her valuable contributions to the Articles Section.

Hi Herb, Yes, it is possible to do a two-page spread with text on the spine. In the Page Panel after you click on the little down arrow choose "Two Page Spreads." Experiment to see which one works best for you. The image must be large enough in pixel size to support doing this and sizing would depend on how large of a book page you chose. Remember that at 8 x 10, an image would be required to be around 3000 pixels on the long side. Normally, if you shoot RAW or JPEG FINE (name may change depending on your camera) you'll get a file that is large enough for a full-page spread as long as you have not cropped it to a much smaller size. A pano should work fine for a wrap. I did this with a book about Yellowstone where I shot a landscape pano with fall color and it came out beautifully. Sizing is a whole other conversation! I'll write again about the other question. The software does have limits.

Herb Brail (hbrail) on August 9, 2020

Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014

Very informative. I hope in Part 2 you will go into some detail about adding text (perhaps more than a simple caption or image title) and integrating one or more text boxes onto pages containing images. Also, on the front and back covers, whether a panoramic image can be wrapped around both sides with vertical text on the spine.

Connie Cassinetto (Via the Lens) on August 6, 2020

Ribbon awarded for her valuable contributions to the Articles Section.

Hi, just got another email from Blurb this morning....40% off. Hope to have second part of article posted soon! Blurb CODE MYKEEPSAKE.

bruce thoms (dripdrymcfleye) on August 5, 2020

Thank you for being so generous in sharing your time and experience based knowledge. I'm sure that many will benefit from your effort.