Making Photobooks in Lightroom

There are any number of photobook vendors out there, each with their own software for laying out pages of pics, but did you know Lightroom 4 does it too?

(This tutorial was published in the May 2013 issue of PhotoComment Magazine)

What you will learn

How to layout (or auto layout) your own photobooks as a first time Lightroom user or as part of your existing workflow inside Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom.

Why Photobooks?

Photobooks, for which you upload images to a photo specialist to be turned into a printed and bound book, are increasingly popular today. The simple reason is that they’re great: a photobook at the end of each year of a child’s life offers a cherished set of memories which are not at risk of a hard drive crash. They also make wonderful gifts for grandparents and in later years will entertain the actual children themselves.

There is also something ‘classy’ about presenting your photographic portfolio as beautifully printed images in a leather bound photobook. Wedding photographers in particular are familiar with the popularity among brides of photobooks as ways to cherish and share their memories. The beauty of Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom is that you can easily create your photobooks in the same place you manage and process your images. If you play with Lightroom 5 Beta – which is a free download for now – you will find that creating photobooks is now a baked in feature which is faster than web-based tools.

Step 1 - Import

1 – Import

If you are not already using Lightroom for importing and editing your images, then you will want to start by importing the images you wish to use into Lightroom. Click the import button on the left hand side and choose the ‘Source’ for where you wish to import the images.

Step 02 - Select Images

2 – Select Images

In our example, our source is the E:\ drive which happens to be our computer’s card reader. Select the images you wish to import into Lightroom. By default, leave the option at the top as ‘Copy’ and not ‘Copy as DNG’ which stands for ‘Digital Negative’ which is Adobes RAW file format.

Step 03 - Destination

3 – Destination

You need to choose where you want the images to be imported to. On the right hand side you can change all these options. We are exporting to ‘DATA (D:)’ drive. You can also set whether files must be renamed etc. We are setting our ‘Destination’ into a subfolder called ‘Photobook’.

Step 04 - Library

4 – Library

Once you hit import your images are now added to the library. Here you have the option to ‘Flag’ and ‘Star Rate’ your images and refine the selection of images you want to put into your photobook or even just hang on to for later use in other projects. Images can be filtered by these same criteria.

Step 05 - Develop

5 – Develop

The ‘Develop’ module is where you can edit the images you have imported. You can adjust colour, noise, sharpness and apply presets to the images to get them looking just the way you want them to look before you create your photobook. This is Lightroom’s speciality.

Step 06 - Book

6 – Book

With the importing, selecting and developing of your images now out of the way, you can select the ‘Book’ option in Lightroom. The first thing you will want to do under ‘Book Setting’ on the right hand side is change the book type from ‘Blurb’ to ‘PDF’ unless you wish to order the book through ‘Blurb‘.

Step 07 - Size and Cover

7 – Size and Cover

You need to confirm – if you are outsourcing your printing – what size the printers you will print your book with can support. In our example we are opting for the ‘Standard Landscape’ option which is 25x20cm. We have also chosen ‘No Cover’ under the cover options available.

Step 08 - Other Settings

8 – Other Settings

You have other settings that you can change, such as ‘JPEG Quality’, ‘Colour Profile’, ‘File Resolution’ (see last month’s ‘Software School’ if you want to understand more on this), as well as the level of ‘Sharpening’ – if any – you want applied to the book and the ‘Media Type’ – Glossy or Matt.

Step 09 - Auto Layout

9 – Auto Layout

Lightroom can make the layout of the book as simple as a single click of the mouse from here on out. Under ‘Auto Layout’ you simply choose a preset you would like and click the ‘Auto Layout’ button. In our example we have gone with “Left Blank, Right One Photo with Caption”.

Step 10 - Change Layout

10 – Change Layout

To change the layout of a page, click the button at the right corner of the page. A pop up of different page layouts appears. Drag images from the bottom of the screen to fill the various image blocks. Click on an image to reposition it in the page and bring up a zoom button.

Step 11 - Text and Background

11 – Text and Background

Even if your layout page does not have a text block you can add a caption to the page or photos using the tools in the right hand column, where you can also change text type, font size etc. You can also change the background of the pages using the ‘Background’ tool under the ‘Type’ tools.

Step 12 - Export

12 – Export

Once you have done your layout and captions you are ready to export your photobook as a PDF. Simply click the ‘Export Book to PDF’ button, choose the location on your computer hard drive – or external drive – where you want it saved and give it a file name. Now you can upload it to your printers.

Author Bio

Tristan - Founder

Founder of PhotoComment. In a relatively short space of time he has experienced the photography industry almost full circle. From camera repairs, to photographic retail, wholesale, marketing for one of the large camera brands, part time photographer and of course blogger there is hardly a moment when he is not eating, drinking and occasionally getting some sleep where photography is not involved.