Printing a Photo Book

I read an interesting statistic the other day. It’s estimated that over one trillion photos will be taken in 2015. In the article, author Paul Worthington, a consumer imaging analyst for the Photo Marketing Association was referring to a study done by InfoTrends.  

Windmills on Mykonos, Greece.  

Let’s put this into perspective. Take every photo that is stored electronically in one year and print them each as 4x6-inch prints, when laid end to end they would stretch out over 200 million miles or about 1.1 roundtrips from the earth to the sun.  By 2017, the trail of prints will be long enough to make 2.5 roundtrips.  

In Paul’s article he discussed ways to better manage our photos and he made a few good points. One in particular that stood out was this; “Share and print only the best”. How often have you asked someone about their vacation only to lament your ill-advised inquiry while you are regaled with a review of every image as it flies by on an iPad. Let’s be serious, there’s only so many selfies that you can view before you go catatonic.    

For our last workshop, Tony and I wanted to share the best images from our trip. Not just ours, but everyone involved. After our return we asked everyone to send us their best 10 images. From that pool we put together a really nice travelogue book on our recent workshop in the Greek Islands.  

There are many places that will produce photo books - from your local Costco or Walgreens, all the way to your professional lab.  For this project I wanted to use Adobe Lightroom to put the book together although it’s actually printed by In fact, I could have uploaded all my images to and laid out the book online but doing it through Lightroom had some pleasant advantages - . 

With Blurb, you have three cover choices; Dust Jacket Hardcover, Image Wrap Hardcover and Soft Cover. There are five size choices from 7x7 or 12x12 square, 8x10 landscape or portrait or 13x11 large landscape.

You also have a variety of paper choices but watch your pricing calculator since this can really vary the cost, especially with books with lots of pages.  All in all, you have quite a few choices in the book style and the individual page layout. 

A book, when saved in Lightroom, is saved just like a Collection.  To add images to the book you must add them to the book collection. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to organize the images within the book. In my case, I wanted to organize the images by the island name. (You may want to organize a wedding by ‘reception’, ‘ceremony’, etc.) You can’t create a collection set or subsets within the book. They are just all piled up in one bucket.  I ended up using flags and labels but I had more islands than labels. It’s not a show stopper but it was a little frustrating. 

Multi Page View in the Book Module of Adobe Lightroom. 

For each page you can select from a wide variety of pre-designed pages.

One little quirk in Lightroom Book module is that the behavior I described above is only after you save the book. As long as you work on an unsaved book, you can drag images into the book from any collection or folder. Once you press that button that says “Create Saved Book”, only then does Lightroom require you to add the images to the saved Book Collection. 

What was very nice was the fact that even after I laid out the book, I could edit an image and those edits would automatically show up in the book. Even metadata changes. I used the copyright field to credit each of the photos. Some of the photos ended up with no name or I misspelled the name, a quick metadata update fixed the problem. Had I been doing the book online, I’d have to export the newly edited image, upload it to the server and switch it out in the layout. 

Here’s the bottom line. Making photo books - or even just producing great quality prints - takes time and effort. When you’re done, you have a wonderful physical object to share with your friends, family, grand kids.  These prints, when processed correctly, can last 100, 200 or even 300 years.  They are real, tangible, put-your-hands-on-them, always readable memories.  They don’t require a certain level of OS to read, prints are here to stay. What about all those digital images stored in Facebook or on some cloud drive? I’ll check back with you in 15 years - let me know how it works out.