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When I was young it was common for photographers to share their photos by getting friends or family to sit in a darkened room and watch a slide show. Either that or they’d make people leaf through holiday photo albums containing every photo taken on that holiday.
Thankfully things have changed for the better, and no, I’m not talking about Instagram. If you’re looking for a way to share your best photos with family and friends, then look no further than Lightroom Classic’s Book module.
Note: These ideas apply to older versions of Lightroom such as Lightroom 5 and Lightroom 6, but not the newer Lightroom app for desktop, which doesn’t have a Book module.
1. The Book module helps you create a legacy
Here’s something for you to think about. Who’s going to care for our photo collections after we are gone? What kind of legacy do you want to leave your children or grandchildren, or anybody who may be interested in your work? Will family or friends who inherit a hard drive full of photos have any idea where to find your best images?
Photography is powerful. Family photos capture and preserve precious memories. But it’s up to us to curate our best work and present it in a form that can be passed down through the generations.
Photo books are the perfect medium for doing that.
2. The Book module helps you make better family albums
Family photo albums contain years of precious memories. When I was ten I laughed at photos of me as a baby or my parents in their sixties clothes. Now those photo albums have a value that can’t be put into words. And once those photos fade, they are gone forever.
Photo books are the modern equivalent of the family photo album. But they are better in many ways. You can be more selective about which photos make it in. You have complete control over the layout. You can even create PDF versions for people to look at on phones and tablets.
When our son was born I started a project making a new photo book for each year of his life. The screenshot below shows the front and back covers of the first book. They make great presents for family and hopefully he’ll appreciate them when he’s older.
3. Photo books are beautiful
There’s a world of difference between a photo book and a photo album.
Photo books encourage you to organize and edit your photos. If you’re making the effort to create a good photo book, it deserves to feature your best images.
Unlike albums you can put as much care and attention as you want into designing the book. But don’t feel you have to be an expert. If you’re not a designer you can still easily create a simple but effective layout in the Book module, as this example shows.
If you fancy testing out your graphic design skills, the Book module can accommodate you. The end result is something truly beautiful that you’ll be proud to give as a gift or to people to look at.
4. Photo books are long lasting and replaceable
Nostalgia is powerful. Family photo albums are more than just images printed on paper. They contain memories, thoughts and emotions. Yet once the photos fade and the negatives are lost there’s no way to bring them back.
Blurb photo books, on the other hand, are made with archival quality, acid free paper. Stored properly, they’ll last as long as a regular book. And if they get lost or damaged, as long as Blurb is still in business you can just order another one.
5. Lightroom and Blurb work seamlessly together
Blurb is the only photo book maker supported by Lightroom Classic’s Book module. The reason for that is that Blurb and Adobe’s headquarters are located relatively close to each other in California. That makes it easy for Adobe’s engineers to test out the Book module to make sure it gets optimum results.
As a result the book making process in Lightroom is about as easy as you can imagine. The hardest part is deciding which photos to include in your book and laying them out. When you’re done, simply hit the Send Book to Blurb button and let Blurb take care of the rest.
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How to get started in the Lightroom Classic Book module
Excited? I hope so, because photo books are a great way of sharing your best work with an appreciative audience.
If you’ve read the previous tutorial in this series you’ll know how to use Lightroom Classic to edit and organize your photos. You may already have photos ready for a creative project.
There’s not room to go into every aspect of the Book module in this tutorial, but I can give you a taste of what you can do with it.
1. Choose a theme
The first job is to select a theme for your photo book. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Organize your photos by year. Create a yearbook for every year that goes by. These are like curated photo albums, showing people where you were and what you were doing at different stages of your life.
Long term photo projects. Projects are a great way of developing your photography skills and finding interesting subjects. They also make great subjects for photo books.
Organize your photos by subject. Are there specific genres you explore in-depth? Landscape photography, portraiture, close-up photography, flowers, wildlife, travel or even black and white photography all make excellent themes for a photo book.
Smart phone photos. Whether you love or hate smart phone photos and the apps people use to develop them, there’s no denying that they are being used by more and more people to record all the details of their lives.
Family photo albums. If you have enough photos of your family then this is a natural, meaningful subject for a photo book. Imagine a book (or a series of books) containing the best photos and happiest memories taken of your children growing up. It’s the traditional photo album reinvented.
Here’s a spread from a photo book I made of my son in his first year. His grandparents loved this book.
2. Think about the design of your photo book
Graphic design is an essential component of book design. It’s important to remember that designers view books in terms of double page spreads rather than individual pages (double page spread is a publishing term for the two visible pages of an open book). The layouts below will give you some ideas.
Photo book layout examples
The cover and back cover are important parts of your book. You can get really creative with the layout. Here’s an example of what you can do.
If you’re into square format photography, you could try a layout like this.
The photos in this double page spread are balanced and work well together.
In this layout the three smaller photos on the left page are balanced by the larger photo on the right. The photos are linked by subject (they are all taken in China) and theme (the color red).
And a reminder, if you needed it, that simple design is often strong and effective.
Photo books are an easy and rewarding way of sharing your best work with family and friends. If you’ve never used Lightroom Classic’s Book module before then I encourage you to open it up and get going. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to use once you’ve got the hang of it.