Editor's note: It's time to master your black and white photography skills! You can grab our new video course The Art of Black and White in Lightroom Classic now for just $15 (normal price $20) with the code march5. Thanks for reading, Andrew.
If you’re new to Lightroom Classic’s Book module then the easiest way to get started is to make a simple photo book. The idea is to let Lightroom do most of the work for you so you don’t have to worry about the design. You can start tweaking the layout as you get more experienced, but this way you get the finished result in your hand more quickly.
Note: This tutorial also applies to older versions of Lightroom such as Lightroom 6. The Book module in Lightroom Classic does have some extra features, but none of them are used in this simple layout.
Before you open the Book module
This is what you need to do before you enter the Book module.
• Create a Collection for the book photos and add the photos that you want to include in the book. Be selective – a photo book is meant to be something special and it’s going to be much more effective if it only contains your best photos. Feel free to include any photos you’re not sure about, as you can make the final decision when you see the book layout.
• Click and drag the photos so that they’re in the approximate order that they are going to appear in the photo book. The easiest place to do this is in Grid View in the Library module. Try grouping landscape and portrait orientation photos together as it tends to look better in the layout (see below). Also consider starting and finishing with your strongest image as this makes the entire effect more powerful.
Here are the photos that I’m going to use in this photo book. The theme of the book is that they’re all black and photos made in Argentina and Bolivia.
• Pick two photos to use on the front and back covers. It helps if they have a strong, simple composition. Just keep them in your head for the moment and don’t adjust the layout.
• Adjust the development settings of any photos, if required. Remember this is a body of work and it will be more effective if the photos in the book are developed in a consistent style. You may have photos that look kind of odd when viewed with the others in the book because they have been developed differently. If that applies consider making Virtual Copies and adjusting the settings so that the style of your photos is more consistent.
Getting started in the Book module
Now you’re ready to go to the Book module.
1. The first thing to do in the Book module is go to Auto Layout panel and click the Clear Layout button (or you can click the Clear Book button at the top of the Content window). This clears any photos added by Lightroom Classic using autofill (if enabled, see step 3). Once you’ve clicked the button the layout should look something the screenshot below.
2. Go to the Book Settings panel and set Book to Blurb Photo Book. Then select the book size and cover type you want to work with. It’s important to do this now as the layout changes if you change the size and it can mess up your design work. The Paper Type is unimportant at this stage, but you can set Logo Page to on to include a Blurb logo in your book and receive a small discount.
You’ll see the estimated price of the book at the bottom of the panel. It depends on the size and type of book, the number of pages and the type of paper used (you can learn more about paper types on the Blurb website).
3. Go to Book > Book Preferences. Set Default Photo Zoom to Zoom to Fit and uncheck the Start new books by autofilling box. The other settings don’t matter at this stage.
Creating a simple photo book in the Book module
Now it’s time to start laying out the book.
4. Go to the Auto Layout panel and set Preset to One Photo Per Page.
5. Click the Auto Layout button. Lightroom Classic creates the book for you and places one photo on each page. It looks something like this, depending on how many photos you have in your book (use the Thumbnails slider in the Toolbar to change the size of the pages in this view).
6. The words Unsaved Book in the top-left corner of your screen indicate that you haven’t saved the layout. Click the Create Saved Book button. Lightroom Classic opens the Create Book window. Give your book a name and decide where to save it.
7. Click the Create button. Lightroom duplicates the Collection and creates something called a Book Collection. This is a special type of Collection for photos used in a photo book layout. Book Collections have a different icon to differentiate them from other Collections.
Once you’ve created a Book Collection you can navigate away from the layout and come back to it without losing your work.
Design the front and back covers
Lightroom Classic automatically uses the first and last photos in the Collection as the front and back covers. These are probably not the photos you’ve chosen for the covers, so we need to change that.
8. Go the Filmstrip, select the photo you want to use as the front cover and click and drag it to the Front Cover in the layout.
9. Repeat with the back cover. The result should look something like this. Click the Spread View icon (marked below) to see the front and back covers on the screen.
Tip: Landscape orientation photos work best on the front and back covers.
10. Click on the front cover, go to the Text panel and check the Page Text panel. This places a Text Cell on the page. Type in the book’s title and use the settings in the Type panel to set the font type, color and size. You can click and drag the yellow border to move the title up and down (or use the Offset slider in the Text panel).
You can’t change the width of the Text Cell. But you can work around that by going to the Cell panel and moving the Left slider to position the text.
Tip: Use a contrasting color for the title text so it stands out. I’ve used white text so you can easily see it against the dark background.
11. Click on the front cover to make sure it’s selected (you’ll see a yellow border around the two pages that make up the covers when it is). Go to the Background panel and check the Background Color box. Choose a background color that complements the front and back covers. I choose dark gray for my book to match the black and white images.
Add a white border to inside pages
The next step is to add a white border to the photos inside the book. The additional white space makes the layout look more professional.
12. Go to Multi-Page View (click the left most icon in the Toolbar) and click on any page with a landscape orientation photo. Click the Spread View icon to enlarge it on the screen. Go to the Cell panel and move the Bottom slider right. The other sliders should move with it. If they don’t, click the gray Link All box (the sliders move together when all the boxes are white). Adjust the sliders until there’s a solid white border around the photo.
13. Right-click anywhere on the page and select Save as Custom Page. Go to Multi-Page View and then Edit > Select all to select all the pages in the book (excluding the covers).
14. Click any arrow in a yellow frame and go to Custom Pages. Select the page layout you just created (it’s the only one there if it’s the first time you’ve done this). Lightroom Classic applies the layout to all the selected pages.
From Book module to Blurb
Congratulations, you’ve finished your book! There are lots of ways you can change the design, but this simple layout is a simple and effective way of creating a portfolio type photo book.
Once you’re happy with the design you need to send your photo book to Blurb. You’ll need a Blurb account, which you can create on its website.
When you’re ready click the Send Book to Blurb button (it’s under the right-hand panels). Lightroom Classic asks you to sign into your Blurb Account and enter the book’s details. Click the Upload Book button to initiate the process. When it’s done you can sign into your Blurb account and see your book.
Note: Blurb deletes the book from your account after 15 days if you don’t order any copies.
Here are some more pages from the book I created for this tutorial.
The next steps
If you’d like to learn more about Lightroom I suggest you sign up to our Introducing Lightroom Classic free email course. We’ll send five free Lightroom Classic lessons straight to your inbox! And while you’re here, don’t forget to check out our Mastering Lightroom Classic ebook bundle (see below).
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Black & White in Lightroom Classic
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