How I Create Those Photo Book Layouts

Hi Gang: I had a lot of folks asking about how I create those photo book layouts that I showed here on the blo from my trips to Denmark, and more recently London. I start in Lightroom, and then I use Apple’s iPhoto software for the actual book layouts. So, I made a short video (above) that shows you how it works, and it gives you some tips on how to layout the photos themselves, no matter which program you’re using.

Also, I mention in the video two links to videos I did in 2008 that show how to do similar things in Lightroom 2 (link), and Photoshop CS4 (link). Hope this helps. :)

  1. Scott:

    Thank you for those LR and CS links! I thought us PC guys were left hanging in the wind because we didn’t have iPhoto on our computers. Glad there is a work-around to creating books like this. Maybe Adobe will drop an actual book layout in Lightroom 4 (hint, hint)!


      1. Nah, im syncing my Ipad and its taking forever. Working on my hot air balloon shots from today. I knew you would hold down the fort! 8-)

      1. It looks like they also have free downloadable front end software to compile your book offline

  2. Thank you Scott..! You read my mind..! I was really hoping you’d make a video on how you create your travel books..! I was one of those that asked you how you do this on your previous trip.

    Now I have to study up on WordPress and see how to insert the album thumbnails and larger images. Im hoping you read my mind again and create a video on this too (hint hint, wink wink)..! Its a very nice, clean, easy to use image viewer on the WordPress blog.

  3. Thanks for this tip. I’d been wondering how you were creating these and figured that you were using a program that exported a PDF version of the book you’d created. I really enjoy your travel books!

  4. Does anyone know when Apple will release iPhoto for the iPad? I would love to be able to make iphoto books directly on the iPad when traveling. I’ve seen a few apps but none particularly impressive. Has anyone had luck with an app for this? Thanks!

  5. Thanks for the tutorial Scott. As I was viewing it, I noticed something I missed on your original post. It never occurs to me to spend the time to take good frames of food dishes in my travels. When I saw how well you integrated these images into your travel book, it was a face palm moment! It definitely adds to the “flavor” of experience.

    1. Hi Omar: I got the idea from looking at great travel magazines, like Conde Nast and National Geo’s Traveler (now gone, sadly). When they cover a city, they always include shots of the food, and when I saw that I realized how much of the travel experience is getting to try new local cuisines. My wife is great about letting me shoot the food before we eat it. For that Burger shot, she asked Marcia if she could reposition her burger closer to the window to get better lighting. You gotta love a woman who worries about the lighting on your food shots. ;-) Anyway, one tip is to try to either sit outside or sit near a window—that way you can nail the food shots. :)

      1. Great story. I recently took my wife out to fancy dinner as a “Middle of Little League Season Break” and did the exact same thing with every course (even the bread), and she was wonderfully understanding and insightful about the lighting and the backgrounds. She didn’t go so far as to ask the lady in the gaudy blouse at the table next door to move, but I bet she wanted to…;)

        The photo book idea is great, though. I think I may use some of those dinner shots for a little “virtual” book. Thanks for the great idea!

    2. I love this idea as well. I never really thought about using them in a photo book, so the next trip will include food shots. Thanks Scott.

  6. Hi Scott,

    Thanks for the iPhoto tutorial. However, I have one question not posted before regarding your image galley that pops up. Is the pop up galley part of your blog software or are you using 3rd party popup code? Your iPhoto books appears to be published as a web gallery book, but now I realize each image (page) is a screen capture inserted in a your image galley. If you could share your pop up solution, it would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hey Randy, I think Scott is using the Lightbox plugin for WordPress, which is based on the Lightbox 2 script If you’re running WP, the plugin is fantastic. If you’re hand-coding your website in HTML, the script is fairly easy to use.


  7. I was inspired by this post to try my own book, however iPhoto 11 crashes repeatedly when playing with the layout.

    A quick Google search and look on the Apple discussion boards shows that I’m not the only one by any means who has this problem. No one appears to have come up with a consistent fix.

    I hope enough users are sending crash reports to Apple for them to investigate this – iPhoto 11 appears to be pretty unstable when it comes to books.

  8. Scott,

    Thanks for posting this little video and also for putting the layout together for your London trip. You’ve actually given me a good ole kick up the behind to get some books done from some of our personal photos too from holidays, days out etc rather than just have them on the HD or the iPad; I guess you still can’t beat the hard copy :)


  9. Scott, thanks for sharing the fantastic tips, and a huge thanks for not leaving us Windows users out in the cold by including the tutorial on how to do it in PS. Since you have a method for doing the layout in PS, can I assume you don’t use the Mpix Flash-based layout editor?

    One last thing, I know you’re an Mpix guy, and I’ve done some photobooks with them, but I really love the photobooks over at Adorama Pix. They have this fantastic binding method that allows every page to lay flat, without a gutter. So panoramas are a snap. My wife and I did our wedding album through them, and we’ve got a number of 24″x12″ photo spreads that people always say look gorgeous.

  10. Scott,

    Just curious, what color space are you exporting the jpegs in? ProPhoto, sRGB? Do you see a benefit from one or the other when printing from Apple? I’m used to sRGB with mpix pro and all of those calibration settings. Thoughts?…

    1. Brian,

      In the video, Scott uses the LR export command with the preset of full sized JPEG, 240 dpi with SRGB. I used these same settings to make a softcover Apple book from I-Photo and the quality of the images and the pages is very good.

      Hope this helps

  11. Thank you for the tutorial. I have iPhoto and I never really use. I think making a photo book is a tedious job, probably because I don’t use a template. I always make my own layout and import the photo’s one by one. Anywau, I learned a lot today.

  12. Being new to Mac, I forgot that I had iBook (?) available on my computer. Thanks…..BUT!
    I was astonished at the clarity of the Lightroom 3 layout in your video. I think I’m in my third year with and (for example) when I watch Matt Kloskowski’s Lightroom 3 courses, the Lightroom layout is so muddy and soft that it almost hurts the eyes trying to look at the screen. What’s up. Why is the quality at kelbytraining so inferior to the video you offer for free on your website?

  13. Loved the video and the look of the book you created, so much so I spent the afternoon making my own in iPhoto but the program crashes and quits every time I try purchase the book or export as a PDF, very frustrating!

  14. Great tutorial. Makes me want to get a Mac. I have been working with the Adobe Creative Suite for years and have gotten by on Windows (even Windows 7). I see the “blurb” link above, but is there software like this beyond blurb for Windows? Also, how do you end up publishing the work? Send to MPix or something like that? I’d love to know. I have two small children at home and it would be a great gift for my wife. She makes them as a hobby for kids, but I think she needs her own ( Would love some input. Thanks.

    Great video again, Scott. You have the best presence when giving a tutorial.

  15. We’ve been using the iPhoto books for a while now – they’re great! The quality is excellent – what you would expect from Apple. You can also get some nice books through Aperture, though most folks I know use Lightroom.

  16. Thank you for this video. I am starting work on my European vacation book and this was wonderful. I can’t tell you now nice it was to see you and meet you in the British Museum.

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