ePhotobook sleeve featuring Kat
Kat in our new home
Kat in our new home (in Nottingham, not Attenborough)

My partner Kat and I recently moved into our first non-student home together, in Nottingham.  I’m from Derby, which is a half hour drive away, and Kat is from Wellingborough, which is around an hour on the train.  Nottingham was an obvious choice for a couple of reasons: it’s the city in which we studied together, it’s a great city in its own right, and it’s also where the highest concentration of our friends live.

There are essentially two ways to surround yourselves with photographs in a new home: prints, and albums.  I love both, but they function very differently.

Prints Albums and books
  • Works best for single images, or in small groups
  • Always on show; becomes part of the room
  • Need to be matted and framed
  • Can be re-positioned, moved into other rooms etc.
  • Only works when you have lots of images
  • Great for curated sets, or telling stories
  • More portable than prints, and less likely to be damaged in transit
  • Not always on show; viewing images becomes more of an active decision

Photographs are important, and I like them to be printed large so that they become a dominating feature of the space.  The problem is that printing and framing large photographs can be prohibitively expensive, so care must be taken in deciding which photographs (out of literally thousands) to commit to printing.  In contrast, the main problem with photobooks is having enough images available to commit to the expense of printing and binding, without the images becoming incohesive.

Deciding on how to display photographs in our new home got me thinking about the benefits of presenting images in book format.  My favourite photobook is American Power by Mitch Epstein, which Kat – in a small, isolated example of what an amazing girlfriend she is – bought me for Valentines day last year.  American Power is 144 pages long, and requires a decent (but well-rewarded) investment in time to properly enjoy.  It is beautifully printed on thick paper stock, hardbound, and lovely.  It is expensive to print books like this, especially as a consumer and as a one-off.

It no longer has to be this way, however.  I use Adobe Lightroom to catalog and process my photographs, and version 4 of Lightroom introduced the ability to produce elegant photobooks for publishing either through Blurb’s printing service, or – significantly – as a PDF or series of JPEG files.  I decided to try this out by creating a short photobook based on yesterday’s trip to Attenborough Nature Reserve with Kat.  Think of this as a self-contained section in a family photo album.  The same principals should transfer nicely to short photographic projects.

Unfortunately the PDFs exported from Lightroom split each double page spread into separate pages.  To get around this, I exported the book as separate JPEG files, and then recreated the book in InDesign CS3.  The book I created, which is presented as double 10×8″ spreads, is embedded below.  However, I recommend you download a copy in PDF format, for better quality.

View this document on Scribd

Producing books in this way is quick and costs nothing, which means publishing photographic projects in book format no longer necessitates said projects being as epic a commitment as American Power.  Expect more eBook mini-projects in the near future.