Complicated Book Arrangement

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Today’s Question: I am making a family photo yearbook using the Book module in Lightroom Classic. There are over a dozen family events that will be in this over-100-page book, with the photos organized into individual collections. My problem is if you create a saved book, Lightroom creates a collection for it, but it won’t allow me to create collections within that book collection. I would like to organize by event and sort photos within each event by my own order, not always in chronological order.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can overcome this issue by using the collection set as the basis of your photo book, rather than an individual collection. You can set an individual sort order for each of those collections, which will be reflected as the sort order on the filmstrip when working on your book. Then, when saving the book, be sure to turn off the “Include only used photos” checkbox, so that all photos in all of the collections within the collection set will be available for the book.

More Detail: The Book module in Lightroom can be a bit tricky to deal with, especially when you want to include photos from multiple collections in the same book. Fortunately, there are ways to work around some of these issues.

First, create a collection set that contains multiple collections, and populate those collections with all photos you think you might use within the book. In this case, for example, each collection could be for an individual family event you’ll include in the book. Then, when you’re ready to get started creating the book, select the collection set rather than an individual collection. This will cause all images from all collections within the collection set to be shown on the filmstrip. In the Book module you can then clear the book layout if needed, and get started creating your book project.

The key is how you then save the book project. After clicking the “Create Saved Book” button at the top-right of the book preview area, make sure to turn off the “Include only used photos” checkbox. If you have this checkbox turned on, only photos you have actually placed into the book will be included in the collection created for the book. With the checkbox turned off, all filmstrip photos will be included in the collection for the book, regardless of whether they have been included in the book so far. That means the photos will be available to use within that saved book.

Note, of course, that you could also add photos to the saved book collection to make them available for the book, such as if you had neglected to include some photos in one of the collections, or if you had inadvertently left the “Include only used photos” checkbox turned on.

I would tend to save the book in the same collection set that the other collections for the book are in. That will just help streamline the overall organization of the book. But there’s no requirement to keep the saved book (collection) in the collection set. It can be a standalone collection if you prefer.

If you later need to add photos to the book project, you can just drag-and-drop them into the collection that represents the saved book. Those photos would then appear on the filmstrip along with all of the others that were already in the saved book collection.

When you initially save the book, the sort order from the existing photos on the filmstrip will be retained. So, for example, if you had set all of the photos to be sorted by star rating in the collections before moving to the Book module, that sort order would be reflected on the filmstrip when you get to the Book module, and would also be retained in the saved book (collection). It is therefore a good idea to sort the images in a basic way (capture time, for example) before getting started with the book.

That said, you can also drag-and-drop images on the filmstrip to redefine the sort order for the saved book.