Publishing 2008

New options make it possible for you to make your own photo book

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Click To Enlarge Mud Patterns, Paria River, Utah. Neill made this image with a 4×5 camera during a long, hard day-hike down the Paria River Canyon. The late-afternoon light lit the orange cliffs, which are reflected in the sculpted mud patterns. The camera was set low to the ground, the lens tilted forward, in order to pick up the strong reflections.


Many photographers dream of seeing their art published in book form. The process of making images, editing them into a cohesive theme that tightly focuses on your special interests and viewpoints, and then realizing it all in book form is an exciting process. I’ve been fortunate enough to have several books published. Now that many of them are out of print, I’m looking for ways to make new books.

The world of book publishing is changing rapidly, driven largely by the tremendous popularity and growth of both the Internet and digital photography. Among many options is publishing a photo book via online services such as Apple’s iPhoto, Blurb, Lulu or

Another option I’ve been looking into is printing a book on my own inkjet printer. At least two paper companies make a package that includes a cover binder with a screw-bound post and high-quality paper that’s printable on both sides. Hahnemühle makes Digital FineArt Photo Albums, and the size I’m working with is approximately 8×12 inches. Moab by Legion Paper makes the v2 Digital Book, which comes in two sizes, 12×12 and 8×8 inches. With one of these options, I plan to produce a portfolio of my Impressions of Light images. The fine-art watercolor papers packaged with these products work especially well with the style of these images.

I’ve been learning how to make an ebook, as well. The main reason for this is to resurrect my favorite book, Landscapes of the Spirit, which has been out of print for many years. When the book was published in 1997, there were few books being published where the artist had control of the digital files used for reproduction. Even though I was printing digitally by then, the printers weren’t prepared to accept images made from an outside source. The artwork, in the case of all of my books, was the original transparency. No postprocessing was possible. I sent off my film to be scanned in Hong Kong, worked to improve the quality with proofs sent back to me and then flew there to be on press in order to get the “best possible” reproductions.

Today, I have much greater control over the photographs for Landscapes of the Spirit. High-resolution scans have been made of all images, and master Photoshop files have been created that bring out their full potential. I have the original book layout as an Adobe InDesign file. From that file, I created a PDF file that contains the complete book, text and images intact.

The final result is that I have the same book I love, containing many of my favorite images, including the image shown here, that I’m making available for downloading. The quality of the images really comes to life on my monitor, especially on my Apple Cinema HD Display. I realize that this isn’t the same tactile experience of holding a book, but it’s hard to dismiss the vivid quality one can enjoy on screen. By the time this issue comes out, I’ll have my Landscapes of the Spirit Digital Edition available on my website.

I first became interested in digital books after receiving Arthur Morris’ Birds As Art II CD ( Full of beautiful images, it’s also very educational. Another photographer making ebooks and inspiring my efforts is Linde Waidhofer ( Her article “E-Books: New Directions In Photo Publishing” discusses her experiences, ideas and techniques (October 2007, Outdoor Photographer, She has reissued out-of-print books and has created new portfolios of her work in ebook form.

By learning some basic design skills in Photoshop and Acrobat, you can lay out your own portfolio as an ebook to share with friends online or via CD. I found dozens of ebook templates using Google that might help you get started. Designing a book is a big project, but when done well, the design can help deliver your message and show off your photographs at their best. Remember that you must edit judiciously to maintain high and consistent quality throughout your book. More importantly, you’ll be rewarded for all your efforts and you can show off your art. Good luck making your book!

To visit William Neill’s PhotoBlog or sign up for newsletter updates on his Landscape Essentials course with or for information on his books, portfolios, new images and more, go to Neill’s classic photo book, Landscapes of the Spirit, is now available as a digital edition for download. To download visit






Moab By Legion Paper

William Neill is a renowned nature and landscape photographer and a recipient of the Sierra Club's Ansel Adams Award for conservation photography. Neill's award-winning photography has been widely published in books, magazines, calendars and posters, and his limited-edition prints have been collected and exhibited in museums and galleries nationally, including the Museum of Fine Art Boston, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, The Vernon Collection and The Polaroid Collection. Neill's published credits include National Geographic, Smithsonian, Natural History, National Wildlife, Conde Nast Traveler, Gentlemen's Quarterly, Travel and Leisure, Wilderness, Sunset, Sierra and Outside magazines. He is also regular contributor to Outdoor Photographer with his column “On Landscape”.