Creating a Photo Book with Blurb Books

Join me as I take you through the process of a Self-Publishing Book Project with Blurb Books. You will learn how to think about your photo project, I’ll help you make decisions about your book choices and even show you how to use Lightroom Classic and BookWright to design your book. But first, let’s talk about your photos and the reason you should make a physical self-published book with Blurb.

The Case for Printing Books

Your Images are Competing with Billions of Images

Everywhere I go I see people buried in a phone, scrolling through Facebook or Instagram.  I was in line at the grocery store and 5 of the 6 people in line (I was the sixth) were scrolling through something.  I noticed that none of them were reading.  They were constantly sliding their finger up or down the screen.  So they were consuming images, or videos without ever once stopping to appreciate the imagery they were seeing.  It made me think twice about how impactful my images are when I post them on Instagram.

During my undergraduate studies, I took a course from Mary V Swanson, that was based in the business of photography and getting published.  We would take field trips to the book store and browse through all genres of magazines and books doing research on which publishing companies were using photos.  In the 1990s, the internet was still in its infancy and the gatekeepers to a mass market of viewers for our photographs were the publishers of books and magazines.  Sure, you could self-publish a book, but it was either that or buy a car.  So the vast majority of photographers either maintained an expensive hobby or continued to submit work to the gatekeepers in an effort to reach the mass viewers.

That is obviously no longer the case.  Today, any photographer can reach the masses with a free social media account and a smartphone.  Whether the masses will see their images depends now on searches, algorithms, and trends rather than an editorial board.  But this means that there are over 500 million people sifting through 95 million photos/videos that are posted to Instagram every single day!  No wonder the people in the grocery store line never stopped swiping through photos on their phones.  Who has the time?

Getting Past the Gatekeepers

When the gatekeepers of the photo viewing market fell to the open free-for-all arena of social media, blogs, and Wix sites, the world gained access to a lot of great photographers and those great images instantly got lost in the junk pile of cappuccino photos and eye makeup videos.  And worse, the public lost its ability to focus on a meaningful image for more than a second.  Muscle memory is hard to fight.  That thumb is going to keep scrolling even when the brain says, “hold on, that was interesting!”  Too late, it’s at least three swipes up your feed.

I both love and hate the brave new world of photography.  I love the access that technology has given us to tell stories and promote our work to anyone and everyone.  It’s no longer who you know that gets you access to the mass market… you have access; the market can discover your work, and you can even target an audience and drop it right in front of them anytime you want.  Unfortunately, the venue is less than ideal.  Your work will be appreciated for all of one second if you are lucky, maybe even a “like” or a “heart.”  

There are Too Many Photographs in Your Feed

For those who know their work is worth more than a passing glance on a continually scrolling 3-inch screen, there is print.  There may be a number of steps in the relationship between someone liking your work on social media and them buying a printed photograph, but you will know someone is serious about photography when they hang a print on their wall or hold a book or magazine in their hands.  I don’t think there is a better way to experience photographs than in a well-printed book or magazine.  It is the perfect viewing distance to really experience the image and the perfect opportunity to add contextual information with text about the image.

Early in my career, the only way to make a book project was to print hundreds of them and plenty of photographers sold the extra car to pay for the book printing and then spent the next ten years trying to sell the book to recoup the cost.  They did it because they understood the value of the book experience!  Today, we can print just one book (or magazine).  This is as big as the online photo revolution, but with a better outcome for the photos!  

In this video, I discuss the reasons for self-publishing and the kinds of books that are available through Blurb Books. Join me in my book project and make your own!

The Best Proofing Method for Client Photos are Books

I am a professional photographer and as such, I am paid to take portraits of people and document weddings among other things.  This new access to one-of-a-kind book printing changed the way I provide physical images to my clients.  Before affordable books were available, my options were to print a stack of loose proofs or post them online where the images would be viewed on the client’s uncalibrated monitor with ungodly saturation in the magentas and the sharpness turned up to 1000%.  I realized, with a book or a magazine, I could control the print quality and the experience the client would have when they looked through their images.  I could control which images were shown next to which, and how big each image would be seen.  There is no better way to show a client the images from their wedding than in a well-styled and beautifully printed book.  

Although I use quite a few different programs to design different books, Blurb Books has always printed them and my clients love the experience of sitting down and looking through their images from a wedding or a portrait session with a beautifully printed and designed book.

Even though I make my income in portraits, weddings and lifestyle photography, I am like all photographers on the planet.  I love making landscapes, still lifes, travel photography and documentary work.  And most of the time, that kind of work is completely personal.  But I want people to experience that work, but I want them to enjoy the images in a way that I control.  I can’t do that on Instagram or Facebook.  That is why I don’t just publish my photographic work online, but also in self-published books and magazines; total control over the experience.

Self-Publishing is Photo Training

Self-publishing also provides an incredible learning experience for the photographer.  There is so little thought that goes into the process of posting an image to Instagram.  That’s why people post photos of the cheesecake they are about to eat.   But reviewing and selecting images and designing a book around those images is an entirely different experience.  It inspires deeper thinking, more planning, and most importantly, it slows the process down a little.  When you decide you are going to make a book, the process of selecting your images becomes a much more serious endeavor.  You ask yourself more questions about the images and how they fit together.  Just the need to come up with a title for the book makes you think about the theme of your images.  

As you design your book, each image is placed on a page with a great deal of thought.  Will it be on its own.  Will there be an image on the facing page, or with there be any text to help explain the images?  Should the image fill the entire page?  If not, how big should it be?  Should the image be cropped to fit the page design a little better, and if so, how does that change the meaning of the image?  The process of putting images on a series of sequential pages also requires you to think of the sequence and the cadence of the images or the story being told.  This process of self-publishing is one of the most productive things a photographer can do to improve their photography.

I always have a few personal projects happening at any one time.  Right now, I am creating a book I call Notes, which is a small book with a mixture of photographs spanning my entire career and my personal thoughts about the photographs.  Often times those thoughts are stories about the photos and sometimes they are metaphoric musings inspired by the photos.  I have been working on that project for a little over a year now.  I have just completed my 0º project which is a large book of landscape images with a small behind-the-scenes companion book.  You can watch the process unfold in my video series Self-Publishing a Photography Book with Blurb Books.  In the series I discuss the entire process of reviewing and selecting images, honing in on a subject for the book, choosing the right kind of book for the project and even designing the book.  I also teach you how to use two different book designing tools: Adobe Lightroom Classic’s Book Module and Blur Book’s Book Write software.  I hope you will watch it and join me and engage in your own Self-Publishing project at the same time.

The internet and social media upended up the flood gates and connected photographers with the world.  But the availability and affordability of Self-Publishing finally made it possible for photographers to bypass the gatekeepers and present their art in a truly meaningful way to connoisseurs of photography.   Not only are my Blurb books a very large part of my professional photography business, but they are an integral part of my improvement as an artist.  If you have not created a self-published book, now is a great time to start.  It doesn’t have to be a big, expensive book.  It could be a simple magazine.  But take this as a challenge.  Watch my series on Self-Publishing a Photography Book with Blurb Books, and start your own project today.  You will walk away with far more than a book in hand.

Your Assignments:

Welcome to class. In this set of lessons and assignments, I will walk you through the process of creating your own Self-Published Book. Take it one step at a time. When you are done with your book project, I would love to see what you have created. Make it public on and post a link to the book project here in the comments so we can all see what you have created. Who knows, we might even order a copy of your book for ourselves.

Assignment 1:  Create a Collection

Using the plus button by the Collection or Album panels in Lightroom Classic or Lightroom Desktop, make a new Collection/Album and start collecting items into that collection.  You will be far more efficient if you assign that collection/album to be your Target Collection and you Sync it with the Cloud (the Lightroom Ecosystem).  

Assignment 2:  Start Searching and Collecting

Just start looking through your images and look for an image or set of images that will become your inspiration.  Once you have an inspirational image set, start searching for images based on that inspiration.  You can use keywords, or locations, people or dates.  If you go into the Lightroom Desktop or Mobile applications, you can search with A.I. help in the form of Adobe Sensei.  When you find images, throw them in your collection and move on.  Don’t be too detailed at this point, just collect on an instinctual level.

Assignment 3:  Pair Down Your Collection

Create a new collection/album and call it the same name, plus “pass 2” at the end.  Make it the Target Collection and start looking through your first collection.  Look for common themes and connections between images.  If you are telling a narrative story, look for images that will help push the narrative along.  Use the Command or Control Key with the B or T key to add them to the target collection (B in Lightroom Classic and T in Lightroom Desktop).  Or just drag the images into the new, smaller collection.  Be more selective on this pass.

Assignment 4:  Brainstorm Your Presentation

While you are looking for this second set of images, you will have more concrete ideas coming into your mind of how the images could be presented.  When you do, write them down and entertain them as you go about your day.  It is time to start thinking about books and sizes… will there be text?  How much text?  Do the images need to be big or small?  Is it an intimate experience, or is it something to sit on a coffee table?

Assignment 5:  Choose the Proper Software to Design Your Book

Once you have a collection of images (even a loose collection) and you know how you want to present your images, it is time to choose the proper software to design the book.  There are three programs that will do an excellent job at building your book and will automatically submit it to Blurb Books for publication.  

Lightroom Classic:  Lightroom Classic’s Book Module has Blurb built-in.  It is very simple to use and my favorite thing about it is that I can design a book with completely RAW images.  This means that once the book is designed, I can edit any of the images right in Lightroom and they will be automatically updated in the book design.  I can also design the book in the Lightroom Catalog on a plane while the actual photos are sitting at home on a large hard drive.  I don’t need to collect the photos first, export them, and then import them into another program to get a book design finished.  So Lightroom Classic is an extremely convenient and efficient tool for designing books.  It does have two shortcomings.  First, it is not simple to work with Text in Lightroom’s Book Module.  Although the text editor has the same text controls as Indesign, it is cumbersome and clunky to work with text in the Book Module.  Second, there are limited paper and products available in Lightroom’s Book Module.  But if I am ok with the products that are available there, and I have a book to design with limited amounts of text, it is the most efficient way to design a book.

Blurb BookWright:  BookWright is a FREE layout program (downloadable at that is simple to use and quite powerful.  It has many of the simple functions for organizing images as you build your book that Lightroom does.  And it has a far easier text editing environment.  If I am designing a book with entire pages of text, I will choose BookWright over Lightroom Classic every time.  The major downside to Bookwright is that it requires you to export your images from Lightroom or whatever image program you use and then import your final images into the BookWright software.  This means you not only are making extra copies of your images but that if you design the book and see that change needs to be made, you need to go back to the original photos, make the changes, re-export them into the same folder and then synchronize those changes with the software.  That is a lot of work for a small change in a book.  But, you will more than likely save more than enough time to make up for it with the improved text editing environment.  BookWright also has a shape tool which helps in adding subtle graphic elements into the design of the book.

Adobe InDesign:  There is no question that the Gold Standard for page layout design is Adobe InDesign, but it is a complicated program to learn.  And that is InDesign’s negative.  If you don’t know how to use it already, you probably don’t want to learn how to use it.  But if you do know how to use it, it is very powerful and can create anything.  You can add photos, text, vectors, and even video to an InDesign document (not that the videos will be printed in a book, but their thumbnail could be).  It is similar to BookWright in almost every way, just more powerful and more complicated.  Anytime I am designing something that needs an extremely finer touch and especially something that is going to have a lot of text, like a magazine or a how-to photo book.  I am going to use InDesign because I already know how to use it and it is “all-powerful.”  But again, BookWright has most of the important capabilities that InDesign does.  

All three of these programs can create a beautiful book design and send it directly to Blurb Books for printing.  I have covered Lightroom Classic and BookWright in this book project set of lessons since they are the two simplest programs to use. Your job is to decide which of the programs to use based on your skill level and your book project requirements.  If the book is very minimal on text, then I suggest using Lightroom Classic.  But if you need more text in your book, or you don’t own Lightroom Classic, then BookWright is the best option.  Unless of course, you are an InDesign user.  So make you choice and let’s get started making a book.

Assignment 6:  Add Your Graphics and Logos to Your Collection

Make sure to add your graphic elements or logos to the Collection/Album before starting a Lightroom Book Module book or exporting your images for your BookWright / InDesign project.

Assignment 7:  Decide on Your Book

What kind of book are you going to make?  This is where you need to make some choices.  You should have been thinking about this the whole time that you were looking at images.  What is the purpose of this book?  How do you want it to feel?  What kind of price point do you want to hit for this book?  Is it for people to take on a vacation and enjoy, or is it a coffee table book?  Choose the type of book you want to make, the size, the shape and the paper!  You will be asked all of these questions when you start your project.  You don’t need to make a $200 Photo Book right off the bat.  You can make a Trade Book or a Magazine for $20.  Start there… it will be fun, simple and you will get a chance to experience the entire process from start to finish.

By the way, if you don’t know what to expect, and want to see some books and magazines, just go to and buy a few books from the Blurb Book store.  You will find some very interesting book projects there and you will be supporting other artists like yourself.

Assignment 8:  Design Your Book

Don’t get nervous now and stop.  Keep going!  You have nothing to lose.  You don’t even have to order this book if you don’t want to.  But you need to start the book.  And not just so you can finish it, but so that you can experience the process of laying out images in relation to one another and the words that go with them.  There is a lot of education in this process.  So get started.

Lightroom Classic:  If you are using the Book Module in Lightroom, just choose your second, third or fourth pass collection/album and then go into the book module and start placing images.  Have fun.  Watch the full video lesson on designing a book in Lightroom Classic.

BookWright:  If you are designing in BookWright (or InDesign), you will need to select your final collection/album of images and export them as full, high-resolution images, most cameras today are high enough resolution for a 12×12 inch book.  So just export them at their native size and you should be just fine.  If you are shooting with an older camera, you might need to increase the size slightly when you are exporting them.  sRGB JPGs at 100% Quality at their original size is perfectly acceptable.  Watch the full video on designing a book in Blub’s BookWright software.

Assignment 9:  Order Your Book

It’s time to order your book.  All three of these programs can submit your book directly to Blurb from the program.  Just order one for now, even if you plan on making more.  It’s good to see the book and confirm that what you are expecting is translating on the printed page the way you expect.

A word of warning: if you have never calibrated your monitor, you may not be seeing accurate color, contrast or brightness.  If you edit your photos and put them in a book design without a calibrated monitor, you may end up with very different results on a printed page than what you are seeing on your monitor.  It is a very good idea to calibrate your monitor.  To learn how to do that, watch my video on Calibrating Monitors.

See The Final Books

You can see the final books here. Just click and browse the books and even order them directly through BLURB BOOKS. Enjoy!

The Art Book

Behind the Scenes, Companion Book

High Dynamic Range HDR Landscape Photography Lesson on Histograms

Perfect Exposure

Get the perfect exposure from your camera by learning how to read the histogram.

Perfect exposure on location with model and no flash

To a serious photographer, few things are more stressful than blowing your exposure. Especially when you’re working under pressure, say, for a client. That’s why I have perfected the process of nailing the right exposure in my camera quickly, efficiently and without interrupting my creative process. I work for demanding clients who expect to get amazing images. The last thing I want is to get back to the studio and find that I captured the perfect moment… incorrectly. Sure I can recover some of the missing data, but noisy shadows and blown highlights are not my friends. I want to avoid them wherever possible. Like that sweaty guy at the party obsessed with polka music.

You may know that I train professional and amature photographers in Adobe Lightroom. If you’ve seen my Lightroom training videos on CreativeLive, you know that I take a systematic approach to getting the absolute most out of my images. Getting the highest quality images requires the highest quality input from your camera. After all, garbage in, garbage out. I want you to get the same consistent, high-quality captures I get. That’s why I have created a mini-workshop for my students to take you through my system for verifying I have the correct exposure every time. I call this system Pre-visualizing your Exposures for Post-Production and once you master its few simple principles it will forever improve the way you shoot

I will also show you why working with correctly exposed images in Lightroom is a complete treat and makes image processing a snap. Once you’ve got your correctly exposed image in Lightroom, not only will you rapidly move through the correction process, but you will finally be able to make truly-effective use of presets to nearly-instantly add unique style and flavor to your images.

Through a series of four free quick video lessons and a free one hour recorded webinar with Q&A, you will dramatically improve your photography and speed your workflow. It doesn’t matter if you are a wedding, portrait or landscape photographer, you will see how to quickly get perfect exposures in camera and how that is the key to making your images sing in Lightroom — I mean really sing! These FIVE free lessons will teach you to harness the full power of your camera and Lightroom together so you can take better images and spend less time working on them in post.

Portrait of international photographer, Jared Platt in Pompeii next to the ruins.

30 Days Project: Music and Photos

Making a commitment to share more work, more often, in more places.

I am starting a new project today called “Music and Photos”. I will be creating one slideshow every day for the next 30 days. This is all in an effort to show more work more often and in more places. But that is a tall order, so I have signed up for Triple Scoop Music’s subscription membership which allows me to use any music I like anytime for one monthly or yearly subscription fee. This will allow me to use a wide variety of music and match my projects to the music exactly. So tune in each day for music and photos (and some video too) and as a bonus, I will be showing you how to use various programs to make these slideshows and videos during the course of the month: Adobe Clip and Premiere, Smart Slides and Animoto.

If you are producing projects and need music, I highly recommend Triple Scoop Music.  The service is full of great original songs from independent artists.  License one song at a time, or sign up for the subscription service and use as many songs as you need, whenever you need them.  Learn more at

Unlimited music licensing plans are normally $995 per year and up. However, right now, for a limited time, there is special pricing! Get yours for just $499 per year (annual billing) or $49 per month when you sign up this month. If you only use one new song each month, you will save $221 this year. At those prices, I will save $1,301 this month alone! That’s pretty amazing. Choose all the music you need all year long. Choose from over 35,000 hand-picked songs and soundtracks.  Click here to learn more:

If you are a Vimeo fan, you can watch this project unfold at my Vimeo Album

Use the code JAREDPLATT18 and save an extra 10% on your music membership!

Music in this video licensed through

Control Contrast with the Tone Curve Panel

The Tone Curve Panel Controls Contrast Best

Contrast & Curves

It’s time to get your contrast under control with tone curves.

A large part of photography is judging the various tones that make up an image and deciding where they should be placed in the final presentation of the print. Both in the image display of our cameras and in Adobe Lightroom, we see this tonal distribution visually represented in the histogram.  The simple name for this tonal distribution is “contrast” and as photographers, we are constantly trying to control it.  Reading the histogram and controlling the placement of tones within the image is one of the most important skills a photographer can master.

aspen trees as a contrast example for lightroom curves

We  actively adjust image contrast both when we shoot and in post processing. When we shoot, we do this by judging and manipulating the quantity, quality and direction of light. A softer, more diffuse, less directional light creates less contrast.  Conversely, harder, more directional light creates brighter highlights and leaves darker shadows which equals more contrast.  This is then shown to use on the camera and in Lightroom by way of the histogram.  I constantly hear people say that a good exposure is described on the histogram when there is an even distribution of tones all the way across the graph (like in the image  below), and while this statement is true for the image above and the histogram below, the advice is actually very poor advice.  In reality, a good exposure on the histogram looks like the image it is describing.

well exposed histogram

On a grand scale, fog is the prefect light modifier for reducing contrast.  If only we could command the elements and bring it in whenever we needed it.  Fog has the effect of bouncing light everywhere and filling in all the shadows, thus everything becomes almost equal in value.  No real shadows and no real highlights.  We very rarely need this intense effect, but we do use soft boxes and fill reflectors all the time to help fill in the shadows and even out the difference between the shadows and the highlights.  Pay attention to the histogram describing this image.  When your photograph has no shadows, the histogram should display nothing on the left side of the graph.  A proper exposure will avoid allowing the data to clip on the left (shadows) or the right (highlights) of the histogram, but the graph in between the either edge should be an accurate description of the tones you are seeing in the scene.

swedish soldiers in fog

In photography, the further apart the shadows and the highlights are on the histogram, the higher the contrast will be in the image.  In life, we create contrast by making friends with strange people, or having peculiar pets.  The more peculiar and different the greater the contrast.  I had two dogs growing up, one was a tiny little Cockapoo, the other was a big Golden Lab, who was also the fattest dog in Norther Arizona (he has an award to prove it)!  Just watching them run down the road together was entertaining.  As with Shroder and Uggums (my dogs), the further apart we are in looks or temperament from our companions, the more drastic the contrast will be in our lives, which results in more drama.  This is not to say contrast and drama make the best images.  Low contrast images, like the image above, create a sense of quiet which has equal value.

In the end, our choices in image contrast change the feeling our images produce.  Because of this, post-production really matters and contrast is a critical portion of that.  We use the contrast slider and the tone curve to make these final contrast adjustments. The contrast slider is the simple way to change the contrast in an image, but it is also the least subtle.  It is like using an axe to cut your sandwich.  You will definitely cut the sandwich in two, but you will also cut the plate and most likely the table as well.  If you want to maximize your control over the contrast in your image you need to master the use of the Tone Curve panel.  Take a look at the image below and notice that the contrast slider is left at zero.  The major contrast work is achieved in the tone curves area of Lightroom, both in the Parametric and the Point Curve areas of the Tone Curves Panel.  You can see that there are five different curves at work in this one image.  The lower contrast in the image helps to soften the model’s already soft look.  When you are creating a tone curve for the first time, keep in mind that you should only really need to do this once.  If you like the effect you have created, make a preset for that tone curve to make it simple and efficient to apply your complicated curve in the future.

lightroom curve panels

I have created a short video on Using the Tone Curve Panel in Lightroom to get you started into exploring this powerful tool in Lightroom.  After watching the video, I encourage you to spend some time playing with your images in Lightroom using the Tone Curve pane in the Develop Module, and to get you started, make sure you download the free Tone Curve based presets I have created for you.

Using Tone Curves in Adobe Lightroom

Which tones you emphasize or de-emphasize can vary widely depending on the mood you want to create and where we want the viewer to focus.  I may use dramatic lighting or soft lighting depending on the story I am telling — bright and happy, or dark and moody. However I light my subject, or set my exposure at the camera, I have only told half the story. The other half of the story is told when I open the image in Adobe Lightroom and make adjustments to the image.  That is, as Ansel Adams said, the performance of the score (the capture being the musical score).  We captured the sequence of the notes in our camera, but the way we play them out in post-processing provides infinite possibilities for performance.  Mastering all of your tools (or instruments) is the first step to gaining complete control over your photographic voice.

Post Script:  The contrast control in the tone curves panel is not only the superior place to tweak your contrast, but it is also a better place to create split tones and even cross processing effects.  The power in the tone curve is quite intense.  For this reason I use the tone curve in a lot of my Lightroom Presets.  Let me get you started by giving you a small set of three great Classic Black and White Lightroom Presets that use the tone curve as the basis for their effect.

Cover image for free classic black and white lightroom presets

Are you a high contrast or low contrast shooter? Do you like big drama, or subtle dreamy tones? How do you achieve your signature look with contrast? I’d love to hear from you.

Cover image for free classic black and white lightroom presets

Classic Black and White Presets

Classic Black and White Preset:

My first experience in photography, probably the moment I fell in love with it, was when my sister taught me how to develop a black and white print in the glow of the red lamps.  I watched a blank piece of paper slowly drop below the developer and waited, not knowing what to expect.  Suddenly, splotches of black began to grow across the face of the paper, like someone had spilled ink and it was running slowly across the face of the print.  But the inky spill gave way in areas to a relief of white where the lamp of the enlarger had not exposed the paper and I began to see an image appear.  Honestly, I don’t recall what the first image was that I saw printed.  I am sure it was a meaningless high-school yearbook photo, but the experience is forever burned (exposed and fixed) in my memory.  In honor of those experiences in the black and white darkroom, I have created three Adobe Lightroom classic black and white presets for you to enjoy.  They won’t give you the magical experience I had in the darkroom, but they will give you the beautiful tones I was able to create after years of study and practice.

Of course, unlike in the darkroom, with digital images, we start with a color image.  The images I am using here is the original color RAW image directly from Lightroom.  What you will see in each subsequent image is a one click application of one of the three black and white lightroom.

Black and White Curves Lightroom presets example image - original color version


Classic Black and White Preset:

One thing that was lost in the digital world of high contrast, smooth, textureless images and poppy colors and has only been brought back by digital nostalgia, was the beauty of seeing all the zones in a black and white print on fiber paper.  If you don’t know what I am talking about, Ansel Adams (I sure hope the name rings a bell) developed a method for seeing and printing identifiable zones from pure black to pure white (Zones 0-10).  High contrast prints on glossy or pearl paper could never really exhibit all of those zones because they would invariably skip a zone here or there and head directly from black to light grey or white.  This was something my film students would get a bad grade for doing, and now almost every photographer on the planet does daily because they are in love with the contrast knob in Lightroom and they print only to glossy or pearl papers.  Well, I have created a Black and White Lightroom Preset for you that will take you back to the Classic Black and White era, and if you have a proper exposure, you will feel the the beauty of a full tonal range black and white print on beautiful fiber paper, even if you are using a pearl surface paper.

Black and White Curves Lightroom presets example image - classic black and white



Ultra Contrast Black and White Preset:

And for those of you who still want your contrast, you can get your fix with a truly high contrast black and white preset that comes from a place of subtlety and beauty rather than the brutish, blunt force of the contrast slider.  That’s right, there are other places that provide much better contrast than the slider that bares the name!  The tone curve is where contrast was born, the contrast knob is just a cheap imitation!  Well, give it a whirl and see what you think.  I’ve also added some rich and toothy grain to complete the look that you might get when you push your B&W film (which is where you would see such contrast emerging).  I like to think of it as a bit of a TMAX grain.  It always felt a bit like sandpaper.  Very beautiful sandpaper.

Black and White Curves Lightroom presets example image - ultra contrast black and white

Toned Black and White Preset:

Finally a bit of warm toned black and white for those who can’t stay away from color.  Now in the olden days of film, we bought warm tone paper, or cool tone paper.  Or we dropped our silver prints in a bath of sepia, or selenium toner.  This was very different then adding a wash of color over the top of our prints.  True print toning doesn’t stain the paper, it stains the silver (the dark parts of the print), which means that the paper stays white while the shadows change colors and do so a rate somewhat proportional to the amount of silver that is congregating together to make a deeper shadow.  The easiest way to accomplish a toned print in Lightroom is to add color to the shadows in the Tone Panel.  But I have taken you into a deeper, more robust realm… the tone curve.  Oh, yes, it seems I am in there a lot.  It is a very powerful tool.  Here I can change the response of each color channel to respond to the tone curve independently.  This give me complete control over the colors and allows me to create subtle toners that create depth and contrast in my toned black and white prints.  And I give you a taste of a warm toned preset from my upcoming collection of toned black and whites.  Don’t just use it.  Study it and play with it.  Get to know the Tone Curve panel in Lightroom.

Black and White Curves Lightroom presets example image - classic sepia toned black and white

Learn More About Lightroom Tone Curves:

Each of these presets are heavily based in the Tone Curve pane in the Lightroom Develop module.  To learn more about using the Tone Curve, make sure to watch this free video about using Lightroom’s Tone Curve pane.

Cover image for free classic black and white lightroom presets

Sign up now for three free Classic Black and White Presets

Portrait of Jared Platt by Calros Martín

Story Telling: an Interview with Jared by Blurb Books

This interview with me from Blurb Books just ran via PDN. I thought you might be interested in the content of the interview as well as the great discount for blurb books. Enjoy the interview…

Jared PlattBlurb

Jared Platt

Jared Platt is a commercial photographer, portraitist, and educator based in Arizona who regularly runs workshops and webinars for Profoto and CreativeLive. He’s also an Adobe® Lightroom® devotee and a strong believer in the power of photography to tell stories. When he recently appeared on a CreativeLive segment, he impressed us with his thoughts on music, rhythm, and the photographic story arc.

Why is storytelling so important to you as a photographer?
Photography is storytelling. Some people tell a story in one image, which is always awe-inspiring, and some people tell stories over a series of photographs. But, all photographs have the aim of telling a story. Whenever I am taking a photograph, whether it is at a wedding, on the street, on a commercial shoot, or of a child, I am always looking for the story I want to tell in that one image—or series of images. I have an intense need to tell these stories that I see to everyone who will see my images, because I believe those stories will touch them, matter to them, and make some kind of an impression on them.

How does Lightroom help you with that aspect of your work?
Lightroom is essential to the process of selecting and editing the extreme volume of work I have in front of me constantly. A photo historian, the late Bill Jay, used to remind me that a project (no matter how perfect it was) was of no value until it was completed and available for people to experience. Lightroom helps me get superior work completed efficiently, so I can share it with the world and get busy telling the next story. Companies like Blurb, who connect with Lightroom, have made the process of sharing stories with the world even easier. Producing a masterful photo book is within any photographer’s reach.

How do you use books in your professional life?
As a photographer in the digital age, I transmit images via Facebook, blogs, websites, iPads, and FTP servers. But there is something extremely special about quality paper, printing, and binding. My clients receive physical proof books made by Blurb, which I create directly in Lightroom. I never tire of hearing the exclamations from my clients about how beautiful their books are and how much they love them. Books are also essential in selling my services to future clients. Photo books and magazines are so comfortable and accessible to the client who is relaxing in the studio showroom, and as the client is looking through the book, the book is selling them on my vision and educating them on my style.

Learn More
Whatever your passion—whether you chose it, or it chose you—turn it into a book with Blurb.

Take 20% off any print book order. Use the code PDN11 at checkout.*

And naturally this is related to storytelling…
Making a book takes the opportunity for storytelling to a whole new level. With multiple images spread over days, months, or years, it can come together to make extremely poignant statements. Add titles and graphics and text to the mix and you have limitless opportunities to connect with people and help them see what you see. I think when people say, “This is beautiful,” they are really saying, “I see what you see, and what you see is beautiful.”

How does your personal work differ from your client work?
There is no difference between my personal work and the work I do for my clients. I let one inform and alter the other, so, as my personal work shifts and expands, so does my commercial work. I am simply a visual storyteller. I tell stories about my clients’ lives, products, and events, and I tell stories about my life. I hope they are all interesting to the viewer. If they aren’t, I need to improve.

If money and time were no object, what project would you most want to take on?
I find creative people fascinating. Money and time are always an object and yet I am still on a quest to photograph and interview creative people of all types, from all genres of creativity, to experience their energy, understand their methods, and tell their story. So if money were no object, I would continue full steam ahead telling the story of the creative mind. In a creative way, of course…

At Blurb, we celebrate creativity in all of its myriad expressions. Photographers like Jared embody the creative freedom that our self-publishing platform enables.

Child Life | Jared Platt

Learn more about Jared Platt

> Jared’s website
> Jared’s Child Life book

Photography by Jared Platt

Tell your story with photography in a beautiful book and save

Take 20% off any print book order. Use the promo code PDN11 at checkout.*

Learn More

*Offer valid through December 31, 2014 (11:59 p.m. local time). Valid for printed books only. A 20% discount is applied to your print book product total with no minimum purchase required. Maximum discount is USD $100, AUD $100, CAD $100, EUR €100, or GBP £100 off product total. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.


Budapest Hungary workshop with Jared Platt

Adobe Lightroom 5 is Here: My Favorite New Features


Adobe Lightroom 5 is here, and it is full of important new features that will increase your post production speed as well as just make you happy while working on your photos!

The most important feature added to Lightroom 5 is the Smart Previews, which makes working on RAW images possible without a connection to the original RAW images.  It also makes working with my post-production house Shoot dot Edit even faster.  There are so many reasons to use smart previews, and you can even print small images or post blog images from the smart previews while your original RAW images are sitting on a drive at home, unconnected…  It is fantastic!

I am going to be sharing my favorite new features for the next few weeks.  Make sure you tune in and follow The Lightroom Podcast to see all of the great new features in Lightroom and how I use them.  Follow me on twitter @jaredplatt to get regular announcements each time I post a new video.  Enjoy.

Need to speed up your post-production?  Spend a week with me in Budapest for the most personalized photography workflow workshop ever.  Learn more at


Senior portraits in phoenix arizona by senior photographer jared platt, platt photography (3)

McKay’s Senior Portraits in Phoenix, Arizona

McKay and I took a drive out to the desert  to take his senior portraits.  I loved his selection of clothing.  It wasn’t what I had expected, but after spending some time with him.  It all fits him.  Here are a few of my favorite images from McKay’s senior portrait session.

I loved the white cowboy hat.  But in the blazing Phoenix sun, keeping that hat from over-exposing requires a little extra lighting, which I solved with a Canon Speedlight and a set of Pocket Wizards.  Besides, anytime someone is wearing a cowboy hat, something has to be done to light the underside of the brim.

Senior portraits in phoenix arizona by senior photographer jared platt, platt photography (9)

McKay brought a seriously tough lookin’ truck, so we employed it in a number of shots.  But when he threw the camo on, I couldn’t resist the tailgate shot.  If you follow me at all, you could expect the vacancy in this photo.  I had the choice of more truck, more desert or more sky.  I chose more sky; it puts some contrasting scale to McKay and his truck.

Senior portraits in phoenix arizona by senior photographer jared platt, platt photography (8)

As we were moving around the desert, we ran into a little building, it looked like a saloon replica, but the door was open, so we went in and got some great portraits with indirect light from the doors and windows.

Senior portraits in phoenix arizona by senior photographer jared platt, platt photography (7)

Senior portraits in phoenix arizona by senior photographer jared platt, platt photography (6)

There’s nothing like a long dirt road!  Sometimes I feel like there’s too much pavement.  Not to say I want to go back to the horse and buggy, but I do love the simplicity of a graded road, and even better the quaintness of a two track road.

Senior portraits in phoenix arizona by senior photographer jared platt, platt photography (5)

Now that’s a truck!

Senior portraits in phoenix arizona by senior photographer jared platt, platt photography (4)

McKay lives in the shadow of South Mountain.  So his back yard is perfect for desert photos in open shade for hours.

Senior portraits in phoenix arizona by senior photographer jared platt, platt photography (3)

Senior portraits in phoenix arizona by senior photographer jared platt, platt photography (2)

And once the sun went down, we did a few formal portraits inside.  I love the book shelf.

Senior portraits in phoenix arizona by senior photographer jared platt, platt photography (1)

 Senior Portrait Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Slideshow Music by Roy Ashen, Courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Location: Awatukee – Phoenix, Arizona

Portrait of Children in the Woods in Gilbert Arizona

My First Edit on Snapseed Desktop App by NIK Software: Way to Go Guys

Portrait of Children in the Woods in Gilbert Arizona

If you have not used Snapseed on your iPhone or iPad, you are missing out on the best mobile device photography application on the planet. The program is made by NIK Software. The biggest problem with the app was that I could only use it on my mobile device. Well, all of that has changed. Now it is available on the desktop computer on the Mac AppStore. Don’t worry, those of you who are still using the abacus-I mean a PC, it will be coming soon.

This is my second photo made with the desktop application. I love it. It feels just like the mobile app, and it also handles RAW photos.

About the photo: We went out into the pecan groves in Gilbert, Arizona with our good friend Brandt, Brandt Photography to take a family portrait. While we were there, I got this shot of the kids waiting to have their portrait taken in their winter animal hats.

Way to go NIK Software! You make great stuff.

Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography
Location: Gilbert, Arizona

Adobe Lightrom and Photoshop Workshops by Jared Platt

Lightroom Workshops in Phoenix, AZ – January 26, 27, 28

Adobe Lightrom and Photoshop Workshops by Jared Platt

If you have been thinking about taking a Lightroom workshop, this is the time to do it!  The price is right and so is the location.  We are holding three Lightroom Workshops in Phoenix, Arizona on January 26, 27 and 28.  The weather is absolutely perfect here, so if you are from the frozen north, this is the perfect time to get away, thaw out and improve your Lightroom and Workflow skills.
The Workshop Schedule:
January 26 – 4 pm to 8 pm: Intro to Lightroom and Photo Editing – Book Now for ONLY 49$
January 27 – 9 am to 5 pm: The Lightroom Workflow Workshop  – Book Now for ONLY $199
January 28 – 9 am to 5 pm: The Lightroom Workflow Workshop  – Book Now for ONLY $199


The Lightroom Workflow Workshop is being held on Friday the 27th and a second session on Saturday the 28th for your convenience.  Choose the one that fits your schedule. If you are new to Lightroom, take the into course on the 26th and add the Lightroom Workflow Workshop to learn even more about Lightroom and how to fit it into your studio or person workflow.

Are you new to digital photography or Lightroom and photo editing?
The January 26th Intro to Lightroom and Photo Editing is a great place to start.