How to Turn a Passion Project Into a Photo Book

Aug 15, 2007

Are you always running short on gift ideas around Christmas or birthdays? Combining photography with the unique passions or places in your life can help you give something lasting and meaningful to the people closest to you.

I’m talking about creating a coffee table photography book. If you don’t think you have anything interesting to document, think again. Recently I came across a story on a photography blog that shared an example of a woman who was inspired to make a book out of pictures taken of her family farm.

Like many people with an interest in photography but a lack of confidence in where to begin or what to focus on, she didn’t believe that there was anything interesting enough in her life to turn into a book. With a little bit of prodding from a professional photographer, she revealed that many aspects of the family farm she had recently taken over had changed over the years. Talking more on the subject, she realized there were numerous places on the farm that brought back touching memories of her father and her childhood.

With a little brainstorming, anyone can find the inspiration for an amazing photography book within his or her life. Even if your book never becomes a bestseller that graces millions of coffee tables around the world, at least you will have some wonderful gifts to give to those you love.

If you’re ready to get started on your photography book, here are five of the basic elements you’ll need to be successful.


You must have subjects or places that fire your passion. To stay focused and hit your project goals, you’ll need to tap into this passion and ride it out until you know in your gut that you’ve completed your mission.


Redundant images are a common problem for fledgling photographers. By developing a variety of techniques and strategies for capturing your subject you will find that each image becomes unique and brings a news perspective, and you’ll be able to hold your viewers’ attention and earn their awe with the turning of every page.


The right subject or the perfect shot doesn’t always reveal itself immediately. The weather may not be just right or other conditions may create obstacles to getting everything just right the first time you try. Additionally, your preferred subject is likely to be more complex than you originally expected. Whatever the case may be, you can’t afford to get frustrated. Stay patient and focus on your goals, and remember that every day is new and different from the previous day and will present new opportunities for your photography.


Being open to constructive criticism is a valuable trait for any photographer. As you start to build a body of work, finding a mentor or instructor who can help in this phase is important as this person is more likely to give you unbiased input and ideas on how to improve your photography than friends and family. Listen to their feedback and be open to change.

The Big Picture

Every story has an arc to it. Carefully planning the order, or sequence, of the images in your book will help you get your point of view across and more successfully tell the story. Step back and think about the overarching theme of your work and arrange the photographs in the order that makes the most sense in telling the story.

Take the Leap!

If you’re ready to make the leap from hobbyist to professional, a Steinberg Photography workshop with landscape photographer Jim Steinberg will give you the skills needed to accomplish your goals. Whether you want to make a coffee table book, shoot landscapes, create a calendar, or something else, you can learn everything you need to know in one of our instructional workshops or private one-on-one sessions.

Learn more by visiting the Steinberg Photography homepage.