Terra Galleria Photography

The nuts and bolts of making a photo book: reviewing the Treasured Lands printing


Once an author/photographer has sent images and text files to his publisher, the book-making work is usually over. However, even after a publisher has sent files to the printer, they still have to ensure that the book is produced to their standards. The best way to do so is to send a representative to the printing plant to approve the book pages right as they come out of the press. Clearly, in the spring of 2020, the pandemic precluded that option. The only possibility left was to approve various printouts sent (at a high cost) via Fedex international packages.

The 2019 printing was a second edition, which meant that there were substantial changes. By contrast, the 2020 printing to be released this month differs from the previous one by only six new pages and some minor text corrections. Yet, there were six rounds of printouts to review. When you order a book from Blurb or similar print-on-demand providers that use digital printers, since you print a small number of books at the same time, any errors are of little consequence. However, to reach the level of quality and cost-effectiveness necessary to make a photo book commercially viable, it is necessary to use offset presses. With those, the setup costs dictate substantial print runs. You don’t want to be printing thousands of books with a flaw, hence the importance of the approval process.

It is not often the case that a publisher gives a window into this process. If you are curious about what is involved behind the scenes in printing a photo book, and what are the components of such a book, check out the videos below, where I have documented four of those rounds, straight from my home to yours.

Dummy, proofs, bluelines (YouTube link)

Dust jacket proofs (YouTube link)

Endpapers, F&Gs, signatures (YouTube link)

Dust jacket running sheets (YouTube link)


  1. Tin Can says:

    I appreciate your every post

    Thank you

  2. Rick Hauser says:

    Thanks sooo much Qt. Treasured Lands is a beautiful resource

  3. Jeff Rowe says:

    Thanks for presentation, I have copies of ‘National Parks’ & ‘Beautiful North American’ and hope someday you sign them for me. I missed your signing a couple years back at the Modesto exhibit. With Covid-19 probably limiting any future exhibit, but anything planned locally in the SF bay area?

    Jeff Rowe

  4. QT Luong says:

    Thank you Tin, Rick, and Jeff for your appreciation. I do not have any events planned currently. The earliest will probably be summer/fall 2021, but let see what happens.

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