Yes, you can, but the method is not intuitive! The steps required are-
1) Design a PAGE with all the cells and Photo Text defined from metadata.
2) Save the PAGE as a Custom Page Template. (Right-Click on the page)
3) In the AUTOLAYOUT panel- [Edit] a new auto-layout template (From the Preset Drop-down menu)
4) Use your Custom Page template for the auto layout. (Left + Right, or your choice of Pages templates)
5) Save the Auto Layout Preset. (Give it a descriptive name!)
When you start a new book, choose the Auto Layout Preset.
So I just designed a PAGE of six cells- each cell Photo Text can be specific (Filename, Date, etc)
Then I Saved an auto-layout preset using the six-cell custom page.
Biggest problem is identifying a Custom Page template as they cannot be named and if you create several that look the same it becomes difficult to choose the 'best', although the 'latest created' seems to appear at the base of the Custom page preview.
Result of my new Auto-Layout Preset- and Text below two images on the page-