May 17, 2011

high-end wedding album designs
in three simple steps

by Andrew “Fundy” Funderburg

Album design can be one of the most time consuming parts of running a wedding photography. “How to design a wedding album,” is often one of the first questions that a beginning a wedding photographer asks. And “how can I design albums better and faster,” is a question that seasoned wedding photographers often ask themselves over and over.

Don’t get me wrong, designing an album will always take a fair amount of time. It is one of the most expensive items in a wedding studio and also is the one that will last the longest. Albums are the single most durable photo product around. Prints in albums last many times longer than prints or canvases hanging on the wall. Every time I see a wedding album I imagine it being found in a trunk 100 years from now by a great great grandchild and the look on their faces as they see their long lost relative. They’ll see how young they look, how vibrant and alive they were and it will spark that moment of seeing themselves as something bigger than just their own life.

© Frank Salas – Orange County Wedding Photographer

It’s evident how important wedding albums are. But, it’s also clear that we can’t, as a business, spend all day designing a wedding album. It just isn’t profitable. We can’t spend hours upon hours designing every album. If we did, we wouldn’t be able to take care of our own families. Let me share with you three easy steps that will help you not only design better albums, but design them faster and design them to stand the test of time.

3 Easy Design Steps

Step 1 – Keep things simple

Simplicity does two things. It sells better for higher prices and it stands the test of time. Look at the best brands in the world: Apple, Tiffany, Mercedes, etc. These are brands that focus on simple elegance. We can do the same.

© Mark Ridout – Toronto Wedding Photographer

Step 2 – Showcase shots
We all know the shots. The key shots, the shots where you just killed it. These shots need to be showcased in the album. Showcasing is simple, show these images big and add some accent images next to them or around them.

©Ann Hamilton – San Francisco, Bay Area Photographer

Step 3 – Balance your album with variety

When first starting out, I wanted to make every single spread different from the rest. This just created chaos. Balance means having a few patterns and repeating those patters. You gain variety but preserve the cohesiveness.

© Frank Salas – Orange County Wedding Photographer

 

3 Easy Workflow Steps

Over the years, I’ve found three easy workflow steps that help speed up the process. The basic concept is to reduce the number of images being considered for the design. The more images, the harder it is to make decisions and the harder it is to design.

© Michael Corsentino – San Francisco and Napa Valley Wedding Photographer

Step 1 – Album Selects

After you’ve narrowed down your keepers from a wedding, it’s time to narrow down further. Take the time to narrow down to about 60-120 images depending on how many pages you design. I like to keep it under 2.5 images per page average. So a 30 page album would have about 75 selects. Feel free to go a bit over, you can always leave out a few in the next step.

Step 2 – Separate by pages

Most people separate a wedding by the time of day: getting ready, formals, dances, etc. This is great for proofs, but for the album, I think narrowing down by pages helps us more. It completely separates the images into the format of the album. So when we start designing we can focus completely on designing and nothing else.

Step 3 – Baby steps, one spread at a time

Now when we are designing we can concentrate on one spread at a time. We don’t need to worry about other images on other pages while we design, we can concentrate on just a few images at a time.


© AJs Studio – Portland, Oregon Wedding Photographer

Quick Video Overview With Live Designs in Album Builder

 

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- wedding photography: elegant profitable albums

 

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Roel May 18, 2011 at 5:19 am

Neil,

Nice post, though creating an album always seems complicated for the novice (me!).

However, I recently had an album produced and printed by Blurb (www.blurb.com). It came out much better than I expected and I can really recommend their service to non-pro photographers.

Here’s what makes them stand out for me:

- excellent book & paper quality
- ease of work: you download their very intuitive, yet powerful application (it’s Windows and Mac compatible, even runs on Linux with some fuzzling) – the rest is a walk in the park
- not very expensive, discounts for mulitple copies
- fast shipping due to local printing all over the world (e.g. for Belgium, they print in the Netherlands!)
- excellent after sales service

I will definitely use it again. Maybe not for the pro-photographers, but my family and friends were impressed…

Best regs,

Roel (from Belgium)

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2 Frank May 18, 2011 at 11:39 am

Another option is to use Costco’s online photo album service. The print quality is outstanding, and both the album paper and front/back covers is high quality as well. It’s extremely easy to drag and drop images into page templates that you can customize to suit your needs. You can produce a very attractive wedding or other special event album for under $50. I’ve used this service to produce albums for my clients and they are amazed at the quality for what I am able to charge them. Just another alternative.

Reply

3 Tony May 19, 2011 at 11:23 pm

I have not yet done a wedding but hope to in the near future. I have used Costco for some personal prints and calendars and was not overly impressed with the color quality. I find it hard to believe that an album that costs under $50 from there is going to be around in 100 years in that old family trunk that Andrew referred to. I have used picaboo for some baby and senior photo books for clients that were $40 on my end. They were decent quality, but again not heirloom level. I know picaboo also offers higher albums for up to $400, but I have never seen one of them firsthand. Basically I am just wondering which service either Neil or Andrew uses or has used and approximately a photographer should expect to pay for a good quality album, and also how much beyond that do you typically charge the client?

thanks

Reply

4 Neil vN May 20, 2011 at 1:24 am

I use PictoBooks. Of all the various album companies you see at trade shows, they stood out as one of the best in terms of quality. They are a little bit spendy … in fact a lotta bit more spendy than $50 but I feel that the obvious quality of the album is necessary to distinguish my work and products that I offer.

Costco uses Fuji Frontier printers, so their individual prints are actually quite good. But I’d never use them for something like albums offered to clients. Especially not if you are trying to distinguish yourself as a photographer aiming for a higher market.

Neil vN

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5 Frank May 21, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I hear ya Neil about wanting to serve the higher end of the market with higher end albums. One point of clarification though…Costco uses a different printer system for their “photobooks” versus their individual prints. It may be worthwhile for you to create one of these albums just to see how its quality compares to alternatives.

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6 James Harvie May 24, 2011 at 7:35 am

Great to see some valuable information on designing a wedding album. Some good tips here. My studio is based in Australia and I see it as my role as a photographer to provide my clients with the best possible wedding album to reflect their one special day. Clients on the other hand will often focus on cost. I explain to a client a wedding album is not a New TV or Computer that you pay $2000 – $3000 for that has a lifespan of 3-5 years. A wedding album is for life to hand down through generations.

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7 Patty February 13, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I agree, excellent software! Speeds up the process and easy to use. Creating an album is not that complicated even if you are not a pro. It will take you 2 days to do the first, 1 day to design the second……and by the time you design your third and fourth album you be able to do it in few hrs. Remember shoot for the album. Keep in consideration your design while you shoot your weddings/events.
As for the albums I believe that quality makes all the difference. Bad/cheap albums will reflect badly on your business and regardless of what many album companies tell you, I have a hard time believing that they will last for generations….
Most of the time, depending on the client, I use wedding albums by N3 Books Inc. Spectacular albums, top of the line and elegant designs.
For brides with smaller budget I use Asuka.

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