February 9, 2011

Albums can be one of the largest profit centers for both wedding and portrait photography, or it can be a logistical nightmare, overloading even the most dedicated photographer. Digital albums can be both a blessing and a curse. We are free to design whatever we or the client wants, but we are also the design studio.

As the first in a series of articles on wedding album design, we have Andrew “Fundy” Funderburg starting us off with some ideas on helping you increase profits and decrease your work load in an ever difficult business climate.

Elegant, profitable wedding albums

by Andrew “Fundy” Funderburg


© Finao Albums

Clean and Simple Sells

When digital albums first came out, everyone jumped to put as many flurries, borders and backgrounds as we could on the page. It was natural, some of these things were cool, some of them were painful to look at. The end result was simply, we were spending a lot of time designing busy-looking albums.

Look at any high end studio, or any album that wins the WPPI grand awards. The albums are simple, clean, elegant. There aren’t too many images on a spread, usually just 2-5 on average, with a spread of detail shots being the only exception.


© AJ’s Studio, Portland, OR Wedding Photogapher

The added bonus for photographers is that it actually takes less time to design clean, elegant albums. So, not only will clean designs sell better, they will take you less time to design, helping the bottom line of your business.


© Ann Hamilton, Bay Area Wedding Photographer

Wedding album credit over wedding albums

Having wedding albums as a driving force of your studio means that clients need to have the option to upgrade their albums. Albums are nothing like wedding albums even 5 years ago. The number of cover options available today, along with album sizes and paper choices, means that albums can cost photographers anywhere from $100 to $1000. That is cost to the photographer. Each client will have different needs and different wants.

If our packages include a 30 page 10”x10” album, that is what the client will want and what the client will expect. If we then show clients cool metal covers and larger sizes, they’ll feel like something isn’t right. They want the cool stuff, but your package only includes the regular stuff.

The answer is album credit. Each wedding package includes more and more album credit. You can explain that this credit will get the clients into the basic wedding albums, but gives them the option to upgrade to the cool metal covers and extra pages. Credit doesn’t lock them into any particular album. It frees them up to make decisions based on their needs. And it frees us up, as photographers, to tailor our albums to specific clients. We put our blood and soul into photographing weddings, we want to show off our talent in the best light possible.

Share what most people are doing

It’s very rare that clients know what most people are doing in wedding albums today. Many of their friends were married a few years ago. They don’t know what the options are today and, while they see some cool stuff, they don’t know what most people are doing. Let them know.

Let them know with phrases like, “this is our most popular leather this year,” or “most of our brides are getting the 12×18” horizontal album.” Brides and grooms are looking for your expert opinions.

The same thing can be said for portrait clients. Portrait albums are becoming more and more popular among clients and most clients know about the cheaper Costco or iPhoto books. Yet many of them have never seen an elegant, leather-bound portrait album. Make sure to have some leather bound and cloth bound portrait albums in at least three sizes. I prefer 5×5, 8×8 and 10×10 albums. The Finao Elements series is great, because the minimum number of pages is 10, versus 20 with most albums.


© Andrew “Fundy” Funderburg

Thank you for your time, and here’s to a great 2011.

Andrew “Fundy” Funderburg

Fundy is the creator of both the Fundy Album Builder (2011 Hot One Award Winner) and the Fundy Album Proofer, among other solutions. Learn more or download the free trial at www.fundysos.com

 

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joe S February 9, 2011 at 2:02 pm

An album credit sounds like a great idea, and I like it. However we used that method for awhile and it didn’t seem to work. It seemed that we were then offering too many choices and confusing everyone. I think it seemed to them that we were trying to upgrade them and it was going to cost more than they wanted to spend. Most people just didn’t understand, it just made it too confusing.

It seems that middle class people, which is most of the population just don’t get it, or don’t have time for choices. Even for things as important as their wedding album. It seems that they just want to know what “Your Package” (I hate that expression)is and how much do you charge for it.

Don’t get me wrong, again I think the album credit is a great idea. I also agree with another photographer that we should not be charging the same for a wedding around the corner that will take 5 to 7 hours to do, with a best man and maid of honor. As we would charge for a full blown wedding with 10 brides maids and 10 men that reqires 100 miles of travel and 12 hours of time during the event. I would think that excluding albums, etc. we should be charging for what is needed in terms of time and photography. After all that’s the way a plumber would price out his job. Why are we different?

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2 Paul Hodgson February 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Excellent article and having designed busy albums over the years, I found that a more minimal approach to design actually yields more sales. That clean crisp approach has the effect of showcasing my work more and the couple are more likely to buy upgrades but parent books and gift books for the best man and/or the bridesmaids.

My personal choice for album design is Photojunction..buggy yes, but overall a good tool that’s free.

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3 Sheri J February 9, 2011 at 5:56 pm

very good info. I agree that clean and simple definitely shows off the images in a way they should be showcased.

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4 SEAN SHIMMEL February 9, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Reminds me of http://www.presentationzen.com/

Less is most often more and who can resist timelessness over fad?

Sean

http://www.lifeascinema.blogspot.com

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5 Rod February 9, 2011 at 8:32 pm

I’ve been trying to make sense of the whole album thing, I received some free samples from Graphi and feel I need additional lines to offer. I designed my album and it was pretty neat. Maybe I need to take a look at Finao. I’ve been hearing that people are charging 3X the price to make it profitable.

Should you offer lower, mid and high end albums?

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6 Bogdan February 12, 2011 at 1:08 pm

The main reason I use Aperture is the integrated book design. It works well if you know what you’re doing and having everything under one colour managed roof is an added bonus. The well defined rules for full bleed layouts are a Godsend. It’s a bit odd how Apple with their fully automated print process manage to be simple and to the point compared with the “Holy Bible” of confusing bleed lines and rules some companies impose on you. I have never received an album from Apple that did not look EXACTLY the way I intended while following the almost non-existing rules. These printing rules are the main reason I keep leather-bound albums production local (I use Frost Digital) as I could drop by, preview and approve the layout with ease while talking to an actual person. Helping a local business is a bonus…

Going back to design, if they are well laid out, albums more or less sell themselves.

Just my two cents…

Bogdan

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7 Mike Anderson February 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Every person has different concepts when it comes for their wedding albums. But I always love the simple and elegant album.

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8 David February 25, 2011 at 6:02 am

Thanks for this. Having just redone my website and trying to position myself away from “packages” the album credit approach fits with this as long as, as you also say, you provide some guidance to the couple amidst all the confusing and changing choice. “Your album credit will buy you a nice standard quality album like one of these three … upgrading is an option which we can discuss without up-selling pressure.”

Cheers
David

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9 Alan February 25, 2011 at 10:40 am

Why would a customer buy an album credit at the time the photographer is hired, unless the price is discounted somehow? Why commit to an album credit of, say, $1000 before the wedding? I presume that if a week after the wedding the B&G want an album and they contact their wedding photographer, the photographer is not going to turn them away.

I’m sure I’m missing something here (missing the point is kind of a calling card of mine), but what’s the incentive to the bride and groom to buy credits in advance?

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10 Fundy February 27, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Album Credit only works when selling the credit in a package. So it is discounted in the package. If this is not done, after the fact album sales are very difficult.

Fundy

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