We’re so excited to have a guest post today, written by our wonderful album designer of The Album Design! We’ve worked hand-in-hand with Brandon for over four years, and he currently designs all of our gorgeous album layouts. Creating a custom heirloom album for our clients is one of our favorite things about the wedding photography process, so we are excited to present this topic to you!
Hey guys! I’m Brandon from The Album Design, we’re a post-production company that works with photographers (some amazing ones at that, like Pure 7 Studios!), and would’ve never imagined that a small side hobby would turn into a fully staffed operation only a couple years into it. We’ve partnered with hundreds of photographers over the years . We’ve been designing albums for 7 years now; we’ve seen it all, and designed it all. Erica and Ryan asked us to share a bit of the knowledge that we’ve accumulated over the many hundreds of wedding albums that we’ve designed, and we were happy to oblige.
So, we’re going to quickly chat about our mindset, our methodology, how we see things, etc., but first things first. Let’s chat about the why.
Why order an album? I already have all the images on a disk!
Most photographers these days give a disc with all of the high-resolution images from your wedding on it, and then allow you to do what you wish with them. This sounds great! So you shouldn’t need anything else right?
Well, not exactly. I know from experience, that images on your computer don’t get looked at quite as often as something physical. Just recently, I got married, and we opted to get a wedding album instead of just the high-resolution images, and we show the wedding album to everyone who comes over to visit. You can be sure that we’re not opening up the computer and sitting in front of it with all of our guests. The experience of a gorgeous, high-quality printed album really makes everyone want to look through the album and re-live the moments. This is especially true for grandparents, or less tech-literate relatives: they really appreciate being able to see the images in a format that they’re used to.
Secondly, it’s about durability. Images get lost, and computers get stolen, but a wedding album that’s kept in your house typically becomes a treasured heirloom. Most wedding albums these days are made to last a lifetime (or more), and you end up treating it with a lot more care than the images in a folder on your computer. Technology changes so quickly, that it’s never guaranteed that images will be viewed the same way digitally. We all remember looking at our parents wedding albums (although they didn’t look exactly the way they do now), and being able to have a hard copy will ensure that they last a lot longer.
Lastly, it’s about leaving a memory behind, a legacy for your children, grand-children, and your grand-children’s grand-children. They may not ever get the chance to really know you, but they will get to look through the photos 40, 50 or even 100 years later and experience some of the joy that you felt on your wedding day. Think of it as a window into your personality, the details you chose, the way you got down on the dance floor, how you looked into his eyes while you were saying your vows. One day your grandchildren will talk about how beautiful grandma was on her wedding day and how dashing grandpa was in that three-piece suit!
Okay, you convinced me. So how should it look? What type of album should I order?
At the end of the day, it’s really about your own personal taste. There are plenty of different options from paper, size, cover, finishing, presentation boxes, etc. Let’s go through each of the options quickly.
Size: To start with, you’re going to want an appropriate representation of the day. It can be difficult to cut images out, or leave out any parts of the day, that’s why we really recommend not going with a small album. If your budget doesn’t necessarily allow for that size of an album, then of course you have to do what makes sense. However, being able to tell your story with the images is the ultimate goal for your wedding album. For an average sized wedding, we’d recommend about 25-35 spreads (that’s two pages side-by-side).
Paper: Most of the mid to high-end albums come with thick pages, which are actually printed pages mounted on a thick backing. They give a super high quality finish, and add to the durability of the album. Again, if you’re a bit more conscious of your budget, there are “coffee table” style books that are simply high quality pages that are bound like a hardcover book. These are still a good option, and most album providers make a fantastic coffee table style book.
Binding: There are two options for this. You can get flush-mounted albums, which are also called “lay flat” albums. They have no page gutter in the center, and they lay completely flat. Then, there’s also a typical coffee table style binding, which goes hand in hand with the coffee table style books, of course. These have a gutter in the center of the page where it can be hard to get them to lay flat when you’re showing the album to people or viewing the album yourself. When we design these albums, we leave a bit more room towards the center of the book.
Cover: The typical option for high-end books is a plush, leather-bound cover. There are tons of different colors and patterns to choose from, so the choice is totally yours! You can also get albums with a linen or fabric finish, but the durability is about the same between the two, so it’s purely an aesthetic choice. Again, there’s also a slightly cheaper option of just an image wrap hardcover, still durable, but a bit more simple.
Presentation, finishing, etc.: Some album companies provide the albums in a beautiful wooden or linen box for storage, durability and safe-keeping. Some may also offer it as an extra charge, but it can be a nice add-on that looks quite nice on a coffee table or shelf.
I think I know what I want now, but which images should I choose?
The most important thing of any album is telling a story. More specifically, telling your story. You have memories of the day that you may want to tell, but your photographer may have another perspective and moments during the day that you didn’t get to experience. So we would typically recommend a combination of both, select your favorite images that you couldn’t live without, and then allowing your photographer (or us!) to fill out the rest of the album with the story of the day.
Family Formals: If you have any partners or guests of relatives that may not be around in a couple of years, it may make it strange to include them in the family formals, as they’ll be in the album forever! This will be unique to everyone, of course, so use your best judgement.
Portrait Images: Portrait images are often the most impacting, and look amazing when spread over two pages. You’ll definitely want to capture some of your favorites to display throughout the album.
Dancing/Fun: We LOVE throwing a big collage at the end of every album with a bunch of shots of your guests gettin’ down. It’s such a fun closer to the wedding, and really shows everyone (even your older relatives) having a great time.
At the end of the day, your album is about you. Your story, your special day. Don’t leave those images to rot in a folder on that computer downstairs. Display them, show them off! A wedding album is a perfect way to keep those memories forever.
This is the beautiful 10×10 Coffee Table Book from Brandy & Greg’s Celebration Hall wedding:
Here are some images of the beautiful new line of premium RedTree wedding albums that we proudly offer (images courtesy of RedTree):