Collaborating With Your Photographer, 107: Choosing The Most Stellar Photographs For Your Wedding Album

11 | 14 | 2009

traditional matted album

Choosing photographs for a finished wedding album is a big (permanent!) commitment.  It can be really daunting for some folks—and couples tend to get paralyzed more at this step in the wedding photography than at any other.   I know lots of couples are at some point in the album design process at this time of year.  Either they’re going over the final touches, are trying to amend a design proposal, or are desperately trying to narrow their favorites down to a manageable number of images.  Some are just starting to think about choosing an album, and might want to read {this} post about album lingo.  For those of you wading through piles of proofs and clicking your way through online galleries, there are—fortunately—a number of things you can do to make the process quite a bit more efficient.  Starting with good album image choices is essential.

*** Most Importantly***

1.  Don’t overthink things.

Your first instincts are probably right.  (We remind ourselves of this all the time when we’re editing).  The photographs you loved most the first time you saw your photos are a good place to start.

2. Choose the photographs you love most—rather than the ones you feel obligated to include.

Although it’s important to have an overall sense of narrative, when illustrating the story of your wedding day, don’t feel like you need to include every single event/moment/important person.

3.  If you can meet with your photographer and work on the design together, do it!

Not only is it much easier to share ideas and make decisions quickly, but your photographer will really understand the album you’ve chosen (how it works in terms of layout and design, cropping, and color-correction; which images might work better than others, and more).  Although you and your photographer may have slightly different opinions (two people always do!), having an expert opinion always helps!  You and your spouse should both be present for this meeting.

Bringing your proofs (if you got any) can also be really helpful.  I am super tactile myself, so I like sorting proofs into piles and spreading out favorites on a big table.  Lots of photographers do all their design on a computer and that can work great, too.

coffee table book

Regarding What To Choose

Try to choose images that illustrate your entire day—beginning, middle, and end:

If you can, include you and your spouse getting ready, a few portraits of the two of you, photographs with your family and wedding party, the ceremony (don’t forget your processional and recessional), first dances, cake cutting, and the party.  We love to end our albums on a romantic nighttime portrait if we can, but each and every album is different.

Choose only the most essential group photographs:

Group photographs are mostly for family history purposes.  You don’t need all of them in the album.  One nice photograph of the whole family–perhaps on each side is all you really need.  When we have clients who are really trying to stick to a certain number of photographs because of budget or album restrictions, we suggest including either one photograph of the whole bridal party or a photograph of the bride and her attendants and a photograph of the groom and his.

Include your guests in the photos!

We like to be able to show who came out and celebrated you two tying the knot!  Years later, you’ll want to know who was there!  (And a whole book of just the bride and groom won’t do that!)  I can’t tell you how often people emphasize that they really want great photographs of their guests and then don’t include them in the album.

Most people prioritize including family over friends in their choices.  Whatever you choose should be strong photographically, though.

Include some of the details!

It’s important to remember how it felt to be at your wedding, not just what happened.  And how it looked is a big part of that.  Honestly, who hasn’t obsessed over at least a few details in the planning process?  You want evidence of all that hard work!

We like to include good overall images of the ceremony and reception decor (with or without people in them), floral arrangements and bouquets, the cake or desserts, etc.  Anything wonderful and inspiring that lends a sense of place or shows the uniqueness of your event.

Regarding cover photographs:

A lot of albums feature one (or more) special photographs on the cover.  Good cover photographs usually have very simple compositions and read well small.  Mood-setting images (details, flowers, etc.) and portraits usually work well.  A striking image you can think of right now without looking through all your proofs is probably fantastic.

Regarding retouching and image editing: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace!

We all live in the age of digital imaging. So there’s no reason I can think of that we shouldn’t indulge our vanity just a teeny bit.  I, for one, had the worst acne outbreak in my whole life the week of my wedding and if I ever get around to making a wedding album, I will certainly be retouching a few zits out of the photos.  My point is that if you don’t like something like a zit or a bruise on your shin (apparently there are lots of tomboy brides!) or the way your dress lays across your back in a photo from the ceremony, or the fact that there’s a random person in the background of a photo, you should speak up!  Don’t assume your photographer will retouch it if you don’t say anything.  Don’t assume it is or isn’t an easy fix.  Do expect to pay for any revisions.  If you get a quote, at least you can make an educated decision about retouching.

coffee table book

In The End

Wedding albums are custom made to order and are generally unalterable and non-returnable once they go to print.  You need to be thrilled with whatever is going to be in the album.  If something drives you nuts or disappoints you now, chances are that it will still have that effect years from now.  Trust me.  So I say again, speak now or forever hold your peace!

Photographers and newlyweds who’ve been through the process: am I forgetting anything? I want to keep the dialogue on album-making open!


5 Notes on “Collaborating With Your Photographer, 107: Choosing The Most Stellar Photographs For Your Wedding Album

  1. Gia Post author

    Lexia, thanks for taking time to stop by and read! If there are any particular topics you’d like to see me post on, please feel free to send me an email!

  2. Pingback: What You’re Really Paying For (And Waiting For!) With Your Wedding Album Purchase « Pursuing the Picture Perfect Wedding :: a blog about weddings and getting great wedding photographs by Gia Canali

  3. Ross Gasaway

    I just wanted to drop you a comment to say keep up the good work. Hi, nice post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for writing. I will certainly be subscribing to your posts.

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