Tag Archives: album

Album Design Know-How: Get in The Folks You Love Without Posed Group Photos

05 | 01 | 2012

Most of us (brides, grooms, photographers) don’t exactly love posed group photos. I do think they are necessary, a few images in the larger body of wedding photographs, a part of family history, to be sure.  But as far as wanting to preserve the folks I love in a photo album, I like to take a different tack.

A couple of years ago, one of my clients asked if we could exclude group photos but include a photo that prominently featured each person who would’ve been in the immediate family and bridal party photos.  This design approach worked beautifully, giving the album such an authentic narrative perspective, and—best of all—each person was really flattered in the photos we chose.

If you have a really large family, as some of us do, then you’ll probably want to get a couple extended family photos in there, just to make sure you cover aunts, uncles, and cousins.  But I think the basic principle still applies to the rest of the album—just focus on the folks who are really in your inner circle (immediate family, best friends, etc.).

{click any image for a closer view}

all photos by: Gia Canali


Collaborating With Your Photographer, 201: Conservation of Your Wedding Photographs

06 | 23 | 2010

antique wedding photos

I come from a family where photographs are prized possessions.  My grandmother was always afraid that someone would break into her house and steal her family photographs. Now there’s certainly a breakdown of reason (people steal things because they are valuable, not because they are valuable to you), but I think the sentiment is priceless. Her photographs of all of us were the one thing she didn’t want taken away from her.  Of course, she didn’t preserve them properly.  Many were in the magnetic photo albums from the 80s, and framed prints were stacked one behind another, ad infinitum, partly out of convenience and partly to hide them from would-be robbers.

My grandmother was right: photographs are great treasures, to us, to our families, to our histories, and to our cultures.  And so, the photographic prints themselves—and their conservation—are essential, but often overlooked, aspects of your investment in wedding photography and in any photography period.

I.  Keep Photographs Out of Direct Bright Light

Sunlight damages prints, even high-quality archival ones.  Don’t hang framed prints where they’ll get direct sunlight (or even really bright indirect light).  You don’t want to look like The Munsters in twenty years.

II. Keep Your Photographs Out of Extreme Conditions (No extreme heat, cold, high humidity, or dryness).

Humidity can cause mold; extreme dryness can make prints brittle.  Heat and cold are just as bad.  And alternating among any of those conditions is even worse.  Keep your prints, if at all possible, in stable room-temp normal humidity conditions.

III.  Use Archival Presentation and Preservation Materials

This is one area where your photographer probably can help you quite a bit, since many of us work with our clients to create archival presentations of the photographs.  Framed prints should be matted first, so that they don’t stick to the glass.  The matting should be archival quality, with acid free archival adhesives, corners, mat paper, etc.  UV-filtering glass can help framed prints, too.  Albums and other presentations should be completely archival.

IV.  Don’t Handle The Prints With Your Fingers.

If there was one thing Grammy was militant about with her photographs, it was this.  But it’s true: the oil from your fingers damages the print’s emulsion.

Naturally, if we wanted our photographs to last forever and ever, we’d leave them in airtight archival boxes at room temperature and never let them see the light of day.  But that would be absurd, as the joy of a photograph is, of course, taking it in.  So I’m offering some basic guidelines today.   Then we’ll discuss each of these aspects of conservation in more detail in the coming months because the burden and responsibility of conservation of prints ultimately falls on the clients.  In other words, no matter how careful your photographer is to create archival prints for you; if they are handled carelessly later, they’ll still be ruined.  If at any point you aren’t sure about how to preserve your photographs, just ask your photographer!

iPhone photo: Gia Canali

* The photographs in the picture above are from my tiny collection of vintage wedding photographs. I always feel sad that photos like this have been separated from their people …

Collaborating With Your Photographer, 108: What You’re Really Paying For (And Waiting For!) With Your Wedding Album Purchase

12 | 14 | 2009

fine art book

{pictured: Leather Craftsmen Fine Art Book. click any image to enlarge}

Although I’m not surprised that folks balk at album prices—most people don’t know what goes into making them (!)—a wedding album is really essential, the finishing point of your investment in wedding photography.

I. The Labor

I like to think about the album making process as a labor of love.  It is certainly laborious—even a simple album can sometimes run upwards of thirty hours of labor.  Custom books can amount to much, much more work.  So what goes into making an album that can add up to so much time? Well, here goes:

  1. Design time.
    This is a big one.  Perhaps it’s the big one with custom albums.  Album design is a back and forth process—and sometimes a long one—a collaboration between a photographer and her clients.  Often, there are meetings.  There is always time laying the album out.  An opportunity for client feedback.  Changes to the design. Another opportunity for client feed back and/or a final approval.  Design time is all about decisions: decisions about which album(s) to use, which images will and won’t be included, how to tell the story of the wedding day and best flatter the bride and groom; decisions about making the best overall presentation, including choosing cover treatments (leather vs suede vs book cloth), cover photos, deciding on stamping or imprinting …
  2. Editing images.
    Once the images are chosen, and the client has “signed off” on the album design, we begin preparing images to print.  Final color corrections need to be made.  We always take a good second look at images that will be included in a client’s album.  Retouching issues need to be addressed.  The images need to be sized and cropped (if the album’s matted) or inserted into an overall layout (if the album is flush-mounted).
  3. Ordering prints from the lab.
    This seems pretty self-explanatory, but this often takes an hour or two depending on the album type.
  4. Checking quality.
    When the prints come back from the lab, we check every single print to make sure it’s up to snuff.  If we don’t like a print, we have to send it back to the lab.
  5. Assembling the prints & order forms.
    Not my favorite part, for sure.  I check everything about a zillion times.  Prints have to be put in numerical and size order and sometimes hand-trimmed.  I always reference emails and notes to make sure I get everything filled in properly on the order form.
  6. Shipping or dropping the order off at the album bindery.
  7. Checking quality again.
  8. Shipping or dropping the album off to the client.  (Phew!)

fine art book

II. The Prints

A gorgeous album requires gorgeous and expertly-made photographic prints.

III. The Binding (Album Assembly)

This is actually part materials cost and part labor cost.   The album cover and its pages are certainly a substantial cost in and of themselves, but binding is all about the artisan who actually makes the book.  Handmade albums are more laborious and therefore more costly.

fine art book fine art book fine art book

So why is it worth it?

So, although the price of making a wedding album seems high, there is very little markup in the end.  Not only are the materials quite costly, but album-making is also quite labor-intensive—for both the artisans involved and for the photographer.  Ultimately,  your wedding album becomes the official record of your wedding day.  We work tirelessly to ensure that our clients get albums that will become heirlooms.  That’s the goal.  Frankly, your grandkids aren’t going to be interested in a digital photo file.  And neither are your grandparents for that matter.  The albums available to consumers don’t even compare to those available to professional photographers.  And getting expert professional help with the design, printing, and binding is invaluable.  Not to mention that not doing it yourself is pretty grand.  I own my negatives from my wedding (which was back in the all-film days).  I am not sure when I’ll get around to making an album for us … and I think it’s the labor time that’s my hangup (that and the five hundred or so dollars I’d need to spend on prints).


Those of you who are working on albums might also want to check out these posts:

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

Decoding Wedding Photography Lingo, IV: Wedding Albums

photos: Gia Canali


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!


Decoding Wedding Photography Lingo, IV: Wedding Albums

06 | 02 | 2009

I have to confess: if there’s one thing about wedding photography that sets my head to spinning, it’s keeping track of all the (newfangled) wedding album options—and the ever-expanding lingo that describes them.  So I feel a bit like I’m starting this post at my own hazard, but I do think it’s a useful point of reference.  These are the most basic terms used to describe the most popular albums available today.

I. Matted aka Traditional

Matted albums are lovely presentations of wedding photographs.  Some incarnations of matted albums recall that old-time elegance of our parents’ and grandparents’ wedding albums.  Photographs are matted on or into the page, similar to how a framed photograph is matted.  The mat may cover the edges of the photograph (an overmat) or may be off-set from the edges of the photograph.

Below are matted albums from Leather Craftsmen and Cypress Albums.  The Cypress Albums version features hand-torn deckled-edge watercolor paper pages and a ribbon binding.

leather craftsmen matted album 1 lc700-05

cypress-02 cypress-01

II. Flush mount aka Coffee Table

About a third of our clients end up choosing modern flush mount albums.  The album designs are digital, so there is a lot of flexibility in terms of what you can do with the design.  I like the “flush mount” nomenclature because it still describes how the photograph is presented on the page: flush to the edge, rather than covered by a mat.  The reason these albums are great is that you can have huge photographs, ones that fill a full side or spread across both sides of the page. Or you can fit lots of photographs in sweet little magazine-style layouts.

Below are examples of Cypress Album’s flush mount album, the Iris.  They are covered with Japanese book cloth.

cypressiris0733 cypressiris0740 iris0742 cypress-iris-06 cypress-iris-05 cypress-iris-02

*There are actually albums that combine both digital design and matted images.  But … let’s not confuse things yet.

III. Press printed

I actually don’t consider these “photo albums” in the traditional sense as they do not contain actual photographic prints.  They are, instead, like regular books you might pull off the shelf.  Over the last several years, I have become more interested in how they might be incorporated into wedding album design and I promise to share some photographs when I get one in stock.

IV. Cover Treatments

Leather Craftsmen Fine Art Book

Cover treatments are another source of obsession.  Nowadays you can get leather, suede, Japanese book cloth, metal, metallic, hardwood, or cork coverings … just to name a few.  My suggestion is not to jump on the latest trend bandwagon.  Instead, choose something that both matches your overall wedding design and you know you will love in fifty years.

My advice?  Don’t worry about the album until after the wedding.  Your taste may change as you go through the wedding design process, and certainly after you see the real, tangible photographs.  At least in my studio, you can use your package album credit toward the purchase of any album.  And anyway, being open to a variety of options may serve you best as you look for the perfect, permanent presentation for your wedding photographs.  The album is, after all, the culmination of your investment in wedding photography.

Check back for future posts on choosing photographs for your album, choosing good cover photographs, and other photo presentation-related topics.  Nearly as much as we want good photographs, we want to know what to do with them once we’ve got them!

photo credit: Gia Canali