Choosing a wedding album can be just as confusing and difficult as choosing a wedding photographer. They come in hundreds of styles, covers, colors, sizes, mounting options, etc. Although there are lots of books and articles written for professional photographers about wedding albums, there’s almost nothing out there for brides. Sheesh! So here’s the 411:
Why do I need an album from my photographer? I’ve got the digital files, I can make my own prints and put them in my own album.
True, but since professional-quality, custom-made album companies only sell to professional photographers, you will have to buy an off-the-shelf consumer album. That means you either buy the type of album with slip-in plastic sleeves or a scrapbook-type album where you glue photos to a page. Some companies can print simple hardcover photo books. There’s nothing wrong with that – these types of options can still be attractive. Just make sure you get albums made with acid-free archival materials so your photos don’t discolor or disintegrate over time. However, if you want a truly professionally made, gorgeous album with either flush-mounting or professionally mounted in custom mats, you really have no other choice, you’ve got to buy one from your professional wedding photographer.
Why are wedding albums so expensive?
You can buy a photo album at the local drugstore for $19.95 and slip in all your 4×6 proofs and bam, you’re done! So why is your wedding photographer charging you $2,500 for that album? There are a couple of reasons for this:
(1) Professional-quality albums cost your photographer a lot of money. It is not unusual for your photographer to pay five, six or seven hundred dollars or more for a custom leather album. Custom bookbinding is expensive!
(2) It can easily take your photographer 2 full days to do their file preparation and retouching (on Photoshop) of all the images you’ve chosen for your album and then to do the design work on the album. You are paying for the photographer’s skill and time here, both as a photographer and graphic designer.
What is a flush-mount album? Is it better than a traditional album?
Flush-mounting means that the print itself is mounted all the way to the edge of the page. So the print itself is exactly the same size as the page it is mounted on. Most often, flush-mounting also includes digital graphic design. That means each page is designed using Photoshop or other graphic design software. That makes the design options nearly unlimited. Currently, flush-mount albums seem to be the most popular among today’s brides. As for whether or not flush-mount albums are better than traditional, I can’t say. It’s just a matter of personal preference.
Traditional Matted Albums
This is the style of album that’s been around for decades. With a traditional album, prints are placed in individual openings on cotton mats. There is a matted border around each page, so the photo itself doesn’t go to the edge of the page. While I love flush-mount albums, there’s something so classy and timeless about a matted album. Each image stands out on its own and gains importance.
Coffee Table Books
This most often refers to a book with photos printed on the actual pages. The pages are thin just like a regular book. Some couples prefer photo books to albums because they like the thinner, sleeker look. They can also be just as attractive. However, keep in mind that coffee table book pages will tear much more easily than true album pages, which are mounted on a rigid lining.
Cover options are literally limitless. Although leather covers are standard, you can get almost anything you want: plexiglass, metal or fabric covers can be ordered. You can even send in your own fabric and have the album covered with it! Covers can include cover images or not, as well as your choice of text.
How to work with your photographer on your album design
One key consideration is how many images you want and how many pages you want. There are only so many images that will fit before the design becomes busy and cluttered. For example, I prefer a very clean, modern design. This works out to about on average 2 pictures per page in a digitally-designed flush-mount album and about 1.5 images per page in a traditional album. The bottom line here is that you should evaluate your photographer’s album design style just as you would their photographic style. Don’t be afraid to share your views on album design with your photographer.
It is my sincerest hope that every couple orders an album. In my experience, most people are so busy in their daily lives that they never get around to creating that gorgeous album themselves. This is really an investment in your most important memories. My goal is for you to be showing your album to your grandchildren – of course with tears in your eyes. Think of it this way: if your home catches fire and you have 30 seconds to grab one item as you rush out the door – you’re going to grab that wedding album, NOT the china or the toaster. ‘Nuff said!