wedding albums...the big scoop

i think a lot about the wedding album while i am at the wedding capturing all the amazing moments that make each couple's day unique. but i also think about wedding albums at so many other times. like on phone calls to potential clients while discussing how things work with packages etc. or to friends that may pop in and see me either designing one or (if they are lucky) when i have just been shipped a new beautiful album! but inevitably once in awhile i get the raised eyebrow or the "they cost what!?" comment.

i have been meaning to write something for some time about the whole album process and then i ran across robert evans and ryan phillips 411 blog. there was a great article that had all i wanted to say. and seeing how time is short in life i decided to just copy it here. for more tips about all kinds of things wedding related you can go check out the blog he and his friend write here: http://networkedblogs.com/syy9k 

January 10, 2012 | Selecting Your Photographer|The Business Side|The Real 411

Having recently discussed this subject with a potential client, I thought it would be apropos for me to share my insights with you. A wedding album is a one-of-a-kind memento that most couples desire, but more and more frequently are opting to postpone having made to save on the bottom line of their wedding budgets. When I hear many couple’s reactions to wedding album prices it’s pure shock! Why does it cost so much?? This article will help answer those questions by elaborating on what goes into the album design and production process.

Wedding albums are no simple task to complete; it’s a process that can take twenty or more hours of labor. To begin with, all of the images to be included in the book must be selected by either the couple or the photographer. This typically involves trimming down the number of images from on average 1500 images to 100-200 give or take. Next, the type of book to use must be determined, as there are many to choices out there. Decisions can range from different cover material and colors, to paper types, but quality wedding albums are expensive for a reason. Just as with wedding photographers, you get what you pay for.

A quality album manufacturer must pass on the expenses of a well-made book to the professional photographer, which he must incur before he offers the album to you. Something you may not know is that most albums are only sold to professional photographers and are not available to the consumer. These album manufactures want to do business with professionals who are well versed in how to design and order their products. This is pretty standard throughout the wedding photography industry.

The next part of the equation, and what you are paying your photographer for, is the album design work. This is a very creative yet tedious and complicated process. Not only are we the photographers, we must also be proficient with many aspects of graphic design. Within most wedding albums there are hundreds of pages, templates and computer software to learn and to keep up-to-date. Telling a story with very specific images, orientations and color palettes is complicated. In addition the images must all fit into a visually limiting format in order to fit into the book you chose. This can take many hours, which usually translates into days and even months depending on the timely cooperation of the bride and groom.

Seldom is the design perfect the first time, as there are almost always changes to be made. Based upon the clients’ change requests, adding or removing images, changing the size of the image or position in the album, the book now needs to be reconfigured so the design is cohesive once again. With that comes several more hours of work. Once finalized, prints and pages may need to be ordered. Then, as long as there are no quality control issues with the prints, the album can now be sent off to the album manufacturer.

Album design and creation is a long and labor-intensive process. So, when you think about the packages and the costs of wedding albums, remember that a basic album can cost a minimum of $2000, some more and some less all depending on the amount of images, pages, and the type of book itself. There are countless hours of design work involved, expensive software, and the actual materials of the album. Most photographers do not make oodles of money on wedding albums, when all is said and done. Frankly, many photographers probably lose money, due to the fact that they are not watching the amount of time they put into the album process.

One final thought: There are many photographers who do not offer wedding albums due to the fact that they do not want to be bothered by this tedious process. I personally think it’s a disservice to the client when a photographer does not to finish the job by telling a couple’s story in the form of a wedding album. In most cases, photographers who do not offer wedding albums probably have little experience doing so, which usually translates to little experience photographing weddings.

Your wedding pictures are the one thing you will have left once your wedding day has passed. If your images are left sitting on a hard drive not only do you run the risk of your hard drive failing but a very small percentage of you will ever get around to actually making yourself a book, let alone knowing how or where to start.

I say if you cared enough to hire a professional wedding photographer in the first place, let them design a wedding album for you; make it part of your wedding budget. A wedding album is an extension of the photographer’s eye and creativity, which will become a treasured family keepsake and visual historical record of the beginning of your family.

I smile every time one of my children pulls out one of our three-volume wedding album, and flips through the pages. I remember the first time my oldest daughter first looked at our wedding albums and asked, “Daddy where am I?” It was a priceless moment in my life.

The Real 411: Albums are expensive to produce and even though it seems like the album packages are high-priced and Photographers are making a ton of money on them, it’s not reality. It is a long labor intensive undertaking that requires skill, software and lots of time. If you are worried about budgets, cut the album for now and get your album for your one year anniversay… Making sure you hire the photographer you want, You will always have the opportunity to design a beautiful wedding album later. I can tell you from shooting hundreds of weddings, that it is VERY RARE for a bride to order her album within a year of her wedding date. Offset the cost now if absolutely necessary, but don’t regret not hiring the photographer of your dreams. You will hear us say this a thousand times…You can’t undo bad wedding photography! And since I can’t resist my other favorite quote….

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” -Benjamin Franklin -RP & RE

if you are still reading this all the way to the end then i thank you. i hope now you have a much better education on albums and what the process involves at all levels. (:

all my best,
jen