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Flush mount or matted wedding albums?


Example of a flush mount double page spread.

The choice of wedding albums can get a bit confusing, so I though I’d post a quick explanation of the different types on offer. There are two main types available, flush mount and matted, though they may be called different names by different wedding photographers.

What’s a flush mount album?

You may have heard wedding albums referred to as ‘flush mount’, ‘storybook’, ‘magazine type’ or ‘coffee table’ albums. These are all very similar products, an image, or a layout of several images, printed on to a page and bound into an album; the image goes right to the edge of the page with no border. Flush mounts are very versatile, imagine some of the ways that a glossy magazine page can be laid out and you’ll get the idea. Have a look at the websites for Graphi in Italy, Finao in the US or SIM2000 in the UK to see some of the options, all of these manufacturers deliver worldwide.

Albums are designed by your wedding photographer, designer or directly by the album manufacturer. Pages are laid out using design software and may use one or more images per page. There are endless possibilities for different designs: Panoramic photos can be laid out over two pages with no break at the spine, one image can be used as a background and another laid over the top, borders and effects can be applied to each image individually. If you are using a good designer you should end up with a completely unique record of your day.

One of the big advantages of flush mounts is the ability to produce copies at reduced cost. Once your album is designed and stored as a digital file it can easily be reproduced at different sizes with different covers. This makes them ideal for parents’ copies and even miniature versions for friends and family.

Different types of flush mount albums:

While the design process for all types of flush mounts is the same, there are variations in the way that albums are printed and bound. True flush mount albums are printed on photographic paper and mounted on board before binding them into an album. This makes the albums very robust and the photographic paper gives a fantastic range of colours and tones.
Other albums (often called ‘books’ rather than ‘albums’) may be printed using a digital press system. This gives a quality similar to litho printing in a good quality photography book. The pages are thinner than photographic paper and are not mounted on board, so more prone to damage in the long term.
Both types can give excellent results, though I would always recommend photographic paper for a main album.

How do you know which type you are getting?

Wedding photographers may apply different marketing terms to products, one person’s ‘storybook’ may use photographic paper, and another may use digital press. ‘Flush mount wedding albums’ tend to be on photographic paper, ‘coffee table books’ or ‘storybooks’ are more likely to be printed using digital press. The only way you can be sure of what you are getting is to ask a few questions: ‘Will my album be on photographic paper’, ‘Will the images be mounted on a card backing before binding’ etc.

Advantages of flush mounts:

  • Limitless design options.
  • A modern contemporary look.
  • Possible cost savings, compared to matted albums, on second albums and parent books.

2. Matted albums:

These are a more traditional type of album, photographs are mounted behind openings or apertures, bevel cut into boards (or mattes) and assembled into pages. This is the sort of album your parents may have had, though several manufacturers have given them a modern facelift.

The more expensive versions will be laid out page by page, then each matte will individually cut and bound into the album. Photos are mounted behind the mattes, framing each image in it’s own aperture. As with a flush mount you can have one or more images on each page, though the design options are more limited. Top manufacturers include Jorgensen or Seldex in Australia and Queensbury in New Zealand (Yes, you really need to go that far to get the best matted albums).
There are also cheaper versions available, where the photographs can be slipped into pre-designed openings. These can be a good choice if you are on a budget, but means you have no opportunity for individual design.

Advantages of matted albums:

  • Prints don’t touch, held apart by mattes, so less likely to stick in damp conditions.
  • A more classic or traditional look.
  • Less influenced by current fashions, so they may age better.

Choosing between a flush mount or matted album is a matter of personal choice, they can both look great. Have a look on the internet and ask your wedding photographer to see samples, you’ll soon get an idea what you like. Prices can be high but you’ll want this to last a lifetime, so keep an eye on the quality too.

More information on booking me as your wedding photographer here.
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