I visited the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers trade show in London at the weekend, to look at the latest offerings from some of the world’s top wedding album manufacturers. I want to make some big improvements in my album design and supply service this year and the SWPP show seemed like a good place to start.
I currently use a US manufacturer for most of my flush mount albums, I’m very happy with them but wanted to offer some alternatives as well. After three or four hours wandering around the different stands I decided to have a sample flush mount made up by Loxleys in Scotland. Their albums are simple and elegant and the quality was fantastic, the printing looked especially good. They are also very fast, quoting a seven day turnaround compared to 6-8 weeks for a US made album. This doesn’t actually mean anyone will get an album seven days after their wedding, as each one will still need to be processed, designed, then checked and approved by the client before it’s sent off, but I would think a month from time of ordering will be quite possible. I’ll be sending the images for the sample album off in a couple of days and hope to have it back very soon, I’ll put some images up when it arrives.
I was also looking for photo books, as a lower priced alternative to albums. I found one manufacturer that uses proper photographic paper for these, not always the case, and will probably give them a try too. These will have a very plain layout to keep costs down, unless I have already designed an album, in which case I can use the design for the book as well.
The final product I was looking for was a medium priced matted album and I didn’t have much luck with this. The top end is expensive, £1,000 and up, and the bottom end doesn’t look very nice! I’ll keep looking for something to fill this gap.
After deciding on the albums, the next thing I needed to review were my design skills. Some photographers outsource this to the manufacturers or specialist companies, but I prefer to do my own designs and see the job right through to the end. I’ve had some time, during the heavy snow in Brighton and Sussex, to work on some samples and try new layout software. One thing I’ve noticed is my designs are getting simpler and cleaner, I’m cutting down the unnecessary elements and decorations, and reducing the number of images I use for the main pages. It’s too easy, with Photoshop and a computer to start cluttering up pages. I read (somewhere) that if an album is laid out well well you shouldn’t really notice the design, it will just look right and your attention will be drawn to the images themselves, that’s what I’m aiming for. I’ve posted a few examples, these are all double page spreads for a 12 by 12 inch album, so imagine a page fold in the middle of each one.
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