Wedding Album workflow by Peter Lane Photography
Wedding albums (any albums) – the right workflow
NOTE: It’s not about wedding albums only. The rest of the albums, like: christening album, bar mitzvah album, birthday or baby album, portfolio album, etc, they follow the same or very similar workflow.
Why do we still order albums in 21st Century? The camera obscura gave the birth of photography as a tangible product, and since then, any essential memory is expected to have high value as such. To be printed, archived, and cherished.
Why do we – Peter Lane Photography – still offer albums to our clients, and also design and provide the service to other photographers?
The answer is simple. We love to do it as it brings a massive joy to our clients. We always shoot our events with the album in mind as a finished product.
What do we do better than others?
Well, most of the photographers out there are not even photographers. Sorry about that! I’ve seen a lot, so I can say it. Having a website and a business card that says a photographer, doesn’t necessarily make one. This is half of the problem. The other half is, there are brilliant photographers in the industry, but they don’t have any knowledge and experience to design, layout, tell a story with images, and very important – to print! I mean it.
90% of the photographers now just use a drag and drop software, which will do the layout job. No story telling at all! Just populating empty pages with randomly spread images. Next, next, and finish! Print.
Roughly the same process when you order from the cheap online vendors.
Now you know the wrong way, so let me explain the right one.
Every digital file photo is just a source of information. If you want a nice looking and sharp print with vivid colours, using this image is not enough. Every printer or offset works with different profiles and settings. Different papers also have different profiles and instructions for the printer and the ink. I’m skipping monitor calibration and tons of extra technical knowledge. So, printing a non-optimised image for the specific printer and paper will deliver mediocre result. Well, if the client don’t have the chance to compare with a professionally printed image, they can still like it, but his is another story.
This is about the technical stuff. Scratching the surface of course.
Our wedding album making workflow
Now to the designer’s part of album making. The goal of every album is to tell a story. The layout should lead the eye and provoke feelings. Every spread should reveal a unique story. The good album is like the good wine. Aging makes it more attractive and desirable.
NOTE: When we speak about aging, it’s very important to note that we always work with the world’s best providers, offering durability and longevity. If the client is “on budget”, OK, your wish is my command, but we won’t leave our logo on the last page. It’s a shame to open your album in 20 years and to realise that colours fade off, corners split apart, etc.
So, our wedding album workflow and what to expect by working with us:
1/ The very first page comes with a nice font introduction that usually comes from the client. It could be just “Our wedding” and date, a poem, a vow, etc. The second page (still on first spread) is either a romantic photo of bride and groom, or a close up detail, like a wedding ring, wedding dress, etc.
2/ The last spread is again a photo of bride and groom (whoever the event hero is) on left page, and our studio signature on the last page, the right one. The album starts and finishes with the couple. 90%.
3/ Every spread tells a certain story in a chronological order. No overlapping! We don’t mix let’s say venue details plus first dance, or group shots with bridal preps, or ceremony with dancing people. This is a taboo! This rule guarantees certain feelings in the viewer years after the event. You look at the ceremony spread and discuss with your guests memories from this moment. Then you flip the page and you remember the funny speech of the groomsmen. Everybody laughing. Then next spread, everybody crying, etc. The good album is not just a book with images, but rather a memento experience.
At time to time we have requests “we’re on a budget and want to merge the pages”. We have to explain that merging dancing page with another one is fine, if the client can live with smaller photos, of course. But merging one story with another is totally wrong from designer’s point of view.
4/ Every spread we design, we pick a hero photo and make it full page or larger than others. If there’re few photos that compete with each other, then we make an exclusion and design accordingly.
5/ The album workflow is a step by step interactive dance with the client.
- – We always design more pages than the agreed amount, as our clients love our photography and majority of clients just want more. It is easier for us to offer more and let the client remove the excess, than the opposite. It’s a great time saver and guess what? 99% of our clients approve and love the extra pages.
- – The proofing process goes in 2 stages. First stage is design approval. The client receives a link with their digital online album, with the ability to click on a photo and comment the desired changes, like: replace with …, remove, add on another one, make it bigger, move it to another page, etc. Approve the whole page or mark for removal. After clicking on finish button, we receive the clients comments and redesigning according to the desired changes. The client has one free layout review.
- – After layout approval we start working on beauty retouching, body shaping, other improvements, colouration, sharpness, skin smoothing, etc. Followed by file optimisation for the specific printer and paper type. To save time we don’t retouch all hundreds of images piece by piece. We export each spread and treat it as an individual image, that contains other images. So we don’t provide retouched images afterwords, but only a retouched spreads for the purpose of the album. This is the reason that we don’t accept structural/layout amendments at this stage, as we have to start everything from scratch. Unless paid of course.
- – Next step is choosing the colour theme and cover/boxing material preferences. We offer hundreds of them to please everyone.
- – Next step before to print is to request the payment for extra pages/materials, etc.
- – The album comes into 1-2 months. The client can’t hold tears of joy, and we’re over the moon for the great job that we deliver.
So dear ladies and gentlemen, now you understand why our albums can’t compare to others. Why we spend days to finish an album compared to few clicks by other “colleagues”. We always request the local wedding couples to come and visit us. We know that they’ll meet other photographers too, but the moment when they touch and feel our albums, they don’t go any further.