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How We Design a Wedding Album

What do you think of when you imagine a wedding album? You might be imagining an old binder-style leather book, with one big 8×10 matted in each page. Or, you might imagine something avant garde—maybe a giant book, tons of white space, huge borders; the book itself is the art. Or, maybe if you’re a DIY-er you imagine something that looks more like a scrapbook. All of these would be reasonable expectations, there are probably about as many different styles of albums as there are photographer’s making them, and I myself went through at least a dozen of them before I found something that really felt right.

I made the decision many years ago not to outsource our album design work; or, for that matter, anything with significant influence over how the images we create are experienced or enjoyed. Because of that, we’ve got our fingers in every single creative stage of the wedding photography process, which means we’ve also had to come up with a philosophy to guide us, and a process to make it as easy as possible for our clients.

A lot of people don’t think about how the wedding album is made before they hire a photographer, but they’d probably benefit from it if they did. So lets take a few minutes here and talk about that philosophy and process. If you’re planning to get married soon, a wedding album may be too far in your future to really think too critically about, but you may want to ask the people you’re thinking about working with how they go about making their albums. After all, it’s not just some wedding package add-on, it’s to be an heirloom in the truest sense of that word.

Design Philosophy

All of our wedding albums are designed to aim for three important ideals:

1. The wedding album should look like the day felt.

This is not just chronology, but attitude, anticipation, juxtaposition, even image quantity. An album that I make should help you remember what the day felt like. Sometimes that means adhering to the order of events, sometimes that means shaking the timeline up. Sometimes that means cramming a ton of photos on one page, and sometimes that means letting one key image fill an entire spread.

2. The design should be timeless, and nearly invisible.

I don’t like to use white space in my albums. I avoid borders, textures and text. I like to press one image right up against the next, and fill the entire page, one way or another. I don’t think that a wedding album’s design should add any of its own flare to the aesthetic and emotional beauty of the images themselves, and it shouldn’t too easily date itself as time passes.

3. You should always feel like there’s something you’ve missed.

I think wedding albums should not simply be a showcase of how skilled your photographer is, but a meandering excavation of your own memories. An album I design should make it easy to get lost in those memories. The images should cascade in such a way that looking through the book is like wandering around your mind wondering what you’ll uncover. And, when you set it down, you should have this itch that there’s still probably something you didn’t see.

Wedding photography, and by extension a wedding album, are not meant to be a record of every intricate detail of your wedding day. It’s meant to help you recall an experience from your own memory. It’s a string on your finger, so to speak. Our memories are like a network that fires off in all directions; remembering one detail can bring an entire experience back to life in your mind; for example, a photo of you cutting the cake brings to life the memory of you and your mom picking out the cake.

This is what we want every album to accomplish. I don’t want you to get lost in how the album looks, but rather, in your own recollections. There’s no glitter to be found; every album’s design should lead one back to the solemn importance of the day.

Design Process

The design process goes something like this: Select images > Create proof > Get feedback > Revise proof > Repeat until done.

That probably sounds very simple, but depending how your photographer handles that first step, “select images”, it might actually be super challenging for you. Some photographers will ask you to select a certain number of images, perhaps 50 or so, from a pool of as many as 800-900 images. This is the way we used to do it, and it’s incredibly hard to do. Meanwhile, other photographers may just select the photos for you and hope for the best. I never really felt right doing it this way—it’s just too important for you not to be a part of that step.

So, we settled on a different process that blends these two conventions together for something that’s actually fun and easy for you to do. First, while looking through the images, you mark some of them as favorites—as many of them as you like. Then, using our best intuition, we pick the images for your album from among your favorites. We create a first proof, send it your way, and then look for your feedback as to which images to remove and which images to add. Over time, we’ve found that most people are happy with the selections we made, and generally only have a few change requests.

The benefit of this process is twofold. First, and most importantly for you, it’s easy to simply say which images you like the best. Much easier than having to narrow them down to any specific number. And second, it’s much easier to spot something that’s missing or something that shouldn’t be there once you’re actually looking at an album proof. Instead of, “Oh no, which one of these photos of my brother should go in the album?”, It’s “I can see now that I don’t want this photo of my brother in the album!”. This offloads a lot of the stress from you onto us; we’re equipped for it!

Most wedding albums go through an average of about 2 revisions before they’re done, but we don’t put any hard limits on it. If we need to revise 10 times to make sure it’s including just the right images, we will.

Wedding Photography Services

Most of our wedding packages include albums, because we think they’re an excellent way to help the positive memories from your wedding live in your everyday lives. If you’d like to learn more about our wedding photography services, check out the wedding photography page here on our website. Or if you have questions, feel free to shoot us an email or give us a call!