May 28, 2010

Pancake Session: Album Design

Happy Friday!!

We thought we’d kick off your TGIF with a lil’ pancake session on album design. Some of the questions that we get asked most really come back to album workflow: which companies do we use? Do we hire an album design company or design in-house? Do either Justin or I do the designs? Do we do a first mock up or have our clients pick the images first? Do we try to up sell? Well, here are our answers for what works for us… but I’m sure there are a million other combinations out there that are just as successful. You just have to pick the one that makes the most sense for you!

First of all, neither Justin or myself do any of the album designs. To be honest with you, I couldn’t even tell you how to open Photo Junction if my life depended on it. The reason for that, is that of all the tasks it takes to run our business on a daily basis (and there are TONS!), Justin & I try to keep only the few that we really want to be experts in. And then we hand everything else off to other experts that we trust. Even though we don’t do the designs ourselves, we do manage to keep our album design in house because as it turns out Julia is the guru of all things book. And she can rock an album design like nobody’s business.

What’s also great about that, is that having it in house helps us define a consistent style for all of our couples. And because Julia already has very similar tastes to us, her designs are always spot on. As a company, we like to keep things clean, simple and design something that will stand the test of time. Something that lets the pictures and the story do the talking.

As far as workflow, if a couple has already included an album in their package then as soon as their blog post is up, Julia will get right to work on a first mock up. At that point, I send a little note to our clients saying I’m tagging out and Julia sends one saying she’s tagging in. We like to start with a first mock up of images that we pick (the blog favorites) so that we get can get a story going. But once we have that in place, Julia will work with our clients to swap any images or tweak any spreads that they want. So after Julia finishes the first mock up, I’ll give it a quick look over to make sure we’re on the same page (but like I said, it’s always 99.9% of the way there already) and then she’ll send that out to our clients in slideshow form (AlbumExposure is a great one to try!) From there on, Julia will go back & forth with our couple until they absolutely LOVE their book. Anything less than that and we’re not happy. Once we get the final approval, Justin, Julia & I will give it one last look with a fine tooth comb and then Julia will place the order. Once the album comes back in (6-8 weeks later), we inspect it, let it set for a few days to acclimate to the New England weather, and then package it up and ship it out with a note basically saying it has our stamp of approval. We’ll be doing a follow up post on how we package everything, so stay tuned for that! :)

One thing that we don’t do with our albums is try to up sell. We wanted to keep things very simple and straightforward with our clients so they knew exactly what they were getting. So we threw out the super confusing matrix of prices based on number of pages and images that we didn’t even understand let alone our clients, and came up with one flat price for each album company that we offer. That way, our couples know that with that price, they can get any size, shape, number of pages and images up to that album company’s limits, and they won’t be hit with any surprise charges. That was really important to us because of the kind of relationship we have with our clients, who really become friends. I know there are a lot of other studios out there who have been very successful with the up sell and it can be a great way to do the albums. But it just didn’t fit with us or our personalities, so that’s why we do it the way that we do. But again, it’s something you’ll have to look at and then pick the one that makes the most sense for you & your business!

And finally, for album companies, we offer several different books that provide very different looks because I don’t think every wedding fits in one particular style of book. So we currently offer Willowbook, CoutureBook, Queensberry, and we’ve just added Leather Craftsmen to the line up. We got our first book in from them a few days ago, and to say that we were blown away would be the understatement of the millenium. It is gorgeous! GAWH-geous! We all sat around for a good 20 minutes just drooling over the leathery goodness.

One of the things that had us most excited to sign up with Leather Craftsmen was the option to imprint your logo on the inside cover like a little stamp of approval. HUGE thanks to Jasmine for blogging about it and letting us and the world know about this awesomeness! It is the bomb.

I really believe that a book is the best way that the story of someone’s wedding is told. Discs and slideshows are fine, but it’s going to be that book that families are looking through for generations to come to remember that day. And we try to never forget that it’s an honor that we’re the ones who get to create that for them. I hope this has helped in some small way!

Happy Friday and be sure to check back in at 5pm to see who the winner of our Design Dilemma is!! There’s still time to get in your vote!

  1. Reuben Poon

    Thanks for sharing your process!!

  2. caroline

    I used to have the great big spreadsheet of album prices, too, because I thought clients would want to have all those options. I realized one day that it’s actually VERY overwhelming. So the whole system is getting revamped to make it easier for my couples, who already have SO much to do.

  3. Caitlin Scott

    First of all PHOTOS in the album are a wow. 2nd, JULIA you’re the bomb at layouts :) And lastly, I totally agree with you about the leather craftsmen albums – you just drool over them forever.

  4. Tira J

    Simply gorgeous!!!! Julia does some awesome work, and I am so in love with Photojunction and the ease of everything. Can’t wait to start offering Leather Craftsmen to my clients, hopefully later this year. Thanks for spelling it all out for us!

  5. Kerry & Taylor Struble

    Great info guys, thanks! One question, do you guys limit the number of revision rounds, or do you literally keep going until the couple is happy? Thanks!


  6. Jasmine*

    LOVE YOU GUYS!! :)

  7. Katelyn James


  8. David Willis

    Thanks for the Leather Craftsmen mention. Ya’ll are awesome.

  9. Marissa Rodriguez

    Such a helpful post! Thank you! And those designs are gorgeous! Julia, you rock! All of you guys rock!

  10. Cathy Crawley

    I really really love that you guys don’t participate in the outrageous upsell practices that I’ve seen. Gotta love integrity :)

  11. Girish

    Beautiful book album.

    I also prefer albums over discs anytime.

  12. Megan LaBarbera

    I have never used anything but Leather Craftsmen with the exception of now offering Cypress. I love them, customer service is impeccable, style is timeless and classy yet modern, and quality is excellent. Well worth the extra spent on them…they truly are an heirloom that will last generations.

  13. Ray

    Love this pancake session! I always wondered about your album design and how you worked that out. I love the page of the bride getting ready. It’s so fairytale-esque. ;o) Questions: approximately how many photos does a couple get in their album (for example: that leather album in the photo)? And while you’re shooting a wedding; approximately how many photos do you each take? I agree with you on a book being the best way to tell the story. For future generations.

  14. Ray

    One more question. I was just curious: What do you do with photos from past weddings (weddings from years ago)? Are they stored in a hard drive or discarded?

  15. Meghan Stewart

    LOVE the images, LOVE the book, LOVE the tips, YOU guys rock! One question, Where might I find PhotoExposure?

  16. MM

    @Meghan: Definitely! Check out

  17. Lydia

    I’m working on writing out my workflow for albums this week, so this was perfect! So far KISS and LC are my top picks!

  18. Phil Thornton

    That last dress spread is beautiful guys! (they all are!)

  19. Brandy Frank

    since two of my favorite photographers love Leather Craftsmen (J&M & Jasmine*) I may have to finally check them out!

  20. bruce Plotkin

    try the asian rice for the lc front and back inside covers. my standard.

  21. cassandra-m

    I know this is a late comment but I am so excited. I ordered my first LC album and waiting for it to arrive. The album above is breathtaking! Absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.

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