Fine Art Wedding Photographers

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The Secret To Creating An Amazing Wedding Album

Today there are literally dozens of online ‘Book’ or ‘Album’ manufactures some good, others not so. People like Aperture or Bobs Books or Blub, just to name but a few, they all provide cheap online book printing facilities.

 It was once said that the printed image was set to die and be replaced by digital only, but with more and more companies entering the book and wedding album printing sector that’s clearly a false statement.

This is a two page spread a left page and a right page

There is something uniquely special about actually holding a beautiful photograph, especial if its been framed or is in an elegant wedding album. I guess it’s the same reason people still buy books to read. Digital simply cannot replace the aesthetic quality of holding and owning a wedding album or a photograph.

So with such a wide selection of eager manufactures, can you save yourself hundreds of pounds and design and print your own wedding album? Well here are five things to help you choose, design, then print the right product for you.

1.    What do want in your hand; a Scrapbook, a Portrait Book or a Wedding Album?

All three are very different kinds of end product. 

Scrapbook:

These can be homemade and depending on your skill level at crafts. They can be very plain or very ornate and decorative. There is a massive Scrapbooking business in America, and a growing one in the UK. In Scrapbooking you either glue your photographs directly on the page or use the traditional self adhesive photo-corners to hold the photographs in place. Then you add all kinds of adornments to the page depending on what you like.  At the end of the day though it is ‘home made’ and will always look like it!

Printed Books:

Imagine a hardback landscape book, say an atlas or a cookbook. This is the kind of thing you are going to get from one of the online manufactures. Glossy or semi-glossy pages with your photographs printed directly onto the page. Its important to remember you get what you send them. So send a photograph with the wrong colour profile, which on your desktop looks like a beautiful rich yellow in the photograph and it will print an anemic green.

Wedding Album:

These are all together different from what we have talked about so far. They come in two types ‘Traditional’ wedding albums, like Queensberry, Jorgensen and Seldex. However, in the last 20 years the ‘Storybook’ wedding album has dominated the market with people like Graphistudio, Loxley and MTA.

One of the thing which unites both types of wedding album manufacturers is non of them will not deal with the public. In fact some have very stringent guidelines for getting an account with them, like having to be a member of a recognized professional photography body. Having been in business for more than three years. This may sound strange but these manufacturers have built up reputations for quality over decades and so letting anyone called a “Photographer” use their products is very short sighted.


2.    Decide on which style of album layout to suite your wedding photographs.

Choose the photographs you like from your wedding and put them in groups:

  • Preparations, guys and girls
  • Ceremony
  • Detail photographs of the venue
  • Reportage, candid photographs of people enjoying your wedding day
  • Couple photographs of just the two of you
  • Evening photographs, first dance, evening entertainment

Now look at the choice of photographs; which way up are they in the main, portrait or landscape. The first decision you have to make is the format of your wedding album. How are the majority of your wedding photographs going to fit into your album. You will undoubtedly have to crop some but remember cropping wedding photographs can be disastrous.

Portrait Wedding Album - double page spread

Pay special interest to your couple photographs. If you have lots of landscape photographs, then a landscape album is probably a good choice. May be some landscape will even lend themselves to being a panoramic so you can have the photograph across two pages

Landscape Wedding Album - double page spread

Remember the album layout will determine the feel, style and the way your individual photographs will be portrayed.

3.    Chronological is not Storytelling 

The most popular way of laying out a wedding album is to use a story telling format. Now there is latitude in storytelling. You want to make things interesting. Grab peoples attention. Put something unexpected in to create a twist when the read least expects it. Its like writing a good crime drama, but with photographs. Therefore story telling is not simply laying out your wedding photographs in chronological order in a wedding album.

So for example, we always photograph the groom’s preparations first, however they always appear after the bride’s preparation in the wedding album.

Brides preparation wedding photography - wedding album layout

Groom's preparation wedding photography - wedding album layout

Decide where you are going to start a particular story; so bride’s preparations. Will you start at the hairdressers, when she puts on her make up, when she gets into the dress? 

We always like to start our bridal preparation photography with the bride looking perfect

Where will you end that part of the story, the bride with her parents, with the bridesmaids, a she walks out of her room, down the spiral staircase?

What about the story within the story. We photograph in a way that creates stories within the big story of the wedding day. The story so far is that the couple are having a romantic moment by a lake, but then there is a sequence, a  minor story of the groom walking to the bride and gently kissing her.

The main story of the wedding photography is the couple by the lake

The story within a story is shown over four wedding photographs of the groom kissing the bride

Tell the story, don’t just put images in order!

4. Artistically finishing a spread

This is very subjective and personal. So what I want to give you here is good practice not dictum. 

Today we see wedding album designs with all kinds of ideas being thrown into the mix. My family and my photographic partner will tell you I am far from a traditionalist. However if you are going to break the rules of wedding album design, you need to know the rules first and understand why you are breaking them second.

One the most used designs today is picture in picture. Having one background picture de-saturated and with the opacity lowered and then to have other picture on top. Here is an example Elise mocked up. 

Mock up of a wedding photograph overlaid with other wedding photographs

Question : If the background image has to be hidden behind other photographs why have that photograph in the album in the first place? If a photograph cannot stand on its own merits it should not be in your wedding album.

Another modern idea is black and white with colour detailing. This came in around 2005 lasted a couple of years and has recently made a bit of a come back. The first thing that this kind of process does to your wedding album is, date it. Your album is no longer timeless because when people look at it the first thing that goes through there mind is “I remember when people did that in their wedding album it was….” You’ve lost them, they are no longer looking at your wedding album they are trying to remember the last time they saw that effect.

Never mix colour and black and white on the same double page spread. When you turn the page, everything you see should be all colour or all black and white. The same goes for the stylization. If you like playing with Photoshop or similar make sure all the photographs on the double page spread match in colorization, style and effects.

Keep the wedding photographs in black and white on the same wedding album spread

5.    Power Photographs

Some of your wedding photographs are what we would call ‘Power Photographs”.  They hold the viewers attention. When someone see them they will go, wow!

Christmas wedding photograph made panoramic of the couple kissing in a mirror

Choosing when and where to put these is crucial to the layout and design of your wedding album.

Some will demand a double page spread to themselves. So put them in the album when you want to reader to pause. Usually before you change location or change direction. Like going from the traditional family portraits to the couple entering their wedding breakfast. 

Wedding photograph of couple sitting on fence and kissing across a double page wedding album spread

You’re wanting to halt the viewer in their tracks and make them stop and just drink in the beauty and emotion of that moment.

Then there are wedding photographs which are powerful, yet they will work well with other photographs and so you need to share a double page spread with one or more photographs. The question is which side of the double page does the power photograph go?

Put the most powerful wedding photograph on the right page of the wedding album spread

Its always on the right hand page as you look at it. Psychologically when you look at a double page spread your eye will automatically go to the right hand page. Try it out and you will see that you automatically look right.

Therefore put your most striking wedding photograph to the right of the page break to gain the maximum power for the viewer. They will then start looking left and so you need a photograph to balance up the overall double page spread. 

Wedding photograph of the bride and groom drinking champagne on the right and the story of the moment on the left 

I hope this helps you design the layout for your wedding album. This is just the tip of the iceberg for wedding album layout and design and I hope that very soon we can add more helpful insights for you in creating the perfect wedding album for yourself or for a client. So please subscribe using our RSS feed to ensure you get the next update. Thanks Keith

Double page wedding album layout of candid photographs taken at the wedding