6 Tips for Rocking Your Next Album Design with Vanessa Joy
I remember the very first “professional” album I designed. It was in a program called LumaPix, and it was horrific. I’m talking fades, star fades and layers upon gaudy, hand-colored layers. It was the early 2000s, so it was groundbreaking at the time.
Thankfully, albums have adopted a cleaner, timeless look and can be assembled much more easily and quickly. If you’re not doing albums, shame on you. Not only is it a disservice to your lifestyle and family income, but it’s a disservice to your clients. Aside from the money to be made on albums, memories are best preserved in a tangible, clean format that’s easy to flip through. It’s your job to preserve those memories as best you can, and albums are an excellent way to do it.
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, here are six tips for making a great album.
1. Shoot for the album.
You’ve probably heard this one before. Most people will tell you to shoot for the album, making sure you cover every important event, detail, etc. Others will say you should be shooting close-ups, along with medium and wide shots, to arrange as sequences or full spreads. But go one step further and identify what’s important to your clients before even picking up your camera.
I recently photographed an engagement session, and I wasn’t happy with the results. I didn’t quite understand what my couple wanted until the very end, and that led to mediocre photos. While they loved them, I knew I could do better. Now I send out a questionnaire to my couples before I photograph them. I ask them what they love about each other. What is their favorite way that their significant other tells them they love them without words? Anything that will help me understand their personalities and capture the details of their relationship. Grab that side of your subjects, and there won’t be enough pages in the world to add to their album.
2. Include the right pictures.
When I was designing my own albums (I have a graphic designer do them now), I tended to pick my own pictures over my second shooter’s. That was stupid. Naturally, we gravitate to our own photos—not because we have huge egos (ok, maybe a little), but because we’re familiar with them and they’re easier to pick out when sifting through a ton of photos.
Don’t do this. Your couples relate emotionally to your second photographer’s photos just as much as they do yours. Plus, your other photographer’s angles add a beautiful perspective to the book, and more pictures. More pictures = more pages = more money for you.
If your second shooter isn’t doing their job right, just send them over to this e-book and I’ll straighten them out for you: www.breatheyourpassion.com/shoot.
If you’re a list person, here are the guidelines I give my graphic designers when predesigning wedding albums. All are a minimum of one spread each, unless otherwise indicated. Everything should be designed in chronological order (even if not listed that way below).
- Bridal details
- Bride prep
- Bride alone
- Groom details
- Groom prep
- Groom alone
- First look (if applicable)
- Ceremony details
- Ceremony entrance
- Ceremony vows/rings/etc.
- Ceremony exit
- Bride’s family photos
- Groom’s family photos
- Bridal party photos (2 spreads)
- Bridesmaids photos
- Groomsmen photos
- Bride and groom photos (3 spreads)
- Reception details
- First dance
- Parent dances
- Bouquet/garter/anniversary dance
- Nighttime shot or epic landscape-type shot (always the last page)
3. Get the layout right.
I’m not going to tell you how to design your albums aesthetically. If you’re still into the layers thing, hey, that’s your thing and you should rock it. But I do have this magical little trick that will make your clients want every page.
Bounce the eyes. This is really a video term (thanks to my hubby for teaching it to me), but it applies to album design as well. Essentially, you want the viewer’s eyes moving around every time they turn the page. So make sure you:
- Don’t have two of the same design layouts right next to each other.
- Use at least three full spreads in the album.
- Don’t put the accent image on the same side two pages in a row.
- Vary the number of images per spread.
These quick four tips will ensure that your client’s eyes are moving around with every page flip, decreasing boredom and increasing the uniqueness of each page.
4. Provide the right services.
I run a high-end wedding photography business, so I believe in providing the best possible quality to my clients without nickel-and-diming them. That means any retouching they ask for is included in any image they order in their album or in print. I do no retouching unless asked, but I always remind them that they can request it during their album design session.
I almost never have to retouch photos. I retouch roughly 6 percent of the photos that go into albums. It’s never a big deal if I send something off to be retouched. I’m more than happy to do it and even happier to provide it free to my clients.
5. Use the right words.
I didn’t know about this until last week when I was chatting with my friend Christine Yodsukar. I was asking about her stellar album selling methods, and the following tip hit home. I implemented it right away.
Our words have power, and we don’t have to get all used-car salesman to use them effectively. The two words that you can start using in your album process right now are delete and toward. Change your pricing to say that it includes “30 pages toward your wedding album” instead of saying that it includes a “30-page wedding album.” And when you’re going through the album revisions and they want to take away a page, don’t say “remove,” say “delete.” I used those two words in my last engagement session album consultation and sold a 56-page engagement album; 56 pages, and I’d taken just 100 photos. Amazing.
6. Sell it.
I’m a huge believer in predesigning an album. Not just because it sells more, but because it looks better too. By predesigning, I get to have an album sales session where we complete the album design right then and there. Making more money does not mean just raising prices. It means cutting costs as well. Cutting down on the back-and-forth of mutually irritating emails (or even online design proofing software) is a win for everyone.
Check out this month’s video to see me pull together an album design with all the important elements.