Intimate Alabama Wedding album design for Rebecca Long Photography

Album Designs
The wedding we are featuring in today's album design took place April 4th, 2020, right as the stay at home order was placed for Alabama. Three weeks prior this couple was planning for a church/country club wedding with hundreds of guests for a seated dinner. Within 3 weeks they paired down to 75, 50, 25, and finally around 10 of their closest friends and family. They had a "drive by reception" that was a surprise for the couple. They moved their entire floral & rentals budget to their 10 person backyard wedding and it was gorgeous! The day was full of emotion in all of the best ways.  
 
Rebecca Long captured this intimate wedding and her favorite part of the day was the surprise exit for the couple - they put sparklers at the neighbors' houses with notes on when the leave would take place and the whole neighborhood (who was on quarantine and of course AT HOME - HAH!) came out to light sparklers on their street to see them off for the night!  
 
Rebecca did an amazing job capturing this wedding day and telling this incredible story that will be passed down through the album for generations to come!  
 
Here are a few of our favorite spreads from this album design:






To see the design in full, click through the slideshow: 
 
 
 
Rebecca -- thank you so much for allowing us to work with your beautiful images!
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Design by: Denise (View More) // Design style: Classic (View More) // Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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Systematized Solutions: How to Solve Business Problems Wisely

Tips & Tricks

Hey guys! Melissa Jill here! I've recently shared some of my strategies for solving common album workflow problems. But there are sure to be others that you've experienced that I haven't covered. No matter how hard I work on my photography business, problems inevitably arise. Welcome to being a business owner :). But the secret to really succeeding long-term in business is not just found in solving individual problems, but in systematizing solutions to each problem that arises so that you prevent it from happening again. That's how a business becomes more profitable and efficient over time. 
 
Think for a minute about an issue that you've recently dealt with in your business. Has a client been unhappy about something? Have you been frustrated that someone didn't understand how things worked or didn't get back to you in a timely fashion? Do you have that issue in mind? Good! I'm going to try to help you today to systematize a solution to it so you never have to go through something similar again. 
 
There's an analogy I like to use to help me explain systematizing a business, and help paint a picture of this effort as an ongoing process. I like to call it The Principle of Plugging Leaks. Let's say for some reason that you are in a dry river bed (just go with me on this). You know the water is coming, and you want to build a dam to help stop the water and protect something valuable to you on the other side. So you gather rocks and debris -- anything you can find around you -- to set up a sturdy dam. When you're done, you step back and admire your work. You look at it from every angle, trying to access where the holes might be. You do your best to build the dam well, but you don't really know how it will hold up until the water comes. You might even feel a little over-confident that it will be impenetrable. "No water is getting through this thing!" But when the water comes gushing through the river bed, you instantly see where the weaknesses are, because little streams of water are coming out the other side. For the most part, the dam holds up, but you are left plugging leaks. Occasionally another leak will crop up and you will need to plug that one, trying to make sure it holds up over time.  
 
Since this isn't a remarkably sophisticated analogy, you've probably figured out that the dam is the system you build for your business. Plugging the leaks will be an ongoing process -- we will never be completely done solving problems as business owners. But the goal should be to plug each leak or solve each problem by tweaking the system so that that specific issue does not arise again. 
 
Here are some of the common album-related issues that I myself have experienced and heard are common to other photographers: 
- Waiting forever for clients to pick their images 
- The client doesn't love the initial design and wants too many changes 
- The client wants to cram as many images as possible onto each spread, resulting in a cluttered design. 
- The client makes endless numbers of changes to the initial design. 
- The client is unresponsive and doesn't finalize their album in a timely manner. 
- The client is surprised or frustrated that the photographer designed their album larger than what they ordered and is trying to sell them additional pages. 
- After delivering a larger album design with the option to upgrade, the client doesn't respond quickly and ends up deciding against upgrading. 
 
If you continue to experience one of these issues, click on it and you will find another article with a solution I have systematized that has effectively solved it and removed this pain point from my workflow. If you don't see your issue above, or if you run into other non-album-related issues in your workflow, try to strategize a way that you can tweak what you do to prevent that same issue from happening again.  
 
1 -- Could you create a template email that you send out to your client at a certain point in their experience (or a .pdf you share with clients in your initial meeting) to better educate them and help you achieve the optimum result you desire? 
2 -- Could you create some type of incentive or deadline to help move things along and motivate your client? 
3 -- Could you change your contract to make something that a client has misunderstood more explicit so that expectations are better managed?  
 
Hopefully this gives you some ideas about how to systematize a solution to the specific issue you recently experienced. And next time a problem arises (and we all know it will), rather than beating yourself up or playing the blame game by being frustrated at your client or another vendor, you can use your energy to pre-empt that problem in the future by tweaking your system. 
 
Thanks for reading today! I hope you found something helpful here! As always -- this is a community and we love to hear from you and share a dialogue in the comments below. Have you had issues you've found creative solutions for? Share a comment so we can all benefit from your amazing wisdom!
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How to solve business problems by creating smart, systematized solutions
And exciting news! If you're a photographer who wants to start offering albums without investing hours of guesswork and trial and error -- we have a solution for you! Check out the Album Start-Up Kit and start maximizing your profit today! 

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Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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Maine Elopement Album design for Tori Kelner Photography

Album Designs

New Jersey-based photographer Tori Kelner was not expecting to photograph a dream elopement on the cliffs of Maine, but when her clients' wedding plans were impacted by COVID she found herself packing up and traveling to capture their memories in a stunning, romantic location. We've all been pushed to roll with the punches this past year and a half and this album design is the beautiful result of a lot of flexibility and perseverance. We love the story it tells! 
 
Tori is one of our beloved Client Advocates and we love working with her any chance we get! She was so kind to send us photos of the printed Miller's Lab album and we are so excited to share it with you today!

Here are a few of our favorite spreads from this design:







To see the design in full, click through the slideshow: 
 
 
 
Tori -- thank you for allowing us to work with your beautiful images!
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Design by: Andrea (View More) // Design style: Classic (View More) // Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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Downtown Nashville Wedding album design for Rebecca Denton

Album Designs

Nashville-based Rebecca Denton is no stranger to this blog. She has been featured half a dozen times now because her work is just THAT GOOD. We can't get enough! Rebecca has recently rebranded and is shifting her niche to food photography, so we are working on the last few wedding albums she is sending our way and will be so sad not to see her friendly emails popping into our inbox as often. But it has been fun to see her make the shift and do it so well! Definitely check out her food and branding photography work here!  
 
Rebecca is one of our beloved Client Advocates, and she has this to say about her experience with outsourcing: 
 
Before I outsourced my album design process to Align, it would take me weeks or even months to get an album proof to my wedding couples. Now my couples have their album proofs immediately after receiving their wedding photos! Align's pro designers create beautiful album spreads quickly and efficiently, which impresses my clients while freeing up my time to focus on other business tasks. Outsourcing my wedding and bar mitzvah albums to Align has been one of the best business decisions I've made - I just wish I'd done it sooner! 
 
We had so much fun designing this album that is featured today! The floral, the brides' dresses, and their darling Save the Date card set the tone for a beautiful event! Rebecca had this album printed by Miller's Lab and was kind enough to take a photo of it for us!  
 
Here are a few of our favorite spreads from this stunning design:






Click through the slideshow to see the design in full: 
 
 
 
Rebecca -- thank you once again for allowing us to work with your beautiful images! It's been an honor!
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Design by: Andrea (View More) // Design style: Classic (View More) // Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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When Should You Update Your Sample Album?

Tips & Tricks

Showing a studio sample album is crucial to selling albums. Seeing and holding a sample album allows clients to visualize their own album in a way that no amount of description can do! Many photographers understand this and create a studio sample album when they first begin offering album. But as their business progresses, they become unsure of when to update it. So how DO you know when it's time to create a new sample album? 
 
Here are four indicators that you might need a new sample album: 
 
1 -- Your style has changed 
Photographers may be entrepreneurs, but we're also artists. As such, our style and skill level develop over time. When you reach a point where the images in your sample album no longer represent your current photography, it's time for an update! For example, when I shifted my photography focus from digital to mostly film, my sample albums no longer reflected my work. I got new sample albums and loved the way they were a reflection of my best, most current work!  
 
2 -- Your album offerings have changed 
This one might seem like common sense, but it's important! Your sample album is there to provide an example of what you offer. When your clients feel the weight of it, touch the pages, stroke the cover, admire the design -- all of those should be indicative of what their own album would include. So if you change the dimensions, cover materials, etc. of the primary album you offer, you should also get a new sample album to match. This is especially true if you change album companies!  
 
3 -- Your target client has changed 
As I mentioned in my blog post, How to Choose Which Wedding to Feature in Your Sample Album, your studio sample should feature a wedding in which the details and couple are relatable to your ideal clients. If your ideal client changes -- if you now want to attract clients who are edgier, more traditional, more whimsical, etc. -- those are the kinds of images you should be showing in your sample album. That way when you have those kind of clients in front of you, they will resonate with the work you show them and be more likely to both book with you AND purchase an album.  
 
4 -- You're tired of your old sample album 
Sharing your passion for albums is so important in helping your clients to value them! Your enthusiasm shines through! Similarly, if you're feeling stale and bored with your sample album, that feeling will come through to your clients, as well. So if you look at your studio sample and feel just "meh", refreshing your sample album is sure to revitalize the way you share albums in client meetings!  
 
If any of the four indicators above are true in your business, it would be wise to get a new sample album -- one that represents your style and skill level, your album options, and your ideal client ... and that also makes you excited about offering albums! 
 
 
If you found this post helpful and would like to receive tips like this straight to your inbox, click here to sign up!
And exciting news! If you're a photographer who wants to start offering albums without investing hours of guesswork and trial and error -- we have a solution for you! Check out the Album Start-Up Kit and start maximizing your profit today! Note: This Kit INCLUDES a beautiful custom designed sample album! 

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Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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