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5 tips for picking album images fast

Tips & Tricks

above image by Kristen Browning Photograpy 
 
The process of image selection for an album design can be more of a hassle than it truly needs to be. Many photographers get hung up on this step in their workflow, but there is hope! When done right, picking images for the album design can be fast and easy. 
 
Here are our 5 tips for picking album images fast: 
 
1 -- Pick the images yourself; don't wait for your clients.  
I talk about the benefits of pre-designing in depth in this post (read it if you are still asking your clients to pick their images -- it will rock your world!!) but one of the main benefits is that your workflow will not be hung up by waiting on your clients. You can get an album designed within weeks of the wedding. PLUS this takes an unnecessary burden off of your clients' shoulders and allows you to create an initial album design that uses your best images and serves as a starting point for their changes.  
 
2 -- Cull one time. 
Don't make image selection for your album designs a separate step in your workflow. When you cull through images from a wedding, do it ONLY ONCE and make all of your choices in that first pass-through. This tip is so key that I'm going to share two different examples of how various photographers do this so hopefully one of them will resonate and make sense for you: 
 
Example A: Melissa Jill (that's me!) 
I cull my images once and rate them strategically according to intended use. I cull in Lightroom and rate my images as follows:  
3 stars -- my favorite images I will pull from for the blog post, publication submission and my website portfolio (80-100 images)  
2 stars -- additional images for the album design (100-150 images) These are typically family portraits, more getting ready images, and dancing images, and are used along-side the favorites to create the album design. 
1 star -- additional images for the full gallery (300-500 images)  
 
So on PASS, my online gallery solution, the client will see 500-800 images total (all of the images with a rating of 1, 2 or 3 stars). Their album will be designed from approximately 200 image options (some of the images with 2 or 3 stars -- I send them all to Align and allow my designer to choose which 2 star images to include). And my blog post will include about 30-50 images (some of the images with 3 stars).  
 
Example B: Abby Grace 
Abby Grace is an Align client and she also culls only once, but she eliminates the step of rating images for the album design all-together. She selects favorites in her initial cull and sends only those images to Align for the initial design. Then she has her Align designer include one blank spread in the album design that says "family portraits" and 1-2 blank spreads that say "dancing" at the appropriate places in the design. When she sends the initial draft to the client for revisions, she asks them to select a set number of images for each of those spreads. That allows her to skip selection of family portrait and dancing images when picking her favorites and saves time on revisions for those spreads. By giving her clients a very specific number and type of images to select, it ensures that they won't be paralyzed and overwhelmed by the task.  
 
Regardless of which route you choose, make sure you are rating your images for every type of use rather than culling once for the client, once for the album design and once for the blog post or Facebook.  
 
3 -- Be selective. 
When choosing images for your albums, be very critical and pick only your best. The average album designed by Align has 18 spreads and an average of only 90-100 images. That's not a lot. When culling, make sure you don't pick images that are too similar. Pick the best one from each set of similar images and move on. 
 
4 -- Choose for cohesion. 
Even though you don't want to select images that are SUPER-similar, you do want to pick enough images from the same portrait location or event during the course of the day to allow for your designer to make cohesive spreads. Make sure you select enough bride and groom portraits for 3-4 spreads (at least 20 images minimum), and make sure every image has at least one buddy that works with it. Include both horizontal and vertical images to help aid in the ease of the design. 
 
5 -- Include images that fill out the story. 
It's obvious that you need to select images full of emotion and action that lead the viewer through the story of the day. But don't forget to include scene-setting images that introduce each location (shots of the inside & outside of the venue), as well as detail photos from each part of the day to help fill out the story and add dimension and interest to the design. 
 
Hopefully one or more of these tips will help streamline your workflow and make image selection for your albums a breeze!  
 
Since we're on the topic of workflow speed, I wanted to throw a bonus your way and share with you what I have found to be the #1 time-saving tool to speed up my workflow. The best thing is, this tool is free and quick to implement. It's definitely a game-changer! Click here to download this time-saving hack for free today! 
 

5 tips to help photographers efficiently pick album images and speed up their workflow
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Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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How to Rename Your Images for a Smoother Workflow

Tips & Tricks

Hey, photographers! Today I want to talk about a foundational, nuts-and-bolts aspect of your workflow that can really help streamline your album process: renaming your images.  
 
There are a number of reasons that the naming of your images is so important when it comes to the rest of your album workflow: 
 
1 -- Proper naming of your images equips your designer to easily sort your images and understand the flow of events so that they can tell the story of the day.  
2 -- Renaming the images before your share them with us AND your clients will ensure that everyone involved in the album design process (photographer, clients, designer) will be referring to the same file names, reducing confusion and saving you from having to track down images of a different name when it comes time for the revision rounds. 
 
If you systematize this process and make it part of your regular workflow, it will soon become easy and automatic for you, and a HUGE help to everyone involved -- especially your album designer!  
 
So what is the best way to rename your files for the smoothest workflow? 
 
We recommend renaming your files after culling but before delivering a gallery to your client and your album images to Align. Start by sorting the images into the proper order. It's usually easiest to sort by date and then click-and-drag any outliers manually into place. Once the images are sorted, rename all of the files into one consistent naming convention. Some popular naming conventions are: 
 
(Last name of client)_001 
(Last name of client)_(Studio name or acronym)_001 
(Date)_(Last name of client)_001 
 
Make sure that you are using a sequence number at the end that has the highest number of digits that you will need for the job. For instance, if you have 500 images you need to rename, start with "001" at the end of the first image. If you have 1100 images you need to rename, start with "0001". This will ensure that images can be sorted properly by filename. In addition, make sure to either use "_" or "-" and steer clear of any odd characters such as "!" or ":". 
 
And here's how to rename files with a few popular software options: 
 
Lightroom -- on the Library Module (grid view), Select All and click Library -> Rename Photos 
Adobe Bridge -- Select All and then click Tools -> Batch Rename 
Photo Mechanic -- Select All and then click File -> Rename Photos 
 
That's it! Now you're ready to upload the gallery for your clients AND send a selection of the organized and renamed images to your designer! (For tips on choosing the album images to send to your designer, click here.) Your designer will be able to sort the images you send by filename to see the proper order of events. And your client will be referencing file names that your designer has when making their revisions. The great news is -- all of this adds up to a super-smooth workflow!
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! 

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Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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Never wait on clients to pick album images again

Tips & Tricks

photo by Kaitlyn Phipps Photography 
 
 
I remember the first few albums that I designed -- I waited for my clients to pick the images they wanted included. I waited. And waited.  
 
And waited a little longer.  
 
I remember one client in particular couldn't get around to picking their images because they were busy moving into a new house. Then they took a trip to Disneyland. Then work took over and the task got pushed to the back-burner. Then finally they emailed me in the middle of October -- six months after their wedding -- to give me the exciting news: They had finally picked the images for their album! One thing you need to understand to get the full impact of this story is the Arizona wedding season. We are completely different than everywhere else in the country -- no one gets married in the summer here unless they are crazy. Our flesh physically melts off our bodies if we are outside for longer than 5 minutes in the summer months. Our busy seasons are the fall and spring. And our busiest month in the fall? October. So all summer I waited for my clients to choose their images and when they finally did, I no longer had the time or energy to devote to their album needs.  
 
Have any of you had a similar experience when waiting for your clients to pick their images? My theory is that this task is just too overwhelming for our clients. And I have come to believe that we are asking too much of them if we structure our album workflow in this way. Instead, I believe my clients are better served if I choose the images and have their album pre-designed for them. 
 
There are a number of benefits to pre-designing: 
 
1 -- Our workflow is not held up by waiting on our clients to pick images. The initial album design can be done like clockwork for each wedding -- within a week of the wedding date. Here are some tips for picking album images quickly.  
 
2 -- It makes life easier on our clients. It's a much more manageable task for our clients to make image swaps to an existing design than it is to narrow down hundreds of images to a select few for the initial design.  
 
3 -- The design ends up being much more beautiful. When the photographer or designer picks the images as they are designing, the design ends up being much more cohesive and lends itself to telling the story of the day. If a designer needs to use all of the images chosen by the client, it can be like trying to fit pieces of a puzzle together that just don't fit. The resulting design often ends up unbalanced, and the story fragmented. 
 
So there you have it! Three excellent reasons to never wait on your clients to pick album images again.  
 
In my initial client meetings I always explain our album workflow process to my clients as they are looking through samples. I let them know that as a service to them, we will design their album with our favorite images in a way that we think best tells the story of their day. Once they see the design, they are able to make image swaps to make it perfect before we place the order. I let them know that we've found it's much easier for our clients to make changes to an existing design than it is to select the images they want included without knowing what the design will look like. Every time I explain our process in this way the clients nod in agreement and understanding. And pre-designing has forever cured the hang-up I used to experience in my workflow while waiting on clients to pick their images.  
 
Hallelujah! Pre-designing for the WIN!! 
 
And if you use Align to pre-design your albums, we suggest sending us a folder of your favorite images as well as a folder of additional images to pull from that might include family portraits or more reception photos. When you fill out our order form, be sure to mark "Select images that best tell the story" next to the number of images you are sending in order to give your designer some freedom to create the most beautiful design.

Your designer will then use your favorite images as focal points throughout the design, which will ensure that you love the result. Then you can use your first round of revisions to make any changes before sending it on to your clients. They will then have two remaining rounds to use for their image swaps. 
 
Life simplified. Boom. 
 
To hear from another photographer about why this method works for her, check out this blog post: Sharon Elizabeth on Album Image Selection
 
If you found this post helpful and would like to receive tips like this straight to your inbox, click here to sign up!
Best practices for how to get your album designs done FAST and not get held up by waiting on your clients to pick their favorite images
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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How to Manage Your Clients' expectations for album length

Tips & Tricks

photo by Deborah Zoe Photography 
 
 
Hey guys! Align owner and pro photographer Melissa Jill here! It's safe to say that a client's wedding album is likely the first experience they've had with album design. They are relying on us, their photographer, for guidance throughout the process. I've found that it's key to manage their expectations early on -- starting with the initial client meeting before they even book me -- so that the album process is smooth and enjoyable for everyone involved. 
 
There are many aspects in which to educate our client, but one that is key, is how many images they can expect to have in their album for the price they are paying. We as photographers are paying for an album based on the number of spreads or pages that are included. But the client is usually most concerned about the number of images and we need to make sure we are speaking their language but also covering our costs. This can be tricky! If we only talk about the number of spreads that are included in their album, the client will likely want to cram as many images as possible into the spreads allocated to them. And we all know -- this makes for a messy, cluttered, and less-than-ideal design. 
 
This is how I've solved this issue and how I have learned to successfully manage my clients' expectations: The album I include in all of my packages includes 17 spreads (34 pages). I inform clients of this up front in the initial client meeting and let them know that with our design style, the 17 spreads will contain approximately 75 images. By defining the length of the album by spreads with an approximate number of images attached to it, I'm not tied to cramming a set number of images into a design. Our estimate of 75 images for 17 spreads is on the low end of the spectrum, so we generally end up with more than 75 images in the design and the client's expectations are exceeded. 
 
Below is a helpful guide for estimating the number of images per spread that are included in Align's various design styles
 
Classic Design Style: an average of 5 images/spread 
Styled Design Style: an average of 5 images/spread 
Simple Design Style: an average of 2-3 images/spread 
 
We can of course customize for you and include more images per spread on average, but this is our ideal recommendation for a stunning design.  
 
Regardless of which album design style you use, it is always wise to educate your clients up front on album length in a way they can easily understand (approximate number of images) while at the same time pricing your albums in a way that covers your costs (per spread). 
 
 
If you found this post helpful and would like to receive tips like this straight to your inbox, click here to sign up!
How to best manage your clients' expectations for how large their wedding album will be.
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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How to Price Wedding Albums

Tips & Tricks

photo by Bow Tie Collaborative 
 
How in the WORLD do you price these things!?  
 
Right? Am I alone, or is this one of the most confounding decisions you have to make when you add albums to your product line as a photographer? I'm the Owner and Founder of Align, but I am also a Phoenix-based wedding photographer. I remember having cold sweats trying to figure out how to price things when I first started my business. Even today it can be very confusing to know where to start. Here's the thing. Albums are expensive. They're costly to us as the photographer, and they take up a lot of time (unless you outsource to Align, use our hands-off service so we communicate directly with your clients, and have us do the printing for you as well). Plus they are a one-of-a-kind custom, heirloom quality product. They are expensive, and they should be. The high price tag that comes with a custom wedding album is justified.  
 
Here's the rule-of-thumb that I go by when calculating the mark-up for my albums:

Let me simplify this even more by sharing how you use a calculator to figure out exactly what to charge for your albums. Take the cost that the album company is going to bill you for the product, and multiply it by three. Then multiply that same initial number by five. Pick a number somewhere between the two that seems reasonable to you. That's what you should charge your client. If you are trying to make your albums more affordable to get them into the homes of more of your clients, stay closer to the 300% mark-up number. If you are serving a high-end clientele, or you are selling an album that you are getting at a very affordable price in comparison to its quality, mark it up closer to the 500% mark. But if you're somewhere in that range, you will make money for your time. If you are outsourcing your design work to Align, you could factor that into your costs that you then multiply by three or five, but I wouldn't. I would just take the price that you are charged for the physical product and use that. You're saving your time by outsourcing the design work. And if you look at the profit you make on an album when you mark it up by 300-500%, you still make a hefty profit even after you subtract what you pay to outsource. 
 
I have one album that I charge $1,700 for and another that starts at $3,000. Both are marked up by about 300%. I do this, even for the more costly album, to keep it somewhat affordable. (It's hard to get a client to buy into a package with an album that costs over $3,000 before their wedding takes place and they see their photos.) 
 
Again, if you're just starting out, the price you see on your calculator after you multiply by 3 or 5 may seem exorbitant to you, but remember, you are selling a custom, heirloom-quality product. This is a once-in-a-lifetime purchase for your clients and if you show them something amazing (don't forget you have to show it to sell it!) they will see the value. 
 
 
--------------> Click here to take our 3-Question Quiz to find out if you are pricing your albums for profit! We'll email you right away with your results and let you know who your album sales strategy alter-ego is as well as some recommendations for how you can tweak your pricing to line up with your values!  
 

3-Question Quiz to find out if you are pricing your wedding albums for profit
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Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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