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Tips & Tricks For Photographing Your Albums

Tips & Tricks, Featured Clients
Hey guys! Melissa Jill here, owner of Align. We've talked in the past about the importance of sharing your passion for albums -- EVERYWHERE. You can't sell albums effectively and get them into the hands of all of your clients unless you are sharing your heart for this product and putting examples in front of them again and again. One of the most effective ways you can do this is through putting beautiful images of albums consistently out there on every channel that your clients might browse or interact with: your website, Instagram, Instagram Stories (Instagram Story highlights is one of our favorite places to showcase albums because you can flip through them in a video while you talk about them and really give your clients a good look at an album in action!!), etc.  
So taking a moment to photograph each and every beautiful album that comes through your studio is SO valuable. Then you will have a slew of stunning examples to share! But photographing albums in a way that shows off their quality and value can be tricky. Today we are going to share some tips for photographing albums effectively! 
There are a few different things to consider when approaching the task of photographing albums. First, as a photographer myself, I know your time is limited and valuable. Photographing albums, while worthwhile and beneficial, is not something that should take up a ton of your time. In an effort to demystify the process of photographing albums, I am excited to share a short video that Abby Grace was kind enough to create for us on her album photographing strategy. It is both simple and efficient.  
We LOVE how Abby has systematized the process of photographing each of her client albums!  
By way of review -- here is a list of Abby's 5 Steps to an Efficient Album Photo Shoot: 
1 -- Set-up 
Set up your tripod with camera pointed straight down at a 90 degree angle. This tripod works great!  
2 -- Lighting 
Make sure you are in an area with plenty of natural light! Create a make-shift reflector. Use 3 white foam poster boards taped together to make a 3/4 reflector. This helps to lessen those pesky shadows.  
3 -- Background 
Place a cheap, flimsy white poster board directly underneath the camera and lay the album on top of it for a clean backdrop.  
4 -- Frame 
Put your camera on "live preview" mode to make sure everything is lined up evenly and completely flat. This will minimize the post-production cropping/editing. 
5 -- Shoot 
Once everything is nailed into focus, turn the camera to manual focus to take the first photo. Without moving the camera at all, turn the page and take the next photo. Move through the entire album this way. Since everything is composed exactly the same way, you can batch the images and apply edits to the entire batch. Everything is super automated and easy with this system, which makes it possible for you to shoot 3-4 albums within 20 minutes! 
You can see just how clean and lovely the outcome of this process is by visiting some of Abby's finished work that we've featured here on our blog in the past!
tips for photographing wedding albums

above image by Abby Grace Photography  

above image by Abby Grace Photography  
While the above method is super-efficient and simple, there are also other ways to creatively style your albums that can really show off their unique features and personalities. Here are just a few that we love: 
1 -- Use a textured background to add depth and character to the image. An album placed upon something that has its own shadows and light can really enhance the beauty and simplicity of the album. Some great materials to utilize are wood, tulle or textured fabric.
tips for photographing wedding albums

above image by Melissa Jill Photography  
2 -- Try posing the album! Photograph the details at different angles. Take some shots of the album standing up, where the pages are showcased. Take some close ups of the cover, and the fine details of various pages. Get creative with perspectives! Sometimes just showing portions of the spreads along with a textured background creates a lot of interest.
tips for photographing wedding albums

above image by Brittany Thomas Photography  
3 -- Add props to make it more interesting. Try setting up the album within the box it came in, along with some tissue paper and ribbon. Some other ideas would be to use cover fabric swatches, flowers, leaves, pine cones, etc to style the image. Using an actual detail from the wedding is also a way to help tell the story held within its pages.
tips for photographing wedding albums

above image by Caroline Logan Photography  
4 -- Photograph the album fulfilling its purpose. Which means, take pictures of someone sitting down with the album and pouring over the pages. You can add texture with a blanket or some kind of fabric within the shot. This not only adds depth and dimension to the image but also personalizes it and invites the viewer to imagine themselves cozied up with their very own album, soaking in the memories they will treasure for life!
wedding album photography

above image by Melissa Jill Photography  
5 -- Use blank space and the rule of thirds. The album doesn't need to be centered perfectly and doesn't need much more than it's own beautiful face! Try holding the album up against a white wall where you include the hands of a nearby willing person as props! This creates a very clean and simple image, where the album is the star of the show.
wedding album photography

above image by Melissa Jill Photography  
Photographing albums doesn't have to be an overwhelming or time consuming task. In fact, with a little bit of intention and creative thought, it can be kind of fun! Plus, the benefits of featuring a gorgeous album in a truly appealing way can be huge! Just like sharing sample albums with our clients during an initial client meeting, consistently sharing each clients' album through visually stunning images can be so helpful for getting clients to value them as much as we do!
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3 Tips on how to photograph wedding albums well
Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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Elizabeth Gelineau on Getting the Most Out of Working with Align

Album Designs, Featured Clients

Today we're so lucky to get to share images and insight from Elizabeth Gelineau, a talented wedding and portrait photographer. We love working with Elizabeth and with her beautiful images! 
Elizabeth shared some of her thoughts about how to get the most out of working with Align. We were fascinated to get a photographer's perspective on this, and thought that this insight would be valuable for other photographers! Here's what Elizabeth had to say:

Headshots by Deborah Michelle Photography 
Since my first order with Align, I have chosen the option for "Hands Off" design service. This option is so wonderful because my album designer will handle all the emailing with the client in regards to proofing. When I submit my order, I ask to receive an initial proof of the album. I usually make a couple of changes and then give my designer the go-ahead to send the proof to my client. Once the proof goes to the client, I don't have to do anything until the album is approved! This service saves me so much time that I can't afford to not use it!!! Best of all, my clients receive revisions quickly, which means we usually get to the approval point within just a few weeks.  
I prepare my clients for the album design process from the initial consultation, making it clear that I am working with a designer for my albums. I talk about this as I go through one of my sample albums at the consultation. From the beginning, I explain that the wedding album is designed to tell the overall story of their wedding day, highlighting the most special details, moments and portraits. Because my couples see the end product right at the beginning of the process, they know what to expect later. Additionally, I send an email to my clients reminding them of how the album design process works prior to giving Align the go-ahead to send the proof to them. That way they know to be on the lookout for an email from my designer regarding album proofing. 
One of my favorite aspects of working with Align is the ability to request a specific designer. Andrea was the designer I was matched with on my first couple of wedding album orders. She and I worked so well together that I started requesting her with each new order. I know that all the Align designers are fabulous, but there is something special about being able to work with the same person over and over. Andrea has learned my preferences during the time we've worked together, and we are now getting to a point where I don't always make changes to the initial proof because she knows what I like. I've also gotten better at narrowing down images to send in for the initial design. On my first few orders I was sending in the maximum of 300 images, but now that I'm used to the process, I send in between 150 and 200 images for her to use for the pre-design.  
I highly recommend being very specific with your designer about things that you do and do not like, because it helps them design something that you'll love! Preferences that I've communicated to my designer include: 
  • I love at least one spread to be all black and white if possible.
  • I love when the first spread in an album contains either all details, one full-bleed photo of the bride and groom, or a portrait of the bride and groom along with a photo that gives a sense of place.
  • I love for at least one spread in the album to be a full-bleed photo of just the bride and groom whenever possible (I don't have a shot from every wedding that lends itself to this).
  • I typically like for there to be only one spread of family formal portraits.
If you've been hesitant to give up control over certain aspects in your business, consider outsourcing from the perspective of how it can help your business grow, rather than from the perspective of losing control. Album design was the first aspect of my business that I outsourced, and it has been one of the best decisions I've ever made for my business!

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Elizabeth! We know that photographers who are considering working with Align or just starting out using our services will find your insight and experience so helpful! 
The following are Elizabeth's photographs of one of her recent albums designed by Align and printed through RedTree Albums. Elizabeth prints all of her wedding albums through RedTree because she loves the quality of their gorgeous books. For portrait sessions and parent albums, she uses the photo books from Miller Professional Imaging. P.S. Both of these album printing & binding companies are included on Align's list of Top 10 Most Popular Album Companies
Check out these beautiful photos of one of Elizabeth's finished albums!

And here's the full album design for you to flip through: 
Design by: Andrea (View More) // Design style: Simple (View More) // Blog post written by: Alaine
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Britt Croft on Selling Albums Consistently

Album Designs, Featured Clients

Here at Align, we not only love designing albums but we love talking & teaching about albums too! That's why we're thrilled to share today's guest post by Britt Croft Photography. We already knew how much Britt valued albums based on her quote in this past blog post, so we felt like she'd be a great resource to talk more about albums in her photography business. We asked Britt if she'd be willing to share her experience creating and selling albums and we love what she came back with! Without further ado, here she is...

Hey there, I'm Britt and I'm a wedding photographer who serves South Carolina, Georgia, and occasionally beyond! Over the years, I've become focused on two things that (I hope) set me apart. They are 1) my belief in real, imperfect moments (don't get me wrong, I love the pretty too - but just always connect with candid, organic moments the most!) and 2) archival, heirloom quality albums and products. I focus on quality over quantity, and currently photograph only 10-12 weddings per year. 
About 60% of my couples end up purchasing an album, but it's taken quite some time to reach even that number as there is definitely a learning curve to educating couples on the value of the printed product in todays digital age. Of course I'd love to see 100% walk away with an album, but that's a work in progress!  
I'd say the greatest pushback I get about albums is regarding the cost, and to be honest I've struggled with that over the years too. But I've been printing through Madera Books for around 6 years and just can't bring myself to make a change since I'm continually impressed with their quality, craftsmanship, attention to detail, and speed for handmade albums. I've found that those couples who see the albums in person truly appreciate and understand the quality, but unfortunately I serve such a wide geographic area that I'm not meeting many of my clients before booking. The way that I have best found to navigate that barrier is to talk about albums, share photos of albums, converse about albums when we chat over the phone, share stories about how precious my albums are, etc. I truly believe in my core that each couple needs a wedding album so this is something that feels natural and comfortable for me to share about. 
I've been working with Align Album Design for about 3 years now, and since becoming an Align customer it has truly taken the album process to the next level for my clients. It's fast, streamlined, and more than frees me up to do things that I enjoy so much more. If I was still doing album design and revisions for my clients, I could guarantee that it would be the #1 to-do item that repeatedly got rolled over to my to-do list for the next day, and the day after, so on and so on. It's hard to encourage your clients to stay on top of their revisions if YOU can't stay on top of their revisions, so having Align take the brunt of the work off my shoulders is how I justify the additional cost. Ultimately, it's freeing up my time to move the needle forward in areas that only I can, and that's beneficial to me, my clients, and my business as a whole. 
One of my absolute favorite perks of Align is their ability to pre-design with the 200-300 images I send them. When I explain to my couples that I don't feel it's their job to sift through 800 images that they are SO VERY attached to in order to narrow down their favorites, I can tell they are so relieved. Instead, I send Align my Favorites folder from the clients wedding gallery, and they do the hard work of getting us a starting point! This means the first time my client is seeing their album, it's a full blown 20-spread story, and they are simply tasked with making swaps, adding, or removing. This feels so much more manageable and digestible to them. I always, always tell them that I'm here to help as much as they need, and I think that it helps them realize that I am in their corner and happy to be a sounding board when decision fatigue hits. 
For newer photographers looking to encourage their couples to invest in an album, I'd say to start small. WHCC has been my go-to print lab from the very beginning for many other products (and where I first printed albums from) and I still use their press printed albums for guestbooks and portrait session albums. Their albums would be a great place to start that is a bit more affordable as you build up the hype over what I hope could become your #1 product. Order a sample album (one complete wedding), photograph it for social media and your website, and carry it with you to client meetings, engagement sessions, bridal sessions, etc. The more opportunities your couples have to see, touch, feel, and learn about them, the better! 
All this to say, offering my clients albums has become a huge part of my business and is something I truly believe in. I really think that's the most important have to believe in the power of the printed image, show the meaning, show how the design process is a wonderful added service, and educate your couples on how an album will add value to their life together. I hope other photographers will find my album journey helpful! 

Thanks SO MUCH to Britt for sharing all of this helpful advice with fellow photographers! What great insight on album creation and sales! 
Britt ALSO sent us the following photographs she took of one of her recent albums. The spreads were designed by Align and the album was printed through Madera Books. We love seeing how beautiful the final album turned out! Here are some of our favorite spreads... 

To view the entire album design, you can click through the slideshow below: 
Design by: Andrea (View More) // Design style: Classic (View More) // Blog post written by: Denise
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Elizabeth Gelineau on Streamlining Your Album Workflow

Album Designs, Featured Clients

Today we get the JOY of sharing images and some thoughts by Elizabeth Gelineau, a sweet and talented photographer and Align client. We recently asked Elizabeth if she would be willing to share some insight into her album process and we absolutely loved the story she responded with!  
We enjoyed learning about how she has streamlined her album workflow throughout the years, first as a portrait photographer and then as a wedding photographer. We'll let her take it from here...

Headshots by Deborah Michelle Photography 
I'm Elizabeth, a portrait, wedding and editorial photographer, based in my hometown of Mobile, Alabama. Even before I was a wedding photographer, I was a big fan of albums. I love the feel of something in my hands that is really well made. I like things that are made to last. I believe photographs are best enjoyed in printed form.  
I started my business in 2012, intending to never photograph a wedding. My focus was on portraits, specifically families and high school seniors. I offered albums in my product menu from day one. But in those early days, even though I wanted my clients to have nice albums, I dreaded the process of dealing with an album sale. The whole design and proofing process was overwhelming. My photography business started out as a second job and the album proofing process took time that I didn't have. Unsurprisingly, I was not successful at selling packages with albums during that time. 
Then I discovered Align. I had a portrait client that wanted to order an album and I decided this was the perfect opportunity to test out the service. I was absolutely blown away when the client approved the album after seeing the initial design, with no requests for revisions. The process was SO simple, even enjoyable! Align put together a design so much quicker than I ever could! I loved the end result and my client loved how easy the process was!  
When I later transitioned into photographing weddings, I knew I wanted to include albums in my packages. I also knew that I needed a streamlined process. Because of my prior experience with Align, I decided to outsource album design to them for all of my weddings from that first season of booking. Align had so many helpful blog posts that aided me in creating a workflow for my client albums. I set up that workflow in 17Hats for every client that purchases an album. The album workflow is activated two weeks after the client receives their wedding gallery. It begins with a design preferences questionnaire that I created and it is my goal to have the wedding album in my client's hands within four to six months of the wedding date.
My favorite part of working with Align is that I ENJOY the album process. I get so excited to see that initial proof and so do my clients! I have always picked out the initial album images myself because I think that is a great service to provide to my clients. It can be overwhelming for them to go through 800 to 1000 images to select favorites for printing in the album. As the artist, I know I documented certain details and moments of the day with the broader story of the wedding day in mind. It is much easier for me to select 100 to 200 images that best represent the story of the day and send them to Align than it is for my clients to make decisions about their favorites.  
To me, the wedding album is the bow on top of the package. It is the perfect ending to the wedding photography experience that I provide to my clients. I photograph between 20 and 24 weddings per year and over half of those brides choose a package with a wedding album. It's something that I talk about in the initial consultation because I so strongly believe in the importance of having that first heirloom. Thanks to Align, I don't have to worry about having enough time to fill those album orders!  

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Elizabeth! We love that Align can be a part of your streamlined process! We know your fellow photographers will find your insight and album experience helpful as they craft their own album workflows! 
The following are Elizabeth's photographs of one of her recent albums designed by Align and printed through Red Tree Albums. Elizabeth prints all of her wedding albums through RedTree because she loves the quality of their gorgeous books. For portrait sessions and parent albums, she uses the photo books from Miller Professional Imaging. P.S. Both of these album printing & binding companies are included on Align's list of Top 10 Most Popular Album Companies
Check out these beautiful photos of one of Elizabeth's finished albums!

To see this album design in its entirety, click through the slideshow below! And for more album goodness from Elizabeth, check out this post: Grand Hotel Wedding Album Design for Elizabeth Gelineau Photography
Design by: Andrea (View More) // Design style: Classic (View More) // Blog post written by: Denise
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Nikki Santerre on Sample Albums as a Gateway Drug

Album Designs, Featured Clients, Align Legacy Books
Today we're pleased to introduce you to the lovely Nikki Santerre, Virginia-based fine art film photographer and Align client. We recently asked her if she'd be willing to share her thoughts on her journey into heirloom albums and we're thrilled that she agreed! We thought her insights into the role of the sample album within her business were especially helpful. So without further ado, this is Nikki!

Headshot by Shannon Moffit 
Hi guys, Nikki Santerre here. If you're a photographer who wants to start offering albums but is overwhelmed with how to start, I'd have to say that there is something truly magical about seeing your work printed within the pages of a quality product. My recommendation to you is to invest in your business and yourself by getting a sample album before you begin to offer them to your clients. That was the gateway drug for me. Once I saw what my work was capable of becoming within those pages, I knew it was a service I must provide to my clients. It speaks volumes to your work, more-so than any squares on social media.  
A little bit about me -- I am a self proclaimed "Heirloom Curator" who specializes in marriage and motherhood and uses both film and digital mediums to document my clients in their most precious seasons of life. 
When my clients book me for wedding day services, I send them a Welcome Kit that contains a bridal guide which highlights the most important details of their photography experience from start to finish. There is an entire section devoted to albums where I reiterate the importance of the album as an heirloom, not just for themselves, but for future generations.  
As I've priced myself into a higher-end market, my clients have become increasingly eager to invest in an heirloom album. I think my brides who are more inclined to invest in their wedding photography view the album as an important tangible result of their investment over and above the digital files alone. 
One of my biggest struggles when I first started offering albums was the TIME it took to create the design. In my first three years in business, I was a full time teacher, so time was a precious and limited resource. Enter Align! Outsourcing this portion of my business remains one of my smartest business decisions to date, especially now that I'm a mother. The time I would be spending designing albums I now spend doing things that fill me with more joy, like time with my family or writing for some of my favorite publications.  
When it comes to printing, I had been using the same album printer for the last three years. They offered a product I found to be both beautiful and valuable. Unfortunately, the company closed their doors (with VERY little notice to their customers) earlier this year. I was forced, very suddenly and at the start of wedding season, to find a company who also produced an equally beautiful product. Almost serendipitously, around the same time I received an email from Align saying they were going to begin printing albums. Alas, Align to the rescue, AGAIN! 

Wow, Nikki, thank you so much for sharing your insight and album experience with your fellow photographers! You're amazing! And a BONUS thank you for sending us photographs of one of your recent Align Legacy Books! Our heart skipped a beat when we saw them! 
The following is a 10x10 Align Legacy Book with a Metropolitan-colored linen cover with engraving. The interior contains 17 spreads on our thick-page paper. Take a look...

For more photos of Align Legacy Books, check out the Align Legacy Books category on this blog
And to view Nikki's full album design in its entirety, click through the slideshow below: 
Design by: Kari (View More) // Design style: Classic (View More) // Blog post written by: Denise
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