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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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Sweet Album Reveal - Photography by Val Marlene Creative

Album Designs, Featured Clients
Earlier this week we featured Val Marlene Creative in a blog post in which she shares about her "why" behind offering albums to her clients. If you haven't read it yet, you've GOT to check it out. But not only did Val send us that amazing written content, but she also went above and beyond and sent us photos of one of her real clients opening up their wedding album for the first time. That was too much goodness for one blog post, so today we get to share these awesome images! 
Val says, "It should be noted that the images of them opening their album are 100% not staged. Every facial expression, finger point and look at each other was not prompted and true to Ben & Allison. This is the very first time they saw their album. :) :) It was such a sweet experience for me to watch them snuggle and giggle as they held their album in their hands for the very first time. They told stories of what was happening in the photos and the memories the images triggered from that day." 
Photography: Val Marlene Creative 
Album layout and design: Align Album Design 
Album printing & binding: Miller's Professional Imaging

Val says "This image, specifically, is Ben asking Allison if she was tearing up, because she was. Gah, it was such a sweet, sweet moment for me!" 

Allison, the bride, said "We are thrilled with the way our album turned out! Seeing it on our bookshelf everyday is a beautiful reminder of where our love story started. We feel we made a great, small investment into what will be a treasured piece we can pass on to our kids and their kids."
To view the design in its entirety, click through the slideshow below: 
Design by: Andrea (View More) // Design style: Classic (View More) // Blog post written by: Denise
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