A few years ago I got a phone call at my office. It was a friend who had became a client and he said,
“Hey Leon! I know you’re sort of a ‘photographer therapist’ so I wanted to throw some ideas at you and get your opinion.”
I just about died laughing! Photographer Therapist was the most perfect title I could ever come up with. I may have changed my email signature, business cards and LinkedIn profile before we finished the conversation!
Each week my inbox is peppered with emails that want to know my opinion on various aspects of this industry. They reason that because I serve so many photographers I probably have some valuable insight on common issues.
So last week I got an email and when I completed the response I felt like it should be shared. The topic is how to handle wedding album design.
This photographer was dealing with the process of designing and delivering a beautiful wedding album in a reasonable amount of time.
It’s a common question worth discussing!
Below is the conversation, edited for readability.
Photographer: I used to allow the client to choose images for their wedding album, then after the design was completed we’d allow a number of revisions, which could get time consuming and complicated.
Exactly… I’ve designed albums for photographers’ couples 5 YEARS after their wedding.
Photographer: Now I’d love to:
- Have the client choose images for the design
- Have the design done,
- Send the design directly to print.
Do you know of any photographers that don’t allow changes to the design or ask for approval for the design?
I don’t! Sadly, most photographers are stuck in the same boat as you: waiting for selections, waiting for design reviews, waiting for final approval.
However, some do “predesign” which is where you (or we) select the best images for the album, create a design and post it for their review.
I think this is a much more successful process. Why? Well because you get the conversation started.
Think of it from the couple’s point of view. Most of them have no design skills and have a hard time envisioning what the final product will look like.
Add to that the request to review 700-1000 images and choose their best 50. They are simply ill-equipped to do so. The photographer has put the burden on them and they become easily overwhelmed.
Photographer: I know there are a few album companies out there like Lavie and Queensberry that offer high end custom books, do the design in-house and don’t even get approval from the photographer, but I really wonder how well that sort of thing goes over with a client that’s paying a few thousand for their wedding album. Do you have any thoughts on the topic?
Yes, this just continues from above thoughts. I would never, ever deliver a hard copy to a couple without their approval. I have seen far too many change requests to perfectly great album designs.
- “This one has my bridesmaid’s boyfriend in the photo and they aren’t together anymore. Can we get image number 777 instead?” (Inevitably this image is horizontal and the design used a vertical for perfect grouping, which completely changes the spread layout.)
- “I just don’t like how my arm looks in this photo.”
- “I feel like there’s too much blank space, can we add more photos?”
On the upside, making a hard copy and putting it in their hands has a HUGE psychological effect. It’s permanent. Changes will now be costly and take time, so they are less likely to complain.
I think it’s best to show the clients what is possible and allow them a couple of rounds of revisions. Set an expectation that they hired you because you’re the pro who knows best. YOU know what good design is. (And if you don’t, then hire us!)
Just don’t leave the project open ended.
Be clear! Let them know if they want to swap out a couple pics, you’re glad to do so, but the target date to send to the printer is “5 days from now.”
See how we set up some parameters? If you leave it open-ended with zero deadlines you will have a never-ending project on your hands!
This way you end up delivering something you’re proud of design-wise and the bride is stoked because she had some input in customizing the design. Win-win!
Of course I couldn’t make this post without mentioning that we do wedding album design, and pride ourselves in crafting gorgeous designs that tell the story and showcase your best work.
Wedding album designs cost $4 per page ($8 per spread) and are delivered within 3-5 business days. If you or the bride have changes to make just send them over and we’ll take care of them for you.
When you have an album design to send, just gather the images for the design, fill out our order form and upload your files on our site! We can also make the selections if you wish.
(BTW, our work is not limited to weddings- any kind of portrait album design from seniors, to newborns, to families are welcome too!)
So there’s my advice, but what is your process to ensure that wedding album design is done and out the door swiftly?