When you enquire about wedding photography, most photographers offer one or several wedding album options. Some photographers include an album in their packages, other photographers offer an album as an optional extra. Quite often, the wedding package includes the photographer's "standard" album. This could either be an album that allows you to put your wedding story together, or it will be a starter album with only a small number of images.
If your photographer is with you for the full day, i.e. from the bridal and/or groom's preparations until the dancing, you will need at least 80 photographs in your album (just as a side note - most of my clients choose approximately 150 images for their wedding album).
Some wedding packages include a small, and possibly lower quality album - i.e. small in size, such as 8 inches by 8 inches (20 cm x 20 cm), with only a very limited number of images. After your wedding, you can then buy more images for your album, and/or upgrade your wedding album to a substantially larger one.
So the thing to watch out for is - Included wedding albums will vary widely.
If you only have a small wedding, with - say - 20 people, and the photographer is only taking photos for a few hours, you might be happy with a small wedding album and fewer images. I consider an album small if it is 10 inches x 10 inches (25 cm x 25 cm) or smaller.
My "standard" album options are:
There are so many different photography labs out there who all have their own definition of wedding album and coffee table book. I consider a coffee table wedding album a good sized wedding album, at least 12x12 inch, or 14x10 inch, and stiff pages.
This is produced by a fantastic photography lab near Glasgow, Scotland. The quality is outstanding, and there are many different options available. The album can be designed with different covers, names on the front, photo cover, white background inside, black background, coloured background. The options are endless. I have offered the Bellissimo album since I started wedding photography in 2007.
Different photographers might talk about digital books, photo books, coffee table books, traditional albums, matted albums and so on, lustre photo paper, glossy, fine art paper. These are all professional terms for the different products on the market. I think the best way is to see the albums and to touch them, and if it makes you go “ooooh – I want that one” – you’ve found the album style perfect for you. There is no right or wrong, there are simply different tastes and products available to match yours.
The cheapest option is a photo book. They are relatively cheap to produce, you can even design them yourself with some online photo book companies. However, they don’t have that wedding album look and feel and they might not last very long if a lot of people want to look at it. The pages are likely to be very thin and bendy and the paper is much lower quality than that in proper wedding albums.
The traditional photo book is likely to be only 1 cm thick, the pages are bendy and very thin. You can probably design the book so that a photography spans over 2 pages, but it will look quite odd, as the pages are bendy in the centre of the book (see below).
Album thickness - 1 cm with 20-30 pages.
The pages are thin and bendy
You cannot put images across the centre of the page.
This is a slightly higher quality photo book option. The only difference to the traditional photo book is that the pages are assembled in a way they lay flat when the book is opened. This allows for photographs to be printed across the page. The book is still thin, and the pages are bendy too.
Album thickness - 1 cm with 20-30 pages.
The pages lay flat when the book is opened.
One image can overlap the centre and cover both pages.
The Bellissimo album comes in all shapes and sizes, rectangular, square, and the largest Bellissimo that is on offer is 20 inches x 20 inches (50 cm x 50 cm) - which is HUUUGE :)
It can have as little as 5 spreads (which means 10 pages), and as many as 40 spreads (80 pages). This will not tell you anything about the number of photos that fit into the album.
If you have a small album - say 10 inch x 10 inch, I wouldn't put any more than 1 or 2 images per page. But if you have a larger album, you can have 6 or 8 or even more photographs on one single page.
The following applies to digital story book albums, including the Bellissimo wedding album.
The album is more than 1 inch thick (3 cm +) - depending on the number of photographs and/or pages you choose.
It can have different cover colours and materials, such as leather, PVC, Harris Tweed, acrylic photo covers and many more.
You can display your names on the front in a very classy way, this is the laser etching option. You can show your wedding date, or a personal message, or just your names.
The pages are very thick, they do not bend, and the photographs are directly printed on the page.
Images can be laid out classically with a nice border around them, or cover the whole page, or overlap each other, or printed squint, or in a circle, with a white or black or pink or even textured printed background, or a mixture of it all.
The album will of course lay flat. Images can be printed across the centre. The page quality is amazing and wipeable (subject to album supplier!).
I have used Bellissimo albums since I started photographing weddings professionally in 2007. There are several reasons why I love them:
"In the olden days"... photographs would slip in behind a pre-cut hole of the wedding album "matt" or cardboard material. This might seem traditional, but nowadays, overlay albums have been taken to a whole new level of quality and elegance. Maybe you can sense which one is my favourite!!
"Matted" albums is another professional photographer’s term which probably means nothing to you when you first hear it. A matted album means that the photographs are assembled behind a mount, or "matt". Top quality albums from the best labs allow the photographer to individually design the album so the images are arranged in such a way to best portray your wedding day.
The images can be mounted with double mount, or with a border around the images. The pages are elegant, with only a few images per page, designed around your wedding. The covers can be fabric such as Harris Tweed or linen, or leather. The pages are very thick. The album is likely to be very heavy and will definitely make you feel like you are about to lift and open something very special.
The album will be substantially bigger than your "normal" coffee table book as essentially each page consists of 3 sections of cardboard (matts).
As with coffee table albums, there are numerous suppliers out there, with hundreds design options. You may have heard of Albums of Australia, Joergenson (UK & Australia), Queensberry.
The albums looks stunning and are really heavy.
The photographs are individually printed and mostly assembled by hand - and displayed behind a matt. You can also have pages which are covered by one photograph (see above right).
Different suppliers offer different design elements.
As you can see in the image, the photographs are behind the white matt. This looks very elegant and classy.
Just a little glimpse into the different cover options...
There is no right or wrong when it comes to coffee table book or overlay / matted album. It's purely down to preference.
Overlay albums are a lot more time-consuming to produce and this is reflected in the price. Personally, I LOVE LOVE LOVE overlay albums. Every overlay album I had the honour to design and deliver to my clients has given me goosebumps!!
I offer the popular Bellissimo album to my customers who want a contemporary coffee table album for their wedding photographs.
I have chosen the prestigious album supplier Joergenson for my overlay albums as they offer me the design options that give me goosebumps when I open the album, such as the custom-designed vellum sheet before the album starts.
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