Tuesday, February 22, 2011


One of the many fun parts of being a photographer is designing albums: all kinds of albums: wedding, guest books, portraiture and family albums are all really fun to design. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of designing an album for Lisa and Brian: a really great couple whose wedding day we had the honor to photograph a few months ago. I thought that I would go through the process of how I design an album. Hopefully you will find it interesting and informative.

During our initial meeting and then again later, we inform the couple about our process. After the wedding images are posted online and they receive their DVDs, they then need to pick 20 - 25 images that they would like in their album. I also let them know that I may be adding some other images that I think help the flow of the album. I endeavor to tell the story of their wedding day in pictures and may need to add some images to accomplish this. Our basic album is 20 - 25 pages (although more can be added at the couples request) and the amount of images I use depends on the design. Each album is different.

When I receive the images, my work starts. I organize them by parts of the day. We almost always go to the rehearsal, we think it helps us the day of the wedding. The wedding ceremony is so much different now then in the years past. They take place in houses of worship, hotel function halls, outside the function halls, in a garden or even in the forest. We have photographed weddings in a lot of different locations and at each location there are subtle differences. Being there at the rehearsal insures that we are not surprised the day of the wedding, well almost lol. There are always little things that go on, like the ring bearer deciding he does not want to walk up the aisle. Maybe it's something about being male and seeing an aisle ????

Sometimes a couple will ask us to use an image from the rehearsal. Next, we would use the preparation images from both the bride and groom: although many times the grooms do not want pictures taken until after their dressed. Next, would be the ceremony pictures or some of the formals depending on time and the bride's wishes. The reception rounds out the coverage. We are there until the last dance,  a long day but we feel it is worth it.

With Lisa and Brian's wedding, they did choose an image from the rehearsal. I used that as the opening image in the album: the obvious place for it.

I like to put the bride and groom's name on this page.As you can see, they were are very attractive couple and I decided to go with a design that would be simple and elegant. The next page would start the prep section.
 I actually did not use any images but the ones that Lisa and Brian selected. They selected a little more then 25 (actually they select 98 images) lol. They told me they could not select any less and could have selected 300 lol. They told me to choose what I wanted out of the 98. This actually worked out really well giving me choices in almost every section. When I do the bride prep page, I always like to show a portrait of the beautiful bride and then images of her being helped by her bridesmaids. I will almost always use at least one detail image. Lisa chose this detail image: showing some of the jewelry and a healthy glass of OJ. (at least that is what I think it was or maybe a mimosa!)

We design some wedding albums with one page in this section and for other weddings we use two pages, depending on the images that are chosen. If there is a parent present, we try to capture their look for this section. You can just see the pride and happiness on Lisa's mom's face. We have another image showing the young ladies helping Lisa with her hair and then another image with the ladies all wearing their gowns.

We are now starting the pre ceremony formals: photographing the bride and her party first and then the groom with his party. Although at times we do photograph the initial meeting of the bride and groom alone seeing each other just before the ceremony, Lisa and Brian went with the more traditional ceremony. Here we have Brian photographed on the front steps of the wedding venue with his groomsmen including his dad. We also have Lisa with her bridesmaids in the garden area.

On this page we have the guys in a relaxed pose (you can tell that this was a wonderful autumn day).
Brian's brother was his best man so we have an image of Brian and his brother: one of Brian and his dad  and then one with all three of them. Brian gave his groomsmen great looking watches and we had to get a shot of them.

This is an image with Lisa, her mom and sisters:  THE LADIES! in black and white.

   We selected more images of the formals then we usually use but these were very important to Lisa and Brian. We always understand and act with the knowledge that this is the bride and groom's day. We believe in doing it their way and if we think it should be different, we explain it to them and let them make the informed decision. Whatever they decide, that's the way it is done.
  As you can see, we are now in the ceremony. Phyllis and I are both taking pictures during the ceremony with two different type lenses. This allows us to get two perspectives on the wedding. Here, we have a wider shot showing the couple: some of the wedding party and some of the guests. Alongside, there is a closer shot keying in on the bride, groom and the gentleman performing the ceremony. If we shot using the same lens, we feel we would risk the album becoming boring.

The first two rules of wedding photography should be don't forget the camera and DON"T MISS THE KISS.
I love this image: a great kiss with Lisa leaning back slightly, creating an S curve with the lines of her body and the dress: classic lines for a classic beauty.

  Now some of the formals shots after the ceremony included a great image of Lisa and Brian on the front steps lined with multi colored mums. I had to put a frame around this image, almost like putting a bow on it but with a little more elegance lol.
 Lisa and Brian chose so many images, I wanted to use as many as possible without over-crowding the album. I thought this one page with multiple images taken during and after the ceremony
 gave a good feel for that part of the day, while providing as many memories as possible.

 The last formal image: the classic wedding party image shows the bride and groom with their closest friends from the wedding party.
These images show the reception and what represents this section best?  Why of course: the cake cutting and the first dance. The hall had Lisa and Brian's initials projected on the dance floor: a really great touch. You need to capture what they are feeling during the whole day and especially during these moments. Hopefully we did.
The final image: a single page with a great picture of the last dance. You can see, heck you can almost feel the love they are feeling!!
You may have noticed words printed on pages throughout the album.  On occasion, we will use the lyrics from the couples "song", the one they danced to on this their wedding day. We feel it makes the album even more personal and brings back memories of their wedding day.
In this case, it was "Danny's Song" by Kenny Loggins.

The last page is actually the cover of the album. The front cover is on the right: two different images of the dance: one in color and the other in black and white.
 I haven't mention it yet but we use Zookbinders  for all our albums. They have a great selection of albums, photo books, framed images and many more  products that Brides & Groom's love. Would never switch from the Zook.  They are, in my opinion the best.


James said...

Great post! So many photographers need help and ideas with how to design albums. This is a great article to help get them started.

JIM said...

Thanks James we appreciate Zookbinders product and their customer service. Keep up the great work!!

Aaron said...

Great post today Jim,
Really gives a great insight into the behind the scenes of creating a great album.
Do you shoot RAW at the wedding and post process all your images?

JIM said...

Yes Aaron I always shoot in Raw especially if I am getting paid. But even the images you have seen of the birds or at Disney all raw and all post process.

Anonymous said...

Sherry Booher-Derby
You take amazing photos! The album was beautiful.

Madama said...

Beautiful Pictures!

Sailor said...

Wow...Love your wedding collections!

Nina and David Algulin said...

Amazing pictures!!! We didn't know you when we got married to bad...
Keep up the good work! And thank you for your comment on our blog!

Nandini said...

I loved the pics...so romantic...so in love..The most beautiful thing to happen in anyone's life-wedding!