Times have changed over the 18 years I have been a wedding and event photographer. For a long time, the majority of my clients would expect an album – and often one for the parents and/or family members. Although the majority of my clients still feel the same, it’s no longer a given. So what’s changed? Based on my experience, I’d like to share what I believe are among the factors for this fairly recent shift and also to discuss when and why I believe wedding and event albums are important.
1. First and foremost, the economy is a factor for the average household - and let’s face it, for many, a wedding or event album is not a priority, it’s an indulgence. That said, I do know that many couples and families have regretted not investing in a quality photographer and/or a quality album. Go to any wedding/event forum online and you will read numerous examples of regretful purchases. I believe couples and families need to ask themselves: what will mean the most to me and my children 1, 10, 30 years from now? I’ve worked with limited budgets under 20K, nearly unlimited budgets over 500K and everywhere in-between – literally - my clients truly span the entire socio-economic scale. But what they all have in common is that they truly value pictures, and they all structured their wedding or event budget accordingly.
2. The digital revolution has produced many photographers. This is a pretty loaded subject in itself, which I may dedicate my thoughts to (and those of fellow photographers) in a future post. Regarding the question of a wedding or event album, although some of the newer photographers are fantastic and I enjoy and respect their work, unfortunately, the fact is that many do lack professional shooting and album building experience. In many cases, the couple is left with unedited files of a full day of coverage. I believe you would be much better served to hire a quality photographer for fewer hours, capturing the most important aspects of your wedding day with quality expertise throughout the entire process. Why? Because a digital file is to be treated as a start, not a finish: think of your digital file as a negative, which needs to be processed to make a quality print. Furthermore, narrowing down from 1000 photos to 100 select photos to really tell the story is a true craft in itself. If you consider yourself a picture person and/or want your future generations to have an album as a family heirloom, then by all means consider investing in an experienced, quality photographer and including your photography as one of the wedding or event priorities.
3. The digital medium has made viewing photos much easier and more cost efficient for many of us. Back in the (dare I say) not-yet-old-days, negative film had to be processed and printed to see the photos. Some of us, myself included, would then edit the photos and put them into a photo album (or commission a professional to do so for a special event or wedding). Now, a simple click of a button and - there they are. This is great. However, by definition, photos are often unedited and become trapped in the computer or on Social Media. Now, I certainly believe platforms like Facebook have their place. I like Facebook and totally use it both personally and professionally. That said, every year, I make a family album for everyone in my family, highlighting our family’s special events. Yep, an actual album – paper pages included! I don’t want my niece and two nephews to grow up solely relying on a monitor to see their family pictures. I love knowing that, every once in awhile, they cuddle up on the couch together to look at their photos; and I smile at the thought of the album spread out between two or three laps, flipping the pages together and enjoying the quality time together - making memories while remembering them. That is how I want my family to enjoy their memories and I feel the same about this for my wedding, event and family clients.
4. Are you a Picture Person? Do you feel that your own family pictures are valuable to you, whether they be 2 years old or 20+ years old? If you are someone who loves pictures, then having a well-made album is worth the cost and time. But if an album just feels like a formality to you, then perhaps a different approach is worth investigating.
5. Whether or not you choose to start a family may influence your decision about investing in a wedding album. Does it mean a lot to you to have this family heirloom to pass down to your children? It’s a personal question, but one that I do believe is important to answer for yourself, and for any future generation(s).
To summarize, Terry Huang Jr., Customer Service Manager at Renaissance Albums (one of my album binders) adds, “From a photographer's perspective, it's vital to preserve your work and ensure that it's displayed on the best "canvas" possible. Offering quality albums does this, while also providing your clients with the best end-product available. As a potential album recipient, they should realize that the albums offered by their professional photographer are not the same as the ones available to the general public - not even close actually. They are professional-grade and only sold to photographers, and therefore the quality and craftsmanship is on an entirely different level from the "photo books" they can purchase online directly on their own. Additionally, sharing files on social media or on a screen is something we all do and is very convenient, but it pales in comparison to looking through a beautifully-printed album that has been thoughtfully edited, designed, and handcrafted by experts. There's just something special about having a tangible album containing your best memories to share with family & friends at gatherings, opposed to the simple "click-and-scroll" viewing that we are all so used to, but doesn't truly capture your special day or do it any justice.”
There is no One Size Fits All to wedding, event and family photography - or to the creative process. My biggest suggestion for anyone hiring a photographer is to ask the right questions based on your personal needs so that you feel confident in your choice.
Email me anytime for topic suggestions and feel free to comment, ask questions and share. Thanks for reading!
Peace, Love & Happy Planning,