Thursday, March 1, 2007

Professional Photographer Album Resources

Professional albums can be one of the most overwhelming things to figure out because there are so many options out there. My biggest advice to someone wishing to carry albums is to keep it simple. Find an album that works best with your style and stick with it (provided they have good turn around times, customer service, and quality). Most clients aren't concerned with which album maker you use, because they trust you are providing them with a quality product. If you're going to offer several different albums, make sure you know why you're offering those options, and what they say about you and your business. It may be a good idea to offer an inexpensive coffee table album if you're dealing with clients who are on a budget, and it may be a good idea to offer something that's highly customizeable if you're dealing with clients who will pay to have something unique. Know your clients, know your style, and choose your album(s) based on that knowledge. With that said, here are some album resources for you! I'll update this list over time as I learn of new resources. Feel free to leave comments about your favorites as well!

There are several different types of binding which will have an effect on how your images appear in the album, as well as how your clients will handle the album. (Please note: the terms used below are not standard book binding terms.)
  • Pinched Glue Binding: double sided printing on single pages are stacked together and glued down one edge creating a "pinched" binding. Parts of the image will disappear into the center of a two-page spread and the book will not lay flat when it is opened. This type of binding is most common with paperback or softcover books as the pages need to be glued to the cover to reinforce the strength of the binding. People tend to hold this book in one hand, and then flip throgh the pages with the other - similar to how they would view a magazine. (This can also be referred to as a "perfect" binding.) It has become more common to see in hardcover books recently, but due to the binding, it may come apart more easily in a hardcover book.
  • Stiched Book Binding: most often used with hardcover library books is a stiched binding which clumps multiple pages (double sided and printed as 2-page spreads) together and then stiches them with thread to a binding tape. These books may lay flat when open if the cover binding is structured for that use. Depending on the size and weight of this book, it is either handheld or laid flat with pages turned one by one- faster or slower depending on the perceived delicacy of the pages.
  • Folded Page "W" binding: pages are printed on a single side as a two-page spread, are folded, and then bound together by gluing each page to the next. Reinforcement is given to the spine by gluing the spine to a binding tape which gives the pages flexibility to lay flat when opened. These books are often a little too heavy and stiff to simply hold and flip through, so they are often laid out flat and viewed as full spreads.
COFFEE TABLE ALBUMS These albums have images printed directly onto a double sided, flexible, thin page. Most common printing for a coffee table album is CMYK or InkJet. Binding is either stitch book binding or pinched glue binding. Advantages: very affordable, lightweight, thin page thickness allows for many pages. Disadvantages: less durable over time, colors may vary in printing, clients have easy access to similar albums which may affect their perception of the overall value of this product.
Here's a video from The Wedding Travelers on the difference between a Coffee Table Abum (Asuka) and a Flush Mount Coffee Table Album (VisionArt)... FLUSH MOUNT COFFEE TABLE ALBUMS This is somewhat of a hybrid product in that its pages are thinner than a flush mount library album, but are thicker than a coffee table album. The printing is often done on either true photographic paper or on a dense fine art paper. Each page is printed one sided and is then scored and the pages are glued together to give each page more strength. Advantages: accurate photographic color, medium page thickness allows for more pages. Disadvantages: images may deteriorate over time in the scored creases.
FLUSH MOUNT LIBRARY ALBUMS This album most often consists of photographic pages which are permanently mounted to a dense cardstock or plastic page, resulting in very thick pages. Photographs can be split in the center of a spread to avoid creasing distortion. Advantages: very durable pages, books are more likely to lay flat when open due to binding. Disadvantages: number of pages are often limited due to the thickness, albums can be very heavy (this could also be perceived as an advantage when considering perceived value of product.)
Here's a video from Lori Compass on YouTube, showing an example of a Flush Mount Library Bound Album with a collage design... MATTED ALBUMS Even though we group all matted albums together, there are actually different types of matted albums for you to consider. There's a slip-in matted album which allows you to order your mats and album in advance and you simply fill in the holes with your images, and then there's a mounted matted album which requires you to send the prints to the album maker who then mounts the prints into the mats for you, or creates custom mats for your images.
CUSTOM ALBUMS These album makers don't exactly fit into one of the boxes above. They provide custom products for clients who value originality and customization and are willing to pay extra for that luxury.
SELF-MOUNT Self-mount albums can either look like matted albums or flush mount albums, but the basic principal is that you actually mount the images yourself. This is a product which you can purchase in advance and then create a custom album almost on the spot for a client.
Here's an example of a self-mount album, with slip lock pages.. ALBUM DEALERS
DIY ALBUM CONSTRUCTION w/ John Michael Cooper The example shown is how to create a flushmount coffee table album.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Thanks for the helpful post, Anne.
    It would be a good addition to describe the different types of albums, or link to descriptions of them. Wedding photography is still in the future for me, if ever, but I'm still curious. I know what a coffee table book is, but I have no clue of the difference between flush mount, custom mount, matted, etc. albums.
    Keep giving us the good stuff!

  3. Wow, I couldn't agree with you more about the album part of the wedding photog business. So many suppliers, all with different challenges. But I'm wondering what do you think about photographers providing at least three or four different types of wedding albums to choose from? I see many photographers only offer one type of album, and I can understand why in terms of workflow and just having a reliable process to getting the album project done. But I'm thinking that it's a good idea to have three our four albums for different types of clients and budgets. Some albums can very expensive, and some clients can't afford say a GraphiStudio album, but they do deserve something nice and well designed. Blub books seem really nice for lower budget clients. Anyway, great post. And thanks for starting this blog.

  4. Bakari, I think you bring up a valid point, and a lot of it depends on the clients you serve and how you've structured your business. If you serve many different types of clients, in many different budgets, than it makes sense to offer more than one album.

    However, if your target market is very specific, than it's not likely that you'll need more than one album company - because you already know exactly what would appeal to that client and what they consider to be a highly valuable product.

    You also have to consider how the album affects the client's perception of you and the quality/value of your brand, based on the products you offer.

    I certainly think there's value in providing a different album for a different project - like a coffee table album for an engagement session or portrait client, but a flush mount library bound for the wedding images. Or perhaps you offer a fine-art product that would look best in a matted format. As long as the products you offer are a continuation of the service and quality of your brand... I think it's great, as long as you're making the decisions about what the best product would be for your images.

  5. Cooper isn't showing us how to make anything! I think being artificially theatrical is his only purpose for making that video. I would simply delete it unless he wishes to be a bit more sincere and actually show us something useful.

  6. I think there's value in showing that it is possible to create albums from scratch. If you find or create a more useful video, I'd be happy to feature it.

  7. I will search for something. In the meantime you might update the title from "The example shown is how to create a flushmount coffee table album" to "The example video shows that it is possible to create a flushmount coffee table album yourself". I watched the video thinking I would acquire some kind of practical instruction. Alas, all I saw was a poor man making a fool of himself by carelessly handling his custom albums. Very unprofessional I must say. Apart from this criticism I do like and appreciate your site!

  8. I just revisited this post and I have to say wow, Anne! You've greatly expanded or rewritten your original post, and you've answered every question I had.


  9. You left out Forbeyon! They make some of the highest quality, most inexpensive albums on the market. Every book is totally handmade, and the quality control is incredible, especially considering how competitive their pricing is. Definitely add Forbeyon to your list!!

  10. Thanks Stacy - just added them!

  11. GREAT POST!!!! I will definitely be bookmarking this. I also run an album design company on the west coast that caters to all photographers in the US and Canada; you should check us out!

  12. This is a great list... I think most of the major companies are represented and everything was categorized quite well. Thanks



  13. You have to add Memador to the list....Amazing company!

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  15. hey guys, thanks for this comprehensive and informative post. I'm not expert at classifying albums, but I just wanted to say that I find at odd that you grouped White Glove with Blurb and the others. I offer WG to my clients along side with Leather Craftsmen and Forbeyon and many clients choose WG because it's sleek, modern and isn't as bulky. The pages are the same as LC or Finao's "thin white pages" and the book is archival quality. I only write this because I heart WG and I don't want readers to get the wrong impression about them. Their books are many, many steps above Asuka, Blurb and Lulu, and priced accordingly.

    (no disrespect- again, thank you for the AWESOME post!)

  16. This article was very helpful! Thanks to it I found an European book maker, which are so hard to find. Unfortunately, most of bookmakers are US based companies and due a long shipping times and other shipping issues, are unusable.

  17. Thanks for sharing this splendid and useful post.
    Custom wedding album designing

  18. Would you be able to cagetorize these manufacturers by placing a country identifier behind each one, for example Blurb (USA) ??

  19. mydesigner studio has custom album design services; designing for pro togs since 2002. Can you add the link below?

  20. Yes mike... A must try... cjgraphy

  21. I didn't see finao on this list. Finao has incredible wedding albums, is a green company and has tons of cover and size choices.

  22. Twilight also does great work!! and there user interface is SO easy to use!

  23. Storytellers by adb is also a very promising wedding album design company. Check us out...


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