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An album to have and to hold

First slide

There is nothing like getting to see the wedding photos for the first time after the big day.  How do you decide whether to hand over these memories to a professional or design your own wedding album?


Prior to the do-it-yourself photobook, wedding photographers were the go-to source for albums, usually leather-bound albums with individual photos printed, placed and matted. While there are still photographers who do that, most have turned to photobook services that print photos directly on the pages. Some companies, such as zookbinders.com, have embraced this new style, but only work with professional photographers. Choosing to go this route does not mean relinquishing all control of you album design. Talk with your photographer ahead of time about which photos should go in the book, and approve the layout before it’s printed.


For the true wedding do-it-yourselfer, be sure to find a photographer who will relinquish all rights to the photos first. With proof of ownership in hand, couples can start the search for an online photobook site.


The website toptenreviews.com recently rated 10 photobook sites detailing everything from usability and price to customization options and print quality. They chose Mixbook, which received a 9.72 out of 10 rating.


Whichever site you choose, most recommend 40 to 45 pages for wedding albums. Be sure to add extra pages if you need; it’s better to spend a little extra than to cram 10 photos on each page. A good rule of thumb is to limit photos to two or three per page for an elegant look. That rule can be broken when there are more action-oriented moments, such as dancing.


Before choosing photos, make a list of the  moments you want to include: getting ready; portraits of the bride with the dress; the bridesmaids and groomsmen; the ceremony; family formals; the reception; first dance and the dances with the parents; cutting the cake; and the send-off.


Now, choose 10 photos for each section. With a plan in place, it’s time to upload the photos to the site. Don’t use the low resolution photos sized down for the web that some photographers provide. Even though they upload faster, they won’t look as good when printed. 


When it’s finally time to begin designing, utilize the divide and conquer strategy. Focus laying out one section at a time, instead of trying to conquer the whole book.


Hierarchy is a key component to a good layout. Find one primary photo to feature on the page and then add other smaller photos, versus all of them fighting for attention. Try balancing one full-page photo with the facing page of smaller photos. The internet is full of tried-and-true layout options, but be sure to limit the album to four or five designs for consistency.


When you’re done, share the layout with your spouse or a friend for fresh eyes.


It can be tempting to cut corners to keep pricing down, especially on the heels of the wedding costs.


One feature worth the extra charge is lay-flat pages. These are useful if a photo spreads across two pages. Instead of parts of the photo disappearing into the spine of the book, the pages lay flat for one seamless beautiful moment.


While it can be exciting to sprint to the finish line after the marathon of sorting, editing, cropping and retouching, be sure to follow the age old rule — check twice and print once.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018