Wedding Photo Album Versus Wedding Photo Book

Following many threads on social media and wedding forum web sites, I repeatedly have come across the question of where to go with your photos if you want to make your own wedding photo album. One common advice is to go to blurb, Shutterfly or other photo book makers. Also, it is often noted that many wedding photo album makers, like Queensberry, do only business with photographers. But should you really get a photo book for your wedding photo album? This article is trying to highlight the pros and contras of photo books in comparison to proper wedding photo albums.

Pros

There are several reasons in favor of photo books. For starters, they are easily available. You can chose between a multitude of different providers, they come cheap with prices starting from 10 Dollars and they are delivered very quickly with e.g. blurb delivering most books within 7 to 10 business days after ordering. Proper wedding photo albums on the other hand are much harder to get your hands on. It is true that a lot of firms do only business with photographers and other wholesale customers. Prices are considerably higher and delivery times vary from 2 weeks to 6 months.

Also, if you want to make your own design, photo book companies often provide a design software, which allows you to put together a simple album layout within minutes. Often the software has an integration into the ordering process, so after designing it is a piece of cake to upload your photos and submit your order. Wedding album makes usually don’t provide this feature for two reasons: often the companies are too small to develop their own software and in most cases those programs are not sufficient to create the sophisticated layout design required for a real wedding photo album.

Contras

While all the points mentioned so far are more or less in favor of getting a photo book, there are also some pretty good reasons against it. As said earlier, wedding photo albums are more expensive, but their still are good value for money, if you consider what you get. You get a proper heavy cover made of real or faux leather, which has a substantially better feel to it than the hard or soft-paper cover of a photo book.

The photos in your wedding album are developed with a chemical process. Their resolution is perfect and their colors never fade. This might be true for some high-quality photo books, but the majority of them uses laser-jet printing resulting in a notably lower photo quality. The pages in a proper wedding photo album are made of solid paper or carton (true only for flush-mount albums). Again, this leads to a much nicer feeling when flipping through the album, than the floppy thin pages of a photo book.

And finally regarding the design, if you really want to design your own wedding photo album, it is not at all a bad idea to use a professional software for it like DG Foto Art, Photoshop or Gimp. This requires some practice and skill, but only pro software provides you with the sophisticated fading, transparency, shadow and photo touch-up effects you will need to make a state-of-the-art album layout. The simple self-design software of the wedding photo album makers gets you only half the way.

Conclusion

A wedding photo album is one of the most important safekeepers of the memories of your wedding day and you will look at it again and again, possibly for the rest of you live. Therefore, all the money you invest in it is invested very well. Therefore, I would advice you to go for a wedding photo book, only if you don’t care too much about all this “wedding day fuzz” or, if your budget simply does not allow for more. Otherwise, get a proper wedding album, because on the long run it is worth it!

How to Tell the Difference Between a Good Wedding Photographer and a Bad One

How do you tell the difference between one wedding photographer and the next? Searching through the sea of wedding photographers can be a big task. When I got married, I was given the task of selecting our wedding photographer, and I looked at websites of many different photographers. Some were more expensive and some were less expensive, but often I couldn’t tell the difference between the actual pictures. If I could tell that I liked one photographer’s work better, I didn’t know why. This left me with very little confidence in selecting a wedding photographer.

I want you to be able to choose a wedding photographer with confidence. So let’s answer the basic questions.

Why can’t I tell the difference?

The reason that you and I could not tell the difference, is that most of the work that is put online is the best work of the photographer. All of the photos you see on websites are great photographs. If they weren’t, they would not make it on the website. If you had a camera and went out to shoot a thousand pictures one day, I am sure you could take at least 1 good picture.

This is exactly what some photographers do. They shoot weddings and come up with 2 or 3 good pictures from the wedding. These are the photographs that are posted on their website. You will never see the other photographs. A poor photographer will only be able to take 1-10 good photographs from your day. A good photographer will be able to shoot 30-70 great photographs from your wedding day. A great photographer may be able to shoot 50-100 great photographs.

Real weddings?

Another trick that photographers use to build up their online portfolio is to use fake wedding shots. Some photographers will hire some models and go to a beautiful location and spend a whole day taking photos. They will put these shots on their website and while the shots are great shots, they aren’t from real weddings. The photographer gets the opportunity to spend half an hour perfecting each shot. They may fiddle with the pose. They may take the shot and realize that there’s something distracting in the background. They will not have this much time on your wedding day. You will not get any photos that look like these on your wedding day.

Some photographers may even go to a workshop where another professional photographer teaches them on how to take great photos. In these cases, the teacher is the one who actually poses the model and sets up the lighting. Will your photographer actually be able to create those shots themselves?

Ask to see an entire wedding of photos

So don’t select a photographer merely by looking at the online portfolio. All photographers should have a great online portfolio. (If they don’t, definitely beware.) Meet with the photographer and ask to see photographs from an entire wedding. The photographer should show you 200 or so photographs from an entire wedding and see how many of these photographs you think are great shots. Not all of them will be great. Even the best photographers will have mediocre shots, but if there is a large number that are great shots, you know you have a good photographer.

Know the great photographers

Another way to be able to distinguish the good photographers from the bad ones, is by being familiar with the great photographers. There may be one or two great photographers in your area that charge over $10000 per wedding. You may not be able to afford that, but by looking at their photographs you can realize what good photography really is. Then look for those elements in other photographers. Some of the great wedding photographers are Joe Buissink, Jeff Ascough, Jessica Claire, Nate and Jaclyn Kaiser from The Image is Found, Jesh de Rox and others. Look up those names and peruse their photographs. You will get a sense of what great photography and as a result, you will be able to more easily differentiate the good photographers from the mediocre ones.

20 Tips on How to Choose a Wedding Photographer

How to choose a wedding photographer

With so many wedding photographers, so many prices, and styles choosing the right wedding photographer can become quite a big and unwieldy task for the modern couple

To begin with, the internet makes things easier, because you can see lots of work side by side, but this does not immediately let you know the most important bits of information, which will in the end determine the best choice for you

20 top tips for choosing a photographer

#1 Who ever you choose, you must click with them

A website will only go part of the way of finding out about attitude and the person.

You will be with your wedding photographer, on your special day from dawn to dusk in some cases, inviting them into your dressing room, while you are getting ready. The photographer will then work with you and your family through the day. You need to find someone you trust, and get on with

#2 Who ever you choose, you must click with them

Yes that’s point one! But it is point 2 as well. Anyone shooting your wedding needs to get the best out of you, and this ultimately is a mix of communication, and camera craft. You need to be confident your wedding photographer can guide and instruct you and your family during the poses and group shots. If they make you smile, put you at your ease, the job is half done

#3 Know that wedding photography is both a business and a vocation

Wedding photography is a business, and professional wedding photography is one of the hardest and stressful disciplines in the photography game. You need to choose a photographer, who is a good in business and photography. I am not talking about profits here; I am talking about the way they run the business. You need to look at the business and think – will they be here in 5 -10 years time, when I have lost my disk, and I want a re-print.

#4 Can you communicate with them easily

Like all wedding suppliers, you need to know – can you communicate with them easily. A hotmail account and a mobile phone number are a giveaway. Look for a landline number, open in office hours. Ask yourself – how quickly do they reply to e-mails, and at what time of the day. However, remember we don’t work 7 days a week, and we don’t answer the phone if we are shooting a wedding. It is not uncommon for busy wedding photographers to take off a day in the week

With a wedding photographer, you need to be clear on this issue, because unlike nearly all of the other vendors, you will be communicating a lot with the photographer a long time after the wedding

#5 Choose what style you like

There are a number of different styles of wedding photography ranging between stiff and formal, through to totally documentary (nothing at all set up). There are also photographers that pull in aspects of other photographic disciplines such as fashion, fine art, avant-garde etc.. On top of that, there are a number of ways the photographs are processed, ranging from standard colour, black and white to totally gimmicky processing.

Before you seriously look at choosing a photographer, choose the style you want first

#6 Matching a photographer to the style you want

This is obvious, but more often than not, the photographer is chosen for another reason, and their style is foisted on the couple. You need to know that good professional photographers can change the style they shoot a little from shoot to shoot. However you do not want to choose a formal photographer to shoot a reportage style etc. Most of us are in the middle, and lean one way or the other.

Look at the photographers work, try and look at whole weddings if they are available, and if many weddings are available to view, look to see that the photographer does shoot in the way you want.

#7 Portfolio shots are different to general wedding photographs

Photographers choose images for their portfolios because they are either the best of the best, or they fit a certain format, or both. They tend to be dramatic, show stopping images. The 99.9% of the images the wedding photographer shoots are the ones you need to be interested in..

#8 Recommendations

Nothing is better than a recommendation, but nothing is worse than an unqualified recommendation. If someone recommends any wedding supplier or wedding photographer to you, then you need to know: have they actually shot the wedding yet? What is the relationship between the photographer and the person doing the recommending? I am often approached by venues, wanting a 10% cut, so that they can recommend me. I always say no. This goes on a lot

If you get a recommendation from a happy couple, who have had the album, and enjoyed the service provided from start to finish, then go with it, but still ensure you like the person and style.

#9 Deliverables

Getting the wedding photographs shot is the most important thing. If you have little money, invest in getting the day covered before investing in products.

All other products – albums, canvases, prints – need to be considered separately. What is the photographer’s attitude to longevity, and quality in the products? Your wedding album should last generations if it is made properly, and will last a few years if poor quality materials are used. Consider this to be an investment.

Do a little research first – find out about acid free materials and pigments, and why using them is important.

On the subject of deliverables, find out how reprints, albums and products are delivered, and if online galleries are provided, and if reprints can be purchased online.

#10 Get a short list and have a meeting

If you can get a very short list of photographers, and go and meet them at their studio. At the meeting you need to cover a few key things. Look at complete wedding albums. Are there any surprises, or inconsistencies? Look at the quality of the work, does it match the website? Do you click with the photographer? Does the studio and business look efficient and organised?

If the photographer is coming to you, ask them to bring a few complete albums, but remember they take up a lot of space and are bulky.

With sample albums, expect to see fingerprints, dings and the like, they tend to get carted from pillar to post, and lots of people thumb through them.

#11 Make sure the photographer shooting your wedding is the photographer you are booking

There are a number of industry practices you need to be aware of: Firstly there are networks of photographers, run from a head office. You may look at the website and see stunning images, but that doesn’t mean the local chap they send is any good.

Secondly, A small number of unscrupulous photographers actually use stock images or copy images from other photographers sites. This is done to defeat the chicken and egg problem that photographers have when they are starting out and have no portfolio.

Thirdly, a number of the better photographers actually run their businesses like hairdressing salons – i.e. the name on the door is the award winning hairdresser, you can pay so much for the junior, and a little more for the executive, and the full rate for the owner – however the style book contains only the best work from whoever.

#12 Award winning photographers

There are 1000’s of awards, and nowadays all photographers seem to be award winning. If they are saying this – find out what award, what photograph, and when. Don’t be too swayed by awards, look at results – real wedding photographs in albums, and use your own eyes and judgment.

#13 Professional qualifications / letters after names

Be very clear to find out exactly what the letters mean. In most instances, the photographer sends in 12 mediocre images with a “joining” fee, and all of a sudden they have flashy letters after the name. If you see this, go to the website, and find out how the photographer joins, and find out if it is merely a commercial organisation that promotes photographers, or a genuinely educative organisation promoting excellent photography.

#14 Contracts, deposits, copyright, pricing

Good professional photographers have this sorted, and have an immediate view. No contract – alarm bells. Discuss releasing the wedding photographs on disk, and what the copyright issues are. Discuss the pricing, and pricing for things that are sold afterward like re-prints, and copies of disks.

#15 Attitudes to backups

Film used to last for ages, decades. Digital has issues, disks degenerate, hard drives crash. A photographer’s attitude to backup is vitally important. As a minimum, the images shot at the wedding, and the photographs produced after editing need to be properly backed up, on and off site. If the wedding photographer can’t immediately tell you his or her process for backing up then an alarm bell should be ringing.

#16 Do not be swayed by today’s fashions

Do look at your mums wedding photographs – some things done 20-30 years ago, look cheesy now – faces in champagne glasses, spot colouring etc. We can all do these tricks, but do not let the fizz and polish sway you between one photographer and another. The most important thing they can do is shoot the wedding photographs properly in the first place.

#17 You do have to pay for quality

If the price is stupidly lower than al of the others, corners will be cut. This will be in equipment, processing time, quality of materials. Often people who have full time jobs doing something else, view shooting weddings not as a full time job, but a s a way of earning cash on the weekend, so the price is set low to attract anyone who wants to pay. While this works for a few weddings a year, you need more commitment than this, because as they get busier, something needs to give, and it isn’t normally the day job.

#18 Ask what backup kit / contingency plans they have

Any professional wedding photographer worth hiring will be able to immediately tell you this. You need to cover – what if a camera breaks or stops working? What happens if the photographer gets ill on the day? What happens if the weather is bad?

The correct answers are – I have a full duplicate kit (and some), I have a network of professionals I can call on at the drop of a hat to cover for me, I know the venue, I have a plan, I will do XYZ.

#19 What to look for in the photographs

When you look at wedding photographs, and you are comparing photographers ask: Has the photographer got the attention of the subject? (Ignore if the photograph is purposefully a candid). Are the eyes, and face sharp? Is the background distracting? Are the poses natural or awkward looking? Do the photographs work well as a set in terms of colour, skin tones and lighting? Are there annoying traits like every background blurred, or every image heavily tilted? On the straight images – are the key parts of the shot straight and parallel to the edges of the photograph?

#20 Get the balance right

The relationship, meeting and conversation you have with your wedding photographer needs to be two way. In other words the best place to be is where you bounce off of each other creatively. If it feels like your potential wedding photographer is telling you what he will do and need to the point where you feel you are changing what you want, or if you feel you have to spoon-feed the photographer with ideas – then you have the wrong photographer.

Again this is just like the hairdresser. You won’t go in the hairdresser and be bullied into having a perm and a colour, but on the other hand you expect your hairdresser to react to what you say constructively, and come up with ideas. In the hairdresser, when you find the right one, you know it – there is a balance between what you want, and the creative input the hairdresser brings to the table. Dealing with wedding photographers is the same; you don’t want a mouse or a prima-donna.

How to Secure Your First Commission As a Wedding Planner

It’s perfectly true to say that the wedding planning business sector is currently booming.

There is huge demand for such services and it’s potentially a very rewarding and lucrative area for a business to operate in. Even so, just like any other business, actually getting underway can be something of a challenge.

The pros and cons

On the positive side, as mentioned above, once you have completed your wedding planner training you can be sure that there are going to be a lot of people out there who might be potentially receptive to your proposals and quotations.

On the downside, securing your first two or three commissions in any line of self-employed work is never easy.

Why?

From your own experience, you will know that it’s sometimes easy to feel a little bit uncertain about someone who is trying to sell you their services when they have little or no verifiable track record to show you. In other words, if they have never done it successfully for anyone else, how can you trust them to do it well for you?

This is a real dilemma and one that is by no means restricted to wedding planning businesses.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do that will help to secure your first commission as a wedding planner.

Work as an assistant to gain experience

Many successful wedding planners are run off their feet with more work than they can handle. You may find that if you offer your services to one of them as an unpaid assistant for a time, you will be able to gain front-line experience in what’s involved in planning a real wedding.

Providing the wedding planner agrees, you can then add that experience to your portfolio and cite it when you are selling your own services as a wedding planner.
Use your friends and family

Although these opportunities might not be available every week, it’s highly likely that through your network of friends and family you will know of weddings that are taking place. You could offer your services to the couples concerned as a wedding planner or assistant on a free-of-charge basis, simply in order to build up a couple of successful client engagements for that all-important portfolio.

Of course, if you want to keep close friends and family members happy, make sure you get it right!

Offer price incentives

It is perfectly true that your earnings potential as a successful wedding planner will be substantial.

However, be realistic.

Expecting to get the same income as a highly experienced wedding planner on day-one of your business start-up is likely to lead only to disappointment. People will be prepared to pay premium prices for premium experience but if a client is going to take a chance on a relatively unproven wedding planner, they may expect to see that reflected in the prices they’re being offered.

Be patient, let your reputation build up and as it does, increase your prices accordingly to market levels. At the outset though, give people a good financial reason to use you as opposed to a more experienced wedding planner.