It’s time to talk about wedding albums! In this here digital age it’s easy to forget about any kind of physical product. “I just want the disk, no prints.” Come on now, this is your wedding! 10, 20, 50 years from now, are you going to fumble through a drawer for the disk, or a thumb-drive? Think ahead, when you sit down with your daughter and her fiancé as they’re planning their wedding, will you want to be looking at a screen, or would you rather gather around the table and bust out the albums?
A wedding album is the first heirloom created for a new family. Next to the rings, it’s the one thing of true significance you’ll have from your wedding day. It will, and should, be passed to future generations. It’s nice that we have all these digital options, but, and by no means does an album take that away. But there is something different about an actual physical product – something you can touch and feel, it’s tactile!
If you’re a bride and just sat down to meet with me you may be saying “Ok, I couldn’t keep my hands off the album, bottom-line it for me, how much.” I split my albums into two categories. The minimalist series and the Fine Art series. With so many options with albums – from the dimensions to cover options to page count to a custom box – it’s really difficult to give anything more than a starting price. All albums start at 20 pages - prices for the minimalist series start at $250 – Prices for the Fine Art Series start at $1000.
The Fine Art Album:
We all assume that quality counts, but I know it’s a tough sell. If quality was the deciding factor, Walmart would not be the country’s largest retailer. My album partner, Finao knows their quality is the best there can be. They take pride in producing an album that will last a lifetime and beyond. They take what we make very seriously. And I must say, their customer service is top notch. Upon placing my first order with them, I got to know their service department fairly well, as we exchanged several emails per day – they helped with cover options, minor tweaks to the layouts – They made every effort they could to make sure the albums I asked them to make was awesome.
What goes into a fine art album?
First is the design – each wedding is unique so I do not use a template based system to ensure that each album is as unique as they newlyweds. Once I complete my end – the design then goes off to Finao. And what they do is quite amazing –
“It’s 23 steps and 23 separate people that are involved in building a single album. Eleven of those people are involved in just making the page-block. Nine individual people work on a cover and three people inspect, wrap and ship the finished album. That’s a lot. 23 separate and distinct functions that need to be performed before that album gets loaded on a delivery truck to be sent to its new home.
There are some steps that might take everyone by surprise. The board used as page substrate is not one piece. The thick pages are five pieces and the medium pages are three pieces. Someone “builds” each of these inserts. I didn’t count the paper trimmer, but every board we receive is 4×8′ and has to be cut to album-sized pieces before they can be joined to form the substrate. Every print is coated, creased and sequenced before being hand-set on the substrate to form a block. Every block is left in a hydraulic press overnight to assure complete dryness and perfectly straight alignment. Everyone has seen a sloppy album cover with a slant to the spine and pages; that won’t happen if the block is built correctly.
Cover pieces are cut from hides that are large and awkwardly shaped. The cutter must find an area that will work best for a cover cut. The waste is significant. The other option would be to use processed leathers or, worse yet, bonded leather. I call that stuff the bologna of the leather business. Bonded leathers now have to list the actual leather content. From what I see it looks like about 18% is par for the course. That’s 18% leather scraps, doesn’t matter the color or where they came from, if it came off an animal it counts. It’s the equivalent of pink slime in the food industry. Don’t be fooled and don’t sell your client something just CALLED leather. Make sure you are receiving the real thing. It’s expensive, hard to work with and has a low yield, but Finao would not have it any other way.
Every Finao album block is measured and the spine, along with front and back cover panels, are custom-cut to assure a perfect fit and prefect sizing. Headbands are added and spines are reinforced. Along the way, a Finao album cover will also spend time in presses assuring correct drying of adhesive. Quality adhesive, dried properly, will be what holds that album together for ages. Every edge is hand-sanded; just a little something extra to make sure the album your client receives goes above and beyond. Imprinting is hand-set and stamped from metal foil, 24K if you select gold. Leathers which do not match in thickness are built-up to produce a smooth transition.”
Now that’s the kind of quality that’s made to last! That’s why the starting price is $1000. I personally can’t wait to get a few more sample albums in because I love them (and yes, I will be getting one of these albums for my own wedding, clients come first though!!!)
The Minimalist album:
These are also made by Finao. I hate calling them minimalist because they are quite wonderful too. Featuring real photographic prints (a far superior choice to consumer-grade press-printed albums), seamless panoramic images with no ugly gutters, solid spines, and covers in nearly 100 beautiful fabrics and textiles found nowhere else in the photographic industry. It’s the perfect mix of quality and affordable. These albums are perfect for the bride and groom on a tight budget, or, as parent albums. They are also a great alternative for engagement shoots, senior portraits, and family portraits. For sure, they don’t have the same WOW factor as the Fine Art series, but they are quite nice! If you have met with me you have held one and can attest to that!
I think that’s that. Hope you’ve enjoyed the post, have a great day everyone!