Albums rock. That’s a fact. If you aren’t offering them to your clients, you are seriously missing out. Big time.
We’re going to start chatting a LOT about albums, and how they can (and probably should!) become the cornerstone of your wedding/portrait photography business.
Today let’s start off with 12 reasons why albums totally rock.
1. They Tell A Story
Cliche and cheesy, but completely 100% true.
Modern photography is becoming increasingly about stories. In weddings it is the emphasis on photojournalism. And family photography is following suit.
A single canvas above a fireplace tells you what a family looks like. But with an album you can show who is a family truly is. Page after page reveals more nuances. The story is in the details, and albums allow you to show them all.
Perhaps it’s that portrait of the little boy hugging his sister. Or the bride’s flowers, with her grandmother’s necklace wrapped around them. These images are valuable to your client, and the way to give them the attention they deserve is with an album.
2. They Last
People buy photography so that they can have those memories forever. But if you aren’t selling albums, and only wall prints, your work will be replaced. Who would keep up a family portrait from 10 years on their wall? Those pieces are meant to be updated.
An album, on the other hand, stays around for generations. It can be kept on the mantle, on the coffee table, or in a bookshelf—ready to be pulled out at any time. While a single image from 10 years ago just makes you laugh at how different you looked, a full album, with tons of photos, helps you relive that time, and all the little details you forgot.
Albums are revisited frequently. No one pulls a 24×36 canvas out of storage when friends come over, or sits down on their couch on their 10th anniversary to look at a disc of files.
3. They’re Tangible
The digital age has changed the way we interact with the world, and photos are no exception. Most people don’t even print photos anymore, but just keep them online.
Yes, that helps us share images easier than every before, but there’s something missing. The tangible value of a printed photograph.
Touch is an important sense, and gives us a lot of information. We experience a lot of the world tactually. An album lets you bring that experience to your images unlike anything else.
The next time you hand an album to a client watch what they do. Many will heft the book, run their hands over the cover, and rub the paper between their fingers. They’re engaging with your work with more than just their visual sense. I mean, have you ever held a print of someone you loved, and actually touched their face?
Bring the tangible back with an album, and you’ll see how it enhances the experience of viewing your photographs.
4. They’re Easy to Create
The first thing to realize is that you don’t need to learn how to physically make an album. That’s an extremely specialized and time intensive process.
All you need to do is learn how to design a great album on your computer. And that’s not that hard. InDesign is the industry standard for page layout, and makes album creation drag and drop simple.
The most difficult part of the process is really just choosing which images will work best together to tell the story, and that’s where your expertise as a photographer becomes valuable.
For instance, I can design a 15 spread (30 page) album in 30 minutes, start to finish. And most of that time is just trying out different combinations of images to see what works best for the unique session. Seriously easy.
5. They’re Traditional
This might seem backwards, since I was talking about modern photography earlier, and how albums are perfectly suited to the new way of shooting. But the fact that an album is a traditional concept is extremely useful for you!
People know what albums are. Say the words “photo album”, and an image of a book with lots of photos comes into their minds. Now, say the words “photo fusion” and they have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. Those words have no point of reference in the customer’s mind. That’s a much harder sell.
Every bride in the world is planning to get a wedding album. Trust me, I asked all of them. The only question is whether or not they’re going to get it through you, or make one themselves.
The point is that an album is a guaranteed outcome. The same goes for families. Whether or not it’s professionally created, families also have photo albums.
So the benefit here is that you don’t need to convince people that albums are important. They already know they are. It’s a tradition that has gone back to the very beginnings of photography itself, and is still deeply entrenched in our culture (Facebook, the newest way of sharing your images with your friends, still uses the term album for collections of images presented together)
The only thing you need to convince them of is the fact that you, as the photographer, are the best person to create their album, because of your specialized knowledge and skill.
6. They’re Easy To Sell
Yep, albums are easy to sell.
Like we were just talking about, weddings and albums go hand in hand. With the volume of images that are going to be produced from a wedding day, the album is the absolute best vehicle for presentation. You really can’t show off all those photos they invested so much in with a large canvas, or a slideshow. Albums reign supreme.
The same goes with the modern style of family photography. These days a photographer is probably delivering somewhere between 40 – 100 images from a session, rather than the old style of 2 – 5 poses. So how on earth are you going to display all those amazing photos?
Yep. Album. Really, they’re the only way to do justice to all the awesome photos you’re taking. It’s so easy to see the benefit of putting photos in an album, which means it’s easy to sell.
Take lots of amazing images, and an album practically sells itself.
7. They’re Profitable
Albums are desirable (every single bride wants one), and valuable (they’re going to last a long long time). They’re easy to make, and have a short learning curve (you can learn everything you need to know to make amazing albums in just over 4 hours).
What does all this add up to? Profit.
Because the time investment is relatively low, you can have a smaller cost of goods sold. And because they are so desirable, you can easily charge a 3x-4x markup, and get it. Albums are one of the simplest ways to improve your sales for weddings and portraits.
Bonus time! You can also upsell albums, which means making them bigger, adding more pages, or slapping on some snazzy cover options. These are also easy to sell, and add to your profit! Albums rock hey?
8. They’re Collectable
And hey, once you’ve sold a client one album, the fun doesn’t stop. You can create album series, collections, and anything else you can dream up.
How about an engagement album, an engagement guestbook, a wedding album (two volumes becaus
e there were just so many gosh darn amazing moments), an album for each set of parents as a thank you for all their hard work and support, mini albums for all the bridal party, and if you like doing day after shoots, how about one to capture that first day as a married couple—relaxed and looking amazing.
Wait, did you think that was all?
Now they’re pregnant. Maternity album. They have their baby. Newborn album. Don’t kids grow up so fast? 1 year album. 2 year album.
Do you get my point? I know I’m being exceedingly subtle, but the basic idea is that albums are limitless, and, when you make them super valuable, you can create a product that your clients love to collect.
9. They’re Customizable
There are as many album companies as there are photographers….or maybe it just seems that way some days.
Exaggerations aside, there are a ton of different options when it comes to picking an album company. That might seem like it makes things overwhelming, but instead you should see it as a benefit.
No matter what your style of shooting, your type of client, or your price point, you can find an album that works for you. Albums can range from $150 to $1,000+. You can have simple linen covers, full colour image covers, or your photos printed on metal gracing the front of the book. You can have traditional photo paper, fine art paper, or even eco friendly-cotton-giclee-water-colour-textured-velvet paper. And pretty much everything in between.
Long story short, you can find a company that produces albums that fit perfectly with your brand and your images.
10. They’re Automatic Marketing
Don’t you love things that automatically do your marketing for you? I do.
Albums are like little marketing machines. Every time your client shows it off, the question is going to be “Oh wow, who was your photographer?”. BAM! Marketing.
Even 20 years from now, same deal. BAM! Marketing.
Make albums that are worth showing off, and you’ll have all these little marketing machines all over the place, doing your work for you. Like robots.
11. They Help You Become A Better Graphic Designer
Photographers should learn graphic design.
Yep, I really mean that. I don’t mean that you should start figuring out how to start a graphic design company, and learn professional level techniques. But, when you design albums you are doing graphic design. So you should start learning the fundamentals so you can create a more valuable product.
The process of album design will teach you concepts like consistency, balance, contrast, alignment and proximity. Then you can use those ideas in any other pieces you design for your company (letterheads, newsletters, thank you cards, business cards, promo pieces, etc.)
Oh, and those ideas all totally help your photography itself. Win-win-win.
12. They Help You Become A Better Photographer
At the end of the day, wedding and portrait photography is about telling the story of your clients. As much as an album can help to tell that story in a powerful way, it won’t do much good unless you take the right photos.
The more you design albums, the more you learn about the types of images that need to be taken to capture the full narrative. Detail shots, important moments, important people, relationships, emotions, movement, sense of place, and purpose — you need to photograph all of that if you want to tell the story well.
The album is the final step of storytelling photography, and the more you work to understand that, the stronger your storytelling skills as a photographer will become.