Vision Art – Our Favorite Album Company

Finding an album company can be a difficult task! Many wedding and portrait photographers know they need to offer albums (as they’re quite profitable!), but with so many options to choose from it’s hard to know where to start.

Today we’ll be looking at our favourite album company: Vision Art. Vision Art is an album company based out of Marshalltown Iowa, in the U.S. They produce beautiful fine art albums that are perfect for wedding and portrait photographers. We’ve been using Vision Art for our wedding and portrait albums ever since we started our photography business (just over 5 years now!). We’ve experimented with several other album manufacturers but Vision Art comes out on top for quality, customer service, consistency, and value.

Note: This review was completed independently. We’re frequently asked what album company we use so we thought this would make a great article. While Vision Art did send us some sample albums to use in this review, we’re not receiving any sort of compensation from them. We just really really like them.

Check out this video where we take a look at The Original Fine Art Book and the Photo Art Book offered by Vision Art. I also talk a bit about our experience with the company.

What We Love

Gutterless spreads

When you open the album you’ll notice there is no gutter down the centre. You can design your albums placing photos across the whole spread. This feature delivers serious visual impact, and gives you so much creative flexibility with your designs!

Lays flat

The Original Fine Art Book, that we use exclusively, lays perfectly flat when open. This makes for a fantastic viewing experience since you don’t have to hold the book open. Because of the thicker pages the Photo Art Book doesn’t lay flat perfectly, but it will still lay open almost all the way.

Fantastic matte paper

We really love the matte paper used by Vision Art. The matte finish gives the album a luxurious fine art feel.

Full photo wrap covers

The full photo wrap cover allows us to design unique covers for all our clients. Our clients love having their photo right on the album cover. The crystal laminate finish of the cover also does a fantastic job of preventing finger prints, and makes cleaning the album easy.

Quality

The attention to detail that Vision Art puts into their albums is incredible. They use archival quality inks that don’t fade or smudge (our original sample albums still look fantastic). The assembly of the album is consistently excellent. These albums are built to last!

Customer service

This is probably one of the most important things any wedding or portrait photographer should look for in an album company. We’ve received the same high level of service from Vision Art right from the beginning of our business. Taking care of their customers is clearly a priority.

Fast Turn around

From the time we submit an album to the time is arrives at our door, it’s usually no more than two weeks (and we live in Canada!). You also have the option to rush service where they can complete a book in 24-48 hours!

Value

I won’t be talking much about pricing in this review. Since they only work with professional photographers their pricing isn’t publicly available. You can visit their website to contact them for more details or email visionart [at] visionart.com. What I do want to mention is the pricing of Vision Art’s albums is super competitive, even with their incredible quality and customer service. I think this is important to mention since albums are a product that you’ll be reselling to your clients. In order to earn a good profit selling albums you need to be buying them at a reasonable price. With the different albums Vision Art offers you’ll absolutely be able to find a product that your clients will love.

The Albums

Here’s a look at the Albums featured in the video above!

First up the Photo Art Book

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Next the Orginal Fine Art Book. These are the books we use exclusively in our own photography business.

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The Details

The photo below is a closeup shot showing the gutter down the centre of a Photo Art Book with matte paper.

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In the larger shot below you can see that the gutter fold blends into the image quite nicely, allowing you place images right across the whole spread. The gutters of our sample albums (opened and closed hundreds of times) still look fantastic.

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As shown in the image below, the pages in the Photo Art Book are about twice the thickness of the pages in the Original Fine Art Book. These pages are quite rigid, but they’re not so thick that the album feels awkward to look through.

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Below: Pages from the Original Fine Art Book. The pages are thinner, but still have considerable weight to them. Think heavy cardstock. Also notice in this photo how the binding of these books is constructed. Each page is glued to the next which is what allows for the gutterless design.

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Below: The Original features a true layflat design. This makes looking through the album a fantastic experience!

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Below: The Photo Art Book doesn’t lay flat quite as perfectly. This is possibly due to the thicker pages, or because the sample Photo Art Book below is brand new. The Original above has been a sample in our studio for the past year. You can hold the pages down so it’s perfectly flat and I suspect the more the album is handled the more it will wear in nicely.

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Below: Two Photo Art Books of different sizes are shown. The one on the left shows the standard photo finish and the one on the right has the optional matte finish. The photo finish definitely protects the image more (it has a laminate of some sort over the image) and would make cleaning the albums easy.

You can see that the photo finish is quite low glare (obviously not as low glare as the matte but for a protective laminate it’s impressive). It looks like a real photo finish. The brightness of both papers looks great and the colors look accurate (and consistent) for both finishes. The blacks for the photo finish look a bit crisper than the matte which makes sense. It was great getting to see both paper options side by side like this!

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Below: A super closeup shot showing the laminate finish of the full photo wrap covers. This finish does an incredible job of preventing finger prints from showing up on the cover.

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Below: The cover is wrapped perfectly around the edes, and the end papers finish the covers beautifully.

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Below: Another shot of the image wrap cover neatly folded around the edges.

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Below: Look how neatly the spine hugs the back cover. The attention to detail each book receives really is phenomenal.

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Other Products

What’s really neat about Vision Art is that they offer a TON of variety. Their books come in many sizes and formats (including awesome panoramic books).

They have a variety of cover materials as well, including book cloth, lots of leather options, and custom dust jackets.

For presentation they have lovely little cloth bags to wrap the album in, or even custom album boxes!

Take Away

If you’re a wedding or portrait photographer looking to offer your clients fine art albums then Vision Art is definitely a company you’ll want to check out. For our own photography business they’ve been the best vendor we’ve ever worked with in terms of quality and customer service. We have no doubt that they’ll take great care of you too.

Rob Lim

Hi there, I’m Rob! I’m a photographer and head ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I love all things photography: shooting, teaching and always learning more! If I’m not reading up on the latest photography news, or studying a technique, I’m probably reading a book or planning our next adventure!

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Comments

39 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. Thank you guys, this was super helpful!! Those albums are just gorgeous. <3

  2. Oh how I love albums. That tiny photo art book is awesome!

  3. I started using Vision Art just a couple of months ago and they are amazing and so quick!

  4. The albums look great, I'm just curious about their shipping to Canada -shipping and customs/duties is always so outrageous.

  5. Thanks for the comments guys! So glad this was helpful!

    *@Chantel:* They have great shipping. It's a flat rate (about $40 for one book) and there are no customs or duties. And super quick. They definitely take care of us Canadians!

  6. Oh that is AMAZING for shipping! I've been paying $100 for shipping through a different company, definitely going to look into them. Thanks for the info!

  7. You do still have to pay GST for Canada, but Vision Art includes it as a separate line on the invoice so we don't pay anything at the door which is a great!

  8. Thank you so much! It's like you read my mind about what I was going to request next!

  9. As said above, those albums are gorgeous. I don't usually print a lot of my photos but I'm planning to do it in the future. This review has given me a lot of pointers as to what I want to look for in print quality and product features.
    I hope to find the same kind of services at a more local company to avoid shipping an album print all the way from Iowa to Denmark.
    Thanks for the review! :D

  10. Thank you. With your response to my last comment and with this post, you guys opened my mind and made me understood everything I need. I'm so glad to read your blog as an inspiration for my photography and my future business.

  11. Hi Rob! I was starting to think you'd gone camera-shy on us!
    Those albums are exquisite. I wonder how much shipping to Australia would cost…

  12. Great post!

    VERY timely for me as I'm adding albums to my offering for 2012. Curious as to what other vendors you've tried if you wouldn't mind sharing?

  13. Thanks for commenting guys!

    *@Autumn* Happy to share a great company! We do take requests ;)

    *@Christian* Glad you enjoyed the review! Totally understand the need to find a local option. Luckily for us Vision Art isn't too far away. Despite the higher cost of shipping, it still might be worth checking Vision Art out as the price of their albums is quite reasonable and for international shipping they only charge the actual cost of shipping +$5.00 and ship via USPS Global.

    *@Erin* Definitely a bit shy, but working through it :)

    I know there are photographers in Australia who use Vision Art. I'm sure if you contacted Vision Art they would be able to give you a rough idea of the cost of having an album shipped to you.

    *@Jim* Thanks for commenting! In terms of vendors we've had albums printed with we've tried Asuka, WHCC, Apple, and Blurb for press printed books. WHCC and Blurb were the best in terms of quality. For weddings and portraits we needed to offer something higher quality and something that our clients couldn't make themselves. We looked at the fine art book offerings from GraphiStudio, Asuka, Forbeyon, and Finao and chose Vision Art for their exceptional quality, outstanding customer service, and the value of their albums.

    A lot of album companies seem to be making albums that don't hold up in terms of quality, are negligent about great customer service, or their albums are too expensive to offer at a reasonable markup. It's really difficult to find a company like Vision Art that excels at all three things, not to mention the fact that I haven't seen another company produce a book as nice as theirs.

    What I would suggest is hitting up a trade show like WPPI (I think Vision Art will be there). It will give you a chance to see albums from different companies first hand and get to know the company that's producing them.

  14. I'm really concerned about archival life of these products. It's what has held me back from the press printed book. How do you think they'll hold up over time? As a photographer I feel like an archivist for future generations so it's really important to me that the great grand children are able to view these images.

  15. Hey Mark!

    These actually aren't press printed books. Sorry, we should have written more about how they are printed!

    From what I understand, it's an inkjet process with archival inks, on archival paper. They are definitely made to last!

    And we totally agree. It's really important to consider the life of a printed product, and the future generations that it's meant for!

  16. Thank you for this post!
    The information is concise and clear.
    Hope they could send albums to Europe-Spain.

    It's possible to know how many (more or less) spreads you usually used in your portrait albums?

  17. *@Santiago:* You are most welcome! So glad this was helpful. Definitely get in touch with Vision Art, I believe they ship worldwide!

    For portrait albums I usually end up with the base 15 spreads. Sometimes there are a few more, but that's usually enough to cover a portrait session well! With weddings we did more around 20 – 30!

  18. i heard that Vision Art does not print albums for same sex marriages. Is that true or just a rumor?

  19. Hey Taylor! That's just a rumor. Vision Art does print albums for same sex marriages.

  20. @Santiago
    they do ship to Europe, I am from Croatia and I last month order my 1. Vision art album (http://pjphotos.org/blog/2011/09/albumi-za-vjencanja/) and I have all best words…and shiping was cca 60$..

  21. @Santiago
    they ship to Europe, I am from Crotia and I order my 1. album from them (http://pjphotos.org/blog/2011/09/albumi-za-vjencanja/). shiping was cca 60$.

  22. Thanks for the post! We're always interested learning about new vendors. We've been using Leather Craftsmen for our flush mounted albums since we started a couple years ago and really like their product. We use another company for our lower end press printed books. It sounds like Vision Art's Original series is similar to the press printed. I'm curious to get pricing info from them. Thanks again!

  23. Oh, you guys are so awesome. I should be receiving my order from VisionArt today. They were just as helpful on a customer service front as you said. Though, I would in addendum make a point of noting that some of their methods are a little… hrrrm… behind the times? Just in terms of the kinds of template options they provide and that you need to save pages out individually, and whatnot. Maybe it's just because I am a graphic designer, and expect a certain level of production standards… in fact, their approach may be more layman-friendly? But still, now that I understand their methods, I am looking forward to working with them some more.

    A related question that has been on my mind recently is what online proofing / print selling system do you use? Perhaps I could even persuade you to do a post on the topic? I've taken a good look at about five options, and am leaning towards Zenfolio, but I find your perspective is always incredibly valuable.

  24. Thanks for the info, guys! I've been looking into them as an option lately. It's narrowed it down to Vision Art and Renaissance.
    Have you seen/tried the Dulce line they offer? Seems like an affordable option for parent albums.

  25. *@Benjamin:* You are most welcome, I'm glad it was helpful! Vision Art actually isn't press printed, it's fully ink jet photo prints. So really high quality but still affordable!

    *@Jasmine:* So glad you got great customer service from them. I always love working with those guys. I do agree that they have a different approach than you'd expect as a graphic designer. I've found that to be the case with most photography album companies actually. They certainly aren't alone in wanting individual JPEGs.

    Good question! We've been using "PickPic":http://www.pickpic.com/ for years, back when it was a one time purchase. I haven't done much research on the topic in a long time, since we've been happy with that system. I'd actually love to hear what you've learned!!

    *@Jana:* I actually haven't seen or tried the Dulce, but from everything I've experienced with Vision Art I know it would be lovely. I might try it out soon, it would be a fantastic option for parent albums!!

  26. Hey guys!
    Great article and comments as usual – thank you. I've signed up with Kiss wedding books. They look similar to Vision Art, but I haven't ordered from them yet. Does anyone here have any experience with them? Many thanks in advance!

  27. Thanks Lann! I haven't ordered from Kiss personally, so I can't help out there. I did look at their books, but I like the matte paper that Vision Art has. Hopefully someone else has had firsthand experience with them and can offer some insight!

  28. Hey Guys!

    Absolutely love this site and send other photographers to it as much as I can!

    I have 3 questions.

    I was wondering for the photo art book, is it worth the difference in cost for them compared to the original albums?

    As well have you printed any with the leather mixed with the photo cover? I can't decide if it's something I want to order in a sample or not

    And have you printed using your photo paper instead of their matte paper or seen the difference?

    Thanks!

    Kelly

  29. Hey Kelly, thanks so much for the kind words and for telling others about our site! Super appreciated!

    In terms of "worth it" I think that's more personal preference in terms of paper! I personally prefer the thinner matte paper, just how I like books. Others I'm sure like the thicker stuff better. So I can't really say whether it's worth it or not!

    I haven't personally printed with the leather cover so I can't help much there, sorry!

    We have printed ourselves and compared it to the album and the colour is super accurate. We actually just did some test prints, and compared to a colour accurate monitor and it was really close. They do a great job!

    Hope that helps Kelly!

  30. Thanks Lauren, that is really helpful :)

  31. How long does it take for albums to be shipped to Europe ?

  32. *@Robert:* Unfortunately I don't know how long it would take, but you can give Vision Art a shout and they'll be able to help you: https://www.visionart.com/books/contactus

  33. For engagement sign in books, what vision art book do you generally use? For wedding albums, do you generally use the fine art? What is the main difference between these two books? Thanks!

  34. @Sarah: We actually have never used Vision Art books for sign in guestbooks. We only did a few of those in our day, and we used WHCC. But the Vision Art albums with book cloth covers could be a nice option, as they are a bit more affordable, but still have the same fantastic print quality. You can check out their site for more details about their different books: https://visionart.com/books/the_book

  35. I am having a hard time deciding on using renaissunce or vision art. I can get the renaissunce local and it uses photo paper but I have heard so many good things about vision art. Would love to see the vision art in person. Might just have to order samples of both. How does the ink process compare to using traditional chemical photo process?

    • As far as I know Vision Art uses an ink jet printing process. Ink jet technology has come a long way and prints done on a wide variety of media look fantastic (great color, awesome black and whites, smooth natural gradients, and sharp!).

  36. Hi Lauren,

    I see you mentioned that you have used WHCC for guest books in the past…did you use the album or book for that purpose? And would you now suggest sticking with WHCC or going with Vision Art now that you have seen both, and taking into consideration cost as well?

    Thanks,
    Jess

    • Hey Jess! We used the WHCC press printed hard cover books. I haven’t looked at their offerings in a while so I don’t know what the difference between their albums and books are.

      I think I’d lean towards Vision Art, just based on our experience. They are coming out with more affordable books (like with book cloth covers instead of photo covers), the printing and paper quality is much better, and they will make a more enjoyable keepsake for the couple. You’d have to charge more, but long term I think it would be worth it.

      Just my two cents! :)

  37. I have studied many options and tried a number of photo books – Pictobooks, Vision Art, Albumcrafters, Blurb, Apple, Snapfish, Milk books.

    It is so hard to determine from a website without getting samples. I prefer the wedding album companies but wish they could do books with actual pages and not always the thick board. I am looking for a high end book like vision art but agree that I do not like having to set up a separate cover template for them and I want to find thinner pages. I also do a lot of garden books and this is where I am trying to find an appropriate book maker. Any suggestions out there? Also, if I were to go to one expo or conference what one would have samples of many books to see?

    Is there a rule of thumb on pricing these books to clients? They seem so expensive at cost that I find that a big nugget to swallow after charging for a shoot. Would love some thoughts on all of these items. Thanks.

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