Shang Chen Photo

Guest post: Making your own wedding album

Every now and then I follow up with my clients to see what they have done with the disc of photos that I deliver at the end of the entire wedding photography process. Most of my clients either have a professional album made by me, or get some prints or canvases. Some clients have opted to receive just the disc. For Coreen and Ken, they made a gorgeous DIY album for themselves! As long as you are aware of the trade-offs between DIY and going through me, it is your choice to make in the end. I believe in laying out all the facts, but I do not want to be the one telling you what to do. This post will show you guys what goes into each process and what to expect from going with either me or doing your own route.

Hello everyone! Shang Chen Photo asked me to write a guest post about my experience designing our own wedding album, so here I am! Ken and I were wed on Sept. 25, 2010 and of course Shang Chen Photo was our photographer for our special day. At the evening reception, I was amazed to see some of the wedding pictures taken earlier in the day already on display on her laptop! A few weeks later, we received all the images Shang Chen Photo took, including the ones we chose to be retouched. I was floored by the number of amazing shots that she captured on our wedding day and I knew that I had to have an album of the highlights. Shang Chen Photo designs beautiful professional albums that are printed by KISS, but they were way out of our price range, so Ken and I decided to make our own. Plus, it would be a fun experience that we could share together while working on something that would mean a lot to both of us.

First, we chose Adorama as the printer because 1) Shang recommended them, and 2) it got great reviews from this guy who did a very thorough review of many of the photobook companies out there

Adorama appealed to me because it got great reviews for overall quality, they make lay-flat albums, and you can print images all the way to the edge of the page. I wanted to have some panoramic pictures that spanned both pages and having lay-flat albums gave me more freedom to play with the formatting of each spread. Adorama’s lay-flat albums come in either 14, 26, 38, 50, or 76 pages. Other companies are different in terms of how many pages their albums can have. I would recommend picking a printer before designing your album because various companies allow different pages you can have in your album. Anyway, I wasn’t sure exactly how many pages I was going to have, but at least I had choices and I knew what to aim for.

Next, we chose all the pictures that we would potentially want in the album. Since we had already chosen our favorite ones to be retouched, this process was much easier (choosing images to be retouched was so difficult for us because there were so many we liked!) We tried choosing images that were different but also told a story. We put all these images in a “favorites” folder.

As for album design, we wanted something clean, simple, and timeless. We wanted white backgrounds, no borders, no squigglies/flourishes, no odd-shaped oval/diamond images. I had read some blog posts from Laurence Kim’s website about album design. I also looked at Shang’s 2010 sample wedding albums for inspiration and good layout examples. I started off sketching out some of the layouts that I envisioned. In each spread, I tried to have one or two large images that unified the page. Then I put together each spread using Adorama’s online software. Because it’s an online software, all the images need to be uploaded first, which took about an hour for me. The software itself took a little bit getting used to but I picked it up after 4-5 spreads.

The flow of our album is chronological. It starts with “getting ready” photos (one spread for me and one spread for Ken), then “first look” pictures, then wedding party pictures, ceremony, and reception pictures. The software is very flexible where you can make your own spreads from scratch or use their templates where you can drag and drop images into. One downside of using the software was that it didn’t have a large selection of fonts. We only have text on the front cover with our names and date, but I wanted a font that fit with the overall tone of the album, and I felt like I had trouble at first finding something that I liked. Designing the album was really fun and Ken’s a lot more creative than I gave him credit for. 🙂