ten step album design workflow

Haley Lorraine

by Haley Lorraine

Ten Step Album Design Workflow by Haley Lorraine

I LOVE designing albums. I LOVE telling a story with photographs. I LOVE when my clients walk away from their session with a stunning book filled with their beautiful photographs.

Albums can add quite a bit of profitability to your business if you price them right and design them quickly, efficiently and without errors. I want to share how I create my albums and how I have built in steps along the way to increase efficiency and reduce the chance of needing a costly reprint.

photography album tips by Haley Lorraine

You have held the photo session. Your clients LOVE the photos and have decided to order and album. Now what? Here is how I prepare my clients albums.

1. Shoot for an Album

Album design actually started back at the photo session itself.  Shooting for an album means shooting wide images that will make great full page spreads as well as detail shots and images that will work well together. It means shooting great images that work together to tell a story.

2. Know Your Clients Favorites and Design With Them In Mind

Once you have that great set of images I always ask my client to take a few moments to select their favorite images for their album. I use Photocart so it is quick and easy for my client to favorite a few images and for me to login and see which ones they selected.

how to make a photography album tutorial by Haley Lorraine

I jump over to Adobe InDesign for the album design process and I take a moment to review the images my client selected and work to include as many as possible. I use page spread templates that I have pre-designed  to simply drag and drop my clients images into their album. At most a 15 spread (30 page) album takes me 45 minutes – 1 hour to design.

3. Send Proof to Client

At this point I export my spreads as JPGs then I import the spreads into Lightroom and use Lightroom Airtight AutoViwer to create a web slideshow of my album.  Here is an example of a recent client album.  I ensure that each spread name is visible in the top left hand corner and ask my client to reference the spread number and images names (from their Gallery) for any changes.

4. Make Changes

I find that because I took the time to ask my clients which images were their favorites in the beginning and worked to include as many of them as possible I find that my clients have few (if any) changes. If there are any changes I open up the file in InDesign, drag and drop their changes, and re-save the files as a new version.

5. Client Sign-Off

When my client is happy with the album they let me know (usually via email) that the album is ready to send to print. At this point I send them a quick email thanking them for their quick turnaround and letting them know they will have their album in their hands in 4 – 6 weeks. When it comes to albums I always under promise and over deliver. Usually my albums arrive from the printer in 2 weeks but if I had to reprint due to an error on my end my client would be none the wiser.

create a photo album advice by Haley Lorraine

6. Preflight

I open the approved album design in InDesign and use Preflight to do a quick quality check on the album. You can configure Preflight settings to define which conditions are detected. These preflight settings are stored in Preflight profiles for easy reuse. In my case I have a Preflight profile that checks my file to ensure there are no missing links or missing fonts, that all my images are the correct resolution and proportionally scaled and that there are no blank pages. The Preflight icon is green if no errors are detected or red if errors are detected.  It’s efficient and catches errors I often can’t see…I LOVE Preflight!

7. Export as PDF

My album design is now ready to leave InDesign. I export it as a high resolution PDF making sure to use my document bleed settings.

8. Sharpen and Save as JPG

I open the PDF in Photoshop and individually sharpen each spread and save as a high quality JPG. This gives me complete control over the amount of sharpening as well as another chance to view each spread up close and catch any possible errors. Catching an error before sending the album to print will save the hassle, wasted time and cost of a reprint.

learn about photo albums by Haley Lorraine

9. Send to Print

My files are now ready to send to the printer. Each print company has their own way of doing this. I love that my print company of choice, KISS Wedding Books, requires me to page through the album on last time to ensure no errors before finally sending my files off to print.

delivering photo albums and photography album packaging by Haley Lorraine

10. Deliver

When my album arrives in the mail. I open it and have a quick look through to ensure the final product is perfect. I then package it up with a hand written thank you card and arrange to deliver it to my client. I always hand deliver my albums and have built this time into my album costs. I love seeing their expression as they page through their stunning album.

Haley LorraineHaley Lorraine, Vancouver
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Haley Lorraine is a natural light portrait photographer based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She specializes in maternity, newborn and family photography. Her style is unique and blends a mix of lifestyle images with modern portraiture. Haley’s camera bag hold her Nikon D700, a variety of prime lenses, her trusty 24 -70 mm 2.8 and a Lensbaby Composer Pro. 



  • Kim Miller says:

    Love your album designs! I need to start doing this for sure! Thank you for a great tutorial.

  • Kayla Illies says:

    Thank you SO much for sharing this!!!!! Your album design process is perfect and just what I needed to better my own album process!!! I always tell myself the day before a session to shoot for an album, but when it comes session time I don’t think to do those wide angle or little detail shots because I’m so lost in making sure I capture a good variety for my client. I’ve also been told that if you predesign an album and show them when you do the ordering session, clients are likely to fall in love with it and purchase it even though in the beginning they had no intentions of it. Some people are very visual, like myself!

    I’ve also JUST discovered the KISS books and am planning on working with them! Their albums look simple and perfect!

    Thanks again for sharing!!!!

  • Becky says:

    In InDesign, what window do your predesigned templates show up in?

  • Anna N says:

    Just curious, is there a reason you don’t use SWAT to design your albums since you use KISS? I love using SWAT to design my albums.

  • Becky, the page spread templates are saved in an InDesign Library.

  • Anna, I have had the time to give SWAT a really good try. I like the control this process gives me over the end product.

  • Danielle says:

    I love the simplicity of your sample album. Is there are specific template you use? Also I have been thinking about starting to offer KISS albums- how much is an 8X8 book at the photographer’s cost? Thanks!

  • Annalisa says:

    Usually I don’t read a lot of blog posts but this ones perfect! I don’t know much about albums and find it a real mission to go through all the processes and choosing millions of options before finally coming up with a design I like which can take a lot of time. Kiss books looks like the perfect option for my life, magic word was SIMPLE…I’m SOLD!

  • Tami says:

    What a great article! I love selling albums. I have been using the SWAT designer, but was interested in trying In Design for more control. Do you have any recommendations for where I can get premade design templates, simple ones like you have used? Very gorgeous album by the way :)

  • Danielle, I do love KISS for the simplicity and quality. I suggest signing up for an account with them and you will get immediate access to the most recent price sheet. Cost is dependent on your cover choice (leather or linen) and the number of spreads you choose.

  • Alex says:

    Beautiful and easy. Good presentation is a must.
    Nice work Haley.

  • jennifer says:

    Such great tips for design Haley! I love this tutorial! I also use Kiss and love them. <3

  • marie says:

    Did you predesign your own templates or are these purchased from somewhere? I am so not a designer & need simplicity of drag & drop.

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