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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.