New to wedding - what proof size to get and how to put an album together?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by hoang_nguyen|2, Mar 22, 2004.

  1. I would appreciate professional wedding photographers' feedback on
    what proof size you usually ask for and how you put an album
    together. I'm shooting 35mm, and will send my films to a pro lab for
    processing and proof printing. What is the most popular proof size
    and why, 4x5, 4x6 or 5x7? Should I just get all proofs and decide to
    go to 8x10 or larger later based on the proofs I (or my clients)
    like? How do you put a wedding album together? I'm talking about
    leather albums like Pro-Craft, Art Leather, etc. Any ideas on these
    would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  2. I usually proof 35mm to 4x6, and then assemble a proof album in more or less chronological order.
    As for the albums themselves, check out Open up an account and request a catalog. There are a lot of choices, for both proof and formal albums, so be prepared with a budget before you go shopping. Even a modest Pro-Craft formal album can run you $300+ (your cost, including prints) for everything. (album, pages, matts, etc)
  3. From 35mm, I like 4x6" proofs, as I think 35mm color neg images usually "pop" at 4x6", making 4x6" a good viewing size. They are fairly inexpensive, aren't that much more than 3.5x5" prints and are as full-frame as you will get. Plus, it is easier to see all the people in a 4x6" group shot than a 3.5x5 inch group shot.

    And yes, number your rolls and each pik on that roll (e.g. 1-1 thru 1-36, 2-1 thru 2-36, etc.). Put the images in a proof book or books in order, so that the clients can then order from the proofs in an orderly fashion.

    As to albums, I tend to use less expensive proof albums, as I give them to my clients, who are paying for them, and the proof albums get handled so much, the get beaten up anyway. Then, go for a more expensive, higher-quality album for the finished album.

    There are a number of good album makers. I like Webway as a good, reasonably-priced album:

    Art Leather and Pro-Craft are a bit nicer and pricier, but a good choice if they fall within your clients' budgets:
  4. if possible, stay away from paper proofs. They will scan it and yoru reprint sales will be lower. Try a digital based proofing.
  5. A guy in my office just got a wedding proof book and the photos are basically laminated into the book, making a decent scan virtually impossible.
    atlastphotography likes this.
  6. Perhaps I would make my question about the album a little clearer. When I say preparing the album, I mean the formal album with different 'cut-out' designs. Some designs have an oval cut-out (I'm not sure if 'cut-out' is a correct terminology), some with square or circular cut-outs. How do you come up with certain designs, or is it strictly your taste? Do you have to crop your prints (cut with a pair of scissors?) to fit your prints in the cut-outs, if you understand what I mean.
    Thanks a million.
  7. Different albums have different designs, but the basic concept is that you buy the album and pages separately. You order the pages with the cutouts you want, and the pictures slip into the page (behind the cutout so you don't trim the photo to the shape of the cutout). The finished pages are then inserted into the album.
  8. Yes I understand concerning the album itself.

    The albums I use are 10" square and have various sizes and shaped insert mats that are
    also about 10" square at the outer dimension with the opening centered. So you can
    mount a 7X10 opening either way (landscape orientation or portrait orientation). Same for
    8X10, 5X7s or multiple opening mats. There are circle, oval and diamond shaped mats
    also, but I rarely use them.

    Most of the prints I make are on an 8X10 sheet which, with a bit of edge trimming with a
    paper cutter, fits under the 10X10 mat. I use archival double stick tabs from Light
    Impressions to place the mat onto the print, then the matted print slides into a page for
    insertion into the album. It takes me about an hour to assemble a 40 page album once it's

    Most Professional wedding albums feature some sort of system for sizing and assembly.
  9. Thanks everyone for your answers so far. They really help me understand a little bit more about putting a finished album together.
    Do you think it's better to print your proofs at 5x7 instead of 4x6. The reason for this is if an oval shape mat (cutout) I order is meant for a 4x6 print, I still have some space around the proof when I insert the print behind the cutout. Am I correct?
    I am planning to put all these proofs in my finished album, and a few larger prints (8x10) - is this how you do it?
  10. For 35mm, 4x6 proofs make more sense since they are nominally full frame. 5x7 has a different aspect ratio so some of the picture has to be cropped. Proofs are just proofs and are inteded to show the client what pictures there are so they can pick final prints for an album and/or enlargements. They should be good prints, but they don't have to be perfect.
  11. jbs


    & Evrim,
    That is the way I prefer as well. all digital and I make a vcd or dvd of the proofs music and transitions....pretty cool. I also let them keep the vid-proofs to order from later. ...;)...J
  12. I keep trying to tell people, don't sell your fotos, sell your service! Charge what you want for your professional skills and GIVE the proofs and negatives to the customer to do with as they please! Boy, talk about a lazy man's way out! They do all the work and you pocket the profit! You have to charge enough up front to make it work but after that, they have the task of assembling a wedding album, ordering prints, etc.
  13. Walter, although I am not in the business, I agree.

    Most WPs sound like the RIAA/MPAA. Instead of fearing it, embrace it. I guess it all stems from the time that consumers couldn't do quality printing. Now they can, so why not let them? Sign a release they can show to hesitant labs that don't want to infringe on copyright. Heck, give them a list of labs in the area that do good work. If you send enough work their way, you may be able to convince them to give you a cut, instead of you paying the lab, they pay you!

    My best guess is that 50% of what you charge for prints goes to the pro lab and the rest to your time. So if the average client would spend 400 on prints, raise your job price by 200 and hand over the negs. You make the same amount and in the time saved you can do more marketting and get more jobs.
  14. Another resourse is They are out of Chicago and I prefer them to Albums Inc for a few reasons.. One - you call and get super nice and helpful people on the phone.. You actually sometimes talk to the owner himself. Two - I love the way they do their catalog and the prices listed are retail.. Your charge is half what is listed. Three - with regard to the Library Bound matte albums - they've actually got the manufacterer to provide mat configurations that are not available with other distributors. <p>As to putting these together. I pull the photos from the proof books and use individual pieces of paper for each page.. I place the prints on the pages and lay them out on the floor (There is no table big enough in my office). I then draw the squares according to the various mat configurations available. I write in the image and set numbers and then write up my order. <p>With regard to charging extra and handing over the negatives.... This is a very controversial subject. I don't include a formal album in my package. Customers have no time constraints as to when they order them. <p>I recently finished a small image box, a medium image box, a Seldex Gallery Album and a Library Bound 10x10 album for a bride that was married 4 years ago! This is not the first time that has happened. I always have a few orders in-house. Great source of income. We're not talking $400 here in profit.. More like $600+++ depending on the size of the order. BUT - money is not my total motivation. I explain to my clients.....Would they hire an interior decorator only to have them drop the drapes, paint, decorative elements and furniture at the door for them to arrange? I take great pride and care to produce the best prints and albums for my customers. After all - it is my reputation at stake! A lab - even a pro lab - can prodcue 8+ different results from one negative. Some of those results are horribly unacceptable to me. I'm pretty fussy about my skin tones and contrast and muddy blacks and my greens have to be on the warm side - not sickly bluish. I want potential cutomers looking at framed images or albums to say "Wow, who was your photographer"... Not - "hmmmm - ah - who was your photographer." Know what I mean ;-)
  15. Mary, definitely see your point, if I were in your shoes I would want the images to be advertising. So I wouldn't say just dump the negs. But at the end of the day, it will probably just be the album and large prints hanging on the couple's and their parents' walls that sell your images, not the handfull of 5x7's that auntie Ann holds in a shoebox.

    So finding a good middle ground sounds like the thing to do. Looking at it from a consumer's point of view, when my day comes, I would like just that: great album, a dozen or so great enlarged/mounted prints made by someone who knows what they are doing, and the negs. (or high-res files!)
  16. I second the recommendation for Michel Company in Illinois. Very friendly service. I just assembled my first album with their offerings. I also appreciate their willingness to give the discount price to part-timers like myself. Other album companies make it difficult to order from without the resale license, etc.
  17. Bas - see your point but I will point out that is usual that my clients order in excess of 40 5x7's to give to friends, relatives and family. Many of those get framed and hang in people's homes or put on a shelf somewhere for all to see. I like to maximize my exposure.. ;-) Also it's nice moola at $10.50 a pop.
  18. I am still confused about the difference between proofs and final prints. If I have to put a formal album together, I just have my film negatives developed at a professional lab and have 4x6 prints made of each image. Those prints became the FINAL prints for the wedding album. Should the bride and groom want enlargement of some images, I made those and charged them extra for those. This eliminated the issue of making proofs altogether. And, I found that the couple usually showed their final album to the friends who were interested in ordering prints anyway, so there was no need to make a book to pass around. Why do you have to go through the hassle of printing 4x6 proofs at Walmart and final 4x6 prints at a pro lab?
  19. I'm sure you'll get various responses to your question.. <p>Here's Mine: <p>I shoot 25-32 rolls of 36 depending on how long I'm there and how beautiful the couple is... I use a pro lab. They do not color correct and pay attention to every detail of every single one of those photos but do do quick and very decent color/density/contrast correction. I've worked with them for 14 years and they know I like warm color tones. <p>I would never use these for my final album as they can often make further corrections. <p>Furthermore - When I send them the proofs -- They bring them to friends and family and orders are written on the order blocks next to each photo. By the time the books come back to me, I have aunts/uncles, Parents, Wedding party, sisters, album and sometimes albums and/or images boxes to fulfill.
    The order sheet is a sales tool that works well for me. <p>Because my "proofs" look so good - they are also very good at promoting my work and are more likely to be ordered. I'd never use Walmart or inferior printing. <p>I use the proofs as "guides" for the lab. They used to accompany the negatives. Now I don't even have to send the negatives as they keep them on file for me. I send the prints with an order sheet for each roll. I indicate which ones are great the way they are and tell them to match it -- or -- I tell them where I want it cropped or what color correction I want.
  20. Mary, thanks for your informative response. I assume your answer is for 35mm film since I do not take medium format pictures.
    To reiterate what I understand from your response, I would send my exposed films to a pro-lab and they will print 4x6 (or whatever size I request) prints for me. These are the PROOFS.
    If my client likes certain prints, I will send the those negatives back to the lab and ask them to do reprint, either 4x6 or larger depending on how large my client wants their prints. These are the FINAL prints. Am I correct or still missing something?
    If you do not mind could you direct me to a good pro lab you have used. Since I'm not a professional wedding photog (just a serious amateur hoping to take wedding photo on weekends for friends), do you think they will want to do business with me? Do they want me to have an account with them first? Thanks for your help.
  21. Yup - you got it. Yes, 4x6 prints. I order proof albums from (XTVA-46). The album holds about 150 prints but you can get order sheets and extra pages. Max would be 200 but that's packing it. I use 3-4 books depending on how much I shoot. <p>As to the lab... You can try my lab but I don't think they are taking in new business. They might do it once until you find a lab you like. The Camera Store and Lab in Stowe, VT. It is a small shop but it is owned and run by photographers with high standards. 802 253 4842. Ask for Ward. Now don't everyone go calling him.. He'll kill me. My assistant wanted to use him but he turned her away. He did say he may be more equiped to handle more business down the road. So check it out. I ship stuff up to them UPS from Virginia. I've never (knock on wood) had a problem.
  22. Mary, who is gonna eat the cost of this proof album? If the client is paying for it, do they keep this proof album and the proofs in addition to the final album? Do you give them the negatives to keep? When you have the lab do final prints for you, do your prints get gloss sprayed on the pictures to protect them? Do you have your prints dust spotted and things like that?
    Thanks again for the invaluable advice.
  23. The albums are $18 each when I get a box of 10. I just build it into my price. Yes, they keep the prints and the proofs. They can buy the negatives only after the order has been fulfilled. If the order is over $1,000 I give them the negatives with the album and reprints.
    That's just what I do - There is no "one" way of doing things. <p>For my couples - the formal album is extra. Some clients order prints and do thier own albums..but not many. <p> These days, both couples work and most of my couples are in the late 20's early to mid 30's. They are busy busy busy and thier families are spread all over the place. Not like the old days when the bride sat home writing thank you notes and ordering prints for the album witin a month after the wedding. <p> It takes a minimum of six months before my couples order. In my 14 years of doing weddings - not one couple ordered before at least six months. Most of them place the order between 1-2 years following the wedding with a few even later! <p>Why would I want to accept payment for something I'll have to produce 6 months to 2 years from now? Not me.. It really screws up my cash flow. Some photographers think that the order size reduces with time. I don't find that to be true. You have to remember though that this is just my experience. I can get my prints sprayed but that is only if I'm doing an album with Leather Craftsman. You can buy spray from Michel Company.

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