Are wedding albums extinct?

Weddings we need them? Weddings aren't cheap. Wedding photographers aren't cheap.* Wedding albums aren't cheap. But certainly with the latter, as we are currently discovering with the horsemeat/burger scandal, you get what you pay for. Cheapest isn't always best.

We live in a world that in the last few years has seen an explosion in photography thanks to the digital revolution. Taking pictures has become an everyday experience for most people. It is now so easy to take a picture on your smartphone and it's miniature Carl Zeiss lens and immediately email it across the world, post it on Instagram, Facebook or wherever. Gone are the days of being limited to a film cassette of 24 or 36 frames and having to take it to Boots or Snappy Snaps and wait for the resulting prints. Has the craft been diminished? Certainly digital has democratized photography, to a certain extent. You still need an 'eye', timing and experience though to consistently get great shots. But above all, digital has seemingly made the medium more ephemeral.

Images have became a series of ones and zeros, to be beamed onto flatscreens everywhere. Gone is the thrill of watching an image emerge in a developing tray, the splendour of set of colour transparencies on a lightbox or the nostalgic joy of rummaging through a forgotten box of slightly crumpled prints. Flicking through a hard drive - assuming it still works or you can still connect it to your computer twenty years from now - is not the same. There is nothing physical, nothing tactile about the result. We can capture more memories now than ever before, but can we keep them?

Where are those images you took on holiday five years ago? On a hard drive somewhere? On a cd? Do you know where you put the cd? Can your computer still read them? Do you regret not getting some printed up and put on the wall or in a book?

In wedding photography in recent years it has become a trend to supply couples with the digital files, often with no wedding album. This is known by photographers as 'shoot & burn'. Certainly at first it helped photographers look cheaper. No big packages inflated by the cost of big, stuffy wedding albums that seemed so last generation. For couples it was a winner - cheaper price, got the files, got a licence to make their own prints from the files, ' we can sort out the prints later'. Easy to say, but will you?

For many years I didn't offer wedding albums. My thinking was that images needed to be seen, on the wall, framed properly. I even created my own storyboard prints, showing highlights from the day in one or two large prints. But in recent years, wedding album products have improved, and they don't necessarily have to be big. They are now a million miles away from the padded ivory, lots of tissue paper, one image per page albums your parents may have in the bottom of their wardrobe. I have no interest in trying to up sell albums to people. My interest is in the photography, getting meaningful images that resonate with people, rather than trying to sell more products. Probably hits my profits but hey!

My standard package is the photography on a disc with a personal license to make prints from them and I encourage people to do just that ( and backup these files on hard drives, etc ) but I do offer albums as an option. Again, priced at a size that in my experience can hold the right number of images to tell the story well. Pages can be added but I don't charge by the extra image. Maybe something to get done some time after the wedding, when the dust has settled and the finances recovered. 🙂

But to show what can be produced, here are a couple of albums made up for clients recently. First off, a 12"x12" vintage leather fine art album. Images are printed onto the page, like a book, and it can even fold out flat, allowing large images to stretch across the invisible fold. Next up is a 14"x10" version of the leather matted album ( the couple upgraded from the 12"x9"version ). Images are photographic prints held under board, a more traditional album in that sense. In both, the layout design is simple, the look classic - no gimmicky layouts, overbleeds, colour effects, that will date in maybe months.

But what these albums share is a tactile craftmanship. They are not cheap perhaps, but if future generations, and even yourselves, many years from now, cannot find that cd, or access that hard drive with the wedding images on, there will be these. Digital media is great but it is not always the answer. These are not just a series of 'ones and zeros'.

Folio fine art wedding album
Luxury fine art leather wedding album
Invisible fold in an open wedding album
Images across two pages in a wedding album
wedding album layouts by Martin Beddall
wedding albums

And now the 14"x10" matted wedding album.

Luxury wedding albums
wedding album by martin beddall
classic wedding album layout
wedding albums
romantic wedding album
Matted wedding album

* usually not the good ones! 🙂

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  1. Hi Martin, followed a link from the English Wedding blog to this post and I must say, as a fellow photographer, what a wonderful, beautifully written post it is. I hope you don’t mind but I’ve shared it on my Facebook page as it’s worth any potential client reading it! Thank you.

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