scottish wedding photographer
Dunfermline, fife wedding photography
An expensive luxury? An obsolete throwback to an analogue age? Or an absolute must have?
The answer to the question of 'do you need a wedding album' can be simply answered by asking yourself this question...
Seriously, that's it. How do you plan on enjoying your photographs?
Your wedding photographs are really important to you, so you've spent a lot of money on your photos. Maybe even one of the highest single outlays from your wedding has been on getting the best photographer you can afford. You know that your photographs are one of the things you'll have for ever.
So I'm willing to bet when you think about looking back on your wedding day the image in your head won't be you plugging a USB into a computer or your TV. Picture the scene, it's 2035 and you're feeling nostalgic. The kids want to hear the story of their folks' wedding day, so you all settle onto the couch and... what? Plug in an adaptor for a USB drive that doesn't fit your computer or TV anymore? Maybe login to your cloud storage and look for the files in there? Maybe by then your home digital assistant will be able to bring up your gallery via voice command! But it's not very nostalgic is it? It's not very warm and cozy with everyone sat staring at a screen. USB drives just leave me cold to be honest. That's before I even mention the couples who've got in touch to say they've lost their drive and could they order a new one please?
What have I got against USB flash drives? Absolutely nothing, I promise. I remember buying my first one about 20 years ago and marvelling at it's 32MB capacity! That was about 20 floppy disks! Amazing! There's something to make a note of there though, 20 years ago floppy disks were being replaced by CD's. Which were replaced by DVD's, which were in turn replaced by USB's, which are already being replaced by the Cloud....
See where I'm going here? How long will it be before USB drives are replaced and eventually the ability to even plug one in vanishes from computers? 10 years? 20? My computer doesn't even have anywhere to insert a disk! Now I'm not for a second saying you shouldn't keep a copy of your wedding photographs, of course you should! (and in more than one place preferably!) But in trying to answer the question of whether you should have a wedding album or not it isn't even really all that relevant. The USB flash drive is a backup, it's a copy of the images. It's not how your going to enjoy reminiscing about your wedding day though. The USB and album perform different tasks, they take care of different needs. Which is why I think you should have, need to have, both.
When you're having a trip down memory lane, is there really anything better than browsing through a family photo album? Even faded, poorly focused old fashioned family pics have a value it's hard to put into words. It's your family history. My mum used to write dates, places and names onto the backs of those old photographs. It gave context to sometimes obscure and long forgotten family holidays to exotic places like Troon or Blackpool. When we eventually ventured abroad to Benidorm you better believe we took a lot of photos! Or how about birthday parties with long lost friends faces lit by candles on a cake? There is a magical quality to photographs that no other medium matches in my opinion.
When you imagine enjoying your wedding photographs it's with the image of you sitting on the couch, browsing through a wedding album isn't it? There's not really any better way to do it. You want to look through the very best of the day, the very best moments captured. It sounds strange but there's even a difference caused by being able to touch a photograph, albums have a tactile quality that watching a screen will never be able to replicate.
So why wouldn't you want a wedding album? Because they're so expensive is the most common reason. They're not cheap, that can't be denied.
If you go into Waterstones to buy a photo-book of similar dimensions and of a high quality print, you'll be looking at spending between £50 to £100. I've got a lot of Landscape Photographer of the Year books, generally given to me at Christmas because they're expensive! Those books are printed by the hundreds, maybe even thousands if they've been very successful. The economy of scale says that the more you make the less each unit costs, that large scale production is why they cost £100 or less. If there were only one of that book, you can be sure it would cost a lot more.
Your wedding album is unique, it's one of a kind. That automatically makes it more expensive. It's the difference between buying a tailored suit and one off the hanger.
Then take into consideration that a wedding album is made to last a lifetime. I see wedding albums as heirlooms in an age when very few of our possessions are future antiques. My Ikea chest of drawers isn't likely to feature on the Antiques Roadshow in 100 years unfortunately! Actor Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker from the Star Wars movies) spoke about how his kids gave him a hard time when they saw how much the toys their dad had given them would be worth now, if only they'd been kept in their original packaging. He responded by saying that the memories and fun that the toys helped create were priceless. In forty years your wedding album might not have a big monetary value but what price the memories?
Wedding albums, good ones anyway, are handmade and printed using the the finest of raw materials. If you wonder what the difference is between a photo-book and a wedding album, you only need to place them side by side. The difference is immediately obvious. Trust me on that!
Then you should consider how your book is designed. Personally it takes me about 3 hours to do an initial draft for an album. I do album design a little differently from most and have OCD about lines and placement though so I might not be particularly normal on that front! Then comes the proofing and inevitable changes. It should be a collaborative effort, between the couple and the photographer. I used to set a limit to free of charge changes because that's what the industry told me to do. Now I don't put a limit on the number of changes because you should be 100% in love with your album, and that means you need to have enjoyed the experience of creating it. You made the photographs happen, you can make the design perfect too.
Your wedding album is something to be shared and enjoyed and it will be all the more so, if you helped create it.
When I first ventured into the world of wedding photography I used a cheaper album because my prices reflected my lack of experience. As that experience and skill level have grown my prices have as well. I also want to see the photographs I've produced, displayed in higher quality albums so their price has risen as well. Any craftsperson produces better work as they develop and so would expect their materials to improve. My camera equipment is now a magnitude better than it was when I first started and so are the albums.
Anyway, enough about money! Wedding albums are expensive, no getting away from it. Anything made to last for decades generally is expensive and let's be honest, as with so many things, you get what you pay for. Their value though is not to be found in pound signs.
The question was/is how do you plan on enjoying your wedding photos?
It isn't by looking at a computer screen, it isn't by looking at a 25 hour slideshow (500 photos, 3 secs per photo.... seriously, don't put your relative through that!)
You'll sit on the couch or at the kitchen table, a cup or a glass in hand. Looking through one of the most important days of your lives. Reliving one of the most important days of your lives. Imagine seeing the reaction of children and grandchildren when they get to see that their oldies were actually young once! We all love hearing the story of how our parents first met, your wedding album can paint a fuller picture of the day you tied the knot. That's pretty special.
Do you need a wedding album? If you want to enjoy your wedding photographs for years and years to come, I'd argue that yes, yes you do.