It can be very confusing picking a wedding photographer with all the different choices out there. As you look at websites and price lists you’ll see all kinds of terms being used that may not make any since. Proofs, flush mount, matted, what does all this really mean? Although it is always best to make an appointment with the photographers you are interested in and see the albums first hand, I’m going to try and explain them to you so you can make a more educated choice as to which photographers to meet with.
The purpose of proofs is so you have a way of seeing all the images from your wedding. Most photographers will offer some kind of proofing. Some will project your images on a screen or wall and some photographers present them on large flat screen TVs. Other photographers will display your images online for viewing or put them on a CD or DVD. Another option that photographers use is a proof box where loose images are put into a decorative box and are numbered on the back. The traditional way of presenting your images is the proof book.
Proof books can come in many forms. The traditional proof book is normally a two or three ring binder with a nicely decorated cover or cameo hole that holds one of your wedding images. The inside has plastic sleeves that can hold images ranging in size from 3x 5s to 5x7s. Some photographers will even put 8x10s in this style of proof book. The next type of proof book is the magazine style or portfolio style proof book. This type of proofing does not have individual images in plastic sleeves, instead it has several images on a page and is normally spiral bound or has a book cover. There can be anywhere from one to twelve or even twenty images per page depending on the size of the pages and book.
Not all photographers still offer proof books. Many have moved to online presentation and projection. They have found this to be a more economical way to show clients their images.
Soft Cover Albums
Once you have gone through your proofs and have picked your favorites you’ll want to put them into some sort of album to tell the story of your wedding day. One of your least expensive options is a soft cover press book. These books are just like a children’s book with a bendable cover. They come in many different sizes and normally will have your images on the cover. They make great gifts for wedding party or grandparents but are not a high quality album and may not be the best choice for preserving your wedding story. They can easily tear and sometimes the binding comes loose and pages can fall out. If you’re on a very tight budget they can be used as your wedding album.
Hard Cover Albums
The hard cover album is also known as the coffee table album or the magazine style album. These albums are a step up from the soft cover because they have a hard cover that offers more protection to the inside pages. The inside pages can still be thin and can be easily torn if mishandled. The thickness of the pages is something to pay attention to when meeting with photographers, the thicker the pages, the better the quality and the higher the cost of the album. These albums also come in many different sizes and tend to have photo covers. They may also come with dust jackets and slide in boxes to store and protect them. The binding on the hard cover tends to be better so loose pages are not normally a problem. It is a good idea to meet with different photographers that offer this type of album to compare because the quality level of this type of album can very greatly.
In the past your only option was the matted album. These albums tend to come with thick heavy leather covers in a variety of colors and may have a cameo opening for an image to be inserted into the front. The inside pages are thick and have real images mounted onto the page and covered with a matt for presentation and protection. The design of the matts can very to hold anywhere from one image to four or more images. The albums are available in different sizes as well. Most photographers are not using this style of album today because it is very time consuming to matt the images and they prefer the flush mount album because it allows for more freedom and creativity when laying out the album design.
Flush Mount Album
Flush mount albums are the newest album style on the market and one of the most popular with brides and photographers. The cover styles very greatly from plain leather to photo covers. There are also different metal and acrylic covers and sizes can range from pocket size to as large as 15×15 and larger. Each album has a unique design and the images reach all the way to the edges. The surface of the pages is flat with no matts and layouts can be designed to go across a two page spread called a panorama layout.
Pricing will vary greatly among photographers. Two photographers you meet may be offering the exact same album and may still have hundreds of dollars in price difference. Why? Because of experience, reputation, and even confidence will effect how much a photographer chooses to price their albums. Photographers will also use price to control the amount of albums that are being ordered. If they don’t want to do a lot of albums they will price them high and if they want to do high volume they will price them lower. Some photographers don’t design their own albums and outsource this to an album designing specialist which may also increase the price.
There is a lot of variety out there which is why it is very important to meet with the photographers you are interested in so you can see what you are paying for before you book.