There are many good reasons why it doesn’t make sense for wedding photographers to offer nothing but digital files, especially when there are so many great presentation options out there. WORDS: Terry Hope

IF YOU’RE A WEDDING photographer running around like a headless chicken much of the time, desperately trying to stay on top of a busy business then it’s perhaps easy to see why presentation doesn’t come high up on your list of things to think about. However, if you shut your eyes to the opportunities out there and go for the easy option of simply handing over your digital files and moving on to the next job then you’re potentially slamming the door on not just a brilliant profit opportunity but a way to show the world just how great your pictures can look when they’ve been showcased in a beautifully presented album.

“The problem is that when you hand over your digital files to your customer they might well go and get them printed up at the cheapest outlet they can find,” comments Derek Poulston, sales and marketing manager at top pro lab One Vision Imaging. “They could then just stick them in an album without any real thought and show them around their friends and family, and that’s how your work will be represented. Compare that to an album that been carefully colour managed and exquisitely printed and put together that will act as a potential sales tool for your services whenever anyone looks at it.”

One Vision decided to tackle the issue head on by producing the Britannia Album, which it markets to its clients from the killer price point of £78.20 for a 20-page 12x10in product, rising to £99 for a full size 40-page album. It was intended at the outset to be the definitive response to budget albums available from overseas sources, but while it’s low cost there’s nothing cut price about this product. It’s made with the engraving and a personalised ribbon to the package for a small extra cost.

Brand new from One Vision is another presentation product that can add a highly professional touch, Quality Assurance Plaques that can be attached to an album or print to add reassurance. Using your company logo, plaques are printed in monochrome on to pre-coated brushed silver, aluminium plaques that are 95mm square. On the back are two strips of very strong double sided tape, and you simply peel and stick these to your product. The cost is £60 plus VAT for a pack of twelve and they are available now.

Sim Group Handmade album and Photo Books

The Sim Group is another lab that places great value on its handmade album and photo book offerings, with its Professional Layflat options proving particularly popular. These enable striking double page, edge to edge printing and they come with an extensive range of covers and are available in five different sizes and paper types and in landscape, portrait and square orientation. Professional Wedding Books are another popular option and for those that are supplying digital files, either instead or alongside a printed product, there are bespoke USB stick and presentation boxes to ensure a professional finish here as well.

The company is also making its framing range available to order on Sim Imaging to enable customers to have a one-stop shop for placing orders. A ‘floating’ mount has also been introduced to enable photographers to choose a style that fits with their brand, the illusion being that the image is apparently floating within the frame, and this will be available on single images as well as multi image designs.

One of those to work closely with Sim is photographer Becky Harley, who is local to the lab and has built up a close personal relationship with them over the years, to the benefit of both parties. “What I particularly like is the fact that the company is close enough for me to pop in on a fairly regular basis,” she says. “This gives me the opportunity to visit their showroom and to see first-hand the albums on display there and to make a more informed decision about which ones might suit my business best. I’m also very environmentally conscious so I like the idea of being able to collect my albums in person rather than them being shipped over to me from the other side of the world.”

Becky appreciates that not every one of her  clients wants to order an album or book and she doesn’t try to persuade anyone to purchase anything they might not be convinced that they need. “I’m not into making a hard sell,” she says, “but I do explain the value of an album and I include options with the packages I offer. One thing I did decide was to select just a couple of core products that I really liked and to then focus on these. With Sim you can have pretty much anything you want and the variety of choice is amazing. However, too much choice can be confusing for a client and so I hone it down to make it nice and simple.”

Huge Range of Choice

The point about forging a close relationship with your chosen pro lab partner is a crucial one, and often this enables a really special service as your provider gets to know you and your requirements more closely. At Loxley Colour, for example, this extends to an individual photographer dealing with the same person each time, while there is an open invitation to visit the premises to see firsthand the vast range of products that are on offer and to tour the facility to experience the personal service.

Loxley Colour’s latest announcement is a series of upgrades to its hugely popular line up of Bellissimo Albums, which only recently saw the introduction of white end sheets, double and triple thick pages and white core easy sheets. Now you additionally have the choice of padded or unpadded covers, a selection of new cover materials and a stylish new album box, with an optional personalised front cover, a subtle linen padded interior and a coordinated ribbon. It’s also possible to add a matching USB stick to the overall package.

Another company with a new product to shout about is Digital Lab, which has announced its new Fountain Albums range, launched to fill what it sees as a gap in the market for high quality hand finished albums at a competitive price. The line-up is offered in the most popular six sizes, from 8x8in through to 16x12in, including 10x10in and 12x12in square formats, and cover choices include a range of vintage distressed leather options, alongside vegan leather, linen and hessian cover options as well as an image panel cover.

Meanwhile the albums themselves will come in a classic draw string bag that’s placed in a kraft box which can be personalised, and there will be an option for an upgrade to wooden boxes that come with and without USB options.

Dunns Imaging’s range of products includes Avante Luxury Albums, which feature premium quality, double mounted pages with a choice of cover options ranging from high quality linens through to nappa leather and a popular range of Love Wedding Albums starting from £79.99, that feature precision printed weighted pages, a choice of ten different cover fabrics and a ribbon presentation box. Dunns also offers an album design service for those busy photographers that are Avante by Dunns Imaging under pressure. On approval the album will be printed and despatched within seven working days.

Another company that offers a wide range, this time exclusively photobooks, is CEWE, its best seller being its Large Landscape Photo Book, which is 28x21cms in size and can be up to 178 pages with prices starting from £28.99. Meanwhile its Square Photo Book at 21x21cms is also highly popular, and can hold up to 98 pages with prices starting at £24.99.

Sticking with Tradition

The traditional style of album has enjoyed a rise in popularity in recent times judging by the experience of Heritage Photo Albums, which has experienced a 45% increase in turnover in the past three years. As a company that can trace its history right back to the period just after the Second World War, generations of families will have experienced its products, and, as is the case with most specialists, trade prices are restricted to professionals so there’s a sense of exclusivity associated with the brand. There’s also a great story to tell to customers about the bespoke nature of the products, since they still originate in the original hand operated bindery in the West Country where they’ve now been made for over 25 years.

“They are beautiful products and very popular with my clients,” says Wimbledon-based wedding specialist Dave Vickers. “People love a classic product and they’re offered as a choice with my packages. They can take a while to put together but they look beautiful and carry a decent margin as well so they can add to the profit you make on a wedding. And there’s nothing like handing over an album to a couple since it really is a bit of theatre and something you wouldn’t get by handing over a box of prints.”

While looking every inch an upmarket product, Heritage Albums are surprisingly affordable, especially once trade prices are taken into account. For example, a traditional 12x12in wedding album with 40 card weight pages complete with glassine interleaves, embossed with ‘Our Wedding’ on the cover and with a gift box is available from £39.95 plus VAT with no minimum order and a potential sale price to the client would usually be around £150.

It’s not just about albums, of course, and another presentational item that’s also hugely popular is wall decor, and nPhoto has recently introduced a range of seven wellpriced new products that should be on the radar of all social photographers. The lineup ranges from Acrylic prints through to Dibond Metal prints in a choice of standard, stacked or framed finishes, Classic framed prints and MDF Wall Mounted prints. Check them out on the nPhoto website.

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