TYPES OF ALBUMS AND USES

Details

There are four main types of albums. It’s very important to have a clear understanding of different album types, how they are made and their main function in running a profitable studio.

 

1. THE MATTED ALBUM

The popularity of matted albums is waning, but there are still plenty of brides looking for them. The matted album is made with images under mattes and cutouts revealing the images. Much like a photo in a photo frame with a matte, a matted album usually has multiple openings cut into the mattes for displaying multiple images. It is possible both to order pre-designed mattes and to assemble pre-designed albums, or do a custom-designed album and the album company will custom cut mattes based on your design.

Matted albums generally are more expensive than other options. In addition to the binding, printing and so forth, you’re also paying for the mattes. Because of the higher costs, most matted albums are sold as wedding albums, which can fetch a higher price. There are some album manufacturers that sell pre-made albums with pre-made mattes and it is possible to produce these at very similar costs to lower-priced flush mount albums.

2. FLUSH MOUNT ALBUMS

Flush mounts are the dominant album in the world of digital photography. They combine the unlimited possibility of digital layout and design, with the beauty of old-world, handcrafted books. As a photographer, flush mount albums allow you to present your photography as a work of art. Additionally, the pages are thicker than press-printed albums. When they are manufactured, the prints are adhered to a thick card backing. This gives the pages a heavier, more durable feeling that increases the perceived value over press printed books. The majority of flush mount albums are made with photo paper and prints. The prints are often laminated with a protective film or spray. There are a few flush mount album manufacturers who will use press prints to make flush mount albums. I’m not a fan of that process.

Flush mount albums can be used for both wedding and portrait albums. Most wedding studios carry flush mount albums of some sort. Studios are able to sell wedding albums that the majority of clients cannot reproduce easily at Costco or through a service like iPhoto.

There are a number of photographers who sell flush mount albums as portrait albums. Personally, I find this difficult as most flush mount albums are only available with a minimum of 20 pages. I find 20 pages to be too many for a typical portrait shoot. Sure, photographers can fill 20 pages, but are the pages filled with their best work? Additionally, a 20-page flush mount album is at a high enough price point that the retail price a photographer needs to charge will be higher than the average portrait client will want to pay.

3. PRESS PRINTED BOOKS

Press printed books are extremely popular. It seems that every lab in the country is offering these books at very inexpensive prices. The problem is that Costco, Walmart and Walgreens sell them too. I’m not a big fan of offering press books in the studio. The reason simply has to do with profit. The process of designing an album, getting it approved by the client, uploading the design and ordering it takes an enormous amount of time and energy. That means a significant amount of the cost of producing albums is in the labor. If we choose a cheaper press printed book that has more pages than a self mount, we are basically increasing our costs for an album that sells at a lower price.

Most people use press printed books as inexpensive options for wedding albums and portrait albums. I don’t recommend this as a business strategy. It’s simply taking money out of your pocket. Some people use press printed books as parent album options. This is really the only case that I would recommend using press printed books. However, I would still offer a flush mount as a parent album over a press printed book.

4. SELF MOUNT ALBUMS

Self mount albums had a “low-brow” reputation for awhile due to cheap Chinese imports of self mount albums with cheap, fake leather and poor construction. With the emergence of new flush mount album companies, self mount albums have been given a new life. They sport sturdy construction and beautiful high-end cover options.