3 Mistakes Photographers Make When Selling Wedding Albums

If you photograph weddings, you probably have a package or two in which you offer an album. And in many cases, your package probably looks something like this:

  • Up to 5 hours of photography
  • Over 200 images on copyright-free CD
  • 20 page bridal album
  • 11×14 Portrait Print
  • Online gallery of your wedding photos to share with friends and family worldwide

The bride knows she will receive a CD full of images, and be able to view the images online, and share them with her family and friends from around the world.

She also knows she can take weeks or even months to select a few of her favorites, and have them put into a bridal album.

But it doesn’t matter what photos she selects, how they fit together, or how the will look side by side. She simply selects her favorites, and you as the photographer will force them into some type of order, and create an album from the final selection.

I’ve seen books like this.

An image of the bride walking down the aisle is set next to a formal of the bride outside at the reception. The first dance is placed along side of the couple kissing by the limo.

In other words, there is no rhyme or reason to the way the album is put together; it’s simply a hodgepodge of images thrown together to form a book of pictures.

Wedding albums aren’t meant to be a book of pictures. They are meant to be the story of the wedding day.

First Mistake: The Photographer Lets The Bride Make The Selection

If you allow a bride to choose her favorite images, she thinks from an individual level, not from a cumulative factor. She can’t see an album because it hasn’t happened yet. She doesn’t imagine how they will look together side by side; she simply chooses based on her best expressions, and her favorite moments.

When she receives the album, it will simply go on the shelf because it’s a book of pictures. It has no meaning – its just 20+ large images from her event.

As a photographer, you should be photographing a wedding to tell the story of the day. With wedding photography, photos work together in order to bring you back to the memories of the event itself. A formal out in the gardens is great, but it’s “just” a photo of the bride and groom. But when you have a series of images of the bride and groom walking through the gardens, talking with their flower girl, sneaking kisses along the way, it becomes a story – and a memory.

As a photographer, you need to think in story format. You need to take one photograph, and then another, and another – all to work together and provide an intimate look into the event itself. Its up to you to tell the story, and present the images in such a way that the bride and groom relive the wedding again and again.

Second Mistake: The Photographer Doesn’t Tell The Story

Our marketing has always been a bit different from other photographers.

Most photographers photograph the wedding and hand over the images, feeling their job as photographers are complete. They simply move into ordering mode, providing the final products as ordered by the brides and grooms.

We however marketed to brides that most photographers only provide 50 percent service. Yes, 50 percent of a weddings photographer’s job is photographing the wedding itself. But the other 50 percent is to tell the story of the wedding through photographs in a storybook format. If a photographer didn’t provide you 100 percent service, what are you truly paying for?

Our albums were bigger than most (my largest album sale was a 4 volume set, each with around 80 pages – x 2 because the bride’s mom ordered a duplicate). Yep, that’s not a mistype; 8 albums with around 80 pages each, and hundreds of images throughout the series.

How did I do it? Because I used album software and designed the albums myself before the brides and grooms ever saw the “proofs”. They didn’t just see a book or CD of proofs. They were presented with a sample album, with each image carefully selected and placed into each page.

I sold bigger albums, and my profits were MUCH larger than the average photographer because I took the time to show them how a storybook could actually look, based on the images I selected.

As a photographer, you take images for a reason. If you show how photos work together, and can share that will clients, you’ll see a big increase in your profits.

Third Mistake: The Photographer Doesn’t Make The Album Part Of Their Expertise

Who is better at building an album, a bride who has one wedding in her lifetime, or a photographer who shoots 40 weddings a year?

If you shoot wedding after wedding, year after year, you’ll quickly find a pattern to how the event goes. You’ll know what to photograph in the dressing room as the bride is getting ready. You’ll know how to quickly move through the formals to get everyone on to the next phase. You’ll know how to capture great dance images that people truly want to buy.

You’re the expert. You’re the one who lives, breaths and thinks weddings all the time.

And as the expert, you know how your images are taken, and how they fit together to tell the story of the wedding itself. A bride doesn’t know how to tell a story; she just likes a few photos. But a photographer can and should know how to build the best album possible so it moves from a book of pictures, to an actual storybook of the day.

Sell the expertise. It’s something that should be expected of you, the photographer. And its something the bride will quickly see the value in, and know it’s worth paying for. A photographer who thinks to the next level is surly worth more than the average photographer who just throws a few favorites into an album.

Right?

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clientexperience@todaysgrowthconsultant.com' About Virtual Photography

We're the co-founders of VirtualPhotographyStudio.com and have been writing on this blog since 2004. We started Virtual as a way to help photographers stretch beyond a part time income, and develop strategies to become a Five Figure Photographer or a Six Figure Photographer. Ultimately its all about lifestyle, and if your goal is to live as a photographer 24/7, we think you should have the knowledge and the tools to do so. Welcome!

  • Alex Standiford

    Fantastic post on an often overlooked (but so important) part of photography. I own a company that creates DVD montages, so I’m well aware of the importance of telling a story with photos. I cringe when I don’t see any rhyme or reason to these albums made by professional photographers.

  • Luke

    we have 2 & 3 pretty well covered. we aren’t entirely sure how to get to #1, though. so many of our brides ask if they’ll have input on image selection for the albums, and it’s always with the underlying notion, “i’m asking out of courtesy more than anything else.” i can’t say i blame them (as they are paying for it), but more often than not, we’re left with some pretty big head-scratchers when it comes to the photos they select.

    so how do we get there? just start saying (in a nice way, of course) “no?”

  • http://www.redphotophotography.com Gary Miller

    I have always chosen the images for the wedding album. When I am photographing the wedding I am very conscious of the images that I will need and the sequence of them that will most effectively tell the story. I have had no problems with clients wanting to select images. Any thought of this is dispelled when I show them the virtual proof of the their album. They usually comment on how well the album tells the story of their wedding day. You are correct that this produces more of a unique product that will be shown around for many years and not just become a book of pictures on a shelf.

  • http://virtualphotographystudio.com Virtual Photography

    Glad its working for you Gary – I can’t imagine selling albums any other way.
    Lori

  • http://virtualphotographystudio.com Virtual Photography

    Hi Luke
    If you provide them with a layout, they can then see how you took the photos and the story they tell. Then when they make changes, you can quickly show them how the album will “fall apart” if they aren’t conscious of the changes they make. The key is to put your ideas together first – no input from the bride until after she views your ideas. You’re the photographer; you know best how your images should go together. Once you start using this method, most brides are very conscious of replacing images instead of making big changes. They like another smile instead of the one you chose. Just minor things like that.

    Lori

  • http://virtualphotographystudio.com Virtual Photography

    Couldn’t agree with you more Alex! I know why they end up on the back of a shelf in the closet, instead of displayed on the coffee table!
    Lori

  • http://www.karenskellyphoto.com Photographer Aspen CO

    I shoot the wedding for the album in storybook fashion. I put together the album without the couple choosing the images. I let them view the album and request changes, which I will make for them if possible. I haven’t had any requested photo additions or subtractions that would take away from the story. There’s usually very few if any changes requested anyway – they almost always love the album – that is the ones who order a package with an album. It’s getting harder and harder – most are choosing the lower end packages that don’t include an album, convinced they will be able to do it themselves (which we all know probably won’t happen).

  • david

    i was wondering what would be some good types of album making software?