Are Wedding Photo Albums Still a Thing?
Simply put, yes, but you have a number of different options to consider.
While wedding planning apps may have replaced giant binders and electronic seating chart organizers may have taken the place of a board with dozens of sticky notes, don't expect to see social media or cloud storage usurp the role of an actual wedding photo album anytime soon. "I think that the style is constantly evolving—as with any fashion trend, the style of the book changes," says New York-based photographer Charlotte Jenks Lewis. "But people still really do treasure having printed photos." You may not feel the pressure to keep your iPhone photos perfectly labeled and all of your vacation images printed and captioned, but your wedding photos are different: They're heirlooms. Create an album worthy of those memories with these three tips.
Rethink your DIY intentions.
Many direct-to-consumer photo printing sites offer wedding-style albums you can make yourself using the digital files from your photographer, but narrowing down the images and designing the layout can feel nearly impossible for amateurs. "The design of the book is still overwhelming for a lot of people, and they just don't have the time—nor do they necessarily trust themselves to make all of those decisions," says Lewis. "I think they enjoy coming back to the photographer to have a little bit of handholding and help choosing the images." Working with the photographer who shot the images of your wedding has multiple benefits: They're well-versed in exactly which photos you have to work with; they can offer a neutral opinion about which photo is, for example, most flattering to your mother-in-law; and they're practiced at considering the collection of photos you choose as a whole—reminding you if you forgot to include a full-length portrait, or a color image of your grandparents.
Look for long-lasting materials.
Some standard features of a wedding album may feel overly traditional, but they're standard because they still provide the best format for enjoying your photos in the future. Lewis recommends an album sized at 10 x 15 or 10 x 10—which offers enough space for full-size images without feeling awkward to hold—and a leather cover. "Fabric does not hold up as well as leather," says Lewis. "When you’re buying something that you want to be a wedding album, you want it to last for the next generation." You also want to make sure the layouts are printed on archival, acid-free paper, which allows for sharper images and better longevity (without acid, the paper won't fade or yellow over time). The images may not look quite the same as those printed on photo paper—like the traditional prints in your parents' album from the 1980s—but they're likely to last longer. "You're going to get a sharper image if it's printed on photographic paper," says Lewis. "But inherently, putting it in a frame—you've got a lot of moving parts that don't always bend in the same way when it's a book. The pictures can move around in the frame over time."
Expect to get what you pay for.
If you didn't cut costs when hiring your photographer, why would you take this route for your album or your prints? Wedding photos are a once-in-a-lifetime investment, and displaying them with professional quality products makes a difference. "If you go through your photographer, there's going to be a quality control there, but you're going to pay a premium," says Lewis. "But the photographer is also taking responsibility that when they hand it to you, it's going to be perfect." That quality control means you could have the album long enough to show your children—and grandchildren. "You really do want these books to last. They should be durable enough that you feel you could hand it to a child and let them hold it," says Lewis. And don't just stop at an album either: Print your favorite images for your walls, your holiday card, your desk at work. "I think one should display the photos in many different ways!" says Lewis. "Having an album is great, having pictures just around your house is great, sharing all those pictures with family on holidays is great."
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