Professional wedding and event photographer

The Best Wedding Album Alternative Yet?

I am always on the look out for new print suppliers to recommend to the amazing people I shoot weddings for but there is one area where I'm constantly uncertain and that's wedding albums...

The front page of the album, both front and back pages are customisable.

The front page of the album, both front and back pages are customisable.

 

Let me start by saying that I love a good wedding album, it gives you the chance to look back and review one of the best (fingers crossed) days in your lives and it's physical, it stays with you forever. There is something magical about holding it in your hands and not having to look at it behind a screen and I have always loved the romance of print over digital so of course I'm going to advocate photo books. With that in mind it must be confusing a lot of people when I talk them out of going for a wedding album with my package but let me explain a little.

I love the custom layout options, giving you the freedom to let your creative side out!

I love the custom layout options, giving you the freedom to let your creative side out!

 

            I love albums, I think they're great but the traditional wedding album has had its day; wedding photography is no longer the small handful of photos from the couple of negatives you shot, it's in the thousands. I never supply the full amount because of the thousand or so photos 30% are the same shot, taken so I can ensure I'm in focus and framed correctly. 20% are shots that nobody has any interest in, Aunty Dora eating her soup because I thought it was arty or that sullen guest doing nothing because you thought you should have at least one of them but actually they're still doing, well, nothing. Another 15% are, I am ashamed to add, out of focus or badly framed and are of no real use to anyone which leaves us with 35% which are actually worthy of going to the client. Now maybe 8% of that 35% would look great in an album but in all honesty, my favourite 8% as a photographer are probably wildly different to your 8%; I would inevitably charge over the odds to process, select, upload, format and have printed and it can take up to a year for you to decide which 8% you want in the album in the first place. All of that is a giant mess in this day and age, I like to think that it's a nice couples activity anyway, I have no need to be sat there in your ear now thanks to that great old internet.

            The internet has a whole host of companies who are just a couple of clicks away from supplying you with a great quality photo book that can be designed by you for a fraction of the price of a hand stitched leather Italian wedding album, so why pay over the odds for a service you can do yourself?

 

Anyway, I've gabbled on a tangent here... I recently found a company called Saal-Digital (www.saal-digital.co.uk) who were looking for a review of their photo books and I thought, hell, why not. It's not a paid review, it isn't sponsored or endorsed and they wanted people to be entirely honest about the product, for all of its flaws and strengths. I decided that I would take them up and thought it would be great to test out on my brother, who was married in August, with the photos I shot for them both.

            From the first to the last I have to say it was a painless process, designing these kind of books can be a douche ache and normally it's a few hours or screaming for some snotty photos printed on what looks and feels like printer paper. Saal-Digital have a handy piece of software (a small, free download which I'm assuming is safe since my computed hasn't blown up yet!) and it just glides you through the whole process. I mean really glides, it's so easy to resize, replace and re-adjust any photo you put up, you are constantly and discreetly warned of anything you may be doing wrong but beyond that you have full creative freedom.

Again, you can see the flexibility of options when it comes to your layout,

Again, you can see the flexibility of options when it comes to your layout,

 

            I thought I'd seen enough Hipster Facebook posts to know how to design something a bit funky so I set out to do more than just single page images. My first dabble was with 4 images on the page with nice white borders, the only issue is that if they don't line up properly you have horrible jutty out edges which will just annoy you for life! Thankfully these guys give you as many guidelines and rulers as you need to make sure it all lines up, bonus points there guys! A little annoyingly, however, is that I wasn't sure of the scale of A4 or how large or small my photos would appear and thus some of my white borders were a little chunky... I tend to play it too safe on occasions, this is one of them.

Guidelines are a great addition, make sure you don't have any stray edges... The OCD in you will praise this!

Guidelines are a great addition, make sure you don't have any stray edges... The OCD in you will praise this!

 

The next trick I wanted to pull off was to have a whole image spread over two pages (the last time I tried to make a book I was absolutely not allowed to do that!) and again I have to say... Fine, no problems at all.  I'll even give them credit here, although not entirely seamless, it's still great for the price point... Though how it holds up after years of page turning I don't know.

You can see the seam, but it doesn't really get in the way and a two page shot is so much more impressive!

You can see the seam, but it doesn't really get in the way and a two page shot is so much more impressive!

 

The other thing you worry about when you're spending on the more reasonable side is the print and page quality, I went for the most basic package figuring that if the basics are good then the premium must be great. The quality was exceptional, the colours are vibrant and real to the colours I sent away and the page quality? Exceptional! It's not thin and weedy, you could try and get a paper cut on these bad boys all day long and fail, they're too thick for that! I was surprised, it was just like holding an actual old school wedding album in your hands, thick, chunky and very sturdy. The gloss on the page shone out beautifully and really made the whole thing feel more premium than I paid for.

I love the vibrancy of the colours, perfect reproduction and they really pop with the gloss of the pages.

I love the vibrancy of the colours, perfect reproduction and they really pop with the gloss of the pages.

The tones in the black and white hold their contrast really well, the shadows and highlights are well defined and pop as you intended.

The tones in the black and white hold their contrast really well, the shadows and highlights are well defined and pop as you intended.

The gloss on the page shines and adds a really high quality feel to your photos.

The gloss on the page shines and adds a really high quality feel to your photos.

 

My only annoyance here was that I thought the photos on the front and back of the book made it look a little tacky but that's my fault, I added those, I choose that and I can't fault Saal for that... Ooops!

The sharpness throughout is perfect and just adds to the quality feel.

The sharpness throughout is perfect and just adds to the quality feel.

 

All in all I was completely blown away, the quality of this was far, far, far beyond what I expected and has to be the best book in its price point I have seen (actually, as good as those I've seen for £150+ in some cases) and it really feels more like and album than something you'd get from some of the well known brands (you know who you are, cardboard and thin paper guys).

 

In my experience I couldn't find any flaws, my one gripe was having to pay for postage... It's 2016 world, can't we all just enjoy free postage?!? But is that a gripe? They all do it and I guess even the guys who don't charge postage just include it in their price point, maybe I'm only saying this because I didn't have a valid negative point?

 

Check them out , I can't comment on their other products but if this is anything to go by I will definitely be using these guys as a go to in the future and as far as my test subjects felt? they truly loved it...

 

Thanks for reading, feel free to like and share this post if you like it.

 

Kirk

Kirk Schwarz