The Truth About Wedding Albums – Part I

by | Photography Wisdom, Wisdom


Dan of Sutoritera

Chances are that as you start your research into having your wedding day photographed, you will run into the decision of whether you should purchase a printed wedding album.

Wedding albums come in all shapes and sizes. Big ones; small ones; leather-bound; linen covers; photo-front covers; thick pages; flush mount; magazine-style; coffee-table, fine-art; acid-treated paper etc etc. The typical wedding album is a significant financial commitment and your wedding photographer should be able to explain what options are available to you.

This will be the first installment of a two-part series. The first part will focus on the terminology and jargon that wedding photographers use when describing wedding albums. The second installment will explore the purpose of a wedding album as well as addressing why different couples choose to purchase a wedding album. Hopefully, by the end of this series, you will be able to make a more informed decision.

What is a wedding album?

Simply put, a wedding album is a book that houses a set of photographs from a wedding day. The manner in which these photographs are displayed and the materials used, is where it gets confusing.

A wedding album may be different shapes and sizes from square to rectangular and portrait orientation. You may have the option to choose different materials for the album cover. It may be leather, linen, canvas with or without a dust jacket. If you really wanted, I am sure you could have a cover lathered in glitter. Everything of course will play a role in determining the price of an album. Generally speaking, the larger the physical dimensions of a wedding album, the more you will pay. Similarly, more pages will result in a higher price tag. So that you can better understand where your money is going, it’s useful to explain some of the terms that your photographer will use when consulting with you about your album.

1. Pages

When any book is opened up, you have two pages in front of you. Typically, a page on your left and a page on your right. The total number of pages in your album will play a part in how much your album will cost. Remember this when you start to compare quotes for wedding albums. Remember, one image may spread over two pages but even though it is one image, you will still have to count it as two pages.

2. Spreads

A spread is the opposite of a page. Two side-by-side pages = one spread. Basically, you take the total number of pages and half it to arrive at a spread count.

3. Leaves

An uncommon term that is used synonymously with spreads.

4. Matte

This refers to the surface finishing of the paper that the photograph is printed on. Your typical newspaper is an example of a matte finish.

5. Glossy

This refers to the surface finishing of the paper that the photograph is printed on. Most magazines will have a glossy finish. Most glossy finishes have a shiny reflective quality to the page.

6. Embossing

Typically found on leather and faux leather covers, embossing refers to the creation of an impression of some kind of design. Usually, it is the name of the bride and groom. The embossing does not have to be words/numbers; it can be anything.

7. Flush mount

When an album can lie flat when open, this is flush mount. The term is used synonymously with magazine-style. It refers to the method used to bind the pages/spreads of the wedding album. Flush mount also implies that the entire page may serve as a printing surface.

8. Magazine-style

Similar to flush mounts but can also refer to the thickness of the pages. For example, the page may be thinner and have more flex (i.e., bends more); similar to that of a magazine. The pages may have a glossy or matte finish.

9. Press printed

This refers to the method of printing and the quality and type of the paper used. Most press printed albums use fine art paper that may bend; but is not as flexible as magazine-style. Images are printed directly onto the paper pages, then bound together.

10. Coffee-table

Typically a photo book, coffee table books differ in flush mount and magazine-style albums in the material of each page. However, album companies have started to blur the lines between coffee table books, photo books, press printed albums, and even magazine-style albums.

11. Proof book

Please do not confuse a proof book as a wedding album. A proof book contains thumbnails of all your wedding photographs. Each image in the proof book will have a file name (a unique identifier) printed underneath it. The intent is to allow you to select images for editing or printing. Proof books have no design element.

So where does this leave you?

The first thing to do when you are researching a product is to have a look at a sample album.

Your wedding photographer should have physical samples for you to flip through. Feel the pages with your fingers. See whether you like the quality of the pages. See whether the pages are stiff or flexible to your liking. And ask (to see) what options are available when it comes to the album cover. Ask the photographer how many pages are in the sample. Ask how big the album is (in physical dimensions). Then ask how much the exact album would cost.

In the second part of this series, we will explore the many different considerations you may be faced with. You may be sitting on the fence about owning a wedding album or you may have already decided that you want one. Our goal is not to persuade you one way or the other but to provide you with objective information so that you know why you’re basing your decision on.

Images by Sutoritera

Ms Gingham says: I think it’s so nice to have a physical book that you can flip through. Even if it is a small selection of images. I’ve appreciated my album the most now when my kids are enjoying it.

About Sutoritera: Sutoritera is a boutique photography house servicing primarily Sydney (and surrounds) and Canberra. We specialise in contemporary wedding photography and family/children portraiture through our unique approach to storytelling.



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