Today, I want to share a heavy yet important story about why I believe wedding albums are such an important piece of wedding photography services. And in an effort to also share some lighter content with you here that you can use for your business, I am also going to give you a step by step guide to getting started with your wedding album workflow. That way, you can (if you don’t already) start integrating this important and meaningful product into your wedding workflow.
The memories, the smiles, the laughter and even the tears of joy from a wedding day are something that a couple and their families will hold onto forever.
As wedding photographers, we have the opportunity to document and share these memories with every client that comes into our lives. My business is not just about pictures or being booked out, it’s about the people.
On February 18, 2016, my lifelong friend lost her new husband to a horrific construction accident. For a week, I denied this was real life, I kept waiting for the day I would wake up from this nightmare and that day never came. The situation became all too real when I arrived at Joe’s wake to a line of 1200 people coming to pay their respects to Joe and shower his family, and my friend Nicole’s family with love and support.
Nicole and Joe were coming up on their year and half wedding anniversary. I shot their wedding in 2014. To date, it was one of the most beautiful, fun, and special days of my career.
Scott and I had the opportunity to document their perfect day together. The sun was shining. It was September, it was warm, and the farm was looking more stunning than I’ve ever seen. Hay bales lined the field in front of the pond and a handmade arbor stood underneath the old tree made by Joe. It was a true honor to be there and document such a spectacular day.
We went through the line at the wake with hundreds of others, recounting all the moments of Joe’s life through pictures. His hunting days, high school football stardom, his prom, fishing trips, and lots of silly faces with his only love, Nicole. And then I got to the end of the line – a board full of every wedding picture he was in, and their wedding album. The happiest day of Nicole and Joe’s life.
I approached Joe’s mom first. “You were the wedding photographer.” she choked out. ….”Yes”, I shakily responded. Words escaped me and all I could do was embrace her in a hug and cry. “Thank you,” she whispered.
“Thank you for capturing Joe’s personality and spirit perfectly. Because of you, and because of these pictures, he will live on forever.”
I hugged his brothers and his father and gave my condolences before getting to my dear friend, Nicole. A widow at 25. I hugged them as tight as I could and Nicole’s strong and burly Step-Father lost his composure when he saw me.
Through whimpering and a heavy flow of tears he managed to get out, “Damn it kid! Man you rocked that wedding. Those pictures are perfect, and our family and Nicole will treasure that album for the rest of our lives. I couldn’t imagine the pictures capturing Joe any more perfect, and capturing their love more beautifully. That wedding album, although it’s nearly impossible to look at right now, is going to get us through this because he will live on forever. We can’t thank you enough.”
I really didn’t have words. I couldn’t believe that in this time of pain he was thanking me. It took me a while to grasp it but as the days went by and the tears slowed, I realized that this wedding album was now everything to them. It was the pinnacle of Joe’s life in a story. An album that was going to last decades. His wife would look back and remember the most perfect day. The line dancing that took place in the barn and the cows that came to watch the ceremony. Their first dance to Lee Brice’s “I Don’t Dance.” While the wounds begin to heal she will look back and remember the 9 years of happiness with him, all amounting to that perfect day.
Albums Aren’t Just a Transaction
Albums aren’t just a transaction. Nor are they just an investment for a newly married couple. They’re everything. And while I hope and pray that none of my couples ever have to go through anything like this, it has made me realize the importance of having one.
So I don’t tell this story to my couples to sell an album. I tell it because I believe with my whole heart that every couple’s story is worth investing in. That their story deserves to be printed in the pages of a book to last for generations. To show their kids, and their grandkids what marriage means.
My business is not about pictures, it’s about people. It’s not about weddings, it’s about marriages. It’s not about transactions, it’s about relationships. And it’s not about one day, it’s about a lifetime. And to me – albums are the core way I can have their marriage celebrated in tangible form for a lifetime.
That is why I want to encourage all of my couples (and fellow photographers) to invest the time, money and energy into the simple production of a wedding album. You’ve already put the hard work into shooting, culling, editing and delivering the gallery. Take it one step further and give your couples the opportunity to design a custom album with you, the person behind each photo and memory. Help them tell their story for years and generations to come.
Before I leave you here, I want to give you a few pieces of tangible, useful information to help you get started integrating your album workflow into your wedding workflow.
Step by Step Guide – Getting Started with Albums
Step 1: Decide on your album design software
- I use Smart Albums
- Other options include: Funday, Album Stomp, Align Album Design, Artifact Uprising, KISS Designer if you’re a KISS album client
Step 2: Import your favorites into the software & pre-design the album
- I usually pre-design the album first since I have a better idea of where all the different pictures fit into the timeline of the day
Step 3: Proof and tweak the album with your couple
Step 4: Always get the final proof approved!
- This can be a big, costly mistake if you don’t get ALL of the changes and tweaks approved (and triple checked) by your couple before ordering
Step 5: Offer upgrades
- I often offer a discount for my couples on parent albums just in case they are interested in purchasing an album for either of their parents
- This is a very common upsell that my couples take advantage of
Step 6: Order the album and notify your client of the progress
- The actual album printing process can take time so I make sure to notify my clients of the progress as it moves along in production
Step 7: Make sure it arrives!
- Another important step is to check-in with your couple and make sure they received the album. You’d be surprised how often an album is delayed or doesn’t arrive at the right address. Since this is such a big investment I make sure to stay on top of the album until it reaches its final destination
Step 8: Write a thank you note & celebrate
- Write a handwritten thank-you note to your couple, file away their project contracts, and celebrate the end of another successful project!
And that’s a wrap. A few simple steps to get you started with offering wedding albums to your clients and creating memories that last a lifetime. I’d love to hear from you about your experience with wedding albums. What works well for you? How do you educate your clients about albums? Tell me below in the comments!