An heirloom album of your elopement photos may seem like an add-on or an afterthought, but it’s one of the most important keepsakes you’ll have from your elopement day. In my eyes, it’s not an extra. It’s the last, essential step in the experience. The “final form” your photos were always meant to be.
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I’m using the word “heirloom” intentionally throughout this article for several reasons.
An heirloom is…
That’s what these storytelling, elopement albums are. They’re tangible memory keepers that transport you back to your elopement day every time you flip through the pages. They’re handmade books of the highest quality, and they honestly have to be seen and held to be believed.
It’s frustrating, as a photographer, to be unable to convey how special they are through photos alone… But then again, that’s another argument in their favour! Digital images, while special in their own right, will never have the magic of printed photos.
This is a two-part discussion. Let’s get right into it:
On the “hard to explain until you’re holding the printed images yourself” side: albums are a different experience.
If I had my way, you’d experience your elopement photos for the very first time with an album, not with a digital gallery. Approving your album design necessitates you seeing your digital images, which is why it has to be digital first, but know that the sentiment is there.
Holding your images in your hands is an entirely different experience than scrolling through them on your phone.
What are you more likely to reach for: the beautiful book sitting on your shelf or coffee table, or the folder buried in your computer hard drive somewhere?
If you got married within the last few years, you may think, “I scroll through the photos on my phone all the time!”
But what about 10 years from now? 20? More…? I don’t even know what phones will look like then. Or where your hard drives will be if they’re even functioning. Or how deep in your cloud album those wedding photos will end up buried.
How about now…?
Right on the heels of what I just said: I don’t know if JPEGs will be around forever. Do you?
I was born in the early 90s. (Gen Z, I know you call it the 1900s; I’ll let that slide for now.) And as a child of the 90s, I know how quickly technology can change, even though I was too young to fully appreciate it while it was happening.
Do you know what a floppy disk is, Gen Z? Before you mock me, I can almost guarantee that a few generations from now, “the kids” won’t have any idea what you’re talking about either.
Anyway, the point is: I’m not in charge of technological advancement, and I have no idea what it will involve. What I do know is that your wedding album won’t need a firmware update or a charging cable that they stopped making 30 years ago. It’s forever, darlings. Electricity or no electricity.
What better way to display your wedding photos than in a stunner of a book? Both beautiful in its own right and made to suit your tastes and style, these albums are meant to be displayed!
You can always get a photo book printed elsewhere, at an everyday, commercial lab. I’ve never stopped my couples from doing that. But if you do, for the sake of full transparency: it’s not going to last.
I get personal books printed every year from a commercial lab, filled with the year’s memories. I’ve been doing it since 2017, and although they’re in pretty good shape, I’m already seeing signs of wear on all but the most recent. The bindings are warping, the covers are starting to dent, and I’m fully aware that the colour of the printed images will age over time.
I knew all of this ahead of time, and I’m ok with it. For the number of books I want to print (at least one every year), the quality-to-cost ratio is an acceptable one for me.
But for my wedding album?
A book I intend to flip through for the rest of my life, a book that holds my precious elopement memories…? That deserves something special.
There are several hallmarks of an heirloom wedding album sourced directly through me.
Do you know why a lot of couples wait years before getting an album printed? It can be super overwhelming. If you’re facing down a gallery of hundreds of images, and you’ve never done this before, where do you start? It needs to be emotional and tell a story, aesthetic but timeless. How do you start? And this is your freaking wedding album, after all, there’s an element of pressure here.
…But not for you. Because you booked with me. And I take care of all of that for you. Both to provide you with a cohesive design that will still be beautiful decades from now and to get it done.
I’ve been trained in album design; there’s an art and a science to it. I take the hard part off your plate and present you with a finished design that you can flip through digitally with no effort expended on your part at all. Via the cloud, you’ll turn the pages through the story of your elopement day, and if there are any changes you want to make or images to swap out, it’s as easy as leaving comments that are sent directly to me.
The professional print lab that I work with is only used by professional photographers. As a consumer, you can’t order a book yourself from their site. By keeping their client volume smaller and their materials and prices at a premium, they’re able to devote the time and care it takes to make each of these stunning books by hand.
Fine art paper has a subtle lustre coating that provides a subtle sheen and a level of water resistance. (It’s ok if you cry on your album, the pages will be fine.) The pages themselves lay completely flat in the binding and are available in two thicknesses. The thinner pages have a slight flex to them, and the thicker pages are entirely rigid. By lay flat, I mean truly flat and seamless. No distortion or distracting warping down the middle of the spread.
Your images are printed using archival inks, resistant to yellowing and sun-bleaching. Combined with the fine art paper, your album pages are of museum quality.
And the cover fabrics…? Just wait until you see and feel them for yourself.
Much like my elopement photography, although the process and framework is the same for every client in order to ensure a quality experience every time, the bespoke details are where you make it yours. There’s nothing cookie-cutter about your wedding album. You have full creative control.
As you read above, I design every single album by hand, but you have full control. Nothing gets sent to the printers without your sign-off. You get to decide how many pages to add and which images to swap out.
I want you to fall head over heels in love with your album, so I provide a really good starting design for you to work with. Some of my clients say “these pages are perfect, no notes, go to print,” and some make tweaks here and there.
The cover, too, is in your hands. The lab has a variety of fabric types to choose from, including several types of leather, book cloth, velvet, shiny leather, and vegan leather that has to be seen to be believed. Each fabric type comes in a wide variety of colours to suit any taste. Debossing is a method of design printing that involves pressing the design into the book cover, leaving a crisp impression. It can be left as is, which is called “blind debossing,” or you can use one of the beautiful foil colours available.
Whether you haven’t booked me yet, you have booked me and your elopement is coming up, or I’ve already photographed your elopement, you can get an heirloom album!
There’s no time limit on album orders. No cutoff date, no door slamming shut that says “no album for you.”
Getting your very own album only takes 3 steps, and it’s easy and fun.
When I deliver elopement galleries, a bespoke album design is included as a gift. If you’ve yet to hire me or you received your gallery some time ago, all you have to do is email me and let me know you want an album. It’s that easy.
This is a secret I probably shouldn’t be telling you but: there’s a wee discount for people who add on an heirloom album when they book their elopement photography…
That bespoke album design is available to you from the comfort of your own computer. You’ll be able to digitally “flip” through the pages. You can leave comments on full pages or individual images, and once your feedback is submitted, I’m immediately notified. I’ll make the changes you request and send it back.
It’s incredibly easy. No frustrating back and forth with emails like “that one photo on page…I think 14? How are these numbered? It doesn’t say.”
I’ve refined the process over the years to be as easy and hassle-free as possible.
Your heirloom album cover is entirely up to you. I’m of course here to help if you’d like suggestions, but you can do pretty much whatever you like.
As I said before: from fabric type to colour to text to graphic designs, your album cover will be one-of-a-kind. I offer free design sessions over Zoom where we can go over the cover design together, talking things through, adjusting the design where necessary, and making sure your fabric and debossing colours complement each other well. I have fabric samples available so you can get an idea of what they look like in real life.
These last steps are on me; you’re totally done after step 3. Once your album cover design is complete and any final payments are made, I’ll triple-check everything and send your design to the professional print lab that I work with. Your album will be handmade with a level of care evident in the final result.
The folks at the lab are meticulous. They contact me on the rare occasion there are any problems, and they’ve even contacted me to ask for approval to improve the placement of a cover element. By millimeters. Because they’re perfectionist magicians.
Once the album is made, it’s shipped to me. To make sure nothing went amiss along the way, I give your album a final, white-glove check. This gives me the opportunity to get the album reprinted. To be clear, I’ve never had cause to do that, but I like having a system in place just in case.
Because your album should be perfect!
And if it is—and they always are—it’s repackaged with care and shipped directly to you. To have and to hold for the rest of your lives.
Check out my album guide for more details about these gorgeous albums, including pricing and frequently asked questions. And if you’re in the process of booking an elopement photographer and want to talk to me, you can send me a message right here! I’m based in Washington but photograph elopements wherever you want to go, including Ireland.
Feel free to message me if you have any album-related questions; I adore them (obviously) and am happy to talk to you about them!