Known for their blank pages or slots to insert photos, traditional wedding albums can vary widely in price. Professionally printed wedding albums are created from digital photographs; many photographers offer this service as part of their wedding packages. Do-it-yourself digital wedding albums are made from software that allows for printing a wedding album from digital photos on a home computer.
Before going into how much wedding photos cost, let’s talk about finding a photographer. On average, United States couples pay 10 to 15 percent of their overall budget on a photographer. Does that sound like a lot of money? It is. However, hiring the best photographer for you may be among the most critical decisions you will make during the planning process. While 10 to 15 percent of your overall budget is an affordable target, there are ways to come in well under this. In knowing some important questions to ask in conjunction with total price ranges and cost-saving steps, you still can get your dream photographer without having to break the bank.
We can throw around figures and tell you how much a wedding album costs, but that’s not quite the point. Everything has a cost, but the value is not the same as cost.
To value something usually has more to do with how important something is. And each person sees value differently. We all have different ideas about what is important to us. Some people value material things, while others value relationships. There is no right or wrong answer; its just where we place our values taught through life lessons and experiences.
Some of us place value in the memories of our loved ones and will print photos, while others are satisfied with keeping them in digital format. If you’re looking to grow your photography business, adding custom handcrafted albums to your wedding photography packages is an excellent way to increase your annual revenue by at least 30%. If you do it right, album sales could be more than half of your yearly income. But many photographers aren’t sure how to price their albums so that they will cover all the costs involved in making the albums and include their profit as well. But good news. You’re in luck! In this blog, we’ll tell you exactly how to price wedding albums for a profit with the below four steps.
Just a side-note, the following technique can also be used for any other type of professional handcrafted photo album (newborn album, family album, etc.) that you want to sell to your clients. This isn’t limited to wedding photo albums only.
There are three primary costs involved in pricing your album:
- The cost of the album (hard costs)
- The labour/amount of time that goes into designing the album (soft costs), and
- Your mark-up
Do You Need a Wedding Album?
One other consideration as it’ll come to your photography expense is whether or not you need a wedding album included in the package. I have seen skilled photographers charge from $1,000 to $3,000 for a wedding album and sometimes will provide a further discount depending upon the quantity of wedding coverage you invest in.
On the other hand, for a wedding photo album design service from an exterior business (other than the cheaper kind), it’s also possible to do it on your own using a service such as a Blurb, where prices usually start at about $500 and may go over $1,000 depending upon the number of images/pages you need.
Remember that as you pay the wedding photographer to put together a wedding album, you also are paying for their experience in putting together a “wedding story,” which they were present for the whole time. You simply need to determine how much that’s worth to you, or if you’d rather do that by yourself to save money.
Inexpensive traditional wedding albums typically range from $12 to $80, depending on the decoration. The variance in price has to do mostly with the size of album and quality of materials used.
Expensive traditional wedding albums typically range from $250 to $450. These albums are often crafted from Italian leather and bound by hand.
Inexpensive professionally printed wedding albums start at around $10 to $30 at mass-market photos printing sites like Shutterfly and Print My Photo Book. Hardcover albums with more pages will increase the price.
Expensive, professionally printed wedding albums can cost $80 to $800 at sites like Somerset Albums and White Wedding Album.
Simple, do-it-yourself digital wedding albums may cost $50 to $100 after factoring in the cost of the wedding album software, paper and binding. The paper used by professional photographers, such as DG Foto Art, can cost well over $600 a ream.
The average price for a photographer is $2,814, according to Snapknot.com. But, in cities like New York and San Francisco, photography prices are nearer to $4,000. It’s possible to expect photography costs to range from $2,500 to $10,000 depending upon the wedding photographer’s offerings and experience. Expect the leading wedding photographers (that is, Jose Villa’s of the world) to begin at about $6,000 to 7,000 and increase from that point.
The typical photography package generally provides coverage for eight hours. Adding less or more time will decrease or increase that cost. Engagement appointments sometimes can run extra or be included. For instance, I have seen engagement appointments go anywhere from $300 to $1,200 depending upon how many hours the photography shoot is. We have included a photography budget post here on our wedding blog.
Well-known for their blank slots or pages to insert photographs, traditional albums may vary broadly in cost. Professionally printed albums are made from digital photos; most wedding photographers provide this service as a part of their packages. DIY digital albums are designed from the software which permits for printing an album from digital photographs on a home computer.
The $1,800 price that the photographer quoted you sounds like a mid-size custom wedding photo book, probably a 9.5×13 book with a minimum of 40 pages. Not knowing the size of the book, cover choice, or how many pages and images were included, the price could actually be considered average.
Listed below is some helpful information regarding the difference between albums and books, and what to expect when producing just one book.
Wedding albums are different than wedding photo books. You place already printed photos into an album. In contrast, digital photo books are graphically designed using your images, and then the design is printed, and sewn and bound into a personalized book.
Some albums, depending on the quality of the cover can be as high as $400 or more. Some photographers just sell you the album and give you the prints. Others take extra time and enhance the images graphically using software, then print the images and artfully arrange the prints within the album.
A personalized photo book, depending on the quality desired, can range from $50 to several thousand. What makes the difference in price is the quality of materials used in the process, and if you require graphic design or photo restoration services. If you’re on a strict budget and don’t mind having a book where the pages can be “dog eared”, similar to what you get in a bookstore, then there are several companies that allow you to upload low-resolution images to their site using templated software. The end result is a cloth-covered hardback book printed on 85 or 100-pound weight paper, similar to those children’s books where you can personalize the book with the child’s name.
Higher-end custom-designed wedding photo books are usually printed as double-page spreads using high-quality photographic lab paper (archive life 200+ years), which is flush-mounted on board to help protect the prints, and they are sewn and bound into a book. The pages are about the thickness of a credit card. They are designed and sewn in such a manner that the book lies flat, similar to a magazine, without any image loss in the centre of the page. These books can range from 8×12 up to 16×20 in size.
Keep in mind that these types of books usually include more graphic design elements, photo enhancements, and are crafted to last for a couple of hundred years. The old adage “you get what you pay for” definitely applies to wedding photo books and good photographers.
Some individuals save money on their wedding photo books by designing the layouts themselves and submit print-ready image files to the publisher. This cuts out the design cost, which can range from $200 to $600 just for the graphic design portion. If you can design your own book, it’s definitely one way to save some serious dollars. Check with the publisher to see if they offer this option. Keep in mind that if you want to design your own layout using a professional photographer’s images, you’ll have to either purchase the negatives from your photographer or get a signed release from your photographer allowing you to use the images in printed form. Copyright laws prohibit a publishing house from printing your book unless you can prove that you own the images or have a signed release from your photographer.
People often don’t realize what it takes to create a coffee table photo book, like the kind you see at a bookstore. An author can spend several years literally developing the book, including the time the images were first taken, the production process of choosing the images and writing the text, and the final product.
Next time you are at a bookstore, check out some of the coffee table photo books. Notice how they often have text descriptions included adjacent to the image, or perhaps they have designed the book with special graphic design elements. See how the binding is actually sewn to help hold the pages together, ensuring longevity with a quality binding. Keep in mind that the books in the store are NOT produced using photographic paper, but regular offset paper.
The author most likely spent many thousands of dollars having their book graphically designed and the text typeset, and then a separate design created for the dust jacket cover. During and after the final design and typeset, an editor had to read and check for type placement as well as ensuring that all graphic design elements had been included as agreed. The editor has to make sure that the pictures presented in the book are as good as or better than what was supplied.
After all that, the author or publishing house has to cough up the money for a minimum run of 5,000+ books and hope that book stores pick up the product for sale to individuals.
Publishers have always been able to produce just one book, but it has never been cost-effective for an author. Usually, the cost of the initial production is averaged out over the sale of 5,000 to 20,000 books. With the advent of digital publishing, brides can now have just one book produced of their wedding, but they must realize that the cost to do so is still pricey and cannot be averaged out over the retail sale of their wedding book…unless the bride is a famous movie star!
Sadly, we tend to be an “instant society” where we want things done now and at the lowest possible price. It takes more than a click of a button to create a quality photo book. You are having a wedding photo book produced that can take from 8 to 12 weeks, depending on your design preferences. If you design your own, you are still looking at the time it takes you to design plus 4 to 6 weeks for just print and binding services.
Try to allocate an adequate portion of your wedding budget to your memories, such as your photographer, videographer, album or book. Often, brides spend more money on food and beverages than they do for their photographer or printed images.
The cost of our wedding albums starts from as little as $800 for an 8×8 square album with 15 spreads (30 pages). However, our most popular albums are the 10×10 square album or the 14×11 horizontal album.
The album price includes whichever leather, fabric or photo cover you wish from the album cover swatch kit, the first 15 spreads (30 pages) of your album design, the initial design and usually 2-3 rounds of changes gets us to the approval stage. Additional pages up to 45 spreads (90 pages) can be added to your design at an additional cost.
We find most couples end up with around a 25-40 spread (50-80 page) album to tell the wedding day story from start to finish, including all the important moments.
What you get is the price range ($1,800 – $3,000) that you should charge your client for this 15-spread/30-page album. Pick a number somewhere between the two that seems most reasonable to you and your clientele. If you are trying to make your albums more affordable for your clients and easier to sell, then stay closer to the 300% mark-up number. If you are serving a high-end clientele, then you can mark it up closer to the 400% or 500% mark. The price you get after marking up your total cost may seem steep to you, but remember, you are selling a custom, high-quality product. This is a once-in-a-lifetime purchase for your clients, and if you show them an amazing sample, they will see the value of the product.
What should be included:
Traditional wedding albums have photo slots to fit 4×6 prints and may include additional spots for 5×7 and 8×10 prints.
Professionally printed albums feature digital photos printed on book-quality paper in a bound book. Whether the photographer or the wedding couple designs these, these albums should include custom options such as album/page size, type of binding and cover design.
Do-it-yourself digital wedding album software should include customizable layouts and page previews, accepting a variety of high-resolution photo formats.
What to do with your photos after the wedding?
You have received your digital photos from your photographer, but what do you do with them now? Maybe print a few of your favourite photos and frame them to hang on the wall or you could tell your wedding day story in a beautiful keepsake wedding album.