Should I Get A Printed Album Or Digital Prints Only?

Have you just gotten engaged and are starting to realize that there are a lot of decisions to make about the wedding.  Having attended many weddings now, and been involved in the planning, I wanted to start a series of posts with educational content to help with some of these decisions!

First up…

Should I get a Wedding Album or Digital Prints

In the wedding photography world, there are (basically) two ways of getting your photos, either a printed wedding album or digital prints. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.  You may wonder what the differences are and why you might choose one over the other.

Digital Only

Seriously, who has a wedding album anyway? This is something that your parents have, right? This is the easiest option and you will end up with a nice small DVD or flash drive with high resolution images you can print yourself (probably, check with your photographer first). Easy to share with your friends, backup for safe keeping, and generally a cheaper option.

Flower girl looking at camera in black and white

It’s not all perfect though (unlike this adorable flower girl from a gorgeous summer wedding in Harrison Hot Springs).

Without a printed version, it’s possible that the DVD or flash drive can be corrupted. This happened to one of my clients a couple of years ago, about six months after the wedding I got a call saying that she had tried to do something with the USB key and it showed no files on it! Luckily I still had the originals, and was able to get her a copy, but if I hadn’t, or wasn’t around…. shudder… I don’t want to think about that. You have to employ safe file storage and be careful with them. Another downside is that in digital form you’re less likely to look at your beautiful images. I have some amazing wedding photos, but I only ever see the few I have printed out. The rest are sitting (still, I don’t want to say how many years later) in a folder on my archive drive called “Wedding Photos To Make Album With” 🙁

This is to say that chances are no matter what your good intentions are, it’s very possible that your images will be uploaded to Facebook and then stuffed in a drawer never to be seen again. These are the memories of a very special day and you don’t want to forget about them!

A Printed Album

Remember a moment ago I was asking who has a wedding album anyway? Well, you’re probably thinking about that old leather album with photos glued into it, or using those little plastic triangles in the corners. If you think this way, you probably haven’t seen the offerings that are available these days. Nowadays there are gorgeous, high quality flush mount albums where your wedding images are displayed full page on high quality, thick and luscious paper. Combined with different materials and cover options you can have a true work of art that you will feel proud to show your friends and family.

Images courtesy of GTA Imaging

A printed album can look gorgeous and be a keepsake that is handed down to your children and your children’s children. I remember a story that I heard from another wedding photographer. When at wedding fairs he would hand out a floppy disk with his name and email on it as his portfolio. Of course people would stop and ask if it was a joke? This let him talk to them about how an image isn’t “finished” until it’s printed, and how if you had your wedding album on a floppy disk (as people would), chance are it will be obsolete, and unless you have the equipment to read whatever your digital wedding photos are on, you’ll be out of luck. Of course USB and DVDs are “modern”, but more and more computers are being sold without CD or DVD drives, and even the almost universal USB is slowly being replaced with new technologies like USB-C, Thunderbolt, and others. Apple has even made a MacBook with a single port (and it’s not compatible with your USB flash drive. It’s just a matter of time before this becomes more and more the norm. You may think this is years away, but it will come faster than you want, and it would suck to be stuck with the equivalent of a floppy drive sitting in the drawer with all your photos on it and no way to read it!

So while a printed album is awesome, it’s got it’s downsides as well. The photographer needs to know how to design the album to tell the story of the day, taking photos as the day goes on not just of the bride and groom, but of little details that fill out the day to tell the story. There’s also the back and forth in album design. You’ll get a proof version and will have to go through it and give the photographer your feedback. It might be as simple as swapping a photo here and there, or getting rid of great aunt Marge (you really only invited her because you had to), but this can take time and delay your final album.

Depending on the photographer, you may have to pay extra for digital images, or they may be included with your album. This will depend on them, and I can go into why photographers are so possessive of their images in a later blog post.

Bride getting ready

In short:

Printed Album

  • Pros:
    • Get printed images
    • Tells a complete story
    • Beautiful presentation and options
    • Keepsake that can be passed down
  • Cons:
    • Can take time to get designed
    • May seem old fashioned
    • Need to get digital images as well
    • Can be more of an investment

Digital

  • Pros:
    • Easiest
    • Can print yourself *
    • Digital already, no need to scan
  • Cons:
    • Easy to lose images
    • Subject to obsolescence
    • No permanent, physical object to touch and feel
    • If you don’t print them, you may forget them

Conclusion

I currently offer both albums and digital only options, as you can see from the investment page. Honestly, I'm torn, there are pros and cons to both, but I can't help but endorse having a gorgeous, well designed keepsake of a wedding album as what I encourage couples to invest in.

If you're interested in talking to me more, please contact me for a free wedding photography assessment, or book now!.

 

* Note that not all agreements that you sign with your photographer will allow you to print digital images.  Please read the agreement you have carefully to see if you have "print rights" and discuss this ahead of time to make sure that everyone's rights are explained.

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