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Tips & Tricks

5 Keys To A Modern Album Design

By Christopher Lin on August 22nd 2013

Album design….some photographers love it, while others abhor it.   No matter which side you’re on, it is undeniable that a well-designed album layout compliments and enhances your images, whereas a weak layout will often distract your viewers and ultimately undermine your photography.  Here at Modern Album Designs, we want to bring some of our design experiences to give you some pointers for a truly modern album design.  

Rewind: [Join Our Giveaway for a Free Album from Modern Album Designs]

1: Less is More

“Less is more” applies to many things in life, and it certainly holds true for album design as well.  The usual trap goes something like this:   You have these 5 gorgeous images of your bride and groom that you’re proud of.  Which ones to put into the portraits spread?   Oh, let’s put them all in.  Wrong!   Your indecisiveness will yield a layout that is crowded, and does not allow for any particular image to “sing” – thereby reducing the impact of all the images.   A good general rule of thumb to follow:  the more proud you are of an image, the fewer other images should be alongside it.

All images below are courtesy of the talented Julian Moniz

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2: Negative is Positive

Photography is an art, and so is page layout.   Too often, photographers look at a blank spread and feel that they need to fill every empty space with images.  Or, they believe that everything must be symmetrical in order to look “good”.   But, when done properly, blank (negative) space adds to a diverse layout, and asymmetry in design creates visual tension that helps move the viewers eyes.  (The same rule applies to composition when you’re shooting…see next tip)

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3: Shoot for the Album

The concept of “shooting for the album” is nothing new, but we feel it’s worth reviewing.    The idea here is that certain types of images will naturally assimilate better into a layout.  Extra-wide angle shots are one particular example – when used in full panoramic spreads, it conveys the awe and grandeur of the image to the viewer.    Used as a background, it helps to frame other images while establishing a setting for the story.   Other types of “album-inclined” images include textures and patterns (for use in backgrounds), composition with negative spaces (for small images to be placed atop), and images with solid color backgrounds  (so that the page background can be matched).   So, at the next wedding, don’t just shoot….shoot for the album!

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4: Landscape Love

Having designed a few (thousand) albums, we have developed a propensity for horizontal (landscape) albums.  The reasons are twofold:  First, a horizontal album, when opened, yields a very wide panoramic spread that naturally allows your eyes to flow from the left to right in a story telling manner.   Compare this to a vertical album, where sometimes images are placed above each other, your eyes would need to shift from top to bottom, and then top to bottom again for the next page.  (see diagrams below)   Secondly,  a horizontal album allows horizontal images to fit in very well…and not surprisingly, most wedding images are shot in a horizontal orientation.  That’s because weddings naturally yield more horizontal images: ceremony and reception venue shots, bridal party / group shots, etc.    A vertical album can accommodate a vertical image well, but will have trouble with horizontal images.

Horizontal Album

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Vertical Album

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5: Cross the Gutter

Too many times, photographers view the center gutter of a spread as a tripwire between the left and right sides of a layout.  They steer photos clear away from the gutter, and as a result, every spread inadvertently looks to have a distinctive left and right side.  There is nothing wrong with this, but the layout becomes boring after a few pages.    While we definitely agree that placing major body parts on a gutter is a definite no-no, it is okay to have images cross over the gutter if no body parts are involved – this allows for interesting full or 3/4 panoramas to be used.   The overall goal here is that as your clients flip through each spread, they should see a diverse selection of layouts.

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Discuss

Co-Founder of SLR Lounge and Photographer with Lin and Jirsa Photography, I’m based in Southern California but you can find me traveling the world. Click here to connect on Google +

Q&A Discussions

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  1. John Givens

    We’re also finding horizontal albums increasingly popular. There’s something “new” about the shape – especially as compared to the square and vertical album formats.

    Up until about a year ago, the 10×10 was perhaps the one size that we design for more than any other one size…Lately – the 9×12 horizontal has been very popular.

    Cheers,

    john
    http://www.storybookpages.com

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  2. Richard Bremer

    Great tips, thank you for posting! Doing my third album nog, always find it difficult to decide which image to put on the first page. Any advise on that matter?

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  3. Valentin Zwick

    Good read! Many thanks for sharing!

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  4. Geeta Randery

    Totally true!! Loved reading this; thanks for sharing your wonderful knowledge as usual. Keep up the amazing work you guys!!!

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  5. Birgit Engelhardt

    Great tipps, thank you!

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  6. Annie

    This was concise and very helpful, thanks!

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