As professional wedding and portrait photographers, we have a variety of products that we can offer to boost our revenue. Of these, the most popular tend to be photo albums and photo books. As long as we capture a cohesive set of photos for each session and present our clients with professionally designed and crafted options, it’s difficult for clients to pass on albums. In order to be profitable, however, we have to dial in the right price point. That starts with finding the right print lab and products. We’ve previously shared an in-depth guide to pricing, which we encourage you to review for tips on integrating print sales into your business model. Now, we’ll look at specific products, namely professional photo albums and books, to understand the options we have available. With this information, we can better serve our clients’ needs while also ensuring that we make our margins.
For the purpose of this article, we’ll use Zno’s photo albums and books as examples as we’ve found that they’ve struck an incredible balance between quality and value, and we use them in our own studio.
Professional Photo Albums vs Photo Books
Let’s begin by briefly distinguishing between professional photo albums and photo books. A lot of people use these terms interchangeably, but each has distinct features that sets one apart from the other. Many of the differences have to do with the paper used in the album or book (photo paper vs press paper), as well as how the pages sit (flat vs regular, or not flat) and the cover options that are available, with albums typically offering additional customizable options. Photo albums also typically cost more than photo books. We’ll explore what makes each of the professional photo albums and photo books unique in more detail below.
Flush Mount Album
When your clients want high-quality, highly-customizable photo albums, they’re probably looking for a flush mount album. Clients love flush mount albums because of the seamless spreads and layflat pages that showcase their captured memories on a grand scale without losing any detail in the gutter. Also, because the images do not need to be split across spreads, photographers and album designers love these albums for the unique design opportunities they open up, leaving each two-page spread as a blank canvas for any number of layout options. And that’s just for starters.
Every flush mount photo album from Zno includes the following features:
- Core: A thick, archival board that creates the backbone of every page
- Layflat Pages: Pages lay “flat” without a gutter bulging between the left page and right page
- Silver Halide or Giclée printing: Preferred printing methods by professional photographers vs digital printing
- Flush Mounting: Print is mounted across the gutter and extends to all edges of the spread
Some of the other standout options featured with flush mount albums that set these albums apart include heavy covers, thicker pages, more paper choices, and bigger sizes. Zno’s flush mount albums, for instance, include your choice of 1.1 to 1.5mm pages, offering maximum thickness for heirloom-quality albums.
Pro Printing on Pro Paper
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of why you would recommend flush mount photo albums from a professional lab like Zno is the printing method and paper used. Zno, in particular, uses lab-exclusive photo papers that give the images uniquely rich colors and texture. Moreover, they use silver halide printing (as noted above), which provides a higher quality print than digital prints made using inkjet or laser printers. When held side-by-side with other albums or photo books, the difference is easily noticeable. You would think the flush mount photo album costs more than it does as it stands up to premium albums from other printers whose prices are much higher.
A Note on the Term “Flush Mount”
When you hear the terms “flush mounting” and “flush mount albums” used, it might seem like they’re referring to the same thing. Technically, the term “flush mount” refers to how the prints are mounted in the photo album, using a core between prints vs back-to-back prints featured in regular layflat books. Therefore, other albums, such as the fine art album, also fall under the “flush mount” category, although they might have other unique features not found in flush mount photo albums.
Flush Mount Photo Album Price: Starting from $39.10
Fine Art Album
Next up on our list of go-to professional photo albums, standing right alongside the flush mount album is the fine art album. While similar in appearance to flush mount albums, fine art albums offer the same thick, layflat pages, but the paper and printing methods set this album apart.
Fine Art Paper
For fine art albums, Zno uses “museum grade art paper that can last 100 years,” which absolutely sells the heirloom quality experience. According to Zno, the “art paper” comes “from the German state of Saxony where it has passed the museum collection level IS09706 testing standard and received the prestigious International Forest Stewardship Council FSC certification.” What your clients will notice, of course, is how well the paper holds up over time, and how great it looks throughout. Because the alpha-cellulose paper is acid-free and lignen-free, it “absorbs” ink in a way that presents the images with distinctly powerful colors and contrasts to showcase the image’s range of light to dark tones. As cliche as it sounds, you have to hold a fine art album in your hands to truly appreciate the quality and presentation of the art paper. You can read more about various photo paper options here.
To further add to the high resolution of the photos in the album, Zno’s fine art albums use “premium archival pigment-based inks using a 12-color process.” Simply put, the photos will look better (more detailed) and last longer than they would via other methods, including the use of digital inkjet or laser printers.
Cover Options and Other Upgrades
Because every client’s taste varies, it helps to know that we have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a cover, both in terms of material and format. With nearly twenty materials to choose from, including everything from paper to genuine leather and more, as well as a ton of upgrade options like raised foil or varnishing, no two photo albums will look alike. We’ve previously shared these options in more detail as well as other ideas on upgrading your photo albums and books in a separate article.
Fine Art Photo Album Price: Starting from $44.20
Layflat Photo Book
The layflat photo book shares many of the same features as a flush mount album, including a core, layflat pages, silver halide printing, and flush mounting. For these photo books, however, the core is noticeably thinner, and clients have fewer options when it comes to cover, size, and other features. With that said, it’s worth noting that these photo books still use real photo paper, and they’re tough to beat at their very budget-friendly price point.
Layflat Photo Book Price: Starting from $34.00
Press Photo Book
For those clients or occasions that call for quality at the friendliest price point available, you’ll want to consider going with press photo books. These photo books use press-printed paper, which means the images are printed using a high-end digital printing press, and they’re not actual photographs. An example of this style is a coffee table book. In terms of binding, press photo books are perfect bound, which allows the books to hold more pages.
Press Photo Book Price: Starting from $21.25 USD
Key Differences Between These Professional Photo Albums and Books
To recap, here’s a quick overview of the key differences between these professional photo albums and books:
- Customization: Professional photo albums, such as the flush mount album and fine art album allow for maximum customization, offering numerous options for each feature, from cover materials, book size, and paper choice to page thickness and custom upgrade options. Photo books also offer a wide range of choices for design, but not as many as their premium counterparts.
- Premium Materials: Along with more choices, professional photo albums offer premium materials, like genuine leather and metal covers or photo paper choices that you can’t get with photo books.
- Printing Method: It’s hard to beat the print quality (in looks and durability) of silver halide and giclee printing methods, which are reserved for the professional photo albums. Again, the photo books look fantastic and are nothing to scoff at. Rather than viewing them as a downgrade, it’s more accurate to view them as a cost-friendly alternative when budget is an issue.
- Price: Because of the points mentioned above, photo books cost noticeably less than professional photo albums. Whereas a fine art album may start around $45, a press photo book will start at roughly half the price, or $21. Either way, the low price for quality products will help set you up for success with happy clients and wider profit margins.
Easy Album Design Software
Of course, whether you’re designing professional photo albums or photo books, you need professional album design software. The best photo album design software is user friendly, rich in features, and low in price. Zno’s free and built-in Zno Designer works from the cloud (which is unique among competitors) and integrates seamlessly with their online photo gallery and other photography studio software. We reviewed the Zno Designer in detail here.
One of the most helpful features when using this designer is taking advantage of the Zno Proofer, which you can use to share designs with your clients and get quick and easy feedback for revisions. Furthermore, once the album design is approved, you can send the album to print from Zno’s pro lab directly within the app. It’s a highly effective tool that, when used with Zno’s other available software, makes for an efficient album design workflow.
If you’d like a better idea of what goes into designing a Zno photo album, we outlined the process here when we designed and ordered a layflat photo book and custom USB case. Despite the wide breadth of options you have available, the overall process is surprisingly simple, and the resulting albums have made our clients happy time and again.
Zno Review Wrap Up
We hope you found this brief overview of professional photo albums and photo books that make margins helpful. It’s worth the effort to offer your clients professionally designed albums, and it’s easy enough to make the product profitable while giving your clients added value. Based on your client’s budget, you should be able to use the info above to direct your clients to the best album or book that their money can buy, and you can enjoy a profit without gouging their wallets.