This week instead of wedding, engagement, family, or newborn photography, we decided to share with you some perks of hiring a Full Service Photography Studio (namely in regard to getting a professional photo album made). We create physical professionally printed high end photographs, photo products, and wedding albums/ other photo albums for our clients (and have done so weekly it seems for the past 3 months), so we’re pretty tuned in to what Professional photo products should look like and be.
Let’s get right into it! Back in “the day” ONLY Full Service Photography Studios existed. There weren’t a million photographers who on a whim one day decided to buy a nice camera and suddenly “become a photographer”… people did not just photograph you professional, then hand you all of their negatives after you paid them the Service Fee saying, “Have a nice day! Have fun printing these photos!” That was NOT the PROFESSIONAL standard, nor did it make sense for a real business to exist in that way. SERVICE FEES are for the service of working to capture the event/ Session and everything that was included in that work both prior and after the Session/ event photography. The PRODUCT of the actual printed photographs or album was a separate fee depending on what size and style of printed photo you wanted. You NEVER got the negatives to print however you want or just leave on a shelf (the “Shoot and Burn” photography “business” model). **if you have ever gone to a embroidery or screenprinter shop, you’ll see that you have to pay for the product (shirt) AND the service of the designing & embroidery. They do NOT sell you the program to embroider the pieces yourself, rather they are a business that does both service and product.
When it comes to costs to run a legitimate business like an LLC, there’re also things to invest in as well as upkeep on computers, camera equipment, insurance, etc. that can’t be covered by the income from a low Session fee and/ or event photography fee. These things are paid for by a COMBINATION of Service Fees (the ACT of planning, getting the gear ready, photographing, processing the photos, editing, etc) and the PRODUCT fees (these unsurprisingly cost US money as well since paper, upkeep on a literal huge coffee table sized printer, etc). Anywho, sometime in the digital era the dynamic shifted and there are VERY FEW physical Professional FULL SERVICE PHOTO STUDIOS left in our nation or worldwide. If you haven’t noticed, there are very few places that can even develop film anymore, let alone buy any quality physical photographs. Truly ONLY professional photography labs are equipped to print photography that is archival (will last 100+ years), that is well color-calibrated, and printed correctly on high end photo papers. If you don’t print professional photography items for a living you may not know this or realize how you’re wasting money on terrible quality products that will degrade quickly (thus not being things that you’ll be able to pass down through the generations).
That being said, we ARE a Full Service Studio L.L.C. (not freelancers) and we DO make a ton of physical products for our couples and other clients. We’ve been making physical wedding albums since 7 years ago (within our past 10 years of photographing weddings) and moved to FULL SERVICE ONLY fully 4 years ago. A large portion of our business is high end physical ALBUMS! These albums are not your run-of-the-mill cheap, thin, glossy album that you can get from Shutterstock, CostCo, CVS, or the like. They’re actually not cheap at all (they cost us a pretty penny to make) and require that you have design programs on your computer in order to create the design of the whole album. Our albums are archival, have an array of different cover options (something like 15 options), and we are design gurus at this point. We don’t charge additionally to DESIGN the albums (since we’ve already charge clients for the Service of Photography), though many do and it is good practice to charge for designing entire album layouts. We do charge for the albums size, thickness, and style, though. We’ve rarely shown or even photographed the past albums that we’ve made our couples and clients over the years since we have physical sample albums in our Consultation Office, but in the past couple months we’ve realized that it’s something that we needed to do in order to show those of you who haven’t been to our physical consultation offices or studio what exactly is being paid for when we create these gorgeous albums! We create these albums for engagements, families, weddings, anniversaries, newborns, and more and we take great pride in creating high quality albums that not only outshine, but outlast cheap, thin paged albums with horrible printing. Our end goal is to create for our clients gorgeous, sturdy albums that will withstand the test of time and be able to be cherished and passed down through the generations. Without further adieu, here are some of our clients’ beautiful albums that we’ve created!
The first thing you may have noticed is that the pages of our albums aren’t thin and cheap and don’t “rainbow” bend like magazine pages when the album is opened. This is because we use think, thick photo paper card stock… and actually just upped the thickness even more at the start of 2019! We also invest in fonts (and pay for literal artist hand drawn fonts for cards), so we have a good array of fonts that we use on the photo cover album designs. Since we have many legitimate art degrees (MFAs are bomb!) we do have a good sense of design. This helps a lot when we’re putting peoples’ chosen photos into album layouts based on what looks good to our eyes and how we can make the album “flow” the best. We do NOT use album templates that are pre-made and instead hand design each album layout based on what photos our clients and couples choose from our photographs of them. We even restore old vintage photos for families and couples and on top of that either completely re-design their original albums to print into a new, color and quality restored album OR take old paper photos, film negatives, and slides and design those into a brand new album of one’s memories!
We’ve learned a lot both through our degrees in Professional Photography about printing AND through our experience of running a full service studio/ photography business and we are proud of the end product albums that we send out to our clients after the whole process of sending them proofs and us updating and changing the album designs. It’s not easy work or a click of the button as it is for cheap albums from CVS, BUT it’s all worth the hard work when we get back amazing emails from clients saying that they cried when they opened their beautiful archival box and held the big, gorgeous album. These are memories that our amazing client family will pass down through the generations and the world of high end physical photographs isn’t dead… but you do have to search long and hard for the right professional Full Service Studio that can provide you with the photography, design, and quality product skills that oh so many lack.
We hope you enjoyed seeing just a bit of what we do and the lengths that we go to to ensure quality photography products for all of our lovely clients! Check back NEXT weekly Wednesday to learn a bit more about us, our relationship, and more about our past 5 years together-! Stay warm as we get muddy and rained on (with that literal 80 degree upswing in temperatures since the Polar Vortex just one week ago today)!