I'd added a note on my last post about album design and then I had some more thoughts, then some more and decided I had enough for a post on my humble little blog.
As well as the technical aspects of designing an album there's some elements that are more about the philosophy.
So the basic technical considerations are the type of album, the size and the number of pages.
A matted album uses board to provide a border around images. The basic layouts of this type might allow a single full page image within a matt or maybe 1 or two.
A storybook album will usually allow images to cross the fold at the centre of the album, so that details aren't lost, it allows a multitude of different layouts and you can mix colour and black and white images within the same layouts.
A coffee table book has similar benefits to the storybook album, but does not usually lay flat. The images are press printed, so don't necessarily have the same vibrance as a photographically printed album.
When considering the layout of an album the size of the final album is very important. With a smaller album there is less scope for including extra details around a main image as images can only become so small before they become little more than thumbnails. While a huge album can be unmanageable, difficult to store and the images can actually be too big for a pure human brain to take it all in.
Number of pages
The number of pages is an obvious way of structuring your story. If you have 10 spreads you have 20 facing pages to tell the tale, if you have 20 spreads you have 40 facing pages. In 20 pages you can show moments, in 40 you can start to tell the story, in 70 you're probably condemning everyone to boredom.
So that's the technical stuff out of the way.
Next up is something I'm calling the flavour of the album. This sets the texture and tone of the story you are telling. This is where knowing what was important to the bride and groom is key, as it allows the person designing the album to create a feeling and a mood.
If the wedding had a theme then this can steer the editing of the photographs and the mood of the album. Rock n roll lends itself to bright colours, vintage to soft edges, medieval to soft light. The story needs to include the elements of the wedding that support the theme.
Chapters in a story
There are some fairly logical stages to the wedding that may or may not apply, depending on the wedding:- getting ready, the time before the ceremony, the arrival of the bride, the ceremony, post ceremony pictures, the arrival at the reception, the cake cutting, the speeches, the arrival of the evening guests, the first dances. This timeline gives you a structure to the day and steers the order that images may appear in the final album. Within each chapter of the day there may be sequences of events, small and large that help to move the story along, place the story in a context and create the mood and tone you are seeking.
If you think about the opening of your favourite books they will have an opening that either captures the attention or sets the scene. They will also have an ending that wraps up the story, the happily ever after element. Some albums will end with the first dance, some will end with a walk off into the distance, some might end with the hokey cokey. It depends on the tone that you have set through the story.
Symmetry is an important element in design and a lot of the album will be based around ideas of symmetry and balance. It's a soothing and comfortable way for people to view their pictures. However, I believe that sometimes it is the album designer's to throw in a little asymmetry, the counterpoint that rekindles interest and makes people stop and pay attention as the pages flicker by. This can be a breathtaking image, an image that makes the viewer think, that surprises the viewer or that throws a stone in the puddle to reset the tone for the following pages.
The danger sometimes with a storybook style album is that it can be too tempting to throw in too many images on a page or spread or fill each page with backgrounds and details. Sometimes less is more. If a single image can tell your story, just let it.
Album design is never easy, it takes time and care, even when you are 100% sure of your image selection. The story needs to be told with the right flavour and tone and beginning, middle and end need to make sense.