What kind of photo album is best?
Have you looked into photo books/albums lately? I don’t know about you, but man I get overwhelmed with all the choices!!
They use big words like heirloom and legacy, museum grade, archival. There’s albums and photobooks, story books, photographic, giclee, ink jet printed and let’s not even try to mention the bagillion different kinds of papers they offer!
Photo “Albums” (we will talk “books” next)
Albums are typically higher end than “books”.
Signature albums are better quality than premium albums.
Signature/Legacy/Heirloom albums are the best quality. They are often hand crafted. Real leather.
They are printed on museum grade archival paper. What does that even mean? It’s the paper they use to print things that go in museums. The paper is able to stand 200 years without fading and without the paper yellowing. Your photos will look exactly like the day you bought them… 200 years later. You know how those old time photos are all yellow? Not with the archival papers!
The pages are thick. Those archival papers are backed by matboards giving the pages more of the feel of those hard children’s books you get for toddlers… the ones with the heavy pages that they can’t tear up? That’s what these thick pages feel like!
The “albums” that we offer are photographic and not press printed. What does that mean? Press printed is when the images are printed on the paper with ink like when you print something off a computer and it comes through a printer. If you look closely, you can see the dots the ink makes and it has a slight grainy finish.
Photographic or giclee printed means the image is put onto the paper via a chemical reaction very similar to the old style film cameras. These images will be glossy and smooth like film photos.
The BEST feature of these in my opinion, is they lay flat! Meaning when you open the album, the pages lay completely flat. There is no bump in the center where the binding is. This allows for panoramic views of your photos. Have a large family or bridal party? That photo can now fit across both pages seamlessly! To me, this is what I love most about the higher end “albums”.
Take a look at some examples of an “album”. The photos were taken with my cell phone, so… the quality isn’t great, but you will get the idea!
“Signature” photo books
As if the language isn’t confusing enough, then there are signature photo books. They are made with the thick heavy pages like the albums and they will lay flat, but the images and paper are of lesser quality.
They are similar in look and feel to a greeting card thats been printed on cardstock.
They are typically press printed, meaning the image is printed on the paper with a printer. This is how we view most print now a days… but I still remember the days of film and I think those images looked better in my opinion!
Photo books can come in a variety of covers, hard, soft, linen, leather and so on. The ones that we offer still come from a professional grade lab so the colors will be more correct and the images sharper and more on point than commercial grade labs.
So what about photo “books”?
Then there are hardcover photo books. The pages on these books are thin, like those in a regular children’s picture book.
They come with images printed on the cover. I would suggest you choose the semi gloss paper as it mimics the film and the higher end photographic paper more than the mattes and luster finish papers. These albums will NOT lay flat.
You would not be able to put a landscaped or large image across both pages because you would not be able to see the center of the images where the binding is.
For major and special events like weddings or a vacation with awesome views, I prefer to splurge on albums. I mostly want to be able to see m favorite images HUGE and panoramic!
For everyday life photos, pictures we have taken with our cell phones… for those, I typically chose the hardcover photo books as they are cheaper in price and I don’t need them to lay flat.
Here are some pictures of a hardcover photo book. These photos were taken with my cell phone in bad lighting, so the quality isn’t great, but you will get the idea! By the way, these are our engagement photos! Weren’t we cute back then!?
I hope this post will give you some guidance as you navigate the option out there and I hope it helps you decide which album is the best for your situation!
We do offer the professional lab grade albums.
However, if you want to print the albums yourself, I suggest using Mpix. They have all three of the options I mentioned in this blog post and they are owned by the same family that owns the professional lab we use, so they are a really good quality!
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