Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cute little Ella

Hanging out with all these photographers has inspired me to pick up the camera again. The last time I really shot anything was at my honeymoon in Greece last September. Before that...yikes! I can't even remember! So feeling trigger happy, I toted my camera to the my gymnastics gym - yes, adults can still do gymnastics - took some shots of Ella, the daughter of a fellow gymnast and awesome photographer/designer, Tim Swink. The lighting at a gym is terrible but at least the subject makes up for it. Isn't Ella adorable?

Ella was trying to get everyone to jump on the trampoline or jumping on it herself! If only kids could stay so cute and happy all the time.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lesson 1, Part II: A New Leaf

I'm always discovering something new when I help my photographer friends wade through the design process. Today, as I was reading through an album maker's design spec information, I discovered a term that should have been a part of Lesson 1, which was -- leaf or leaves. I've heard people use this term before, primarily in publishing and less in design, but I haven't heard it recently. So what exactly is a leaf?

A leaf refers to the physical sheet that is turned when you flip through an album. It is made up of two sides or two pages. So now for the trick question - how many spreads are in a leaf?

Answer: A leaf is made up of two half spreads!

So why would someone use leaf vs. spreads? It probably depends on their background and whether they are referring to a design element (which would spreads) or a publishing term (which would use leaf). Either way, it's important to know how to differentiate them so you don't accidentally end up with the wrong number of ... whatever that album maker calls it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

KISS Wedding Books

Last week, I joined the many fabulous wedding and portrait photographers of the country at WPPI. Unlike my friends who were there to learn about their craft, I spent most of my time wandering around the casinos and the WPPI trade show floor. Instead of learning about photography (although I could use a refresher!), I learned a lot about album vendors. The very first thing I learned was that there are A LOT of them! Since I was overwhelmed, I'm sure everyone else was too. But thankfully, I took some notes and Armin (of Armin Defiesta Photography) was there to capture some video notes. So here's the first installment of many album vendor reviews to come:

KISS Wedding Books is an album vendor that I have designed for a few times. Overall I am impressed by them because of their commitment to their mission - "Keep It Simple Stupid" while maintaining quality in their albums.

Simply put KISS offers a limited number of options for their albums which keeps order complexity down and minimizes errors.

Here are some specifics:
  • 3 sizes, all square albums
  • 7 colors for all leather covers - no cameos, no printing or embossing, no frills
  • pano books, or "invisible" gutters (See Lesson 3)
  • design template available in InDesign format
  • accepts designs in .jpg format at 300 dpi
  • online file uploading
  • 2 week turnaround (or if they are behind, they let you know quickly)
  • dedicated order reviewer
  • all books come with a slip cover
  • design work is contracted to third party designers listed on their site
So for your brides who are looking for something simple, this is vendor is a great option. It will keep your workflow simple as well. However, for the bride who is looking for something more or if you want to upsell your bride on a "fancy" album, you're not going to find it with KISS.

Check out this video that shows you first hand a KISS album. Recognize the design?? :) Thanks Armin for posting the video!

Wedding Book Sample from Armin DeFiesta on Vimeo.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lesson 3: Pano or Not

You might have heard album vendors refer to some of their books as "pano" books. It is important to distinguish between panoramic pictures that can go into a book and a panoramic book. The official definition of panoramic is "wide" format and most album makers allow for you to place panoramic pictures across two pages of a spread. (See Lesson 1)

In the past, when book binding technology was in the pre-digital age, the easiest way for an album maker to have one picture span across two pages (1 spread) was to cut the picture in half and place each half on either page. Sometimes this is also called "split binding." This way, the album maker did not need to bend the photo to make the album close. However, this created a "visible" gutter right in the middle of the picture!

However, now in the digital age, photo printing has changed dramatically. Photographs can now be printed on various types of paper using a variety of inks and still look like a photograph. Therefore, many album makers can now supply a "pano" book. In other words, they will print the entire picture or deisgn on one spread (both pages at the same time) and mount it into the album as one piece. Even though the book still technically has a gutter (the book has to bend somewhere), it is sometimes called an "invisible" gutter. This is what album makers call an pano(ramic) book because the picture or design is in full panoramic view - no more cutting.

Depending on your style, you may still choose to go with an album that has a gutter. There are many good reasons to choose an album with a gutter and there are many designs that look great in non-pano books. Either way, keep your album style and design in mind when you choose that next great album!

Example photograph from Pictobooks

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lesson 2: Where's my Gutter?

In the publishing world, gutters are really important. If you're a photographer who offers albums, you should have some baseline understanding of gutters - what they are and why they exists - because it will impact what type of album you chose and how your photographs are presented.

So, what is a gutter? When you open a book, the center of the book where the pages come together is called the gutter. More often than not, the center of the book curves inward. Many things, such as pencil, would roll toward the center of the book - just like rain rolling towards a gutter.

Why is there a gutter?
Gutters exist (or not) as a direct result of how a book is bound. There are many methods of binding a book and each method creates a different type of gutter. More importantly - different binding processes have different costs - which is then passed to you! Generally speaking, it is easier to bind a book with very visible gutters rather than books that have non-visible gutters. Here are a few examples of binding that creates different types of gutters:

This is a Japanese Stitch Bound book. It is one of the easiest types of binding which many artists use. It also creates a deep gutter. For albums, it creates a great, classic feel but you will only be able to place a few photos per page. Photos will also be printed, then placed on a page. Cypress makes albums in this style which are beautiful and very traditional.

This a standard stitch binding or called oversewing. It is the most common for hardback books because it can bind many pages together at one time. Pages bound in this type of style must also be relatively thin. Most album makers don't use this type of binding but I believe some of the Couture Books do use this style of binding. (They also require 100 pages per book.)

This is a board book - often used for books for young children. These books tend to be more durable because of the thickness of the pages and do not have visible gutters. However, there is a limit to the number of pages that can be bound in this method. Most album makers use a modified version of this binding process in order to deliver a book that lays flat.

So regardless of which album maker you choose, it is important keep your mind in the gutter! It will impact the type of album you give your bride.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lesson 1: Spreads, pages, and sides - OH MY!

Having been in photography, editing, and publishing, I sometimes take it for granted that everyone understands design terminology. On top of that, Album vendors don't help. They use terms and definitions interchangeably depending on the products they offer. Totally confusing - even to me!!

Here's a shout out to a friend and great photographer - Moshe Zusman - who stopped me while we were on the trade show floor at WPPI and asked, "Is a side or a page the same a spread?" What a great question, and of course we're all scratching our heads because we use all of those terms!

So from a design perspective, here are the definitions:

A spread is a standard design term for the entire image that you see when you open a book and lay it flat. For example:A page is the design (and common) term for the half of a spread divided by the gutter. I remember it by thinking about where page numbers are located. If you would put a page number on it, it is a page. A spread is always made up of two adjoining pages. For example:

A side is essentially the same as a page. However, the difference in design terms would be that a side can be used to describe any page whereas a page is often associated to be a part of a spread. In other words, the front and back of a single sheet of paper would also consider sides. For example:

So after all of that, it's all really the same thing to the bride so use whatever terminology makes sense to them. But when you're talking to a vendor, you'll know how to ask them -- "When you say 20 sides, you really mean 10 spreads, right?"

What a photographer really needs... the truth! Or at least someone who can answer some basic design questions in an objective way.

I just got back from a couple of fun filled days at WPPI. I met some incredibly talented photographers, got a chance to walk the trade show floor with a couple of them, and made some wonderful new friends. As I was spending most of my time visiting album vendor booths, I realized 2 things - 1) vendors never take the time to explain, they only try to SELL and 2) at first glance, all vendors look alike. So after getting some input from my new found friends, I thought two specific items would be helpful to all my photographer friends:

1) To define some basic album design terminology and guidelines
2) To provide basic album vendor reviews and provide tid-bits on vendors as I hear about them.

For all you readers out there, please send me any design related questions you might have. If you're asking, I'm sure someone else is asking the same thing!