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Professional Albums versus Digital-Only Delivery

Albums or Digital

Digital cameras have been around for nearly a generation. The first digital camera prototype was created in 1975! (It looked like a toaster oven with a lens on it, and it weighed 8 pounds. Look how far we’ve come.)  Depending on your point of view, one of the casualties of the technological advancements in image making is the disregard for finished printed materials. Let’s explore the pros and cons of offering professional albums versus digital-only delivery to wedding photography clients.

professional albums versus digital only delivery, Professional Albums versus Digital-Only Delivery, Zookbinders
Steve Sasson invented the first digital camera in 1975 while working for Kodak.


New Normal

It is fair to say that electronic media has replaced the analog process of developing film to produce imagery. Despite the changes in processes, there are still the traditions of family portraits, baby pictures, senior portraits,  and wedding photography. However, photographers and consumers alike are split on whether tangible products are a part of these transactions.

Digital files are a hot commodity. They are, for the most part, fully baked photographs. They are a digital representation of what an image in print would look like, more or less. Unlike film and negatives, which would still need to be processed into viewable images, digital files are ready to use. So where it would be less common for a couple to ask for all the film from their wedding, it’s easy to be satisfied with all the digitals, since they are ready to view without any extra manipulation. 

In the film days, professional photo albums were put together after a couple viewed proofs made from their negatives. Albums were created as a portfolio of all the very best images. Nothing has really changed much here, except that the album is not always the end product. Considering that a digital gallery from a wedding can have over 1,000 images, not filtering through the many, to highlight only the favorite pictures in an album, seems like handing over an unfinished project. 

When it comes to weddings, there are a variety of reasons that photographic albums are not offered to clients, but to simplify it, either a photographer includes professional wedding albums in their collections, or they don’t.

Nobody’s Asking for Albums

Consider this, if no one told you to get an oil change every 6 months or 5, 000 miles, would you do it? But if the dealership tells you to, are you likely to take their expert advice? 

Clients might not ask for print products or professional albums. Most likely it’s because they don’t know that they can. Here’s where the expert might step in and show some beautiful studio samples and give a list of reasons why wedding albums are essential.

Some clients say they are fine with just the files. They want to save money by eliminating an album from their contract, they would like to make an album on their own, they have a friend of a friend’s aunt who will design an album as a gift for them … so digital files are good enough. Great. If you want to run a business that delivers “good enough” – congratulations!


“I’m very uninterested in that opinion,” David S

Before the daggers start flying, with respect, everyone has the right, the gift, the ability, to run their photography businesses as they please. You do you. Zookbinders is in the business of selling professional wedding albums to professional photographers, so we are going to ahead and push the album envelope. However, our passion goes beyond delivering products.

We want to see your business profit and grow from the sale of albums. By having discussions with clients on the benefits of having a wedding album, you are educating them and solving a problem that they didn’t know that they had. 

Before we lose anyone, spoiler alert, these two end products – files and albums – go hand in hand. It’s not professional wedding albums versus digital-only delivery, it’s digital images delivery AND professional wedding albums.  It’s like the chicken and the egg, you can’t have one without the other, or at least not without a fight. Below are approaches to compare and complement both files and albums. Showing that they are both necessary for all your clients.


Digital Files Save Space

Digital delivery could mean hundreds or thousands of images. The more, the merrier because digital files take up very little physical space. Throw them on a thumb drive or send them to the cloud. It’s easy to manage 128  gigabytes of imagery with a link and a click.


Albums Save Space

Every photo is great to have, but not every photo belongs in an album. You are NOT going to show off all your wedding images so no need for a 6-volume set of LusterBooks to house your 1,500 images.  Albums on average contain about 75 – 100 images, sometimes more and sometimes less.  An album is a space saved for the favorites, the best of the best. A handful of photos in a custom-designed album can easily tell the story of a celebration. It is also a way better experience than an iPad slideshow.

professional albums versus digital only delivery, Professional Albums versus Digital-Only Delivery, Zookbinders
This Zook Book with an acrylic cover is way more of a showstopper that any digital gallery.

Back it Up to the Cloud

Digital files can be copied and stored in a variety of places. If clients are diligent about how they manage their digital archives, they will have backups of all your beautiful work whenever needed. The elements have no impact on all those ones and zeros are stored safely and away from harm on Dropbox. If something ever happens to their original album, a new version can be created with the stored images.


Back it up to the Cow (A Full Leather Wedding Album)

Creating a printed hard copy of favorite photographs in an album is a tangible way to back up a curated selection of photos for your clients. It can be challenging to remember where a thumb drive with 2,000 wedding images is stored.  It’s very easy to access a wedding album from a coffee table or shelf. If something happens to a couple’s electronic files, they will have their family’s first heirloom, their wedding album with all their favorite images intact.  


Digital Files are Sharable

If family members want to see or download images from a couple’s wedding reception, it’s as easy as sending a link. Sure, they’ll have to sort through ALL the files to find their table shot, and they may come across some unflattering images of the groom doing a line dance with a beer bong. When a gallery is available to all, sharing does have its downside. Couples don’t always have control over what is downloaded, printed, or shared by friends and family.


Albums Are Sharable

Paging through a wedding album is a better experience than pouring over hundreds of files or searching through social media. Sharing a wedding album with friends and family shows them a personalized version of the couple’s celebration. The images in the album are special. They are elevated from the many. An album is a finished piece, a work of art, that can be treasured even if the Cupid Shuffle was left out of the reception images.

professional albums versus digital only delivery, Professional Albums versus Digital-Only Delivery, Zookbinders
This unique wedding album called the Bon A’ Vie is fun to page though as the album opens from the middle to display the album spreads.


Clients Can Make an Album with their Digital Files

With so many consumer options out there for photo books, it’s a given that couples may want to make their own wedding album. Having the digital files, the patience to sort out the best images, the time to create a digital layout, the technical skills to do any resizing or retouching, the resourcefulness to find quality photographic products, and the ability to imagine what the finished product will look like, is an adventure that will take weeks if not months.

 Many wedding couples looking to “make their own album” reach out to professional album companies (like Zookbinders) that only work B2B with photographers, to see if they can get the same high-end products as a consumer. Clients are then redirected back to their photographers who might not offer albums, and the frustration sets in. There’s really nothing better than begging to get your wedding album made.

Note: Yes, this isn’t the most balanced treatment of this digital “pro” but it’s the god’s honest truth that Zookbinders gets calls, chats, and emails daily that mirror that last scenario.


Photographers Can Make Beautiful Handcrafted Photo Albums  

If clients are considering making their own album, that means they want an album. Professional photographers have access to products and services not available to consumers that rise above quality and beauty.  Wow your couples by providing the full service of creating an album. You are the professional. You have the knowledge, the resources, and the workflow to put together to create something amazing. You’ll look like a superhero and your work will look stunning! Win-win.

Professional wedding albums versus digital-only delivery; no need to pick one, they go together. If you’re not set up to offer professional wedding albums,  let’s chat about how you can get started! Book an appointment to chat with one of our experts. Zookbinders wants to see your beautiful imagery in print, and we encourage you to be excellent in your creative pursuits.

Maureen Miller CPP

Maureen Miller CPP

Contributor to Marketing & Client Experience at Zookbinders. Professional photographer for 25+ years. An advocate for making money and doing what you love. My motto, ”Photography is a BIG DEAL!”

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