There are a few key elements to remember when designing an album. These elements will help unify your book and give it a more professionally designed feel.
• Hero Image: Every page needs to have a hero image. This is an image that is 2 times larger than every other image on that spread. It is where the viewer will usually start and then move around the spread from there. This is especially important if you have more than 5 images for one spread. When there are too many images to deal with it is best to split them into two spreads, however sometimes they all must be there, so make sure you have a hero image. (See example below of groom in pin stripped suit.)
• Image Pairing: When pairing up imagery side by side try to use one image that is a detail or up close shot and one that is a wider angel shot. This helps each image stand apart. If they are both wide angle shots things may get too cluttered. If they are two detail shots they might compete. (See example below of butterfly and dance hall.)
• Multiples: The use of multiple image boxes that are all the similar in size against one large image can have a dramatic effect. The multiples can help to tell the background story while the main image is the over all story or a major part of the story. (See example below of couple cutting their cake.)
• Negative Space: While the majority of your clients will not like a lot of negative space on their spreads, it does make for a higher end looking book. If done correctly the outcome is usually stunning and elegant. The issue with most brides is they want their images to be a big as possible and are not concerned with the open organic nature of the design itself. (See example below of couple dancing.)
• To Bleed or Not to Bleed: This question you might want to ask the couple before you start designing. It is simple and will save you a ton of time reworking a book with white space when the couple wanted it full bleed. To bleed and image means to have it go right to the edge of the page where it is cropped. In the printing world designers need to “bleed” their image off the page in the design template by 1/8 inch ensuring the image will be cropped without showing any white paper edge. It works if you have a mix of white and some bleed too, you just need to get it in the right rhythm and proportion.
• Rhythm: The rhythm of your book is as important as any other element. Think of it like this: in a song there is a certain structure in it that has choruses and verses (stability and variety respectively) and it also might have a bridge (element of surprise.) Your design needs to reflect the notion of song writing with all its ups and downs, twists and turns, all wrapped into one great package of unity and stability. Sound like an oxymoron? Well, it kind of is and that is why music writing and book design is hard but when done right can take your breath away.
• Emphasis: Think about how you can show off your imagery in a different way by drawing attention to smaller details in a larger image. There are many ways to do this so start thinking out side the box. (See example above of flowers and bride and groom walking down path.)
• Panoramas: A panorama is one large image across the entire two page spread. These make your book look impressive and should be included as many times as the page count and image count will allow. By giving your book these types of spreads sprinkled throughout at even intervals it will give the book more breathing room. These spreads help “open” up your book making it feel less cluttered.
• Major Design Elements: If you choose to do something that stands out and makes a design “splash” such three small 2×2 inch square images all in a row, or a large opaque image in the background with a drop shadowed floater on top, make sure you do it 3 to 5 times throughout the entire book. If you are doing a 30 page book, then 3 times is enough. Use the 10% rule on this one and do not go over or you will over do your “splash.” If you only do it once it will look misplaced; as if someone else designed just that spread and you did everything else.
• Consistency: Keep things consistent throughout the book that are non essential design items. Background color, stroke style and weight around imagery, drop shadows, and any other element that may repeat itself more than 5 times in the book. There is nothing more disconcerting than a schizophrenic design. When it comes to typography designers know to only use two or maybe three fonts on one project: Headline, Sub Headline, and Body Copy. Since we are dealing with mostly just imagery the same idea applies. Don’t do some pages with a black background, some pages white, some images with a thin white outline, and some images with a black sloppy boarder. It is okay to mix things up a little bit, but the more you add variety the more confused your overall design will look.
Title Page: Use an image that is generally a pretty image. I tend to go with a floral shot, but sometimes I use an image of the bride and groom. Have fun with this page. It is the first page they will see and it is usually the only page that has text. Remember to include the following:
~ Names of the couple
~ Wedding Date
~ Who photographed it (YOU!)
Remember, this is an heirloom and should be treated as such. Any well done book should have some basic information on the title page. A good way to go is to title it with their first names and then subtitle it with rest of the information. Here is an example:
TITLE: Tim & Jen
SUBTITLE: Timothy O’Sullivan was married to Jennifer Queener on April 20, 2004 in Mammoth Lakes, California. Photography by Laura Kleinhenz
Note on Title: Proper etiquette states the groom’s name should go first, however in more recent years the bride’s name is sometimes first because it is “her” day. Ask your couple how they would like it to read. (See example below of flowers with text: Tim & Elizabeth.)
The below are some examples of various layouts as discussed in this post.