Before you think, "Ah ha! It’s a self-interested photographer post about why you should buy more stuff!", let me stop you. This is a post about why I think an album is a vital part of your wedding and your family, not just because I want to sell them.
As you consider wedding photography options, you will no-doubt be offered wedding albums. They come in all shapes, sizes and prices depending on which wedding photographer you choose. The possibilities are seemingly endless, and it’s easy to say, "I’ll do it later", or "I’ll have the disk. I don’t really want a big, clunky, expensive album." I thought the same thing before I became a photographer, and then I listened to some people who were way smarter than me. Like my grandma.
If you don’t see yourself gazing adoringly at your album while sitting on the couch and recalling sweet wedding memories with your spouse, I get it. Our generation loves NOW, the time where our technology synchs and is compatible, and where photos look amazing on our iPads, televisions and Retina displays. They even look pretty fantastic on our phones. So why get an archaic paper album?
I'll digress a moment. At 15, I was a voracious writer. I wrote stories, and I had a journal. I wrote the stories on my Mac, and I wrote my journal on paper. In college, I saved my work on those fancy new ZIP disks. I continued to write in my physical journal. Can you guess what I can easily access today without dragging out a complicated conversion device? I can pull those journals off the shelf any day and peruse their utterly embarrassing contents. My old floppy and ZIP disks sit in a box under my couch. The sheer modern inconvenience of accessing that stuff makes it almost more trouble than it's worth. On those disks are also photos from college, taken on my first digital camera (you loaded a floppy disk IN the camera). They're probably pretty fantastic. Part of me is terrified that many of those disks are bad.
Recently, my husband and I went through his grandmother's house when she moved to assisted care, pulling out things we didn't want sold at the estate sale or tossed. Hands-down, the albums are the most important thing we pulled out of there. Silver, whatever. Jewelry, pah. What has irreplaceable meaning and value? Our story. Our history. Our legacy, preserved in these beautiful, invaluable, fragile books.
Can you imagine your heartbreak, or your children's heartbreak in 10, 20, 50 years if that DVD of your wedding memories is scratched? Incompatible? Broken? Unlabeled and tossed? Will we even know what JPG files are in 2064?
I can hazard a guess: JPGs will sound sweet and quaint, but we’ll still know all about photo albums.
This is something new and unique to our generation, and the transition into a high-tech world. With the ease of digital, we photographers often don't enthusiastically sell albums. We can just give you the disks, after all! Wow, there goes $300-3000 off your wedding budget. Fab! But really, we aren't doing anyone a service. We are all slighting ourselves, and our family histories.
We should have both disk and book. If your house burns down, those disks in your safety deposit box are now all-important. We love digital, just not as our only way of preserving irreplaceable stories. Uniting as a family around an album is a generations-old ritual that is worth continuing.
So, here's the truth according to me:
Your wedding album is the first heirloom of your new family.
A DVD isn’t an heirloom. Sure, it contains the makings of heirlooms. But it isn’t enough. Go for tangible, preservable, touchable. I think we'll all be grateful that you did.