Choosing the right photos for your wedding album.
Choosing the right photos for your wedding album.

After you’re married and you have hundreds of pictures to look through, picking out images for your wedding album can feel like a mammoth task.  It doesn’t have to be that way if you take a structured approach.  Here’s my guide for choosing pictures for your wedding album.  The way I ask couples to select their album images works well for me, in terms of the way I design their albums, but it’s also a good template if you’re thinking about making your own album or photo book.

The Book/Album

Examples of great photos for your album spreads.
Examples of great photos for your album spreads.

I use a bespoke wedding album company for all of my wedding albums.  I design the layouts and then send them off to my print company so that they can work their magic.  My fine art albums are really contemporary and beautiful.  They are hand-bound and open out flat with an almost invisible crease, to showcase your beautiful wedding photography across two pages.

My album company uses papers from FSE approved sources and archival quality inks, so your album will last for ever.  If you’re thinking about making your own book, sites like Blurb and Photobox have templates that you can use to drag and drop images, to easily create your own design.   You’ll need to make sure that your images are print resolution.  All of my couples receive print resolution image downloads as part of their photography collection but this varies from photographer to photographer, so it’s worth checking your images to see if they’re high enough resolution for print.  Your photographer will be able to tell you if you’re not sure.

The Story

Your wedding album should tell the story of your wedding day, in a balanced way.  You need a good mix of documentary images, portraits, details and group shots and you also need to make sure the album flows well.  Too much of one thing and not enough of another will leave you with a disjointed album that doesn’t cover all aspects of the day.  I’ll give you some guidelines about how to select images to properly cover the story in a while. When I am working with my couples to create their wedding albums, I ask them to pick images from a number of different categories, to make sure all aspects of the day are covered.  I ask them to solely focus on images of people and then I add in images of details afterwards.

Here are the images I ask them to choose:

6 – 8 getting ready shots, split between both of them (i.e 4 of one person’s preparations and 4 of the other’s)
2 – 3 shots of guests arriving
Up to 8 ceremony shots
6 – 8 reception shots (candid shots of guests or posed groups)
Up to 6 speech shots 1 or 2 first dance shots
Up to 5 party shots
4 or 5 dancing shots
3 or 4 couples portrait shots

One of Babb Photo's wedding photo albums.
One of Babb Photo’s wedding photo albums.

I’ll then add another 5 – 10 detail shots of things like the dress, shoes, suits, flowers, venues and decor. These image selections are based on an album with 30 pages/15 spreads.  If you add additional pages, then you can add extra images.  I often suggest that couples might like to add two extra pages; one for some extra shots of their guests at the reception, and one for some extra shots of the dancing.

Forget about ‘should’

What I’d say to anyone who is picking images for their album is forget about the images you think you ‘should’ include, and instead focus on images that you love.  Your album is for you and it’s something you’ll look at again and again.  Rather than thinking “I should have a picture of x in there”, just choose those images that you absolutely adore and that remind you how you felt on your wedding day. This can be tricky if you’re also doing copy albums for parents, so it might be worth doing a separate album design for them, so that they get the album they want too.

And then what?

Well if your photographer is designing your album for you, you can send over your image selections and get them to work their design magic.   I include one round of amendments in the cost of my albums, so even though you have selected the majority of the images yourself, there is still a chance to make changes before the album goes to print. If you’re designing the album yourself using one of the photo book companies I mentioned earlier, you should keep the following in mind: -Your design will work best in chronological order -Try not mix up events on the same page – i.e you don’t want getting ready pictures on the same page as guests arriving for the ceremony -Leave plenty of white space.  Your images need room to breathe – It’s nice to have a big portrait as your first and last image, as this sets the scene and then punctuates the end of the album. In my designs the whole first and last page is usually taken up with a portrait.   So that’s that. Album image selection 123. Do let me know if you have any questions. And do check out my other articles about wedding photography and planning here.   Laura Babb is a creative wedding photographer in Walthamstow, North London. Babb Photo provides artistic documentary wedding photography across the UK and Europe. Find Laura Babb on Google +

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Ahhh! As you know, wedding books are a subject close to my heart. I just love them and I think they are the most wonderful way to preserve your memories. In this house we have 2 ipods, 3 computers and a kindle, but none of them are as magical as a beautifully put together photo album. When I am old I want to curl up in my library on an old leather Chesterfield armchair and look at my silk covered, parchment leafed wedding album full of glorious photos. Now all I need to do is get married.
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May 24th 2015
Some really great advice on wedding photo books, thanks! I've helped a few friends with their photo books in the past and usually we opted for the same kind of shots that are mentioned here :)
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