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greatest advice I have been given in my business over the last 6 years is to outsource what I absolutely do not HAVE to do to someone else. This is hard for me. I realized early on that I have some control issues when it comes to editing and album design. However, I knew that these were two things that were stealing my life away from me. I had to learn to let go and trust other professionals in the industry to do this part of my job… and you know what… the craziest thing happened…my business GREW when I let go!!

I work with an individual editor for my weddings and we’re getting close to our 3 year anniversary!! This wonderful lady is SUCH a blessing to me and if she was taking on new clients, I would share her info in a heartbeat. As hard as it was to pass over the bulk editing to someone else, it gave me my life back. Not only did it give me my life back, but we made MORE money even though we had an added expense. So think about it, we shot more weddings, had more income but also had more time to LIVE life AND my clients were still getting incredible turnaround times!! …. and when I say incredible, I mean IN-CREDIBLE! :)

So outsourcing editing changed my life… but then there were ALBUMS. Ohhh gosh. The drama. This was my issue…. unlike most photographers, I LOVE design. I actually like sitting down and designing spreads and piecing images together. However, my clients weren’t getting the turnaround time I wanted them to have because designing 30 albums a year while shooting over 30 weddings AND teaching was HARD. Actually, it was almost impossible and this “system” in my business was struggling. Then WPPI 2013 came around and Melissa Jill and I had a coffee date.  This coffee date resulted in a game changer for my business. She convinced me to give Align Album Design a try just to test the waters and see if I liked it. I wasn’t convinced that day in Starbucks but I agreed to TRY.  I wasn’t sure that this was for me. Why? Well, I think I have an “eye” for design and so why would I keep that gift from my clients? I’m one of the few photographers that really enjoys designing so why hand that part over? I would rather hand over EMAILS!!! …. But we all know that that can’t happen. I quickly realized that just because I ENJOY something doesn’t mean I have to do ALL of it! And if I was being honest with myself, the stress of being behind on album designs totally made them unappealing to me!

So I went home and I did a trial run. I met Michelle, my designer, and I loved her from day one. It only took one design for me to explain my style and help Michelle visualize my ideal album and let me tell you, I’m PICKY! Like, I won’t let two shots be side-by-side if the colors of the highlights and shadows aren’t the same. Talk about high maintenance! I’m super picky about design because my clients deserve that. They hired me to be that way. They deserve the best and I didn’t want album designs being sent that didn’t represent ME. This brings me to my FAVORITE part of the Align design process. Once Michelle designs an album, she sends me the link and I send my changes back to her. Align allows three rounds of changes. I use one round for me and then my clients use the other two! It’s a perfect system!! Everyone is happy. I’m sending a design that looks just like what I envisioned it to look like and my clients are receiving their designs QUICKLY and professionally. 90% of my 2013 albums are ordered!! It’s a miracle! I already used AlbumExposure for proofing and so transitioning to this new process with Align was simple!! (Ps. If you’re in need of a proofing system for your album designing, try AlbumExposure!! I LOVE this proofing system!!)

Just HOW simple is it? Well, I log in, enter in the info for a new album design order, send a link to my PASS gallery of favorites from the wedding I’m ordering for and then I get a design sent to me in a few days. Ah-mazing. Dream come true! So to answer some questions that I know will pop up:

1. How much is it to outsource album design with Align? Great question! I would plan on $150 but it could be more if you decide to allow your designer to design as many pages and they need to tell the story. I do it this way and most of my clients upgrade their album pages so that their design is complete and this covers my design costs. Genius, I know. I owe Melissa for that one. :) Ps. Your first design is 1/2 off!!! You have to at least TRY it once! 

2. Do you still order the albums and who do you use? Yes! I still order the design and I use Leather Craftsmen for my albums. We’re going on year 5 with them and their quality is amazing!

3. Do you pick your client’s images or do they? Well, I’ve done this both ways in the past and I have learned that it’s too overwhelming to tell a client “Ok, I want you to pick 60 images out of the 1,000 images I delivered to you for your album”.  People shut down at the thought of that task. Also, from a design perspective, clients don’t always know that we need key detail shots to transition from spread to spread.

4. So how do you pick the images to send? You know all of those images that I blog two days after the wedding? Those images aren’t being blogged JUST for the sake of blogging, there are multiple purposes for that collection of images… one being that I send that folder through PASS to use for the album design! If you want to learn more about how I’m not just blogging weddings for the sake of blogging,  you should come to my talk at UNITED in February!! :)

5. Do you make the client’s changes? Nope! Align does it all!! 

And here are a few of my favorite recent designs! 

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