Saturday, April 18, 2009

Image Selection: How Many Images

One question I am frequently asked is: "How many images should I send/choose for my album?" The first and easiest answer, of course, is that it depends on the number of pages. (Quick definition check...the terminology in the album world can be super confusing, because many people define the same words differently. To keep my head straight, I distinguish a "page" as one side of a layout...similar to how a book's pages are numbered. When referring to the two sides together, I use the terms "layout" or "spread.")

To give people an idea of how many images will be included in their end product, I use the guideline of 2-3 images per page (which is 4-6 images per layout). Why the range? When I plan an album, I like to think of the overall balance...not just the balance of a spread, but the connection between all the layouts in the book. To have a real "page turner", you want to keep the viewer involved with interesting and varying designs. This mean having some full spreads, as well as some simple, clean spreads. The more basic spreads have two main purposes: 1) they allow a couple of stunning images to really make an impact, 2) they give the eye a rest, a stopping place to re-orient. I'm never one to lean towards chaotic or busy designs, but when I do a spread that showcases many images, I like to "restore the peace" with a really classic design that has just a few strong images. It's incredible how much impact images can have when they are designed in the simplest way.

Here's a couple spreads to show the value of album variety. This first spread isn't "busy", but it is full. There is a faded image on the right side, as well as an overlapping white bar with smaller images. The balance of the spread is maintained by the larger detail shot on the left side, and the similar color palette across the images.

photography by Dede Edwards

On the next spread, I wanted to add in some white space and just showcase two images (and one GREAT flower detail shot). The lovely bride and groom with a burst of green...

Here's an example of a simple page that really captures the emotion of the images. The large image on the left and the abundance of white space on the right allow the eye to really absorb what's going on. Don't you just want to CELEBRATE?

Finally, a spread with edge to edge images. Still simple, but with a little more to take in. The single sepia image balances the spread and give your eyes a starting point.

Since you can't predict how the images will fit together in the end, it's better to send too many pictures than too few. The guideline of "2-3 images per page" isn't really a design mandate (you can see that two of the spreads above only have 1 image per page), but rather an alternative way to think of album layout. Instead of forcing images into pre-designed spreads, why not let the images lead the way! Group high-energy images (getting ready, reception dancing, etc.) into clean, but action-filled pages. And let those powerful "wow" shots have their own space. The end result - an interesting and stunning album that is specifically designed for YOUR images!


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  2. How exciting, love! I love your blog and your images are awesome. I'm excited to keep checking in :)

  3. I think you explain things so well, and your pictures really help me visualize what you are saying in your post. Thanks!

  4. I am so much more interested in the creation of the books than I used to be. I only wanted to see the finished product. Now I feel like my eyes are opened to the story the book will tell. Fascinating!

  5. It's been a week. I can't wait for the next blog post. I'm so anxious!