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Magazine Design Elements in a Wedding Album

Lesson 37 from: Wedding Photography: Capturing the Story

Rocco Ancora, Ryan Schembri

Magazine Design Elements in a Wedding Album

Lesson 37 from: Wedding Photography: Capturing the Story

Rocco Ancora, Ryan Schembri

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Lesson Info

37. Magazine Design Elements in a Wedding Album


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Define the Goals of Wedding Photographers


The Importance of Wedding Photographers


Shooting Philosophy


How to Build a Shot List - Bride, Groom & Formals


Tye the Wedding Story Together


Capture Stories in Wedding Pictures


Get the Right Exposure


Lesson Info

Magazine Design Elements in a Wedding Album

I'm going to show you through another style of album that we've introduced through our studio in Sydney and this style of album came about actually from my own wedding. My wife was a fashion photographer at the time and obviously I was a photographer and we wanted something very different from our wedding album because we were giving our clients the same type of packaging album, everything else. We wanted something a little different. To be a little bit more interesting, that reflected us more as a couple. And my wife, being a fashion photographer and being an amazing fashion retoucher, was very heavily influenced through magazines like Harper's and Vogue and all those type of fashionesque type of magazines. So, we wanted our album more to be a magazine than we did an album. And we came up with this concept of even having this isn't us by the way. I'm not that handsome. Is a very striking fellow this guy. We came up with this concept of even having the same font or a similar font to th...

at that came out of Harper's. And if you notice, the front of every Harper's or Vogue what they do with the models heads is they cut, they depitch the head out and the run the text behind the head. So even little subtleties like that we wanted to include. We wanted it to be much bigger as well. So at that stage, the maximum number of pages that we could put into one of our traditional albums was 60. We wanted 180 and there was just no way of building it. So we wanted a book, we literally wanted a book. The other thing that Jess and I had done prior to that as well is that every year on our anniversary of when we met each other we bought each other a art book. So I would buy Jess a photography book. She would buy me something on Caravaggio or Vermeer or something like that and we'd write our letters to each other in the front of the book every year. So we have a memento that was just what we did. So we're very heavily influenced by art books and things like that. So we came up with this idea. We wanted as you went through the book, not only to look at pictures but to read words. So at the very start of the album we had an editor's note and it was a letter. Ours was a letter from Jess about the wedding. In this case, the couple's chosen to write about their story, how they met, the dates of what major events happened. I remember in ours we had a foreword as well. We had a foreword to the book that was written by both of us about the proposal. And now what we're starting to do is we're starting to prompt people or prompt our clients into what stories we want them to give us. So we'll send them a whole list of questions and say to them, write about the proposal. Write about how you guys met and so that we can introduce more text based elements to the album. If you ever notice, when you look through one of those fashion magazine's, you'll get to the editor's note and then there's always a double paged spread of either like a perfume ad or something like that. It's very clean, there's always just a double page image, right? So, we had the same thing, it's like our perfume ad. Yes type of thing. So we start the album like this. You're gonna notice when I flip through this album it's very minimalistic in terms of its design. This is the date of the wedding. We get into the actual progress of the album. The day itself and we start with the groom and all the groom's details. They also decided to run in quotes through the album as well. So this is a vertical album. It's 10 by 13 inches. We get the albums made through a company in New York called Couture Book. So if you were wondering where we get these things printed, that's who does them and they look very much fashionesque type of books. It suited the style. It suited everything that happened. So I'm gonna run through this one a little quicker only 'cause there's 120 odd pages. But you should start to get the idea that things are very clean. We leave a lot of negative space. Some pages are blank, like literally just blank and they're just white. And if you're wondering out there how I sell a blank page, I don't (laughing). These are part of a package of how we sell them. So we don't sell per page per se in these books. We sell them as a block unit. So the starting price for one of these books is 125 pages and it just has a value for those 125 pages. Then people buy blocks of 50 pages at a time, okay. So they're not done per page per se as the traditional albums are. So yeah I'm not selling people blank pieces of paper. (audience chuckling) So it's all just part of the design element. We tell people, this is how we want to design these albums and this is the reasons why as I've explained before and this is how it works best for us in this type of design. So some beautiful little messages in here. We go through like the bride's details and getting ready. So again, working through shot lists. Little more details with the bride. The funny thing about this wedding is that I've almost shot now nearly all of the girls as well so I've shot like friends and family members and things like that. It's fun when you get to weddings like that, right? Like, you see people that you know and the energy's really good. Actually I had a shot taken right at the end of this wedding where I had six of my brides surrounding me and they're all drop dead gorgeous as well which is amazing to say (chuckling). I just, I love these shots of mom and dad. They chose not to have per se the traditional one looking down the camera. But there's a lot of energy in that one and then just these moments with mom and dad, I can feel the love. I can feel the connection between them. Even when we get into these are the brothers. So an unscripted moment of sorts. I placed them where I wanted them to be. I brought, I said to the brothers, just wait outside. Wait down there, don't come up. Don't come up until she's dressed. They did, this happened. It's gonna be a beautiful moment. You can predict this sort of thing happening. So in with the girls, having a bit of fun with the girls, they were just a bunch of characters. They were amazing to work with. I think the energy level's high, you stay with it. You keep with it and go with what's happening. So, I'm not gonna tell all these girls to look very moody and seductive if they're having fun and laughing like, it's just gonna ruin everything. Love this shot coming up. Can almost here her scream through that you know? So there's these little clues into the album as well like time lining it so, 2:00 p.m. when the church was. Bringing it into the bride arriving to the cathedral. This is the St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney. Beautiful spot, the wedding was actually in the crypt, which is just down underneath the main cathedral, which if there's any Sydney wedding photographers out there watching at the moment you'll know how hard it is to shoot in the crypt. It's incredibly dark, incredibly spot lit. So if you can shoot well in there, you can shoot well anywhere. But even, just bringing in the text of where this was and you can imagine how important this becomes when say, we're no longer with the album, we're no longer present with it and we pass it on generation to generation. They can read exactly about what was happening on the day. A few shots of the boys sort of anxiously waiting for her to walk down. So we've even included in this album text or excerpts of what the priest said. So who gives this woman to be married to this man? It's just some nice little moments, her walking down. That's mom, unfortunately mom was quite ill. His mom was quite ill on this wedding. I believe she's all better now which is great. But she made the ceremony which was a huge effort for her to be there. Just some beautiful little touching moments within it all. Can see what I mean by the lighting in this church, it was just, it's horrible. It really is horrible to work with. I don't love using flash and some churches won't let you use flash anyway. So you just gotta deal with what's dealt basically, with the cards that you're dealt. Into, there was another excerpt of what the priest had said. Bringing moments that not necessarily the bride and groom were aware of. 'Cause they can't look back at everyone and see everyone that was there. So looking back at how the girls, the guys, looking down the aisle. This is actually one of the priest on his iPhone. (chuckling) Which, I have a whole series of shots now of priests on their iPhones during services that one day I will do an exhibition of. (audience giggling) I had one shot, same church actually, different wedding where the bride was walking down the aisle. I was following her from behind so you see the groom and the groom crying as she's walking down. And her walking down, between them was the priest and he's on his iPad photographing her coming down the aisle. Can you believe that? (audience giggling) I'm like, really man, I've got this covered. It's all good and if I haven't got it covered my second shooter secondly has it covered. So it's just some beautiful moments here through the actual ceremony itself. I left those shots in there, yeah (chuckling). So you see, it's very easy to read this album just because it's so clean. It's very simple. When we do have a lot of images on one page it's always necessary on the opposite side to have that very clean so that people can get through all those images. So they're moving through so we've got a bit of family shots again, they chose to have more of that interaction, more of that energy, more of that love. And there's a bit of a quote there about family as well which ties in to that story really well. The other thing that we've done with text, I'm gonna keep flicking through but I'm just gonna explain something about text in our albums as well. One thing that we did with our wedding album and some of our clients have chosen to do as well is that you know how some people have like a guest book at the wedding. They'll have a book at the front and people can write messages into it and all that sort of thing. We had actually a wedding website. We built ourselves a wedding website because we were getting married not in Sydney, away destination wedding so we needed to put a lot of information about travel and things like that. But we also had a comment section on there or a guest book section. And so instead of having a guest book we made everyone write their comments in there. And what that did is it digitized everything. So at the end of our book, I have all of those notes printed in our wedding book, which is just a beautiful little touch. So I've got like my Notting Hill moments if you've watched the movie Notting Hill. Of course, I have to have a reflection in their somewhere that's just my signature Ryan Schembri. It's like my stamp on the album. Then we're led into coming into the reception now. This is actually on board a boat of sorts. It's like a floating pontoon that floats around Sydney harbor, it's called the Starship. So we name things again. Bringing us into details of the reception itself. So little things that they had around. Name cards, cake obviously, beautiful set arrangements there and then where we were, to set the scene. Not a bad harbor is it? Good 'ol Sydney harbor. I do miss home at the moment. (audience chuckling) So we wanna set the scene of where we are. That's where we left from and again, they've tied in a little bit of a quote there, which is lovely. Getting through the reception and again, the reception and showing images from the reception is more about showing reactions for me rather than showing the literal thing that was happening. So yes, people were talking but the reactions, how beautiful the reactions to the people talking. And that becomes much more of a valuable thing I think for our clients. Cutting the cake, more of a traditional moment that happens but again, make sure there's lots of images there that have fun and energy and people can connect with. There's another quote in there from the couple again. So we're extracting these things from them by prompting them out of email basically. They're emailed over a list of questions or things that we want for the album. And then they're leaving it to us to where those are placed. Through more of the fun, if you're wondering what they are doing with the iPad. The iPad was on Skype with mom who went back to hospital so they made sure they had that there so mom could be enjoying all the moments. The beautiful world of the Internet, right? Like including this platform, I mean incredible. Incredible what we can do. And there's always those sill drunk moments at weddings I think, they're always sometimes worth including especially when Mr. Airplane comes out right at the end. Always love these moments right at the end of a wedding. You can pretty much guarantee it's always gonna happen. Is that, you know, people cry and hug and carry on. They're beautiful, touching moments. I can't help but sit there sometimes and think it's like, oh my god, I'll see you tomorrow at the barbecue but you know. They've always gotta be included. So I have chosen to include in this case, them coming off the boat but its not the last shot. So, yes we've completed this story of them coming off the boat but, again, my golden rule of finish the album really strong still applies. And we finish strong. Okay, so that was actually a shot taken right at the beginning of the reception. But I've chosen to have it right at the end, it's got a beautiful feeling for the end. So yeah. That's great, that leads me right into a question we have about shooting the sequence of the day, of course, you've got your shot list. It's traditionally goes along with but if there's a moment like this that is from a different time of day, do you take creative license to place it into the book-- Of course. Where it fits? Absolutely, I think you have to just to make sure that that story makes sense as well. And, as a creative aesthetic thing, that shot is meant to be right at that very ending moment. I think it's very, very important. Great. The last thing we end these albums on is an index page so again, we did this for our own album and it's a borrowed idea from a lot of art books or photography books. It's right at the very end and I'll have an index of every page of the album. So it's something to sort of recap on if you like. And then we finish the very, very last page of the book with just a cute little note on there. Is that pretty cool with everyone? Yeah. Does everyone understand the idea behind the album being that it's book, it's loose page. It's got a lot of pages in it as well. So yeah, was there any questions at this stage Kristy? 'Cause I'll just have to move on to another subject. Yes. Just real fast. Yeah absolutely. For your sample album, do you ever display more than one wedding onto the perspective clients or do you just try to stick to one wedding? No, I try and actually show them at least two at bare minimum. I have a number of different sample albums in my collection of albums at the studio. What I'll do is try and choose a wedding that best suits the style in which they're going. So if I couple that comes to me and they say, "Look Ryan we're having a big multi-cultural, "500 person wedding." I wanna show them something that represents that type of... There's no point in showing those people a country wedding with three people at it, yeah? 'Cause they can't relate to it. But, I have a lot of different clientele so I have the next client that comes in the hour later that says to me, "Ryan, we're "getting married in the country. "There's 20 of our closest friends are coming. "I haven't really got a big dress. "It's just a little slip." Then I pull out that one to show to that client. 'Cause they're not gonna relate to the wedding that spent half a million dollars on flowers, yeah. So will it be like two separate albums. Correct. Just not in that one album you wouldn't have like two, just that one wedding. No, yeah, yeah that's very important as well. Just keep 'em separate. Absolutely, yeah. The albums you show again have to be what you're gonna sell, right? So, that one album is full of just that one wedding. So it represents in their minds, that's what our album could look like. That's what our album could look like. I think that's a very important, that's a key sales type of move as well, so yeah. And in terms of sales, we have a couple of different questions about whether or not you actually sell packages that don't include an album? And if you do allow people to have those, the USB or the high res files, how do you ensure or encourage them not to just go have something sort of the lesser quality printed somewhere else? What are your techniques? Yeah, I think I alluded to the technique behind that previously. The answer is yes I do have a package that doesn't include an album. We don't sell it very often so, the way I encourage those people to have printed products through me, again, is even though yes, they've bought a package without an album, we still include finite prints with it. Okay, so it's up to you. You could give them one, you could give them five, you could give them ten finite images. Give them something is the key to it all. We want to have something that they can reference back to, to say that's the quality of imagery that I can have from Ryan compared to going and printing down at the local shop. So, and that really is the essence of them getting them back. What I find is that probably 90, I would say 99% of my clients at the moment, even if they have purchased that initial package with the USB, every meeting, every time I talk to them, every time I'm in contact with them, I show them an album. I show them an album. What that's doing is subconsciously telling them I need an album because every time I've met this guy, he's shown me a bloody album. (audience laughing) Yeah and he's gone on about it that much we need an album, he's told me how many times we need an album. We need an album. So, I think that's a really key factor as well. If you wanna sell albums, show them. If you don't, then don't show them but yeah. But I think if you don't, you're missing out on a hell of a lot of income.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Posing Guide Book Chapter

Ratings and Reviews

Jerry Willis

Ryan & Rocco, in my very humble opinion, are THE best wedding photography instructors in the entire industry! I've been watching their work for years now, which just so happens to win a most grand-scaled competitions, and they somehow continue to keep getting better! I first drilled Ryan at WPPI inquiring about what made his workshop different from all the others. His response, me paraphrasing, "If you're looking for tools to learn, come to my workshop. If you're looking for inspiration and smoke blowing, don't come." That's exactly what I needed to hear. Straight tools, no fluff. THE BEST photography workshop I've EVER taken, by far. You want the best photography education, learn from the best. This CreativeLive workshop is the PERFECT complimentary refresher and companion to what I learned! Thank you so much for having them! It's not the same as the workshop, which it shouldn't be, but they ARE reinforcing many things that have slipped my memory! I'm for sure buying this! :-)

Neeraj Arora

WOW!!! I have started a few CL courses but not finished as I got distracted by "life" and it took me a while to get back and finish them. But these guys!! They were simply superb. I finished this course really fast. Amazing artists, they explain things so well, Ryan is such a charmer and engaging teacher, Rocco is a fountain of knowledge. I am an enthusiastic photographer with aspirations to start my own business soon. I learn't so much from this class that will help improve my photography even if I don't become a professional wedding photographer. Great job guys, keep it up. I will need to come back to the lessons and I very much appreciate the key note pdf. All CL courses should include the slides like they did here. Thanks CL.


I am a newborn photographer by trade, but I really want to venture out and photograph more weddings so I decided to purchase a wedding class on creative live. Of course when I typed in wedding, quite a few classes came up. But when I saw the image and title "capture the story" I was definitely intrigued. I've always been touched by the photographs that have emotion and that's what I'm passionate to photograph! Always a little nervous when you purchase a class because you don't want to feel like it was a waste of money, but this knocked it out of the park for me! Thank you to Ryan and Rocco for explaining so much, showing the pull backs, and moving your subject and explaining why! This has opened my eyes so much to how beautiful photographing a wedding can be and not so terrifying as I've been making it out to be. I'm really so thankful to hopefully being a great wedding photographer and making more income for my family, while having fun creating something beautiful

Student Work