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Traditional Design Elements in a Wedding Album

Lesson 36 from: Wedding Photography: Capturing the Story

Rocco Ancora, Ryan Schembri

Traditional Design Elements in a Wedding Album

Lesson 36 from: Wedding Photography: Capturing the Story

Rocco Ancora, Ryan Schembri

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Lesson Info

36. Traditional 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

Traditional Design Elements in a Wedding Album

Let's look at a couple of different things here, what is a wedding album? Well a wedding album isn't just a set of pretty pictures, would you agree? If it was it would just be a book with pretty pictures in it. An album per se is more to us, a story, a story book and that's the way I sell it to my clients. This is a story book from that day. I use a very sort of emotive connection back to albums now that I can relate to personally, and is that my daughter reading our wedding book. And putting that in the minds of my clients, saying to them, can't you wait until you guys have kids, and they're reading through your ultimate fairy tale, your ultimate story, your wedding. That's got to be something that really you can't put a price onto. So, it represents much more than a set of just pretty pictures, it's story presented in a book art form that preserves a couple's memory from their day, and like we've touched on previously, it becomes something that can get passed on from generation to ge...

neration to generation. Now what's quite sad about wedding albums in general, and my dad being a photographer, can you believe my dad was a photographer when he got married, and never got a wedding album done. I think a lot of photographers can relate to that, how many of us have had family portraits done in the last couple of years? I know you guys have, I saw yours, they were beautiful, they were lovely, but it's like saying the electrician that never fixes a light bulb, right? We don't do it, we don't get into it. Now, I think to practice all of this, you need to preach it. You need to make sure things are printed all the time, in books, in albums, and that will get you more confident, in terms of when it comes to selling albums especially. Okay. I know my wife at the moment, she prints every year a book of all the pictures that we've taken with our daughter for that year. So by her 21st, we want 21 books, and present her with 21 books, on her 21st birthday. If we have more kids I'm gonna be in real trouble. (audience laughs) So a couple of different style options that we're gonna talk about today as well. And we're gonna show you what again what works for us doesn't work for everyone, but show you the couple of different style options that we present to our wedding couples. And the first one being a more traditional-based album, we're quite used to looking at traditional-based wedding albums now, where it would be printed on one page, per se, and quite a thick page as well. So it's quite a dense product, and on each side we're trying to keep it very clean and minimalistic but still telling the story of that day. This one here, is actually one of Rocco's albums, little bit more of a traditional layout in book form. But we always start our albums in the same process. So a beautiful shot of the couple, names, date of the wedding. And it just brings us into the story. Now we tend to start out wedding albums not with the groom, but with the bride, it's just a way that we sort of play with the bride's emotions a little bit. She's always the queen of the day, so we want to feature her first. And what we want to do is tell this story in as I say, as simple and minimalistic way as possible. Okay, so we start with the details, so these are the bride's details, flowers, back of the dress there, the shoes, the perfume bottle, and some beautiful details to finish off there on the right-hand side. As we're looking at this spread, I might clarify that we're looking at left-hand side and right-hand side of the spread, okay? So you can imagine this is a horizontal album, and the middle crease being right down the center of that white space there. In fact this will probably show it a little bit more, that image on the right hand side would in effect take up one entire side of the album. There's a little bit of negative space and led into a beautiful shot of the bride. Now in terms of design, negative space can do a whole lot for you. And the way I explain it to my couples, because most couples aren't maybe as design-savvy as we are, and they look at that empty space, and they go oh, but there's just so much white space, why can't you just put another photo there? We all get that. To me, the way I explain it to them, is that, guys it's called negative space. And negative space does a few things for us, it lets us concentrate on the most important images at one time. And we need that breathing space to break the eye away and lead you into another beautiful image. If we fill the album up with all full images, or little images all in that white space, and the album's completely full, we'll confuse the eye, and you won't know where to look at. We just want to have the most amazing images from your day presented in the book. So we'll say to people, it's a 60 to 80 page album that will roughly be between 100 and 130 images placed within that album. So it is 60 to 80 side, 100 to 130-odd images placed in that album. And you'll see as we go through these design how that can be done, because here we've got a double-page panoramic, a beautiful shot of the bride, but led right off into black. It's very simple, very clean to look at, but when people get to that page in the album, it's that wow moment. It's that moment where they go oh, wow, this is amazing, you look stunning. Of course, the family is always part of the story, so into the family shots, and what you'll start to recognize now as I start to flick through pages is that when we show a story, it's always as a story. It's never something from here, and then something from five hours later. So it's an evolving process, evolving story throughout. So here with mum and dad, a beautiful traditional shot on the left-hand side there we've got that little bit more of a loving moment, and then the individuals of dad on his own and mum on her own. Then to introduce the bridal party, because again they're part of the story. We're getting a little bit busier now, aren't we, so it's not quite as clean to look at, but we've got to complete that story as well. So we've got that beautiful traditional shot of all the girls, a bit more fun there on the left-hand side, and all the individual shots as well. We still have a lot of couples that are quite traditional in their make-up of the way the wedding's put together, and they still want those traditional moments featured somewhere. So that's just a nice way of introducing them. I'm a big believer when you get to the end of a segment in an album, let's say you get to the end of a bride's family or the end of a groom's family, or end of a church, there's always got to be that wow shot that finishes that segment, so that wow moment. And for this wedding, this is it right? Beautiful shot, the bride, veil flowing, and then we get the snippet of inside the veil. And that's that end of that segment where we go, oh wow. We can breathe, we can finish, we can move on. Into the groom. So same thing with the groom here, Starts always again with details, and does anyone recognize this from our previous lessons? It's running through basically, I shot this isn't it? Yeah? So you can see how, we're making a direct tie between what we shot on the day, as in our shot list, to the album, and we've shot it, so we're building the album as we shoot. It does a couple of things for us, later on down the track. When I start talking about designing albums, it does a hell of a lot for us, because it makes it so much easier to lay out. If we're looking through a catalog, say a light lit room catalog of images and I've got to go searching for all the details, and I've shot one detail up here and then I've shot another one down here, and I've got to scroll down, and I've got to find the other detail there, you can imagine how much time that takes to find all those images. Keeping things in our shot list I know that all of those images that's basically page one, page two, page three, and I can select from there. It saves a lot of time in the design process. A bit more formal shots of the groom getting ready, into his portrait, and then introducing obviously the family members, and the bridal party. So here we've just got mum, and then we've got the shot with all the boys individually, and obviously bring it all together with the groom shot, or the groom's been shot as well. So the end of this segment, the one that ties us out, is the boys walking, now that story almost says to us, it's time to finish isn't it. They're walking out of shot, it's time to finish that segment, and now we can breathe, and then move on, and go to the church. And Sandra you had a question. Who picks the images for the book? We do. Oh you do. We do, yeah. And I'll get to a little bit more about that in a second as well, yeah, absolutely. I'll explain quickly why we do, how's that? Yeah? Just to lead into it. Why we choose images. Well, I should do it the way we explain it to our clients. So we say to our clients, look guys, we'll actually pre-design your wedding album for you. And the reason we do that is because sometimes we'll give you 900, 1,000 images and it can be quite a daunting task in order to choose those images for your album. What we'd like to do for you, is take that task away, make life a little bit easier for you. We'll pre-design it, we'll get you back in, and that stage we'll look through every page with every image and make sure you're comfortable with what's on there. I also explain it as this, I used to let my couples choose their images for their album. What would happen, is life gets in the road. They go on a honeymoon, they come back from the honeymoon, they have people around, and they start thinking about having kids, but then there's all this stuff with the paperwork with the last names to do and everything else. The wedding album really is the last thing on peoples' minds. When I did that, I had people three years later coming back to me with selections on their images. By that stage, my prices have increased, my supplies' prices have certainly increased, and I can't actually give them what I was able to give them three years ago. So it's important for me number one, to do that on a cost side of things, to get that done very quickly, number two, referring back to what I said about the album being a marketing tool. If that couple hasn't got the album, how do they market for me? If they haven't got it for three years, how am I booking weddings? What happens with circles of friends and families, when weddings start to happen? Just for some weird reason, they all start to happen around the same time. And in a six-month span or a 12-month span, I'll shoot multiple weddings where I'm shooting cousins, friends, brothers, sisters, all from that one lead, call it, that one inquiry. So it's important for me to have it out, have it in front of people, and have them doing my marketing for me. We'll come back to here, we're getting through this story, we've left the groom's home we've come into the church and the arrival of the bride. So you see we've got the shot inside the car, and you can see we're leading you through the sequence of events that lead to her coming into the church. The way I explain this to my clients is that imagine having that page left out of the wedding album. And we went from the groom's home and the next page we saw you were standing in the church. Visually, as a story, would it make sense to you? Most of the times they'll say oh no, well it doesn't, right, it doesn't make sense, it's like we magically appeared in the church like beam me up, Scotty, into the church. So I need that story there to connect the dots. To connect the moments, connect the story. So in connecting the story, well the bride walks down the aisle, doesn't she. Yeah? So usually, we told you before, that Rock and I, we often shoot with a team member, an assistant, and they really only shoot when it comes to the ceremony, and this is why. Because either we want that shot going down the aisle, you see the one there from above, going down the aisle, and then obviously we want the reaction coming forward, or we want the groom's reaction as the bride is coming down the aisle. So it's also a selling point for us, is that yes we use an assistant all the time at our weddings. They shoot, they become a shooter, at the ceremony, and possibly at the reception as well. Where we need them. At the groom's home and bride's home, and location, they are purely a photographic assistant, meaning they help us with lighting, gear, everything else, okay? Because we feel if we have control during those scenarios, we can probably cover it really well. Yeah? If you don't feel comfortable with that, and you still want a second shooter, then go for it. The only thing I would say with that, is make sure you charge for it. Because having a second shooter, is a value to those clients. So if people come to me, and they say Ryan I want a second shooter. No problem. But I'm going to charge you for it. Because I come with my assistant, not a second shooter. So it's myself and my assistant, and if you'd like a second shooter, I can get you one, but you're going to have to pay for it. And it's a way of unselling that service. We come through the church, the service here, and we've got all the magical moments, everything happening, this is actually flipped around on me, in Keynote. Right through to them coming out, so we connect all those little dots again. They've come out of the church, these guys have released doves, that's a great shot, I love that (laughs). Rocco and his photojournalism, I swear, I could kill him sometimes, (audience laughs) it's really annoying, it really is. I know he does everything else so well, it's like ah man, please stop. Anyway. I've got like 20 years to catch up, it's all good. We always try and do our family shot straight after the service. That's an important part for the run-through of the day, is try and do those family shots straight away. Why, because people disappear afterwards very quickly, so we make sure we mention to our clients, we're gonna do our family shots straight after the ceremony, make sure your immediate family hangs around for us. We don't do it later on at the reception, why, because everyone's mingling, having fun, they don't want to be really pulled out and made to have group shots. Here at least we've done it, we've made sure it's perfect, we've run through our shot list, we know we're covered. We're safe. Then, we can go and have some fun. And these are those, these are the moments that people are booking us for, these are our X-factor images that people come to us for, that's why they book us. And we've got to do them for them. No matter how short a space of time we have, there has to be something that we do as photographers is why people have come to us, we've got to do these type of shots. This is actually shot inside a bar, if you're wondering about the venue here, it's a bar inside Melbourne. And literally sometimes we just rock up to bars, and usually bars are happy to have us inside there, if we're buying drinks, or if the bridal party are buying drinks basically, so I make sure I mention to the best man bring your wallet, because we're gonna need it. It's just a way of bribing out to the venue that we can get over, this is a gorgeous pic, amazing. Just the control of lighting on that shot, if you see that in print, it is just absolutely phenomenal. So getting through the story, these moments, honestly this is a client album, so this is exactly what they chose to have in their album once we pre-designed it, and the pages that they decided to keep in. We're getting closer to the venue now, so these are coming inside the venue. This is actually the same venue as Rocco might have just shown you in terms of retouching that print you saw that print on the staircase there, this is actually the same venue in Melbourne, very popular venue. Well there's just some beautiful shots in here. Can see when there's that much to choose from when coming through these location shots and each and every one of them is so stunning it's very hard for people to get rid of them, in their album. Bring in the bridal party, having a bit of fun there. It's really showing one story at a time, the other thing that we do with our albums in terms of the design element is to make sure that when we're showing a page that it's always either all in color, or all in black and whites, or all in a tone. There's never a black and white picture and a color picture, because to your eye, you'll either go to one or the other. If you're color blind, you'll go to black and white, if you're not, you'll go straight to the color picture. We don't want to do that, we want to run you through the story, and as we read books, how do we read books, we read them left to right it's the same principle when it comes to a wedding album we want to read that left to right. Not too sure if Rocco shot the entire reception here it's not always our practice to shoot the entire reception coverage usually we will go in for the first hour or so of the reception, and if they're not cutting their cake straight away we will mock it up, we'll pretend to do it, so we've got at least a shot of them cutting the cake. Here we've got the cutting the cake, but we've also got a bit of the moments of them walking in and a little bit of the reception there as well. Important thing to note right at the end of our albums, each and every single one of them is that there's always an image at the end that tells us the end without literally tells us the end. So you'll never have a picture of people doing this outside the car. Because that's kind of like, well, yeah we know we're at the end, we're at the last page. What we wanna do, is have an image at the end that tells us in some way it's the finish, but wows us at the same time. So when we get to the end, I want people to do this Ah, nice. I want to look at that again. Not, ah yes I can tell it's finished, that was great, thanks very much, put it away.

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