There are a variety of ways in which images can be showcased, from albums and PhotoBooks, to portfolios in a range of sizes, and more. One of the growing trends in recent years is the use of PhotoBooks in place of the more traditional wedding album, or as add-on sales, as gifts to family members or bridal parties. Other uses include senior books, sign-in books for events, and newborns/babies, commercial and portrait portfolios and limited-edition books.
Studio Photography asked leaders in the PhotoBook production industry for their take on recent trends. Here's what they said...
According to Mark Zucker, president of Zookbinders, the most popular uses of the company's PhotoBooks are of kids, high school seniors, families and engagement and/or sign-in books.
Zucker sees parent albums becoming more popular in the coming years due to their affordability. He also says that most brides, "will almost always buy a ‘purse' version to take around and show." He attributes these increases to the inexpensive prices of the PhotoBooks and the "wow" factor of Zookbinders' wraparound cover.
The wraparound cover is one of the recent additions that has proven to be popular with Zookbinders' clients. "The wraparound covers we offer have unleashed a whole new wave of creativity for photographers to design high impact covers that encourage the viewer to flip the album over to view the back," Zucker says. He adds that this is "something that has never been done."
In 2006 Zookbinders added printing services for its customers. Zucker says its become possible due to the technological advances from optical to digital printing that have streamlined the workflow surrounding the printing process. He explains, "to manufacture our PhotoBooks in-house, we now have state-of-the-art digital press equipment which is designed for small press runs…with typical orders of one to four books."
Zucker feels the PhotoBook's popularity is a boon to the industry. "PhotoBooks might just be the savior product this industry has been looking for," he says. Zucker says the photographer who only delivers images with no album-accounting for 20-30% of all jobs and "the industry's decline (photographers, labs, and album companies) has mirrored those numbers. The PhotoBook gives the professional photographer a powerful sales tool that has tremendous appeal and is a product "orphan brides" (those who hire files-only photographers) would never consider purchasing on their own."
Wendi Winfrey, PR/marketing director for Asukabook says the company sees their clients using PhotoBooks as guest books, portfolios, leave behinds, series books-for children or specific projects-and also as travel books.
One of the trends Winfrey notes is, "Customers are wanting larger and smaller sizes, depending on their clientele, usually larger for weddings/events and smaller for children's books or portable portfolios." She says, "Some customers want only 10 sides for portfolios, but more pages for weddings or books published in larger quantities."
"There also have been some requests for different layouts-mainly landscape books for panorama shots so they don't have image loss or have to fill in above and below [the photograph] with black or white."
Winfrey feels the landscape books will definitely be more popular in the coming year. Another growing trend is in magazine style pages. "Many people are switching to our books due to clients requesting the thinner pages that are easier to flip through," she explains.
While wedding books will always be a large part of Asukabook's market, there is a growing trend in the books being used for more commercial purposes as well. Winfrey adds, "It seems that coffee table style books in general are becoming as popular as the traditional albums." She attributes this to their thinner size which makes them easier to tote around; as well as the prices that are more reasonable, which allow customers to order smaller copies as gifts. Also, for the photographer or designer who wants a high quality book to offer clients or show off their work-the PhotoBook is ideal.
Todd Coleman, president of Miller's Professional Imaging sees a variety of uses for the PhotoBooks that Miller's offers. "The most popular uses are for weddings and seniors. We have noted an increase in photographers utilizing books for proofing. Additionally customers are beginning to use books for vacations and newborns," he says.
Miller's produces their PhotoBooks utilizing Kodak NexPress digital printing presses. They offer a range of styles including hard and soft covers, in a variety of sizes, and choice of substrates.