What’s it all about?
Quality is without a doubt something we, wedding photographers, desire most from our albums and photo book providers. Having photographed weddings and portraiture for over ten years I have come across both big names and niche companies and experimented with both of these for professional and personal use. Recently I have been asked to review a photo book from Saal Digital, a relatively new player in the game and admittedly, I was in for a treat. The photo book and its quality are excellent. I am very satisfied with the results my photos appeared in the printed work and will describe both the process of design as well as why I think so in this blog entry.
The design process:
First, there’s the design of the photo book itself. I have used the software from Saal Digital themselves here and I must admit it was a doddle. If you have used a design software for printing before, whether from Apple (Aperture - yes, the good old days:-), Adobe (inDesign) or any other company before you’ll be familiar with its tools in no time as the layout, the options, as well as the interface itself, presents the familiar tools right where you’d expect them. The software allows you complete freedom in your creative making process but if you’re new to the whole “designing-your-own-photo-book” world, Saal has you covered with a plethora of templates and the ability to layout photos for you. Having said that though, you will not be overwhelmed with those, as it often can be the case with other companies. A plus then here for both professionals and enthusiasts.
For the cover page, I have decided to use a very attractive and elegant slate-colored wood grain which only looked better when received and experienced in person. The texture is really appealing and pleasing to the eye with text clear, attractive and minimal. A truly great experience right from the start. Editing and adding text onto the cover page was really easy, though I have had some trouble previewing it right from the edit - perhaps I was doing something wrong or maybe I was used to my usual method? This, however, can (and should) be tested when exporting to PDF, which the software also allows you to do as well. Any potential Blurb converts out there? N.B. Seriously, if one hasn’t done it before this step is REALLY important to ensure what you’re sending off to print is exactly what you want…
Then there’s the editing of the pages and arranging photographs process itself. I have decided to go my own way completely, my usual routine, as I find that every shoot is different, therefore different layouts will serve different purposes. The software from Saal was really helpful here too! I have found “snapping” and “rulers/grids” options (built right into the design process and the interface) a must have for other packages. Well done Saal! So simple yet unexplored by some. On the flip side, a couple of times the images used in the book design process did not flag up as “used” and I had to triple check that there are no duplicates. No biggie, right? Remember what’s been previously said about exporting to PDF before sending it off? Check. All in all then, good so far.
The photo book chosen itself was matte paper. I like textures and have a soft spot (no pun intended) for that classic film photography look therefore always edit the amount of grain onto my photographs. This works really well in print, which is why photos should always be printed in my opinion as we still remember and carry that fair amount of nostalgia when thinking about our childhood memories enclosed in a number of shoeboxes… I digressed. The quality of the pages themselves is really good. The colours in the photos are spot on and transcend what I’ve intended for the shoot very well indeed. Where things go even better is the monochrome images and unfortunately, the images of the photo book here in this blog don’t do it justice. Here the contrast is very well maintained and complemented by the matte finish of the pages as well as the overall lab calibration of sharpness. Overall then, the images look very good indeed and the paper itself promises to be the keeper of the memories of the day for the years to come.
Ordering through the software and the payment process were both very easy and hassle free. The photo book arrived exactly 2 weeks from the day it was sent to production and the lab, which, in my experience is OK, though ideally, I’d like to receive the product within 7-10 days. Just my usual waiting time…
There’s really not much to dislike here if one can say that at all. The images look awesome, the photo book is truly elegant and of high quality and the design process is an easy and rewarding experience, especially for an experienced professional photographer. Overall then, I believe Saal have a really bright future ahead of them in terms of providing high-quality photo albums, and they succeed in overtaking the competition in some respects as well. Thank you again, Saal Digital for the opportunity to review your book. It’s been a pleasure!