For those of you who follow me on Facebook (and check Facebook occasionally, too), you might've seen my call a couple of weeks ago for photography-related questions. I have no problem filling the blog with beautiful pictures of my clients, but I also like shaking it up from time to time with things that might help you beyond just a few minutes' distraction :D I got some great responses, and will be addressing all of them over time, but wanted to start with one from a new bride (remember Rachel?) whose question was somewhat time-sensitive (and also applicable to just about anyone looking for gift ideas in the upcoming holiday season!):

Question: "I would love info on putting together photo albums/packets for family members after a wedding. How many photos do you give, how do you give them (a frame, an album, a printed photo book, keychains and lapel pins?!), what sizes, who gets what poses, etc." - Rachel

So first of all, Rachel, thanks so much for your question... there's a Starbucks gift card on its way to you :D

In this age of digital photography, everyone who attended your wedding has likely seen hundreds of your images - professional and otherwise - via facebook, a gallery, a blog post, etc., so it may seem like overkill to give pictures as thank you gifts, but the value and beauty of a high-quality print is immeasurably more meaningful and memorable than the pretty pictures that flash before our eyes for a moment on-screen. That said, there's a wide range of ways to present your photos.  In order to ensure that the gifts you create are beautiful, timeless, and proudly displayed for years to come, I recommend skipping the keychains, lapel pins, and even the mass-produced photo book, and concentrating instead on the classics: a framed print, a collection of matted prints, or an album.

  • Prints should either come directly from your photographer, or - if you receive digital files with printing rights as part of your photography package - from the photographer's recommended print house. Prints from drugstores (i.e. CVS), discount stores (i.e. Wal-Mart), or discount labs (i.e. Snapfish) will likely be off-color, under- or over-exposed, and more likely to age badly... going with a recommended lab is well worth the few cents' difference.
  • Mats should be made of acid-free, archival materials, which can be ordered online or purchased from a local frame shop. Matted prints are best presented in a small set (5-15), ideally in a storage box, which should also be acid-free and characterized as archival. Like quality prints, archival-grade, acid-free materials do cost more, but will significantly prolong the life of your images.
  • Albums, of course, are the gold-standard for wedding photos. If you order a professional album from your photographer, you can often order additional copies or smaller versions called "parent albums" at a discounted rate. If you don't go through your photographer, or would prefer to create an album yourself, follow the above recommendations (high-quality prints and archival materials) rather than having books printed through a photo lab. For a classic look, search for albums with paper pages rather than plastic photo sleeves, then adhere your photos with photo corners, which can be found at nearly any craft or photo store.

Finally, with regard to your question about who gets what poses, I say keep it simple. Most photographers will provide an on-line gallery of your images through which friends and family can order prints... let them deal with choosing! That said, if you're giving a framed print to your grandmother, by all means pick a picture of her side of the family, or one of you and her... If you're giving a set of matted images to your mother-in-law, choose a few of your favorite bride & groom shots along with the formal portraits of your spouse's family. When you create an album, you want it to be representative of the whole wedding, but concentrate on the couple. Design one wedding album and stick with it - unlike individual prints, albums don't have to be recipient-specific, and you won't go crazy in the process.

Prints from your wedding can be shared inexpensively with the rest of your guests, too! Consider sending photo cards with your favorite image printed on the front as thank-you notes or holiday cards (there's a sale going on here), making a photo-sticker to seal the envelopes (you can make round or square stickers here), or order a set of photo business cards, punch a hole in the top, and thread with a ribbon to create personalized holiday gift tags (you can get all different photos in a single pack of cards here).

Good luck with it! If anyone else has any thoughts or ideas, I'd love to hear them (and I'm sure Rachel would, too!). Oh, and for those just here for the pretty pictures, here's one from a recent not-so-newborn session... more next week!Chapel Hill Baby Photographer