Chances are that I've been in this game a fair bit longer than you. When I first started shooting weddings back in 2000, I was immediately offering editorial style coverage. I had been shooting for magazines and telling a story in images felt natural to me and it does to this day. However, back then the market was very different and the majority of photographers were offering something a lot more formal. So when I set out to find albums to present my images in, I quickly realised that the products on offer were also very formal.
I wanted to find a UK company that produced simple, high quality leather or fabric albums that didn't come embellished with any bells or whistles. No gold corners, no fake olde worlde book effects, no padding, just no unnecessary distractions form the images. I would contact companies who would send around reps that just did not get it when I said I want plain.. It was frustrating.
And then in 2010 I started to hear rumblings about a company in the UK that was started by a photographer who was feeling the same as me. So he decided to do something about it and set up his own album manufacturer. That photographer is Stewart Randall, founder of Folio Albums and he just created the perfect product at the perfect time. Folio keep things simple.. there isn't dozens and dozens of formats and styles on offer. They do square books in four sizes and four cover materials. You have a choice of fine art paper pages or matted pages. The colours are muted and modern, like your client already has in their homes. And Folio is as eco friendly as it can possibly be, another big tick for me. At long last, the UK had an album that fitted with my style of photography, so I quickly ordered a sample.
It is a testament to Folio that I am still using that sample almost 6 years on. It is still pristine and looks gorgeous. I would normally expect to update a studio sample much sooner but of course that can prove expensive. The cover is buttery soft and the paper makes you want to stroke it. The print quality is outstanding and as they are totally lay flat, images look incredible spread across a double page. You have some terrific options for personalising the cover and clients adore the finished product.
I eventually met Stewart and his lovely team at the SWPP trade show. It was one of the stands that was most talked about by the photographers that I hang out with as they really made an effort with how they presented themselves. They even brought a VW campervan into the hotel and there was a great buzz about them. When I first started Photography Farm in 2011, Stewart offered us his support and has been a friend to Farm ever since. Like most of the sponsor companies that we have taken on board, Folio are a family business and they have a very friendly and helpful bunch of staff. I hear nothing but positive things about them in all the groups that I'm in for both the quality of the product and their customer service. You see us photographers love to chat in these online groups. It's only natural if you put in a lot of screen time. It's in these groups that you soon hear if a company isn't producing a product that is on par or if it hasn't got decent customer care. Sadly like any really good product, imitators soon come along. I've seen a rise in companies proclaiming to offer 'fine art albums' at a cheaper price but so far I've seen a lot of negative chatter about them all.
Folio have added some other products to their range in recent times, including fine art prints and bags or boxes for the albums. If you are like me and quality, ecologically sound, beautiful albums are something that you wish to offer then I'd highly recommend that you find Folio at this year's SWPP. They will be in the Kings Suite at stand K94- K99 and promise to have a few announcements. Their stand is always a fun place to hang out, meantime, here is a little film that I made of my sample...