In this digital age, there’s definitely a resurgence in demand for printed photography products. In response to this demand there is an ever increasing number of high quality manufacturers for the discerning buyer to choose from who are offering quality portfolio products.
Recently, I wanted to update my printed photography portfolio and began looking through the many options that are currently available. After a lot of research, I drew up with a short-list of possible options and compared them against each other. The basic criteria that were used in selecting the photo book for this review were relatively simple; I wanted a photo book with a high quality look & feel to it that reinforced my branding message. The portfolio had to reflect the quality of my images and evoke this feeling when both being handled and being viewed.
After comparing the options I decided that the product that was best suited to my needs was the Saal Digital photo book. This product offered the level of features that I was looking for whilst also offering great value for money.
The Right Photo Book for you?
A quick look around the Saal Digital website reveals that there are a good number of options to choose from before starting to actually design your photo book.
You can choose between a printed or leatherette cover & even these two options have more than one version! The leathertte cover is available in four different colours and can also feature highlighted, personalized text. The printed covers can be either glossy with rich deep colours or matte which greatly reduces reflections.
However, the choices don’t stop there!… There is also the option to choose between a standard hardback cover and a beautifully luxurious padded cover which adds a real tactile element to the product.
All spreads feature high quality Fujicolor Crystal Archive Album photographic paper which again is available in both glossy and matte formats. The glossy paper is ideal for bright, vibrant colourful images whereas the matte paper has a more elegant look and doesn’t show fingerprints which should help the photo book remain in great condition even after months of handling.
Also, you can choose between standard thickness pages where each page is bonded back-to-back with the next page giving an overall page thickness of 0.34mm. Or you can opt for the XL pages which are a whopping 1.08mm thick and printed on 600g/sqm paper. My business cards are printed on 600g/sqm paper so I chose this option to tie-in with my branding.
After reviewing all of the above options, I decided to order the following specification for my portfolio and the subject of this photo book review:
- 280x190mm photo book (landscape format)
- Padded, gloss cover
- XL thick pages (600g/sm)
- Matt pages
- Arathacite Presentation box
Photo book design:
Sale Digital allow flexibility in designing the photo books you are not tied to using only one piece of software. Even though there are alternatives available, I opted to use the free Saal Design Software to created the photo book for this review. This was mainly due to my lack of experience of using any other software and the ease of use of the ordering system that is integrated with their own software.
If you wish to use another software package to create your photo book you can use any package that can output in pdf format such as InDesign, Photoshop, QuarkXPress.
Saal Design software
The Saal Design Software is very easy to use and features drag & drop layout creation that is very similar to many other photo book design packages. There is no need to upload images during the design process as they are all located locally on your computer making it very easy to swap and change images to test and assess different layout options. The full size images are uploaded after all the design work is completed as part of the ordering process.
There is a large selection of ready-made templates that you can either use directly or modify if you wish. To aid accurate positioning of the images and features on a spread there is both a ruler and cursor co-ordinates displayed and also a grid to which items & images can be snapped. Once the basic layout of the images is complete there is a large selection of image borders and background colours and textures that can be added as well as drop shadows under the images. In simple terms, there are many more features available than you should ever need to use, and if you want to use more then you will probably be using a more specialised piece of software than this to design you book!
I was looking for to create a minimal, monochrome, crisp & clean look for my photo book to match, and reinforce, the look of my website and my brand. Using the Saal Design software, this was a fast and intuitive process which caused very few problems for me.
Once the design is completed you progress to ordering your photo book from right within the Saal Design application. For me, this made the whole creation and ordering process extremely smooth and simple. The process is as simple and as painless as any modern online ordering system and once your delivery and payment details are entered the images are uploaded to the Saal server. Once the order was placed there are regular email updates at each of the important stages of the process:
- Confirmation of order
- Payment details & delivery of invoice
- Despatch for shipping
Online order and payment. Emails to inform of state of production / delivery. Slick service.