I am not a wedding photographer. I do not enjoy weddings, funerals or birthday parties featuring magicians and clowns. However, in my line of work one needs to try anything one, so when my brother requested that we shoot his wedding last July as their gift, I decided to bite the bullet. Personal goal: make my family happy by capturing a key event in their lives, especially after the loss of my father the previous week. Professional goal: produce a perfect wedding book with neither cost nor profit being the object.
Since I began working as a photographer, AsukaBook, a publisher who prints in Japan but is based out of Oregon, has appealed to me as an option for my first big portfolio book. They have a special opening offer to all professional photographers (you need a website, I think), to print the first book for 50% of regular cost. Fifty percent is significant when you consider that the cost of this book was going to be $525 for 40 pages originally; this is not small peanuts for a book, but fair when one considers that a quality, single print edition of anything has to be expensive to make it worth the time spent in production. In the end, after shipping, taxes and currency exchange, I will have spent a bit over $400 for the book. Worth it?
I chose a large format of 12×12 inches for the book. I feel that this is a perfect print size for archival prints, and when you consider that this book lays flat for a full spread of 24×12 inches, it is quite impressive. I also went with matte finish, even though I prefer glossy metallics for my personal work. I was aiming for a Martha Stewart wedding look and her books from the 1990s often featured a matte finish to bring out an emotional feeling of polish.
As you can see from these few simple shots of the book, the colours are rich and the package is about as high quality as could be conceived. I would caution any would be professionals to be aware that their small point and shoot or Unlce Louis’ dslr are not going to cut it, at least not straight from the camera. A large portion of what I do relates to post-production of the images, colour syncing to a particular palette, retouching and layout. I was unable to use AsukaBook’s proprietary software, so I had to lay out the book in Adobe’s InDesign CS6. If you are not regularly working on large publications, which I do for my school, then this might kill you. For me, it worked fairly smoothly and I was happy to have tech support question a few of my bleed choices in final production.
The pages a almost a foam core style of thickness, and this makes for a seriously heavy book that feels akin to a Bible of coffee table masterpiece. I have seen nothing like this in small print production before, and it screams of quality in design. The wraparound cover and hard case allow for custom design – I went for two different photos on the actual book, and a full wrap of the case that shows a field shot: unique and compelling.
So it only took me 6 months to scan the Kodak Porta film, process the photos, lay the book out and get it back in the post. Would I do it again? Nope. Never. Doubt it. The book was gorgeous and flawless, but I would never make any money unless I charged about $5000 to shoot a wedding, and the only take away would be the digital negatives and this book. The time it took, and the behind the scenes work make weddings tough to work for profit unless you are constantly working through the exact same workflow, and you outsource the tedious work to others, which I just refuse to do.
The real question will be whether the couple like it, love it or hate it. I just put the dvds and the book into the shipping box to be mailed tomorrow back to Prince Edward Island. If you want to see this masterpiece for yourself, then I am certain they will be inviting friends and family over to relive their happiest of happy days.