For many years I had three main requirements from professional photo labs;  C41, E6 film processing and colour printing from negatives. I would source wedding albums and mounts from album manufacturers, film purchases from camera suppliers and frames would be ordered through professional framing companies.
 
There were no one-stop-shops until fairly recently.
 
Pro labs now offer almost everything the busy professional photographer needs; Sim Imaging in Hatfield UK are a perfect example of this as their services include pro-lab prints, framing, wedding albums, wedding books, stationery, postcards, stickers, CD sleeves, envelopes, fine art prints, cards and personalised USB drives.
 
In fact looking through their catalogue their index at the back lists over 80 different products/services, in addition to this they also have their own software for photographers to design their own albums. I've never thought about it before but it really is staggering the way pro-labs have changed, or have had to change to keep up with the demands of modern photographers.
 
There's a lot of good pro labs here in the UK and I use three in particular for my needs Loxley Colour, GF Smith and Sim Imaging. They all offer a reliable service together with a huge range of high quality products.
 
These labs have made it easier for photographers to up-sell albums and a ton of other products. Wedding albums are available with a huge range of additional options including smaller duplicate albums aimed as gifts for parents, family and friends. 
 
The latest product release that I've just got hold of is this new 10"x10" Genuine Leather Fine Art Book from simimaging which includes Rose Gold Embossing on the front cover and is presented in an Embossed Box to give it that finishing touch. The image below shows this main album with with two smaller 6"x6" duplicates made with printed paper and genuine leather covers with ultra print on the text.
 
If you look at the images shown inside the book you'll notice it's made up of images from a family portrait session, the beauty of these albums is that they can be used for anything including weddings, commercial shoots, birthdays, christenings etc.
 
When these albums come with so many different size options at affordable prices it's hardly surprising they are so popular with photographers and it's never been easier to sell additional copies to your customers.
 
All three albums shown have a Navy cover with Rose Gold text embossed on the front which compliments the navy very nicely, my only criticism of the product is the actual embossing of the text on the large album. Each individual letter is too 'bold', so quite thick causing the letters to be unevenly spaced. The thickness of each letter means there is some 'bleed' rather than a sharp/fine edge. This is such a minor point but I'm pretty fussy with things particularly when you look at the text on the cover of the smaller duplicates, instead of being embossed the text is printed on to the cover (Ultra print I think it's called) and these look fantastic as the text is fine, sharp and evenly spaced on the smaller sizes.
 
The genuine leather cover feels lovely and has that new leather smell with a broad spine which allows the book to open and lay flat showing off the matt finish pages.
 
 
Modern albums have a huge range of options for you to choose from when it comes to the paper used inside including photographic paper, thinner press printed pages, matt, gloss, metallic and fine art papers to name a few. Personally I only ever use matt photographic paper, I don't like 'arty' papers such as fine art and metallic and glossy pages are a big 'no' for me. But that's just my preference, I think matt pages have a classy feel that stand the test of time. 
 
The thickness of each page is considerable and it feels like you're handling a high-end product. The print quality of each image in this album looks to have been produced with slight saturation of the colours a little brighter on exposure than you would normally have, but this gives the images a 'pop' so they appear bright and sharp with colours that are on the warmer side complimenting the autumn leaves and colour temperature that time of year.
 
Colour and exposure accuracy of any final images is a completely separate article or several long articles(!) and there is an earlier post on this blog regarding colour monitors and colour correcting. My team use Eizo screens  eizocolour  (and Mac screens) for adjusting colour and exposure and we know the prints we get back from the Sim Imaging lab pretty much match what we see on our screens here at the office.
 
The actual portrait images you see in these albums were taken by another photographer and I'm not commenting on the photos here other than to say I would have thought the customer would have been very happy, it's an informal family portrait session presented with style and is something the customer will keep forever. The album has huge value so should be sold as a 'premium' product.
 
The smaller duplicate copies have exactly the same print quality as the larger main album and again they feel and look like a 'premium' product, unfortunately there are too many 'photographers' out there selling these products at such low prices that it doesn't help the true professionals.
 
The sales potential for these products are endless, particularly as you can design and lay the images pretty much however you like through the Sim software, you can choose from a huge range of cover options, different paper finishes on the inside and any text you require can be added on the front to personalise it.
 
If you're a wedding or portrait photographer these are a great addition to your product range, but I'd strongly suggest you place them as high value products particularly when you consider the time spent preparing, shooting, editing, proofing and designing the book etc.
 
Sim Imaging will be at the forthcoming photographyshow  in March at the NEC, Birmingham so will no doubt have these products on display.
 
Product images for tis article by; abraxascommercialphotography