Mon Atelier has been a little quiet on the online front. It may seem that I peaked with the wedding preparations and my creative well has dried. ‘Not true’, I say. Months after the event and various post wedding projects are keeping me busy. So far I can say they involve many trips to the photo printing shop, sorting and editing photos and creating a photo album for us.
I will focus this post on the ups and downs of creating our wedding album. I must admit I am running out of fun ways to look at these photos. I am happy to do it but there are only so many times I can look at myself in the same outfit. I have been working at the album with Albelli. A while back I created an album with them with our trip to Australia. I was very happy with the quality and I didn’t think twice to create our wedding album with them. Fast forward to this past Friday when the love affair has gone a bit sour.
They have two ways to create an album.
You can access it easily through your browser and come back at any time to work on it later on. You can add and remove pages easily and decide on the each individual page layout. The greatest feature of this tool is a little option called: Randomly Shuffle Layout. As the name indicates you can go click-happy and it rearranges the photos in many ways until you are satisfied. This tool is excellent as it gives you ideas on how the photos can go together as well it can help spot duplicates. I have used it extensively. I would have happily kept working with this online application until I decided I may want to change the size of the album. I found out that when you create your album online you can only have 70 pages and you cannot change the size of the album. As well it has an expiration date of a year.
Even though I already had the album close to finished I thought okay, maybe try the desktop version in order to be able to add as many pages and change the size at will. I downloaded it and got myself prepared to redo the album. After my first page was finished I kept looking for my Magic Button, The Random Shuffle. I kept looking like a child for a lollipop. No luck. After some emails to the Support Team, I was informed the two software pieces do not offer the same functionality. I was so disappointed. I tried to do the layout manually or with the options provided but it was not working.
And this is the point when my experience as a software developer, although limited of course, makes me think about this more than I should. As a developer I know that this is the kind of frustration that will push me, the end user to someone else. The purpose of the software is to make my experience excellent. I no longer want okay software; I want excellent software that will make my life easier. Especially after I work with it for months. I want interoperable software. My online album should be downloadable on my desktop version to be able to work on it. Even if two different teams developed the two pieces of software, then there should have been a requirements evaluation to make sure both versions offer at least the same basic functionality. It is very frustrating having one important feature in one version but not in the other.
Oddly enough I checked another company, Blurb and I seemed to have run into the same problem. Although their online version does not have the same limitations for size of the album both in number of pages and dimensions, their shuffle option seemed limited in the web application and non existent in the desktop version.
Anyway with my tail between my legs after trying to figure out what are my options, I decided to go back to my online version. I am now breaking the album in two parts. I have the feeling it is better suited anyway for our wedding. Or maybe that is what I am telling myself ☺.
Lessons learned when creating a photo album
If the job is massive such as a wedding, then break the job up into small parts. Your inspiration on how you would like to edit your photos will vary and it is good to give yourself time not to get bored with the photos. As soon as I feel I had too much I leave it for a bit, and come back later with fresher eyes. It also helps me categorize the photos better and choose the editing style with more diversity.
Make sure you back up the photos separately per page of the album. This seemed a bit paranoid as I was doing it. At the end of the day I have the originals and the edited versions so why take more space? Well since you may find yourself recreating it at some point, as I had to do. And you wouldn’t want your frustration with whatever piece of software affect your willingness to spend time creating a great album.
In our first album I added text labels. Although they look okay, I decided to go another way this time. I will attach a dedication and a table of contents after. I will write them by hand since it will give me the opportunity to practice my calligraphy and it will mean more to me than just printed text.
I am hoping to be done in the next couple of months with both albums. I think I have part one done. I may post some photos of them when I get both. In the meantime if anyone has a great experience with creating Photo Albums online and would like to share please drop me a line.