by Neil Swindlehurst Published 01/03/2001
While the top clothing designers were showing off their skills during London Fashion Week, the wedding albums manufacturers in this country and abroad were putting their finishing touches to their new range of wedding albums in time for display at Focus on Imaging at the NEC, Birmingham.
I took time out from my busy schedule on The Society stand to visit as many of the album manufacturers stands at Focus err, because Phil ordered me to! As I went round the stands with Judy, I almost felt like a fashion editor seeing what's 'in' this year, because a pattern did start to emerge. 'In' things this year are deckle edges - some inside edges around prints and some outside edges of leaves/overlays, and usually in a random pattern rather than fairly uniform scalloped-type deckle edges - along with plain leaves and plain overlays i.e. no gold or silver around the edges of leaves are sight lines around the overlays apertures, raised borders were also a feature around some manufacturers overlays, black was very much 'in' especially with 'Reportage' style albums which tended to be large and, significantly for all you digi-freaks, able to accommodate A4 and A3 size images.
That's the summary; now for the detail about what's new from those manufacturers we were able to see; Oh, and by the way, one (foreign) manufacturer 's albums took Judy and my breath away by the sheer artistry of their albums. I'll leave you to guess which one. While I'm at it, Judy and I got the impression from one (British) manufacturer that they did not really feel like talking to us. Don't Wonder who that was! Please do not read anything into the order in which the album manufacturers are covered in this article; it's merely done in the order of ambling sorry, I mean whizzing around the exhibition, in between checking everything is still OK on The Society stand.
Maurice Southwell, G.F. Smith's Field Sales Manager, showed us their new Zodiac range of post and book bound style albums including an A3 version for reportage style. These albums have square copper star signs of the bride and groom and are available in black covers and pages. Their Mayfield range have two tone (grey/black) and two material covers. Indeed the covers are of specially coated man made materials. Silver-edged deluxe leaves and silver sight-edged overlays as well as black overlays with a raised border are also available for your clients who do not want silver. On the folders front, they had a new white, bevel-edged black mount for high class presentations available in sizes 7x5, 8x6, and 10x8 inches rectangular view and upright.
Birthday boy (30 years) Martin Baines on the Spicer Hallfield stand showed us their newly designed catalogue and new products. Two new albums have been added to their "Elizabethan" range of book bound albums, viz. the Seville (lace look fabrics in black and green) and the Zanzibar (a silver colour fabric material with glassy circles dotted over the cover). New Handmade albums included Marlene in black, ivory and lilac ostrich skin effect material, Windsor ( with the names Eugenie and Beatrice - not Edward and Fergie's kids names by any chance?) in white leather with a different front opening cover held by a silver clasp. Kansas is a natural hessian-covered album while Tolkien is available in white leather or a tan leather-look cover and both feature a sort of Celtic design, square coppery plate in the middle of the front cover. New Traditional range albums in what SH describe as "New Classic" include Helen in either black or grey floral pattern cover, Grace in blue, pale lilac or gold with an embossed trumpet design, Jessica in a duo colour and duo material grey and black cover, and Jubilee another dual black/silver colour cover. New slip-in mounts have been added; there have been some price reductions on the 219 range. New frame mouldings and slip frames have also been added as well as multi-aperture double mounts in various shapes, sizes and colours. Taking on board what some photographers have been doing for a while, SH have added a "Signature" Mount which is both eye-catching and could be a good seller.
Rewa Albums at Kenton Photographic Services Ltd. are the relatively new kids on the block having been in the wedding album business for only two years. They certainly had some unique albums to show us. Their Cavallo range have bevel mounts and are in various coloured suedeeffect materials. The Decor range in sizes 10x10 to 5x7 inches was particularly innovative as the front cover consists of a laminated photograph of, say, the Bride & Groom. The Tissue range comes with interleaving between the pages.
The Diamond range includes pages were you place the laminated print direct onto the page thus giving an edge to edge print on the page.
They also offered a two tone (gold/brown and blue/silver) range of albums again 10x10 to 5x7 inches. Their Metal range sold well on the continent, particularly in Germany, but I feel that we may need to 'educate' our couples in this country to this style of album which do look good and certainly for photographers who are always looking for something new, they may be well worth trying. Finally, of appeal perhaps to parents or to portrait clients are the concertina albums, with concertina 'folders' that come in packs of 100 and can be trimmed to suit the size of album. Some interesting colours of overlays are available with this range.
John Kevan of H.A. West Ltd., was on the Mario Acerboni albums stand (while none other person than Mrs. Acerboni and her daughter were deep in discussion around a table) to tell us about their own reportage style albums available in A4 and A3 size and in up and view to fit digital prints straight in, though overlays are also available. John also showed us some concept material based around a sun and moon theme. Some of these images were embossed onto the album cover while others looked like frames added over the cover and one had a very dimpled back (you certainly had a lot of grip with this; it certainly would not slip out of your hand). Parkers, the main importer and distributor of MA albums was buying a laser cutter in order that they could produce customised overlays to the photographers requirements, e.g. a fan shaped cut-out.
Howard Pearson, now the UK importer and distributor for Tony Sarlo albums also had new reportage style albums to show us. Tuscany albums came with non gold edges to the pages, but you could have random deckle edges. These took 10 to 50 pages and there was a new aperture range as well as overlays without gold sight edges around the apertures of the overlays to give a simple, but classical look to the albums.
A new - and actually only available later this year - black leather-look interior for albums using the double inlay system had the potential to look very classy; certainly from the samples we had seen.
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