Here at Folio Albums we see hundreds of album designs every month, which display a range of styles in photography and design. We decided to start up an ‘Awesome Albums’ section so that we could share with you some of the designs that really stood out when we were making the album. The designs in this section are ones that we found either classic, beautiful, contemporary, innovative, or just simply amazing.
Our debut Awesome Album belongs to Siegrid Cain, an Austrian photographer currently living and working in Germany whose sample album showcased a beautiful wedding shot on the West Coast of Spain.
Whilst the cover design instantly stands out for the contrast between the bride’s dress and the rich blue door in the background, the design inside captivates the viewer just as much. From the photographs themselves, to how they are arranged on the spread (and let’s not forget the wedding itself with all of its beautiful detail) everything fits together perfectly to create a truly Awesome Album.
I caught up with Siegrid on the phone to discover more about the backstory of both the album, and Siegrid herself…
JT: So, Siegrid, how did you get started in the world of photography?
SC: I started as a teenager in the nineties. School curriculum over here is quite different because we have to undertake an apprenticeship for three years alongside our in-school studies. I was quite lucky that I was able to do my apprenticeship at a small studio in Bavaria so I got to try a lot of things out for myself. I loved the darkroom work, and I was able to do a lot of artistic work, which was amazing. It really was quite a traditional start in the photography world, and I actually ended up staying there for four years!
JT : How come you decided to do your apprenticeship, and then set up your business, in Germany?
SC: It’s a lot easier to get started over here. In Austria it is a lot stricter, I would have needed an MA which I didn’t have time to do. I live pretty close to Germany already since we lived near to the border in Austria. I am planning to move my business to Austria in the near future though – I really want to have a daylight-studio in my own house!
JT: So after the apprenticeship ended, what came next? How did you get from working in a small studio to starting up your own photography business?
SC: After leaving the studio I travelled, and ended up moving to Ireland for a while where photography become more of a personal hobby. Then four years ago I decided that I wanted to do something that I could put my heart into, and that could also work around my family, so I became self-employed and set up my own business. I’m amazed at how well, and how quickly, it has taken off!
JT: I think I have to ask… what types of things inspire you in your wedding, or portrait, photography?
SC: Spending time in nature, seeing the way that light filters through a forest inspires me, it really gives me a chance to take some time out and just think. I also read a lot of books, so my mind is constantly creating all these images – and watching movies, so all these different images constantly running through my mind leave their influence. On the wedding day I find it very important to be open for whatever moments might happen rather then having a strict set of poses I want to capture.
Although this is a wedding album, I do love people and portrait photography too. It allows for more artistic and creative shots. With weddings its more about combining your style and vision with the couples’, their personalities and style always guide how the shoot will go and how the end result will look. In styled portrait sessions, and especially fashion shoots, there is a lot more freedom to let loose and try different things.
JT: So, what would you describe as the ingredients of your style?
SC: Oh wow, I’m not really sure! I always try to touch different angles with the photographs, try to really catch the character of the couple, or subject, and their personality – real emotion. You have to pose them to an extent, but I always try to soften the direction.
I want photographs to look natural, un-posed, and as though my clients feel relaxed and at ease with having their photo taken. The biggest compliment is always to hear that my clients feel they look more beautiful than they thought they did.
The Album Specs:
– Sample Album
-Art White Paper
– 22 Spreads
– Photo-Cotton cover
JT: For this album, how much time did you spend with the couple before the wedding day itself?
SC: None! The wedding was in Spain, and I was second shooting for a Spanish photographer, so that was the only time that I met them. Usually I arrange a pre-talk which can happen up to a year before the big day. I always do an engagement shoot as well, so I can really get to know them and vice versa. Then when the wedding day comes it feels more like you are a friend rather than an employee, which I love. That relationship is very important – there has to be chemistry, it makes photographing the wedding much better, they will be happier and more relaxed.
I don’t say yes to everything, or everyone. Since wedding shoots combines my style with theirs I don’t say ‘yes’ if I think that their vision is too far away from what I do, I don’t think I could shoot something so unlike myself. In those cases I recommend another photographer who will be a better fit. Luckily, despite meeting this couple on the day, they were amazing to work with!
JT: That’s impressive! So was that the biggest challenge of the day then – the fact that you couldn’t meet them first and visualise the style of the wedding?
SC: Honestly, one of the biggest challenges was the language barrier – but it was an interesting challenge really. Everything felt so new and different with the culture and location. That pressure and adrenaline helped to push me on, and the couple were so fantastic (and photogenic) to work with too! I was lucky with the weather – we didn’t have any rain, or too much sun.
Since I had no idea of their style, or how the wedding would look, it completely blew my mind when I arrived.
JT: Was it difficult not being able to “scout out” the location first?
SC: I’m really flexible on shoots, deciding within seconds what shots to take or locations to use. This was really helpful with the location being so unknown to make sure I captured everything I needed to, and every moment and place that they would want recorded.
Obviously, seeing the location first is ideal, but since the opportunity isn’t always there I have learned to adapt and see the best shots and locations in that moment.
Understandably, not many brides are willing to go into fields or forests and get nature based shots as they might ruin their dress. It’s a rare thing to get a bride who is willing to kick off her shoes and go down to the riverbank for photographs of their wedding day! That’s always amazing, but very unusual. That’s why many of my couples add an after-wedding shoot to their package.
JT: So was anything else challenging for you, or was it just the language difference?
SC: There was one other main challenge, the light. The wedding wasn’t until 5p.m. and the churches in Spain are built to keep not only the heat out, but the light as well! It was challenging to get ambiant light shots of the ceremony. For the reception and evening celebrations I had to use quite a lot of flash.
The weddings there are really long, this one went on until 5a.m but we finished shooting around 2a.m! Apart from that we only had about 20 minutes to get all of the portrait shots done, so that was quite a rush but turned out just fine.
JT: That does sound hard! You said you needed to use a lot of flash for this wedding, but what is your usual approach to using natural and artificial light?
SC: I aim to use around 90% ambient light, and only use flash when necessary (like for the evening section of this wedding). I prefer natural or ambient light, especially candlelight. The marquee had great ambient light with lots of fairy-lights and candles everywhere – just beautiful.
JT: But don’t you find candlelight challenging to shoot in?
SC: It is hard, but it looks so nice! I think it’s a shame to use flash, and just flash it out. It is difficult but the end result is so worth it, you have to work with what’s there and adapt to the situation. I prefer not to use artificial light unless it is really needed.
The Camera Bag:
– Canon 5D Mark III
– 50mm, 85mm, 24105 and 7200 are the main lenses
(85mm is my favourite though!)
– Spare memory cards
– Spare batteries
– Spare cameras (a Polariod, Canon AE, Holga, Mamiya 645 – all analogue)
JT: Next I was going to ask whether you shoot with the album/design in mind, and what you had planned for this one and if it affected your actions during the day – but I guess that question doesn’t apply to this wedding…
SC: Since it was all so new I couldn’t shoot with a pre-designed idea, but as soon as I saw all of the details and when I met the bride and her family on the wedding morning I knew it would be a beautiful album. I had plenty of time with the bride during these morning preparations to get the shots I needed, so I just arrived for this morning section and took it from there!
JT: So I guess your sample album wasn’t planned in advance either, when did you think/decide that this would be the wedding you would use?
SC: On my flight home I knew this would be my 2013 sample album – but cutting down the images was very hard!
JT: How many images do you average per wedding?
SC: On a full day, I would probably take around 2000 usually!
JT: So I guess the real question should be – how many of these do you show to the bride and groom?
SC: Honestly, probably between 500 to 700 maximum. I only show them the immaculate ones, any where someone has their eyes closed, has an odd expression are discarded. I only want to give them the absolute best, the ones that tell the full story of their day, so any not up to that standard are taken out.
JT: So when you were cutting down the images, how many were you left to choose from?
SC: Even after being ruthless I had about 300! I just couldn’t cut anymore, I had already taken so many out. I wanted to use them all!
In the end I asked two photographer friends that I can trust to cut them down for me – but even then I still had around 80 images. I was tempted to include them all, but then I felt the sample wouldn’t fully reflect myself or my style. I prefer a classic and simple design, I want the album to tell the story of the day and to be able to have single images going across the entire spread. If I crammed too many in it just wouldn’t reflect the album I would make for my couples.
JT: When you began the design, did you already have an idea of how you wanted it to look?
SC: In a way I did. I knew it had to have a cotton cover. The album just wouldn’t work with a leather cover, it needed to be cotton.
JT: Did you already know which image you wanted for the Photo-Cotton cover? Or did it just fall into place during the design?
SC: I ended up making three different designs… and went back to the first one! I was lucky with the image for the cover, the Villa had such a beautiful door, and it photographed so well next to the dress.
JT: Which were your favourite images from the day/album?
SC: I loved the whole thing! If I have to choose, it would have to be the bridal portraits. She is so beautiful yet unusual looking, and she is so photogenic – she was happy to just let me capture all of the shots I wanted. Which was perfect!
Although I must admit, I did love the evening images of the empty marquee too. It was decorated so beautifully, and there were even candles hanging in the surrounding trees. I loved how all the guests were dressed up – and so many were in hats! – the entire wedding party looked amazing and they were all so photogenic. I love shooting out of doors weddings, so much more happens and you can get really creative and get lots of different angles and shots.
The Emergency Bridal Kit (almost as important as the camera kit):
– Headache tablets
– Sewing kit (just incase…)
– Bottles of water
– Lipgloss, make-up and girlie essentials
JT: Do you have any specific actions/action recipes that you use in post-production to achieve a certain style?
SC: I always edit them in Lightroom, and I just tweak the VSCO presets to my liking. How I process the images depends on the wedding, and the images themselves. I always try to find the right recipe to compliment the individual wedding, and also to give the images my personal touch. Although I do love grainy, gritty finishes with analogue images – it just compliments them so well!
JT: These days everyone seems to stick quite firmly to using digital cameras, but there is a surge in cameras which bridge the gap between analogue and digital. What makes you still want to do a lot of pure analogue photography?
SC: I started with analogue, and I just love it. I still believe it’s not possible to create an authentic film-look with digital imagesI am trying to get back into it a lot more than I am at the moment.
Although it is not ideal for doing an entire wedding, I still love to take a few analogue shots. I then like include these and a few of the polaroid shots in their wedding package as a little gift.
JT: That’s such an amazing touch. Do you offer the couples the digital images as well as the completed albums?
SC: Always, I give them a DVD with all of the images I cut it down to, and then the analogue and polaroid shots are included so that is a little package on its own! I also give them a thank-you package with little gifts inside.
JT: Oh wow, what kind of gifts do you include?
SC: This season I am putting in a handmade lip balm in a little handmade cotton pouch with a kissing-quote on it. I like my couples to feel that they are truly special to me. Maybe I’ll have a new gift idea for the next season ;-)
JT: That all sounds like such a wonderful wedding package to receive! Ok. Final question – if you could use just three words to sum up this album, what would they be?
SC: Luscious, ethereal and bohemian.
I just want to say a quick thank-you to Siegrid for allowing us to use her design on our blog – and for being so lovely to interview! We hope that you love our first Awesome Album, so until next time…