One of the main services offered at Pixelwinx is custom photo albums and slideshows. We love putting our creative mojo to work for our clients. We also get to ‘travel’ along on special trips, celebrations, new babies, and love captured in their photos.
That being said, it may surprise you to know that most of the time, Pixelwinx picks out the photos used in creating the albums and slideshows. This fact is usually met with skepticism by our clients and leads to the #1 question we hear at Pixelwinx. “How do you know what pictures to include?”
Usually, the conversation goes like this:
Client - “How do you know what photos to choose for albums and/or slideshows?”
Pixelwinx - We know & we’ve been doing this a while.
Client - “Really? I don’t have to pick out the pictures?”
Pixelwinx - Nope.
Client - “But how do you KNOW?”
Pixelwinx - We know.
Client - “Really?? How could you possibly know what pictures I love?”
By this point we are getting ’that’ look - you know the one where you are trying to be polite but don’t really believe what the other person is saying. Now when we choose photos for our client’s project it doesn’t mean they are not involved in the process. We have an initial ‘get to know you meet up’, then prepare a few layouts to make sure we are on the right path, use our client’s feedback & make revisions. But we really do choose most of the photos used in the layouts.
Kim, ‘Designer Maven Extraordinaire’ & I talk about this topic often so I decided to interview her about it and share her answers.
Tamara - When choosing photos what do you look for when working with client photos?
Kim - A good photo creates an emotional response. It’s so true.
Tamara - What do you look for from a design perspective:
Kim - I see lots of photos of the same subject and lots of care in the photo taking angle. People in the photo are looking at you while taking the picture. I also see lots of different angles of the same subject - horizontal/vertical shots. The quantity of photos taken is also more than other subjects.
T - What do you consider when creating a custom design for a client?
Kim - I love designs/spreads with the same color palette. If I don’t have enough of one color, I make sure the second spread is in a complimentary palette. Sometimes photos that are not great palettes can be significantly improved by changing to black and white.
T - How do you handle the huge quantity of photos?
Kim - I would rather put in one great photo that tells the story than multiple good photos of the same shot. I’m looking for the photo that tells a story. The subject is front and center in photo, not a stuck in a corner like a postage stamp.
T - what do you discover about your clients in their photos?
K - After we work with a client for a while - we discover their special places, routines, events, vacations - always using the same birthday hat or going to the same beach or lake for year after year. The photos will include a location where photos are always taken or in front of the same fireplace.
It’s also fun to see what different families take pictures of - food, swimming in the pool, playing cards with Grandma, or doing puzzles. Families have favorite traditions, vacation spots, love Grandma’s apple pie, sunset or fishing off the dock.
T - Do people take good photographs?
K - Many people have a good eye for taking photos - whether technically trained or not. Other people - not so much . It’s all relative. Just because a photo might not be National Geographic material doesn’t mean they are not special, meaningful and beautiful to that family. Everyone takes photos for a different reason - some people take photos of silly things - like a pineapple or shoe or a tiny fish in the water. You can’t really see the fish but it represents the moment they are trying to capture. I always look for the items each family takes photos of consistently. Remember the favorite Uncle who never smiles ON PURPOSE?
T - Do clients have different photographic ’styles’?
K - Some clients take lots of posed photos - very formal, proper, dignified, showing the moment. Other clients are more about movement, running, action, capturing the story, thru their creative side.
T - Is it different selecting photos for client’s books than your own personal albums?
K - While we love to see your photos and often get emotional viewing them, we are not emotionally attached to the people or places in the photos. That helps us more easily select photos while still experiencing your people as our people & get a glimpse of special moments of love, family & traditions. If I limit the photos to the good ones, I’m more likely to remember the details - because you are putting your camera away and actually participating & investing in the memory vs capturing it or the photo. Most of our parents were learning how to use a snap & shoot camera & the photos show that but they still capture life. Unless you were a photographer with a darkroom, photography was sort of a crap shoot. You got what you got when you picked them up at the Drug Store. You learned as you went & no matter what some folks always had a finger showing up in the picture;).
We’ve learned how to take MANY photographs but still not necessarily good ones. The photos we take now are about documenting EVERY SINGLE MOMENT. There is less care in picture taking because we can delete the bad photos, except we rarely do. Many of us never even print the photos. Our kids know how to take pictures & document every single second but have no interest in saving the photos or printing them.
Several of our clients have kids who have begun to ask for books about their lives - like an antique - because they are not familiar with the printed page or photo albums to look through. YIKES! Kids want to see themselves at different ages, hold the book in their hand, talk about the stories. Books capture their stories, growing up & don’t need any special technology.
I’ve been trying to put this into words for a long time and one day I was listening to an audio book by Brené Brown. She was discussing her research & used the phrase “data with a soul”. AH HA! That finally captured how special photos are to us. Pictures are ‘pixels with a soul’. They mean more than just the people, paper, or places in them. They have a soul. Now if we can start to take back control over the quantity, filter out the good ones to share, talk about the memories, we can create & preserve our "data with a soul” forever