The Linen Book

In this day and age where cell phones never leave our hands, where images pass our eyes at an almost dizzying rate, where there is at least one screen exploding with imagery in just about every room of the house, it can be easy to forget that photographs are not meant to solely inhabit the virtual world. Just as they always have since the camera was first invented, photographs have the greatest impression when they surround us in the tangible world.

My linen book. Slightly smaller than a full  leather wedding album , parent books are a beautiful way to say thank-you to your parents, whether just for raising you right or for all they did to make your wedding day a beautiful success. 

My linen book. Slightly smaller than a full leather wedding album, parent books are a beautiful way to say thank-you to your parents, whether just for raising you right or for all they did to make your wedding day a beautiful success. 

Linen wedding parent album by New Jersey wedding photographer Nan Doud Photography
Clean wedding album design by Princeton New Jersey wedding photographer Nan Doud Photography

After all, photographs are meant to adhere to our memory receptors, forever binding long term memories of relatively brief moments in our lives, thus anchoring and grounding us. This is why you may hear me repeat the mantra: prints matter.

I design your photo album with both the flow of the day and aesthetics in mind. Simple. Clean. Elegant. I select from the best of your wedding day images, saving you time and allowing you to get your album in your hands quickly for you to enjoy. When doing album design themselves, many couples end up delaying the process for years... even decades.

I design your photo album with both the flow of the day and aesthetics in mind. Simple. Clean. Elegant. I select from the best of your wedding day images, saving you time and allowing you to get your album in your hands quickly for you to enjoy. When doing album design themselves, many couples end up delaying the process for years... even decades.

Understanding the emotional and even psychological impact that the tangible print has on us as we grow up and grow old hopefully gives you a glimpse into why what photographers do is such important work. Yes, it's art. But it's more than art. These are the tangible visual hooks upon which some of our strongest memories, and the memories of those who have gone before us, are hung. You might look at a portrait of your grandma and suddenly you can hear her voice, smell her kitchen and feel the softness of her skin. Or an image may contain within it an entire story that your mom told you over and over whenever you looked at the picture or asked her about it.

Images are phenomenal memory cues! And without us even knowing it, these memories become more deeply imprinted on us when we simply live in the presence of these images that adorn our walls and mantles. They are that powerful.

Luxury wedding albums New Jersey wedding photographer
Good wedding album design doesn't just consist of cramming as many pictures as possible into a finite space. Storyline and design sense, as well as technical understanding of image quality and color play important roles.

Good wedding album design doesn't just consist of cramming as many pictures as possible into a finite space. Storyline and design sense, as well as technical understanding of image quality and color play important roles.

Handmade linen photo album by Nan Doud Photography

So when you get married, it's important to not only have a digital record of the day on a disc or a hard drive somewhere. Your portraits, your album, and even the printed proofs that you can look through with your kids one day... they are important. It makes sense to invest in them. With proper care, they will outlast you and likely even your children so that generations to come will be able to treasure them as much or even more than you do.

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Portrait design for your home deserves as much attention to detail as any design element in your home. Actually more!

I want you to look at this image of a sofa. (I didn't take this photo. It's a stock image.)

You most likely put a lot of thought into how you design and decorate your home. You read design magazines. You might get inspiration from your favorite TV designers. Maybe you have a certain era that you are basing your home around. (I love the hollywood regency and mid-century modern styles myself.) Maybe you even hire a designer to come into your home and help you come up with a cohesive plan that speaks YOU.

Princeton New Jersey Family Portrait photographer

You do this because you want your home and how it's appointed to reflect both to yourself as well as your friends and loved ones just what and whom you care about. You may have original art pieces showcased throughout your home. Maybe you have old family portraits adorning your walls. If you're like us you even have some of your passions like musical instruments hanging on walls, expressing to all who enter, "this is what we value here." 

Personal styles run a formidably sizable gamut, so when I ask you to look at this sofa, I don't want you to get caught up in this particular sofa and how attractive or practical (the moms are cringing at the whiteness!) it is or is not. This sofa could represent any piece of furniture or decor in your home in whose purchase you have invested your creativity, your time, consideration and money into.

Now look at the blank wall above this sofa. When you are hiring a photographer, do you think about the finished portraits as not only a family heirloom but also an important piece of home decor that expresses your personality and values in a meaningful way? Does the media in which it is presented say what you want it to say? Your family portraits are an investment not only in the next generations because the portraits will endure that long if the materials used are curated with attention to detail, but they are also to be seen as an important piece of home decor as they are often a focal point of a room. As such it's an investment that demands more than cursory consideration.

Hiring a professional photographer who specializes in portrait design ensures that your decisions regarding substrates, finishes and custom framing are more than afterthoughts by helping you give at least as much attention to the portrait that hangs above the sofa or fireplace mantle as you do to the other important design elements in your home. The investment you make in your portraits will secure even longer lasting returns than even some of your most favorite home furnishing investments, which are often quite substantial, because the greatest value in them, which most often is primarily sentimental, virtually never depreciates. 

Are your portrait decisions merely afterthoughts or carefully made design decisions imbued with lasting value?

Print Your Snapshots! Check out this amazing photo app!

Soooo, you know how I'm always harping on how important it is to get your pictures printed? While I definitely mean that you need to invest in beautiful fine art wall art from your portrait session with Nan Doud Photography,  I also mean that you need to have your snapshots printed!

Remember photo kiosks? Brag books? Doubles anyone?! It's funny because we have more cameras per capita than ever now thanks to smart phones but we have fewer books of family snaphsots than ever too! Why is that?

It's the same reason a high percentage of "digital only" brides and grooms have yet to do anything with that disc of images in the closet? Desk? Oh shoot... Where is it now?! You see my point. The reason is that we have great intentions but life crowds in and before we know it it's been years! If you're blushing because this describes you, fear not... You are in good company! This is why I do my best to ensure that all my clients walk away with something tangible that is made to stand the test of time. But I digress!

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Friends, this printing your snapshots stuff is important for our kiddos! These things help anchor the memories like grappling hooks to their synapses and heartstrings in a way that digital images on your hard drive never could. There is nothing like getting your hands on your photos in print, whether we are talking about your wedding album or your snapshots from summer vacation. 

I spent many many hours as a child poring over my photo albums. It was my way of reaffirming my own history. It helped me remember who and where I came from. Memories that would have lived only in my parents' minds were being etched into mine. It made me wonder things about people and places and led me to ask questions of my mom and dad that I'd have never asked without the visual tangible prompts.

With that in mind, I followed my own advice this Christmas and bought each of my kids and some of my nieces these photo books from chatbooks.com.

And let me tell you, they were a huge hit! Are they archival? No. Are they super high in quality? No. These are simple one image per page books that you can create using your Instagram feed or your Facebook photos (make sure you have a print release before using any photos not taken by you, especially professional photos) in a matter of a few taps of the finger! They are perfect for the kids to thumb through. Starting at just $8 for smaller page counts, you can fill them with up to 365 pages each! Since its app based the process really couldn't be any easier.

Don't put it off any longer. You know if you do you'll never get around to it! And I must say, the creation process is rather addictive! 

Caring for your Fine Art Photographic Prints

The other day I was talking to my teenage son about the portrait photography industry and how it has evolved throughout the years. We were discussing the business of doing business and how people assign value to emotional objects such as photographs. As we talked about creating pricing structures for the products that a photographer may carry, he said, "Well, of course they are not paying you for the paper! They are paying you for what you put on it!" I must say that, as his mother and a photographer, my heart sort of skipped a beat when I heard him "get it" without even a hint from me. As I mentioned last week, there are real reasons that we ought to remember the importance of printed portraits. But the value of professionally designed portraits is not contained in paper and ink. It is in the image itself. Your photographer is going to most certainly charge more than what a blank piece of fancy paper costs because they are not selling you a blank piece of fancy paper. The photographer brings the only element that truly imbues that piece of paper with any kind of meaningful value. The image.

Princeton, New Jersey Portrait & Wedding Photography | caring for fine art prints

Think about it. Reams of paper and drums of even the finest pigments will never ever on their own be referred to by a mother as "priceless" the way that a family portrait will. Why? Because we do not pay photographers for ink and paper. We pay them for the images they capture. Some call it art. And for the photographer who has spent years studying photography, yes it is her business but it is also her art. It's a piece of herself because she has invested so much of her life into her ability to capture the light and shadows, the movement, the emotion.

While the value of printed portraits is not in the raw materials alone, my clients understand that I pour myself into my work and that I won't rest until I have placed a beautiful finished product in their hands. They know that I will not deliver a piece that isn't made excellently and designed to last a lifetime (and longer because portraits are not just for us!) This is why I only sell archival quality fine art prints. 

100% cotton fine art prints from Nan Doud Photography

Why archival prints?

There are numerous types of tree based papers on which your portrait designer can opt to print your images. Wood based papers though are often laced with substantial concentrations of acid, which causes deterioration and yellowing over time. Cotton based papers, on the other hand, are highly resistant to fading, discoloration and deterioration. My fine art prints are made on 100% cotton fiber or (depending on the finish you select) sometimes non-cotton Alpha Cellulose based papers sourced from a company that has been the premier provider of museum quality papers for more than 400 years. Printed on highly calibrated wide gamut precision printers, the inks used can combine to create millions of color variations, many more than your standard large format printers, which accounts for the depth, richness and clarity of colors in fine art prints.

While renowned for holding their color and clarity for many decades, Fine Art Prints are not impervious to environmental stressors. One still must be careful to treat them well in order to keep them looking their best. The fact is, for all photographic prints, archival included, the safest environment is a dark, climate controlled one. Not many of us invest in family and wedding portraits in order to hide them away. That you will display them is largely unquestioned. Here are some quick tips for caring for your portraits in a way that will best preserve their integrity while being enjoyed.

Two different types of archival print paper

Fine Art Portrait Care Tips

  • Avoid touching the ink. Whether you use cotton gloves when handling them or not, is up to you. At the very least, wash your hands with soap and dry them well before handling your prints. I have begun to include a pair of cotton gloves when I deliver your prints so that you can handle them appropriately.
  • Avoid tapes. If tapes must be used to secure the portrait to a mat, be sure that the tape is an acid-free archival tape. These can be found at local arts & crafts stores.
  • If possible hang them out of direct sunlight.
  • No direct contact with glass. Archival acid-free mats should always be used. Portraits that are pressed straight up against glass will bond with the glass over time, making it impossible to ever remove the portrait from the frame without significant damage. As for the type of glass used, it is largely up to personal preference. Acrylic glazing with a UV protectant can be purchased at almost any custom framer's shop. It is unbreakable, lightweight, easy to clean with normal household cleaners, reduces condensation and comes in an anti-glare variety as well. This is what many museums use to protect their works of art. 

(The images above were shot for Jacqueline Patton Photography at two different weddings in Liberty State Park. One took place at the beautiful Maritime Parc and the other at Liberty House.)