A photographer client asked me what he should be saying to his brides about why they should have a Finao album. Not just any album, but specifically, a Finao album. I was caught without an immediate answer. Not good. I always tell photographers to put down in writing why a bride should book with him/her instead of someone who charges less. After all, if YOU can’t tell them some pretty good and specific reasons, then WHO will?
Now I have to listen to my own advice. It’s easy to say Finao offers more choices than any company. We do, and we think choice is very important in weddings. The brides get mega choices everywhere they visit and the photographer should not miss the importance of this. Brides are spending more money on little things and less on photography – that shows me the importance of choice. She wants to know that you will provide the complete package, images and presentation, that fit the concept of her wedding. Choice is a no-brainer.
Then comes quality. We all assume that quality counts, but I know it’s a tough sell. If quality was the deciding factor, Walmart would not be the country’s largest retailer. Finao knows our quality is the best there can be. We take pride in producing an album that will last a lifetime and beyond. We take what we make very seriously.
There is nothing sexy or romantic to talk about when it comes to quality. My guess is the bride does not want a lesson in the finer points of book binding. No lateral movement, folio-style binding that will never come apart, completely hand made, top of the line leathers, turned (not folded) corners, the extra touch of spine hubs and fly pages…just a few of the points. This morning I made a list of all the stages involved in making an album and all the hands that touch every single Finao ONE and artONE we make. It’s 23 steps and 23 separate people that are involved in building a single album. Eleven of those people are involved in just making the page-block. Nine individual people work on a cover and three people inspect, wrap and ship the finished album. That’s a lot. 23 separate and distinct functions that need to be performed before that album gets loaded on a delivery truck to be sent to its new home.
There are some steps that might take everyone by surprise. The board used as page substrate is not one piece. The thick pages are five pieces and the medium pages are three pieces. Someone “builds” each of these inserts. I didn’t count the paper trimmer, but every board we receive is 4×8′ and has to be cut to album-sized pieces before they can be joined to form the substrate. Every print is coated, creased and sequenced before being hand-set on the substrate to form a block. Every block is left in a hydraulic press overnight to assure complete dryness and perfectly straight alignment. Everyone has seen a sloppy album cover with a slant to the spine and pages; that won’t happen if the block is built correctly.
Cover pieces are cut from hides that are large and awkwardly shaped. The cutter must find an area that will work best for a cover cut. The waste is significant. The other option would be to use processed leathers or, worse yet, bonded leather. I call that stuff the bologna of the leather business. Bonded leathers now have to list the actual leather content. From what I see it looks like about 18% is par for the course. That’s 18% leather scraps, doesn’t matter the color or where they cam from, if it came off an animal it counts. It’s the equivalent of pink slime in the food industry. Don’t be fooled and don’t sell your client something just CALLED leather. Make sure you are receiving the real thing. It’s expensive, hard to work with and has a low yield, but Finao would not have it any other way.
Every Finao album block is measured and the spine, along with front and back cover panels, are custom-cut to assure a perfect fit and prefect sizing. Headbands are added and spines are reinforced. Along the way, a Finao album cover will also spend time in presses assuring correct drying of adhesive. Quality adhesive, dried properly, will be what holds that album together for ages. Every edge is hand-sanded; just a little something extra to make sure the album your client receives goes above and beyond. Imprinting is hand-set and stamped from metal foil, 24K if you select gold. Leathers which do not match in thickness are built-up to produce a smooth transition.
With all this said, I still don’t think we have touched on the REAL reason your client should invest in a Finao album. It’s not about what we did to make it the best. It’s really about what it will MEAN to them in the future. A wedding album is the first heirloom created for a new family. Next to the wedding rings, it’s the one thing of true significance in an emerging relationship. It will, and should, be passed to future generations. It will be saved in a fire. It might not be looked at every day, or even very often, but it will always be there. A couple might look back and laugh at the hair styles, dress styles and suits, but they will never forget how they felt on that one day. And when their 50th anniversary rolls around, a Finao album should look as good as the day it was delivered. A great photographer and a Finao album don’t cost a lot, but they are priceless, and they are worth every dollar spent.