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Matted Wedding Albums (and why they're still cool)!

Wednesday, Feb 2, 2011Weddings
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f the 40 or so wedding albums I create each year, only about one to two of my clients choose the more traditional Matted style album. The majority go with Flush Mount books, which are generally considered to be less cheesy and more cool all around. So what's the real difference and why is there such a big divide between the two?! I just received a matted album from the bindery, so I wanted to take this opportunity to share some little known facts and, hopefully dispel any myths or misconceptions you may have regarding Matted style books. 
 
The difference between the two styles lies within the way images are mounted and displayed on the page. Matted books feature a more formal layout, where individual images sit recessed and surrounded on all sides by a thick, matte paper (just like in a matted picture frame). Flush Mount books feature inner pages which have been graphically designed with multiple images, using computer programs such as Photoshop and InDesign. With flush-mount books, the pages ARE the actual photographs (think magazine style), and the image surface can bleed all the way off the edge of the page (or "flush" to the edge of the page). 
 
During album consultations, my clients frequently ask..."if this were your wedding, which style would you choose?" And to be honest, after years of creating both, I still have a difficult time answering this question. 
 
I have to admit...as a photographer and designer, I really have a soft spot for a well made Flush Mount book. There is something SO cool about seeing my images all working together within a design to tell a cohesive story. I also love seeing the photos displayed larger on the page, sometimes even spanning across multiple pages. As a designer, these books open the door to endless flexibility with regards to page layout. Not only can I design more images on each page, but I can add text and use the same fonts and colors which my clients used for invitations and programs. Basically, if you can think it up and design it in Photoshop, you can print it...just like in a magazine. 
 
As an artist and craftsman though, I love, love, LOVE the classic elegance and attention to detail which goes into a Matted album. Instead of looking at a graphically designed page (which is essentially one big image), you are looking at actual photographs which have been hand cut and painstakingly placed within their respective openings. You can really see the time and attention to detail which goes into creating these books with every turn of the page. The images are also surrounded by textured paper (the mattes), which are a joy to hold and turn. This makes for a wonderful tactile experience as you look through your images. 
 
Another big part of why I love Matted books is their simplicity, and the connection to the past I feel when viewing them. The photographs are spaced out further, which helps the viewer take in each image individually. In a world where information is constantly coming at us from all sides, it really forces you to slow down and appreciate not just the photographs, but the ACT of looking at them. I also love the history, as this style album is what my parents had...and my grandparents...and so on, so that connection is huge for me. When I look back at their books, I have a habit of getting lost in each image for several minutes at a time. 
 
So why are matted books unpopular these days? My theory is this: Matted books are what we all think of when we hear the words "wedding album." That old, clunky white book on the shelf which is about a foot thick and looks like the 1960's exploded all over it (white leather, gold lettering, you get the picture). In a sense, Matted books get a bad rap because they are guilty by association. Well...they have come a long way since the 60's... 
 
On the left is a Flush Mount album and on the right is a Matted album with the exact same number of images. Not so thick after all...right?!
This book was created with a patterned silk cover and ivory inner page mattes. Mattes are available in either ivory, bright white or black.
Here are a few detail shots which show how the images sit recessed into the page and are surrounded by the matte.
Definitely a more formal layout, but...
Here's what you didn't know about Matted Books. You can also design Flush Mount style pages right into them. This is one image which spans the book's seam and runs all the way to the edge, exactly like a Flush Mount!
This white section on the right is the same paper Matte material which surrounds the images in the rest of the book.
You can also seamlessly integrate the two styles onto the same page. Here is an example of a more traditional Matted page on the left and a Flush Mount page on the right.
And a detail of how they differ.