- 5 years ago
- Wedding: October 2012
Oh my goodness y’all, you don’t know how excited I am today. Today is the day that when I heard the Fedex truck arrive after waiting for it all day I ran out the door and he must’ve thought I was crazy when I yelled, “That’s my wedding album you’re holding!” We had a nice conversation but then I had to run inside to rip it open.
So – I decided I would share my experience with all of you because I’ve posted before about designing my layouts, retaking shots that weren’t taken, and asking around for other people’s experiences with flush mount companies. I couldn’t find many reviews on Bay Photo and was really apprehensive at first, but decided to take the risk, and will tell you right now that I’m happy I did. You don’t need to get to the end to find out that in the end, my album is fantastic. The pros outweigh the cons, and there are some cons. But first, here’s the pros:
1. Price: I won’t lie, this was the ultimate factor in making my decision. We’re all ladies here so I’ll be upfront: my 12×12 flushmount “pacific” album cost $478 after I used their 25% first-time customer promo after a grand total of $633. That’s for 62 lustre page sides plus 2 lines of imprinting ($6 each), extra spine material ($10), upgraded inner lining ($40), and overnight shipping because I was too excited to wait ($15). So the book itself without those extras would be $562, or $422 with my promo.
Comparatively, for that amount of page sides and without the extras it would’ve been $631 with Somerset (for 54 pages which is their 12×12 maximum), $646 for Forbeyon, over $1000 for Cyprus (what my photographer offered me), $1129 with Picaboo (11×14, they don’t do 12×12), $1715 for MyPhotoCreations, etc. While Somerset is comparable, that gets me to the second factor that made me decide Bay Photo…
2. Cover Options: I knew I wanted linen because I had a rustic forest wedding and used a lot of linen and burlap. Bay Photo has all kinds of linens along with different leathers, ostrich skin, ecosuede, crushed silk, photo covers, and others. I got the swatch kit for $15 and loved the look of the tooled leather and so combined that with the tan linen and silver imprinting and thought it came out great. Here’s a detail of the tooled leather and also you can see how goshdarn thick the whole thing is – 2.5 inches! It is HEAVY.
Seriously, those are THICK pages:
Now you can’t imprint the spine of the album which I wanted to do, and anyway you can’t imprint the tooled leather or the other half-linen material I originally wanted. That does limit you a little bit but still, it’s a great selection. In comparison, Somerset only has 5 leather options, Bay Photo’s Pacific has 48 options.
I also spent $40 extra on this pretty brown moire inside lining with a vellum fly page, which perfectly matches the forest feel I wanted:
You can do covers/photos for the boxes as well (which is pretty expensive – upwards of $100 for a box!) or pay an extra $22 for a black leather box. I just got the plain black cardboard one (you can see it in the background in the first picture) and I’m planning on doing some DIY work with woodgrain shelf liner paper to make it prettier! Maybe I’ll post when I do that!
3. Print Quality. I never worried about this, knowing they’re a professional photo lab company. Just to make sure, I ordered a few prints from them a few months ago and Darling Husband and I were both happy with them. I should mention Darling Husband is a photographer himself, so he was picky about this. Here’s one or two pictures from the book in detail:
If anything looks dark or blurry it’s my taking pictures of pictures, not the album itself. Here’s some tiny leaves on the ground under our bridal party’s feet:
Here’s the photobooth page with a Holga (vintage camera) image of me and my ladies in the photobooth. It’s one thing for DSLR photos to look good, another for a crappy photobooth camera and grainy vintage:
4. Thin Gutter/Seam: Nice and thin, about .1 mm, no issue with my panoramic prints like this one, my very favorite picture of our ceremony:
It is a little bit more obvious where the image or border is a lighter color, but nothing too obvious, the same you’d get with other companies:
5. Fast turnaround time: they claim the Pacific album only takes 3-4 days production time. I originally ordered mine last Thursday, it shipped yesterday (Tuesday) and arrived today. So yes, very quick!
6. Customer Service: I used the chat feature several times and talked to them on the phone a few times and they were extremely helpful and patient with my constant questions. I had an issue at one point because I’d designed my pages externally and uploaded them as individual pages rather than as spreads and they contacted me to let me know the panoramic spreads needed to be uploaded that way. This might only make sense if you are/have designing it via the process I did using Microsoft Publisher rather than their software. This leads to…
1. Software: Oh boy. This was the reason I almost didn’t use Bay Photo at all. I HATED their software. I used Emerge which they recommended, tried Economy at one point and just started swearing at the screen because I was instantly confused.
Background: before I made my album I created 3 parent albums (divorced parents, don’t want pictures of stepmom in my mom’s!), my honeymoon album, and an engagement album all to try out different companies and get some practice. I used MyPublisher (decent software but fixed layouts, not much room to be creative, few embellishments), Picaboo (great options but freeeeezes a lot. super buggy and annoying), and Photobook America (my favorite hands down, will make all future photobooks with them). I say this to say that I have room to compare and have seen what I like and don’t like.
I don’t like Bay Photo’s Emerge software. In fact, I despise it. If you’re used to the ease of companies like the one I’ve mentioned, say goodbye to it. Say goodbye to the “undo” option (yes, really) meaning don’t you dare mess up while you’re cropping or resizing because you can only delete. No playing around, no putting in a picture just to try it. It may not seem like a big deal until you have a moment you want to use it and it’s just not there.
Almost no backgrounds or embellishments. Some of you like the all-white or all-black look but if you don’t, like me, you have few options but to find a background you like online (which is what I did, via Etsy, because I wanted a textured background and found a parchment style to resemble an heirloom album). Frames are difficult to add too – they call them “strokes” and you can’t add them to everything on a page/spread/book at once, but individually. No applying anything to everything at once in general. Time consuming, to say the least.
Besides no undo option, a complicated save option. You basically have to add it to your cart over and over again and then delete the ones you don’t want. But then here’s the thing: it doesn’t truly save to their software. I know this because at one point Emerge crashed and lost 40 of my pages that I had spent days on and thought were saved but weren’t. Just gone. Nothing. I was on the verge of breaking the damn computer I was so upset.
Somehow, I still used Bay Photo but decided, on DH’s advice, to use Microsoft Publisher which actually worked out quite well. Then, as I said, I just had to save each page or spread as a jpeg and upload them into Emerge that way because you still have to use the software to order. This does lead to one other issue:
2. Margins. Some of you may know that a lot of companies, like Photobook America, build in margins in their layouts for you to keep in mind because that’s where they will cut the pages and they don’t want to cut your pictures. Bay Photo’s site doesn’t mention this and I only knew because I asked customer service who suggested I design my layouts as 11.75×11.75 pages rather than 12×12. This was all very confusing because apparently the panormas would be fine, hence uploading them differently. In the end it came out fine but I list this in my cons because if you didn’t ask them, you would inadvertently have your pages cut off in your expensive album and that would just suck. I wish they were clearer about this and would build the margins into their software.
I did have one or two pages where things were awkwardly cut off, like this one, where you can see the border is larger on the right than on the left, so the image is not truly in the center because it was cut off more on the right. Thankfully I only noticed this in only about 2 other pages:
All right guys this got long but I hope it helps any of you checking out Bay Photo or other companies. If you’re looking for other photobook reviews, I hope you’ve checked out Photobook Girl. I only wish she’d done one for Bay Photo before I’d made mine!